DALLAS – Trust was a major theme of the Mavs’ sweep over the Lakers.
Lakers big man Andrew Bynum’s complaints about the Lakers’ “trust issues” got all the attention. The Mavs’ trust in each other, on the other hand, was an overlooked aspect of their dominance over the two-time defending champions.
“I knew exactly what he was talking about,” Mavs backup big man Brendan Haywood said of Bynum’s comments. “He felt like everytime he stepped out on a screen and roll, nobody had his back. Or his guy wasn’t boxed out. I definitely understand where the trust issues come from. I mean, when you’re not playing great team defense, sometimes you feel hung out to dry when you step over there to help somebody else and you look over there and nobody’s even attempting to help you.”
The exact opposite is occurring for the Mavs. Coach Rick Carlisle raves about the way the Mavs are “scrambling” on defense, which basically means he loves the way his guys are covering each other’s backs in the rotations.
“It’s been amazing to watch this team coming together defensively,” said Tyson Chandler, whose work as the Mavs’ backbone on that end of the floor earned him a third-place finish in Defensive Player of the Year voting and a spot on the second-team All-Defensive squad.
Trust is just as important on offense. You won’t find a better ball-movement team. Jason Kidd, one of the elite passers in NBA history, gets a lot of credit for that. However, Kidd says Dirk Nowitzki actually sets the tone.
Just look at the beginning of Game 4 against the Lakers for an example. L.A. aggressively doubled Dirk on the Mavs’ first possession. He instinctively dished to a wide-open DeShawn Stevenson for a weak-side 3-pointer.
“He trusts his teammates,” Kidd said. “You’ve got so many guys who can put the ball in the basket. He accepts the double-team. Maybe in years past, he’d put up one of those one-legged shots with two or three guys on him, but he is very comfortable with his teammates. That goes a long way.”
The Mavs' trust in each other is a major reason they have a chance to go all the way.