DALLAS – Move the ball sounds like such a simple concept.
For much of the season, it’s been a complicated process for the Mavericks. A roster loaded with newcomers needed time to learn Rick Carlisle’s flow system and the tendencies of new teammates. And then that process pretty much started all over again when go-to guy Dirk Nowitzki made his season debut after missing 27 games.
The Mavs have moved past the getting-to-know-you stage with the big German. While Nowitzki is still working toward regaining his All-Star form, the Mavs’ offense has made major progress over the last two weeks.
“Guys see that he’s a very unselfish player for the amount of points he’s scored in his career,” Vince Carter said. “Now the adjustment has been made and we’re really starting to jell together. That’s the biggest thing, more than anything. I think when you see how he moves the ball and he’s very unselfish, everyone else catches on and understands that’s the way the offense is played and the way the best player on the team plays.
“So why not everyone else buy into it?
The buy-in is there. So is the payoff over the last six games.
It’s a small sample size with some favorable circumstances, but the Mavs’ offensive statistics from their 5-1 run are spectacular. They’re averaging 110.7 points, 25.7 assists and only 10.9 turnovers during that span.
To put those numbers in perspective, the Thunder lead the NBA in scoring with 106.1 points per game, the Spurs average the most assists with 25.2 and the Knicks commit the fewest turnovers (11.1).
There are a lot of factors to the Mavs’ recent offensive explosion. That includes facing a few teams on the butt end of a back-to-back, but most are extremely encouraging signs for the Mavs.
Young guards Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo, who benefit from the heavy attention defenses pay to Dirk, have drastically improved their decision-making and reduced their turnovers. Off-the-bench big man Elton Brand has been hot, scoring efficiently after an early-season shooting slump. Carter has had a couple of big games. So has Shawn Marion.
The Mavs are getting great balance. They’ve had six players score in double figures the last five games, including a season-high seven in Sunday’s win in Orlando. That’s what happens when the Mavs move the ball with precision and purpose.
“It’s a fun way to play when nobody really has to pound the ball five, six, seven times to get a shot up,” Nowitzki said. “We’re moving and we’re playing together and hopefully we’ll keep it up.”