Good shooting guards go off vs. Mavs

O.J. Mayo must be really looking forward to the Dallas Mavericks' visit to Milwaukee on Saturday night.

Never mind the motivation Mayo might have to prove his worth to the Mavs, who didn't make much of an attempt to re-sign him after his single-season stop in Dallas. Any shooting guard who is a scorer should be giddy to see the Mavs on the schedule.

Just look at the production of the two legitimate scorers at that position to face the Mavs so far this season.

Minnesota's Kevin Martin lit the Mavs up for 32 points on 10-of-19 shooting Friday night, and that wasn't even the most impressive performance by a shooting guard against the Mavs this month. Houston's James Harden scorched the Mavs for 34 points on 11-of-17 shooting last week.

Not coincidentally, the Mavs lost both games.

OK, it's a stretch to put Mayo in this class of shooting guard, but you get the point. Offense-minded shooting guards get a lot of points against these Mavs.

This can't be considered surprising. The Mavs knew that defending good shooting guards would be a challenge with Monta Ellis joining Jose Calderon in Dallas' starting backcourt.

At 6 feet 3, 185 pounds, Ellis simply doesn't have the size to consistently challenge the attempts of shooting guards such as Harden (6-5, 220) and Martin (6-7, 197). It's also hard for Ellis to keep big, physical guards such as Harden from getting into the lane.

Calderon doesn't help matters. He's not any bigger than Ellis and a lot less quick.

It certainly would have been nice to have Vince Carter, an underrated wing defender, take a turn or two on Martin. However, Carter was serving a one-game suspension for his mixed martial arts move upside Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams' head in Wednesday night's loss.

The hope is that Devin Harris can help the Mavs contain the league's better guards, but there still isn't a firm timetable for Harris to begin practicing after recovering from offseason toe surgery, much less playing in games. Plus, he's no taller and only a few pounds heavier than Ellis.

It would be ideal if Shawn Marion, Dallas' defensive version of a Swiss Army knife, could spend a lot of time on the league's best shooting guards. That kind of matchup, however, also is complicated by the Dallas guards' lack of size against the opposition's small forwards.

Against the Rockets, coach Rick Carlisle opted not to take Marion off of Chandler Parsons, a small forward who had hurt the Mavs in the past. Against the Timberwolves, Marion spent most of the second half banging with power forward Kevin Love, who also scored 32 points on the Mavs.

When Dallas plays the Miami Heat next week, do you want Marion defending LeBron James or Dwyane Wade?

The Mavs can mix in some zone, but Carlisle will tell you that's an alternative best used in limited doses.

The Mavs' solutions to this problem, if there are any, will be about executing a team scheme to stop the league's best backcourt scorers. Count on Carlisle stressing the importance of disposition in the matter, too.

But it's a good bet that the big games by Harden and Martin are the beginning of a trend.