Mavericks Offense Will Provide A Huge Test for the Pelicans D

Published: October 31, 2014

The Pelicans defense has looked tremendous in spurts this preseason and in the first game against Orlando, but the Mavericks are a different beast. While it is hard not to get excited about their 17 (!!) blocks in the season opener and their 3rd ranked defense, we can not take too much from games that don’t count or games against a team as bad as Orlando. The Mavericks, on the other hand, have an offense that can make you pay in multiple ways. Monta Ellis has had a career resurgence since joining up with Rick Carlisle, Chandler Parsons is being used in new and creative ways, and Dirk Nowitzki is still one of the 5 or 6 most dangerous offensive weapons in the NBA.

The Mavericks are scoring 110 points per game despite the fact that they are playing at one of the slowest paces in the NBA. Their 124.9 offensive rating would have led the league last year by a WIDE margin (Clippers were #1 at 112.1). They shoot a blistering 52% from the field, get to the FT line, rarely turn it over, and can knock down their threes. Basically, their offense has only strengths; No weaknesses.

They can come at you in waves with guys like Devin Harris and Brandan Wright coming off the bench, and they rarely take a bad shot. Your best chance is to hope that Monta Ellis’s jumper is not falling. He has a green light, and he does tend to take some inefficient shots. But then again, any shot you make is efficient, and if Ellis is hitting long two’s then he is almost unguardable. The other thing you have to do is keep them off the glass – make them a one and done team. Chandler, Wright, and Al-Farouq Aminu are all great offensive rebounders, and while that shouldn’t be a problem when both AD and Asik are on the court, others will need to chip in when Ryan Anderson is in the game.

The Pelicans might play Ajinca a little more in this game, which would allow Anderson to play some at the 3. This would be a mistake when Chandler Parsons is on the court, but it would be ideal when the Mavs play Aminu. You can play the zone and not run out on Aminu or play man and just back off Al-Farouq. Monty Williams knows Aminu’s weaknesses as much as anyone, and he has to take advantage of it. Don’t be surprised to see the Pelicans go with the three big guys whenever Aminu is on the court and/or an unbalanced zone.

Ideally, AD gives Dirk nightmares while Asik keeps Ellis out of the paint and the bigs control the defensive glass. At that point, it just comes down to whether or not the Mavericks make tough shots. In a worst case scenario, the Mavericks patient and intelligent offense meticulously picks the Pelicans defense apart with backdoor cuts and drive and kicks. Either way, the Pelicans ‘D’ will continue to improve throughout the season, but Saturday night against the Mavs will give a good indication of where they are currently.

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