Just cruisin' through the airspace of mediocrity
Chicago Bulls (6-7) vs. Dallas Mavericks (7-8)
A season after winning an NBA title, the Dallas Mavericks went through the proverbial hangover, slogging through a 36-30 shortened season only to be mercilessly swept by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs.
Once again, the Mavs are just sort of limping along, having accrued a mediocre 7-8 record after dropping one to the 76ers last night in Philly. As you already know, the Mavs experienced a bit of roster turnover this offseason, namely losing Jason Terry and Fountain-of-Youth-hogger Jason Kidd.
Dirk Nowitzki's knee injury has kept him out of all of Dallas' 15 games thus far; even so, the Mavs can still score just as they have been able to do for years. They're averaging 100.9 ppg thus far, good for 6th in the league. On the other hand, the defense has been typically leaky; the Mavs have magnanimously elected to give up 101.6 ppg, good for third worst in the league. The song remains the same.
In Dirk's absence, Dallas' trio of offseason acquisitions have led the way on the offensive end. O.J. Mayo is averaging 21.5 ppg with a fairly impressive --especially for Mayo-- eFG% of 59%.
Elsewhere, PG and defensive stopper Darren Collison is 13 ppg and 6 apg. C Chris Kaman is also pitching in a respectable 13.7 ppg and 7.3 rpg, in addition to 1.17 blocks per game, second on the team only to Elton Brand's (?) 1.31 bpg.
Elsehwhere, Vince Carter is Vince Cartering his way to 13.2 ppg, although he's only shooting 41% from the field, with an eFG% of 51%.
Otherwise, Dallas features a generic medley of NBA players. Shawn Marion is around, averaging less than half of his career ppg average at 7.6 ppg. Brand, PF Jae Crowder and C Brandan Wright round out the rest of Dallas' meaningful contributors. Wright is averaging 8.5 ppg (2.5 ppg north of his career average), and is shooting a sterling 65% from the field.
Points of Concern
This is the Bulls, so everything from "making a three every once in a blue moon" to "not giving up 27-point second half leads" is a concern.
Basically, the only concern worth detailing is whether or not the Bulls can keep up with the Mavs offensively, even without Dirk's services. Without Rose, scoring will continue to be like squeezing blood from a stone for the Bulls, so my initial hunch is that they will have trouble keeping up.
What Needs To Happen
- Evil Boozer. Dear Evil Boozer: please just don't show up. Please? I know you are a person that has emotional needs just like the rest of us, but you don't need to be such an attention hog all the time. Yes, we know you are so good at missing 17-foot jumpers and playing horrific defense, but can you just once let Good Boozer have a moment in the sun? You've done it a couple times before, and we'll need you to take one for the team against an opponent that can and will score many points.
- Don't fumble that
footbal lbasketball, son. The Mavs will give you opportunities to get some easy transition buckets by virtue of the free-wheeling style they play. The Mavs are turning it over 15 times a game, good for a middling 15th in the league. Sadly, the Bulls are worse, sitting at 18th in the league with 15.5 per. The Mavs will look to run and and play defense-free basketball; although possessions will be plentiful, they will also be precious given the two teams' respective offensive prowess (or lack thereof, in Chicago's case).
- Rebounding. The Bulls' once indomitable front court has been giving up some rebounds on the defensive end of late, especially against Milwaukee (an average at best rebounding team). the Mavs are an extremely bad offensive rebounding team: they average 8.9 offensive boards per game, good for an ORB% of 21%. Simply put, if the Bulls don't clean up the glass against this team, the odds of coming away with a W are just about zero.
Useless Prediction Time
- O.J. Mayo out-athletes the Bulls in transition and off the dribble in the half court. He will hit his season average in points.
- Boozer has another Jekyll and Hyde sort of game, where he goes cold then hot then cold from the field with a mercurial fervor.
- The Mavs eclipse the 100-point mark. Pursuant to the 2012-13 Chicago Bulls 100-point Rule...
- Bulls 97, Mavericks 104.