John Brunson ran all the way to the court as Mavericks trailed Jazz 95-91 in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. The Dallas offense was slow throughout the afternoon, but Brunson had the opportunity to go one-on-one without interrupting Mike Conley backfielding and jazz defensive dreamer Rudy Cobert.
Brunson went to his favorite places, out of the paint on the left side of the edge. He stopped at a coin and got up above Conley for a shot before Conley raised his hands. It’s a shot Brunson does a lot – for the season, he shoots 54 percent of that area of the ground.
Other than this time, he missed.
In less than 40 seconds Mavericks’ chance to reduce the score to two points disappeared. Mavericks lost the game 99-93, with Luca Tonsic having a chance to steal a game while recovering from an injury to left calf Mavericks slipping through his fingers.
That shot that Branson missed was a sign of his whole night. He scored 24 points, but needed 24 shots to get there, going 9-for-24 from the ground. Brunson was bad as the game progressed, 4-9 in the first quarter and 5 -15 in the second, third and fourth quarters. His backcourt partner, Spencer Dinwid, did the same. He had a solid box-score knight with 22 points and eight assists, but made 6-for-15 from the ground and 10-for-16 from the free throw line.
Prior to the start of the series, the star play of Brunson and Dinvidi was the main reason why the Mavericks felt there was a real chance of winning the series despite the injury of Donsik. Unfortunately those two stumbled and the abbreviation Mavericks was not enough to pick up the slack.
Starting in Brunson at first, it seemed to be a combination of several factors for his poor shooting: he missed the shots he usually takes, exacerbated the problem a bit more in isolated situations, and made sure to change all the non-Cobert choices with jazz. And roll.
Needless to say Brunson did not find his favorite look – he had to change them to move forward. The other two areas – the forced isolation scenes and the Big and Roll performance – are very interesting to watch. It seemed that whenever Brunson had a big, traditional big and roll against Cobert, he was very comfortable maneuvering around the paint.
While Cobert supports these plays, this is not surprising given that Brunson excels at big and roll. As the Big and Roll handler this season, Brunson scored 1.06 points per possession and 52.7 percent, good for 90.8 percent of all Big and Roll ball handlers this season. Brunson can face his problems with defensive length
The problem arose when Mavericks decided not to attack Cobert, replacing most of the Big and Rolls other than Jazz Cobert. He left that clean pocket space in the midrange he wanted to occupy without Brunson, and this led to several plays, where Brunson tried to take advantage of a possession that knocked the ball off the ball and went nowhere.
The subway view is the worst version of Brunson himself, and Jazz felt so comfortable that their coverage of each other lasted all the game and stuck with the shooters. In the first half the Mavericks shooters loosened up and Dallas did not pay thanks to Jazz, allowing Jazz to stay home and do the single coverage of Brunson and Dinvidi as they wished. Brunson and Dinvid together provided 13 assists and considering how often each of them threw the ball, it was a very small number, especially Brunson’s five assists. Dallas offense is better off by moving the zippy ball out of the big and roll. Until the shooters were released, the Jazz were content to let them both go to the edge with bulldozers.
Dinwiddie was a little more talented, shooting wise, but poor performance from the free throw line and reluctance to work at midrange affected him. Saying that the NBA player should shoot seems to be negative Further From Midrange, it’s true in this game. Dinwiddie had no fear of Cobert, and was 6-for-11 and close to the edge, which is commendable, especially if you add up his 16 free-throw attempts. Unfortunately he made zero jumpers, missed four of his three pointers and fired zero midrange shots.
Mistakes in Threesome Understandable – Dinwiddie is not a great carrier three-point shooter, and due to the lack of tonics, Mavericks did not get the spoon-foot open threes that Tonsick usually offers. Dinwiddie has been a terrific midrange player in Dallas, scoring 52-percent on mid-range shots and 48.4-percent on pull-up pointers. Like this event in the fourth quarter, sometimes the tinvidi, instead of going for a mistake in the basket, could have been pulled up to jump a puddle.
Instead of attacking the best shot blocker in the league, it looks like Dinwiddie could have been dragged to an open jumper near the free throw line. Especially considering that only Dinvidi’s free throws were a consistent source for Mavericks points in the second half, it’s hard to really figure it out later. It’s still a part of the floor, especially since Jazz still wants to play that drop project with Cobert, so I hope you can take advantage of the DVD.
Side note: How bad was the gap on that Dinwiddie drive? Check this out:
If we’re going to criticize both of them for not moving the ball much, we should look at plays like this where the knight gap is so bad that Dinvid has nowhere to move the ball reliably.
Fortunately for the Mavericks team, their defense was a challenge and plagued Utah with a solid game plan throughout the day. Dallas offense should be better if they want to compete in this series, and it’s playing out their two best playmakers, Sans Danzik, live up to their expectations.
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