Scenario: Dennis Smith Jr. ruled out
This isn’t exactly a moment during the game, but it had a big impact on the outcome. With the additions of P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute, the Rockets have become a team who likes switching all sorts of offensive actions. If you don’t have the right personal to take advantage, this type of scheme can severely stagnate your offense. And that is exactly what happened in this game. The Mavs really struggled to get in the lane and break down the defense and often settled for tough, contested jump shots. It was a lifeless offensive showing, and Dennis’s athleticism, playmaking, and breakdown ability were sorely missed. So lets hope the young fella gets well soon. If tonight was any indication, he is badly, badly needed.
Scenario: 12:00 remaining, 1st quarter
Right out of the gate the Rockets ruthlessly attacked Dirk. They went after him every which way, whether that be in pick and roll, ISO, or on the offensive glass, Dirk just simply had a rough night. The Rockets used that early to jump out to a thirteen point 1st quarter lead and never looked back. Struggling on that end of the floor isn’t exactly a new thing for Dirk, he just usually does that much more on the offensive end to make it worth having him out there. However, tonight was just one of those nights, as he couldn’t seem to buy a basket. And whenever Dirk does have an off night on the offensive end of the floor, him being out there really hurts the team, and it did tonight. It’s worth asking if Carlisle should consider plugging Noel in the starting lineup for his rim protection and rebounding, or maybe just simply to limit some of Dirk minutes in favor of Nerlens. Given his age, it wouldn’t be the worst idea.
Scenario: Rockets lead 40-25, 6:15 remaining. 2nd quarter.
The Mavericks were hanging around at this point, and had actually done a decent job defensively throughout the first quarter and a half. The Rockets were in the midst of a pretty gnarly drought whenever James Harden checked back in for the final six minutes stretch of the half. He immediately got to work, whether that be getting his own or creating for his teammates out of pick and rolls. After he got a three to drop around the four minute mark, the flood gates were seemingly opened. For the remainder of the half, James Harden was torching the Mavs with his highlight reel handles and array of tough shots. The defense was actually solid, but his offensive brilliance was just too much. And unfortunately for the Mavericks, in basketball good offense always beats good defense, and James Harden was just flat out too good. At one point in the second the Mavs had the lead down to 11, but after Harden’s eruption, that lead swelled to 23. And for all intents and purposes, the game was over.
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