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Pistons vs. Mavericks preview: Is Dallas really that bad? Yes

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It’s going to be a rough ride in Big D. Don’t feel too bad, they’re long overdue for a down year.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Time to take a closer look at the Mavericks, they can’t be this bad. Maybe the numbers will tell a different story than their 6-18 record would have me believe.

As of December 13th at 9:41 a.m.

  • 93.5 points per game - 30th
  • 19.1 assists per game - 29th
  • 39.4 rebounds per game - 30th
  • -6.6 net rating - 27th

As of December 13th at 9:42 a.m. verdict reached:

Nope, they’re bad.

Game Vitals

When: December 14th at 8:30 p.m. EST
Where: American Airlines Arena; Dallas, Texas
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit

Analysis

It shouldn’t be ending like this for Dirk Nowitzki. The 38-year-old power forward has experienced nothing but success since being drafted in 1998 (draft rights traded to Dallas via Milwaukee for University of Michigan’s Robert “Tractor” Traylor) that culminated in a 2011 championship. Nowitzki has only played in five games this year due to a nagging something or other (currently it’s his achilles) and it’s hard to imagine him making any kind of concrete impact upon his return. It just doesn’t seem right. Oh, and he’s owed $25 million next year (team option that I’m sure will be picked up).

Oh well, that seems like a Moneyball problem because we got enough to worry about.

Yes, the Mavericks are a bad team but you know what? So are the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Brooklyn Nets and the Pistons lost to all three this year. Come April, when Detroit is jockeying for playoff position, these are the games we’ll look back on and shake our collective heads.

****

Dallas’ scoring is led (for a lack of better word) by Harrison Barnes. Yes, the 2016 NBA Finals punchline is averaging over 20 points per game for the injury riddled Mavericks.

He’s not as bad as NBA Twitter made him out to be during the Finals but he probably shouldn’t be your most productive player either. He’s somewhere in the middle but for now though, he is Dallas’ go to guy.

In a league full of copy cats, the Mavericks often run a set that, quite frankly, only the Mavericks can run. It’s called: Isolate for Harry Barnes.

A Barnes isolation happens more frequently than isolation for any other player in the league. Let that sink in for a minute. The kicker is, it kinda works. At 1.00 points per Barnes isolation, that’s a higher iso scoring rate than: James Harden, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook.

It’s really not hard to see why. Barnes is an above average NBA athlete and an explosive leaper that can handle the rock. Combining those traits will give you:

****

In a seemingly statistical oddity, the Mavericks are dead last in scoring in the paint (32.8 points per game) but are the second ranked team in defending scoring from the paint (37.3 points per game).

Dallas is making teams beat them from the outside and teams are overwhelmingly obliging by hitting over 40 percent from beyond the arc.

40 percent?

Yes, 40 percent.

The Mav’s insist on packing the paint which yes, will prevent inside scoring but leaves wide open looks on the outside.

Watch how Deron Williams allows himself to get picked off by having two feet in the paint for far too long:

****

Projected Lineup

Detroit

Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Andre Drummond, Marcus Morris, Tobias Harris

Dallas

Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, Salah Mejri, Harrison Barnes, Dorrian Finney-Smith

Stay tuned to the Game Thread as the Mavericks are juggling a handful of injuries.

Prediction

Pistons need this game and they should get it as long as they don’t beat themselves.

Dorrian Finney-Smith is an undrafted rookie that - due to injuries - is getting some run and he’s making the most of it. He’s played in over 30 minutes and scored in double figures in the each of the past three games. Finney-Smith is 6’8 shooter who can block shots; they might have something with him. He’ll likely matchup with Harris which should be fun.

That’s all the intrigue I could muster up.

Detroit 105, Dallas 91