Our worst fears about these Mavs were realized Tuesday night in Memphis: They are vulnerable to bullying.
I know Monta Ellis was injured and the Mavs actually kept it close until the final minutes, but there’s no around the lingering realities that arose from Memphis’ 114-105 win. At this point the Grizzlies are a tougher, better team.
It’s a contrast in styles, and Dallas just doesn’t match up well. In tennis terms, the Grizzlies are the big serve-and-volley player who consistently gets easy points with its serve or via easy putaways at the net. The Mavs, on the other hand, are the scrambling baseliner, forced to win points after long rallies that often require spectacular, pinpoint passing shots.
In the long run, substance almost always beats style. Over a game, yes. But also over a playoff series.
The Mavs did a lot of things right. Upped the pace through 40 3-point attempts and actually held a halftime lead. But when the Grizzlies slowed the pace and turned the screws in the third quarter, it was an ugly mismatch. Memphis outscored Dallas by 19 in the third, holding the Mavs to five baskets and six turnovers while outscoring them in the paint by a whopping, 22-0.
Scary thing is, it’s a repeatable recipe for the Grizzlies. And it’s one other teams are sure to attempt to duplicate against Dallas, starting tonight against Anthony Davis and the Pelicans.
Admitted head coach Rick Carlisle after the game, “We have to continuously try to do a better job against big, physical teams. It’s a big challenge. There's no doubt about it. They got the better of us in there.”
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We knew the Mavs were built on finesse and pace and outside shooting. But if last night was any long-term indication, the lack of grit and muscle and paint presence just might be a fatal flaw.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.