Brooklyn opens their road trip in Dallas

Mike Ehrmann

Eleven straight at home. Facing a team that is focused on the Draft, the Nets didn't fall into the trap and were able to beat Boston on Friday night. At 36-31, Brooklyn is within one game of Chicago for the fourth seed and 1.5 games behind Toronto for the Division lead. This is the first night of a quick three game road trip that will take Brooklyn to Dallas, New Orleans and Charlotte.

Waiting for the Nets will be the Dallas Mavericks. Dallas is coming off a nice win against Denver on Friday. At 42-28, the Mavs are one game ahead of Memphis for the seventh seed and two games behind Golden State for the sixth seed.

This is the second meeting between these teams this season. Back in January, Mirza Teletovic led Brooklyn to victory.

The season so far

What's happening with these clubs? Let's check it out:

Metric

Brooklyn

Dallas

Record

36-31 42-28

Pace

93.91 96.26

Offensive Efficiency

103.8 108.6

Defensive Efficiency

104 105.6

Offensive Rebounding percentage

21.6 24.1

Turnover rate

15.2 14

Assist rate

16.8 18.2

Rebound rate

47.1 48.6

Free throw rate

31.6 25.5

Effective Field Goal percentage

50.9 52.5

Opponent Effective Field Goal percentage

50.6 51.5

Kevin Garnett won't be with the team on this three game trip. He's still dealing with a bad back and will be reevaluated once the team comes back home.

Mason Plumlee has been playing excellent ball in Garnett's absence. This month the rookie Center has averaged 8.5 points and 5.6 rebounds with a 68.5 field goal percentage in 20 minutes a game. Plumlee is still very raw offensively, so it's no surprise that all but one of his field goal attempts have been inside of eight feet. He still has improvements to make on defense, but he won't get tested by Samuel Dalembert, one of the team's least active players on offense. Where Plumlee will get tested is on the glass. The former Seton Hall Pirate is one of the league's best rebounders and is also good for a block or two a game.

Deron Williams wasn't as active on offense as he usually is against Boston, but that shouldn't be the case against Jose Calderon. Throughout his career, Calderon has been a poor defender and this season has been no exception. Dallas is allowing 107.3 points per 100 possessions with him on the court compared to only 102.6 per 100 without him. Deron should look to be active early and drive to the rim at every opportunity when Calderon is guarding him.

15 years in the game and Dirk Nowitzki is still playing at a high level. The big guy is averaging 21.5 points and six rebounds in 32 minutes a night. His shot hasn't left him and this year he's made 91 percent of his free throws, almost 50 percent of his midrange attempts and about 40 percent of his three pointers. He struggled in the first meeting, but in his defense he was in a rough patch and missed the previous game so he could rest. He's played well over his last five games including a game against the Jazz where he only missed two shots.

Player to watch: Monta Ellis

Ellis usually gets derided for his poor shot selection, but from the outside looking in, it hasn't been a problem this year. On the season, the first year Mav is averaging 18.8 points and 5.8 assists on a true shooting percentage of 53.9 in 36 minutes a game. How to describe Ellis' offense this year? Back in January, Mavs Moneyball editor Rebecca Lawson told our own Dennis Velasco:

The real joy this season has been the Dirk-Monta pairing. There were a few rumblings that Dirk had actually asked the front office to look at signing Monta, so for once, I'll give them credit for doing some homework that the rest of the fanbase seemed to have slept on. Though both guys have had a little rough stretch of late, most of the time they work like a well-oiled machine - they play to each other's strengths very well, and have been straight up deadly in pick and roll/pick and pop situations. It's also been quite nice to have more than one player who can carry the team on any given night.

One thing that hasn't changed is Ellis' poor defense. The Mavs are letting up 106.6 points per 100 possessions with him in the game compared to 102.5 without him. He's a bit undersized, so if he ends up covering Paul Pierce or Joe Johnson at some point, they should look to post him up.

Shaun Livingston will be responsible for slowing Ellis down. Ellis is a quick guard that loves to drive to the rim (he does it ten times a game, fourth highest in the league) but Livingston is more than quick enough to keep up with him. Ellis isn't the best jump shooter in the league (32 percent from three point range and 39 percent in the midrange) so Livingston should play off of him and dare him to shoot jumpers all night.

From the Vault

Take a trip back to the 2003 Western Conference Finals and see if the Mavs can make the comeback against San Antonio without the injured Dirk Nowitzki.


More reading: Mavs Moneyball

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