FISH: The Secret To The Mavs' 'Night-Night Defense'
by Mike Fisher    Thu, Dec 9, 2010, 07:07 PM
The Mavs have an NBA-best 10 consecutive wins and a 17-4 record. “The difference,’’ says Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, “is the defense.’’ And the key to that “Night-Night Defense’’ is opponents’ field-goal percentage, an area in which the Mavericks are flirting with all-time-best-in-franchise-history territory.

 

How “for real’’ is the Mavs’ defense in general? For real enough that Dallas was able to register yet another victory (Tuesday’s 105-100 win over the visiting Warriors) even without their defensive anchor, center Tyson Chandler. It is Chandler who told his teammates on Saturday that he would help them say “Night-Night’’ to Sacramento in the late-going of that game, and Dallas essentially pitched a shutout down the stretch to win it.

 

Thus, the “Night-Night Defense.’’

 

On Tuesday, Dallas was not able to achieve its stated defensive goals, which are to hold foes below 45-percent shooting and below 100 points. That’s largely due to Golden State’s up-tempo pace; the Warriors average 101 points per game. And it was due in part to Chandler’s absence due to illness, though The French Connection of Ian Mahinmi and Alexis Ajinca – the team’s pair of French-born big men who generally spend their game nights on the south end of the bench – fared well on the boards and in challenging shots.

 

In other words, in backing up Brendan Haywood, they did their best Tyson Chandler imitations.

 

The numbers say that with New Jersey coming to town on Thursday – over the weekend the Nets played two games in which they scored in the 70’s in regulation – the Mavs will again near those defensive goals.

 

We believe that the big one – and the specific defensive difference -- is opponents’ field-goal percentage.

 

So far this year, the Mavericks have held opponents at or below 40-percent field-goal shooting six times in 20 games.

 

 How many times have the Mavs held their opponents to 40-percent FG percentage or under in the previous seasons?

 

2010-2011: 6

2009-2010: 11

2008-2009: 13

2007-2008: 20

2006-2007: 18

2005-2006: 17

2004-2005: 19

2003-2004: 10

2002-2003: 23

2001-2002: 11

 

 If Dallas can continue this current defensive pace, the Mavericks would register an all-timer: 24 games of giving up 40-percent or less.

 

Now to the 43.3 percent shooting allowed by the Mavs through 21 games. Guess what? That’s also a record pace.

 

How does the current overall opponents FG percentage compare to other Mavs top seasons over the last 31 years?

 

1) 2010-2011: 43.3% (through 21 games)

2) 2002-2003: 43.8%

3) 2004-2005: 43.8%

4) 2000-2001: 43.9%

5) 2005-2006: 44.3%

6) 2007-2008: 44.3%

7) 2006-2007: 44.7%

8) 1998-1999: 45.0%

9) 2001-2002: 45.2%

10) 2008-2009: 45.5% 

 

Once again … an all-timer. Now, check out the odds on championships. What happened in August didn't mush impact odds on the Super Bowl 45 from BetUS. And what happens in the NBA through early December doesn't either.

But for now?

This is about personnel … except even without Tyson Chandler, Dallas kept a lid on the numbers. This is about philosophy … except Carlisle is preaching the same things to Mavs stalwarts like Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd that he’s preached before.

Mostly, this is about opponents’ field-goal percentage. It’s the key to the “Night-Night Defense.’’

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