The Dallas Mavericks are making a strong defensive stance this season. Previously, they lived and died by their jump shot—when it was cold, they lost; when it was falling, they won.
Instead, when the Mavericks shoot poorly, they still manage to keep it close. When their shot is falling, they're damn near unstoppable.
That being said, they still have some defensive weaknesses, namely defending quick, smaller point guards. Chris Paul and Tony Parker routinely shred the Mavericks in the playoffs.
As recently as four days ago, we saw a small-guard duo of Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis decimate the Mavericks particularly in the closing period, where the Warriors outscored the Mavericks over the closing stretch by almost 20 points despite the Warriors only playing six players.
Now, its understandable that the Mavericks are going lose games that they should win. Hopefully, it only happens three or four times per season.
But the closing stretch of the Warriors game showed us that, as much as J.J. Barea is a great layer off the bench, he's a weak point defensively. In fact, teams are going to attack him over and over if he is in there at crunch time.
The Mavercks were up nine points with seven minutes to go, and then the Warriors decided to start attacking Barea. The rest, as they say, is history.
I wrote a previous article about how the fearsome foursome of Barea, Jason Kidd, Rodrigue Beaubois and Terry is helping the Mavs get things done. But now I'm going to whittle that down to Beaubois and Kidd, who really help the Mavs get things done on the defensive end.
We all know Kidd's legs have slowed down a step, but his hands are still pretty quick as evidenced by his average of almost two steals per game over his career and 1.67 steals per game this year.
Kidd also has a great body for defense for a guard, his 6'4, 210 pound frame—the same one that helped him become one of the best rebounding point guards of all time—is great for fighting around picks, as well as giving a driving defender a little bit of a bump.
He just lacks the footspeed to keep up with people like Paul and Parker.
Enter Beaubois. About 6-1, but with an amazing 6-10 wingspan and an unbelievable 40 inch vertical leap, he has the physical tools to provide exactly the kind of defense that Kidd suffers from.
Beaubois was the difference on Brandon Jennings in the OT win a few weeks ago, when Brandon Jennings dropped 13 on the Mavs in the fourth quarter.
Beaubois started the OT period and held Jennings to a pair of free throws, guarding him on two missed three-pointers, including one where he made a physics-defying block to set up Dirk's game winner.
Beaubois' combination of wingspan and footspeed help him keep up with those guards, and he can always get a hand in the face, if not a hand on the ball.
While Kidd is weak directly defending the ball, he's a great help defender. There's no reason that a competent defender couldn't force people into Kidd's waiting hands/arms to go for a steal.
Which is why the Golden State Warriors game was such a tragedy, because Beaubois could have more than likely stopped the bleeding as Curry ripped the Mavs apart in the closing minutes.
I understand if the Mavs prefer to close out the game with Terry at the two, because they need some late game offense to take the scoring load off Dirk. But the Warriors are one of the only teams the Mavs could get away with playing Kidd, Beaubois and Terry, because of their lack of size.
I mean, the Warriors played Mikki Moore the whole night as their center!
It's a tough way to learn a lesson because come the end of the season, the Mavericks will need every mark in the win column they can get.
Hopefully Carlisle can learn once and for all that unless it's garbage time, JJ Barea does not need to be in there, and the Mavs can get some late game defense from the duo of Kidd and Beaubois.
For more of my articles about the Dallas Mavericks, and the other teams in the NBA Southwest division, check me out at Fan Huddle .