Will Dirk, Rondo, and Ellis Step it up in the Playoffs? In Part 4 of our “Five Mavs’ Questions in Five Days”, we look at these players and discuss what kind of performance we should expect.
The Dallas Mavericks didn’t do much this season to instill confidence in Mavs Nation. From the start, it was obvious the western conference was absolutely loaded with top-notch teams. The Dallas Mavericks certainly had their work cut out for them as they hustled and traded their way into building a fairly competitive looking roster.
The season started strong for the offensive-minded Mavs as they tore up early opponents and laid claim to one of the top two offenses in the NBA. In a surprise move the Mavs added former NBA champ and All-Star, Rajon Rondo to the talented, but defensive deficient, roster.
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Integrating the talented PG has been a challenge every step of the way and offensive efficacy has suffered as a result. Some of it is a learning curve and some of it appears to be self-preservation for the playoffs. In any case, can we expect the Mavs’ top players in step up their games when the pressure of the playoffs is really on?
Without a doubt.
Dirk Nowitzki, in his old age, is a perfect example of a player picking and choosing energy bursts. Dirk is no longer the man who can play at 100%, 100% of the time. Never known as a very stout defender in the first place, the lower effort this season has been pretty obvious. That will change when the playoffs begin.
Monta Ellis is another player who is not exactly known for defense, but that doesn’t mean he’s an incapable defender. Ellis may be undersized but he’s savvy and instinctual. Ellis is a situational defender who increases defensive aggressiveness in critical situations. Don’t be surprised if Ellis’ steals per game double in the playoffs.
Rajon Rondo has had a tough time since joining the Mavs. His numbers are down across the board and his effectiveness is questionable at times. Regardless of who the Mavs draw in the first round, compared to regular season basketball, playoff basketball plays slower. Teams are better prepared and move the ball more methodically.
When the Mavs are forced to slow down and play in a half-court offense, Rajon Rondo will be the primary distributer. When opponents’ offenses slow down, Rondo will be able show what kind of defender he can be.
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Dirk will never a great (or even “good”) defender, but he can be better with just some added effort. Ellis has obvious size limitations but he knows how to increase his tenacity when he needs to do so. Rajon Rondo isn’t a natural fit on this fast moving offense but his skill set is perfectly tailored for playoff basketball.
It’s no wild stretch to believe performance will improve across the board for the Dallas Mavericks. The only question is – will it be enough?
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