Skip to content

Mavericks utilize Guerrilla Warfare; spoil Nash and Howard debuts

Oct 31, 2012, 3:26 AM EDT

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

Hanging out in the shadows cast by the debuts of Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, the Princeton Offense and the return of Kobe Bryant was the Dallas Mavericks, a team everyone assumed would play the role of wrestling jobber — hang around for a few minutes, show off a few moves, and then take that fall late in the match. No Dirk Nowitzki, no Chris Kaman and no star should have meant no chance, but the beautiful thing about opening night is that all is equal, even when it isn’t.

The lasting image of the night wasn’t a Howard dunk or a Nash lob, but rather second round draft pick Jae Crowder, all 6-foot-6 of him, shoving a forearm into the back of 7-foot Pau Gasol, battling a fight on the block that he shouldn’t have had a chance in. That was the story all game long, as the Mavericks pulled off the upset, 99-91.

You see, there are just some things most NBA teams cede to their opponent. Usually a point guard can come up the floor with very little pressure — maybe they get turned once, or have to go through their legs, but the pressure is token at best.

And when a 7-footer has a chance at an easy dunk? Usually undersized forwards don’t hack at their arms like they’re chopping down a tree. You give up the two points and live to fight another day.

These are like the little unwritten rules of NBA basketball. Most teams observe them.

The Dallas Mavericks do not.

The Lakers should have known they had a fight on their hands the second Darren Collison began to implement a one-man full court press, making Steve Nash work just to get the ball across half court. When Pau Gasol lobbed three straight passes to Dwight Howard over the top of the defense — only for a swarm of Mavs to come-a-hackin’ — that should have been an indicator of the night that was in store for the Lakers. Nothing easy, everything earned.

It actually ended up being the Lakers who made it too easy for the Mavs. There’s a reason post play in the NBA has fallen off drastically — it’s not as effective against today’s quicker defenses. The Princeton Offense, in it’s most optimal state, is supposed to present the Lakers with multiple options. It’s not a set of rigid plays — it’s a way to enable players to read and react. Problem was, the Lakers didn’t read and react — they had already predetermined what what they wanted to do based on their opponent’s size.

The Lakers saw the height of the Dallas big men, and went there repeatedly. Nevermind that Elton Brand is one of the best post defenders in the league — the Lakers just kept marching straight forward with chaos surrounding them from all sides, seemingly impervious to the fact that Dallas was happy to engage in this type of battle. This was the Mavs utilizing Guerrilla Warfare at its best, and Darren Collison (17 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds) running his team and controlling the tempo much better than Nash did.

Of course, there are a few reasons Lakers fans shouldn’t panic. The whole “first game together in a new system” thing is one, but even more importantly, the Lakers still hovered around 50 percent shooting from the field all night. Point the finger at the free throw shooting before anything else, as the team went 12-for-31 (38%) from the charity stripe. Yes, Howard is dreadful from the line, but that probably won’t happen again.

It’s also hard not to imagine a player as smart as Nash figuring out the balance between getting others involved and running his game in the pick-and-roll. The Lakers could benefit from a more varied attack offensively than they displayed tonight, but the inability to get back on defense is the more pressing issue. Steve Nash can only serve as a speed bump stopping the break, and the Lakers defense suddenly loses a lot of wallop when Dwight Howard is on the wrong side of halfcourt.

Was it a rocky start for the Lakers? Yes, but let’s wait and see how the Lakers look when they get to play their own game — just as soon as they find it.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Kings to sign Sim Bhullar to 10-day contract, would be first Indian descent in NBA

    Apr 1, 2015, 4:51 PM EDT

    2015 NBA D-Leage Showcase Getty Images

    Seen at Summer League he was project, we’ll see how far along he has come.

  2. Stephen Curry clear betting favorite to win MVP

    Apr 1, 2015, 4:21 PM EDT

    Stephen Curry AP

    Curry is going to win this award. More than that, he’s earned it.

  3. Ryan Anderson to return to Pelicans lineup Wednesday vs. Lakers

    Apr 1, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    New Orleans Pelicans v Orlando Magic Getty Images

    Anderson has missed the last 18 games due to injury, and New Orleans is trying to catch OKC for the final playoff spot in the West.

  4. Russell Westbrook has league-leading 15th technical foul rescinded

    Apr 1, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    Russell Westbrook AP

    A 16th during the regular season would mean a one-game suspension.

  5. Lance Stephenson says he doesn’t regret free agent decision to sign with Hornets

    Apr 1, 2015, 1:50 PM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Charlotte Hornets Getty Images

    Stephenson didn’t play in his team’s last game as a result of the coach’s decision.

  6. Stephen Curry crosses over Chris Paul a second time (VIDEO)

    Apr 1, 2015, 1:10 PM EDT

    Stephen Curry, Chris Paul AP

    Not as devastating as the one that’s made the rounds, but deadly nonetheless.

  7. Report: LeBron James calls the plays, Cavaliers coach David Blatt repeats them to team

    Apr 1, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    We know it’s LeBron’s world in Cleveland, but this makes Blatt look a bit silly.

  8. Blake Griffin: ‘Home-court advantage is just not there for us’

    Apr 1, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT

    Blake Griffin AP

    This isn’t the first time one of the Clippers has publicly pointed out the obvious.

  9. Chris Paul posts self-mocking meme after getting crossed over by Stephen Curry

    Apr 1, 2015, 9:50 AM EDT

    chrispaultwistermeme

    The Internet went nuts with memes of Paul falling down, and he got in on the fun himself.

  10. Old school Nets’ coach Lionel Hollins doesn’t believe in resting players

    Apr 1, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    Brooklyn Nets v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Hollins believes what he believes, evidence to the contrary be damned.

  11. Blake Griffin dropped 40 on Golden State in loss (VIDEO)

    Apr 1, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Blake Griffin, James Michael McAdoo, Marreese Speights AP

    He was the reason the Clippers were close to the Warriors.

  12. Five Things We Learned in NBA Tuesday: Golden State exposed Clippers’ defense

    Apr 1, 2015, 1:34 AM EDT

    Matt Barnes, Stephen Curry AP

    We may have to watch the Nets in the playoffs. Lord help us all.

  13. Stephen Curry drops Chris Paul with behind-the-back move (VIDEO)

    Apr 1, 2015, 12:50 AM EDT

    Stephen Curry, Chris Paul AP

    Curry just dropped the best defensive point guard in the NBA.

  14. Anthony Davis says James Harden should be MVP

    Mar 31, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    New Orleans Pelicans v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    Curry and Harden seem to be the frontrunners.

  15. Kevin Durant posts picture from hospital bed, thanks fans, “NBA brothers”

    Mar 31, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT

    2015 NBA All-Star Game Getty Images

    “Not what I envisioned coming into this season. But I’m here and ready to conquer this journey.” —Kevin Durant

  16. Shaq takes shots at Lakers, Clippers during Justin Bieber roast

    Mar 31, 2015, 7:59 PM EDT

    Shaquille O'Neal AP

    Which is easier to insult, the Lakers or Justin Bieber?

Featured video

Clippers playoffs? MCW shooting? Your twitter questions answered.
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. H. Whiteside (6439)
  2. K. Durant (5835)
  3. K. Martin (5576)
  4. D. Wade (5512)
  5. K. Lowry (5512)
  1. G. Monroe (5402)
  2. D. Rose (5347)
  3. P. George (5168)
  4. B. Knight (5034)
  5. R. Rubio (5017)