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Three concerning trends with the Mavericks’ offense that need to be addressed



The Dallas Mavericks might be 7-4 to start the season, but that record is somewhat deceiving if you’re not watching their games. Here are the seven wins Dallas has this season, and the record of each team they beat:

Of those seven wins, only one came against a team that figures to be in playoff contention this season (Boston), and even that called for some heroics from Luka Doncic to escape with the W. If you peel back the curtain on their four losses, you’ll see that all of them have come against strong teams, with Dallas losing by an average of 20.5 points.

So basically the Mavericks are beating bad teams and getting blown out by the good ones. But even in its wins something just seems off about Dallas through 11 games, specifically on offense. This goes beyond just players taking time to mesh together because Dallas has had more or less the same roster for the past three seasons, so lack of chemistry isn’t the issue. This is the same group of guys who put together the most efficient offense in league history during the 2019-20 season. 


What we’ve seen so far from this team is a far cry from that ultra-efficient squad from two years ago. The issues the Mavericks are having stem from a mix of poor shooting and offensive scheming, so let’s break down three early trends that need to be fixed if Dallas wants to do anything interesting this season.

1. Poor 3-point shooting

We’ll start with the trend that I think is the least concerning of the three, but is still an issue that Dallas needs to get sorted out. Through 11 games, the Mavericks rank 26th in the league in 3-point shooting (32.1 percent), despite taking the sixth-most shots from deep per game (39.1). Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are both shooting sub-.300 from 3-point territory, and outside of Tim Hardaway Jr., no one on Dallas’ roster has managed to find their touch from long range. 

For a team whose identity has in part been taking a significant amount of 3s since Doncic entered the league (Dallas hasn’t ranked lower than sixth in 3-point attempts per game since 2018), shooting this poorly will certainly impact them in terms of wins and losses. 

But it’s not as if the Mavericks aren’t getting good looks at the basket from deep. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Over 21 percent of Dallas’ 3-point attempts happen without a defender within six feet of them, which isn’t surprising given Doncic’s playmaking abilities.

Very tight (0-2 feet)





Tight (2-4 feet)





Open (4-6 feet)





Very open (6 feet+)





The other reason most of Dallas’ 3s are mostly unguarded, is because opponents don’t respect the ability of guys like Dorian Finney-Smith and Dwight Powell to sink those shots. Just look at how far away DeMar DeRozan is from Finney-Smith as Doncic tries to make something happen on this possession:

Or how Nikola Vucevic pays no mind to Powell out on the wing as the Bulls‘ defense swarms Doncic in the paint:

Finney-Smith’s shooting hasn’t reached panic mode yet, considering his efficiency has improved every year he’s been in the league, and he shot a career-high 39.4 percent last season on five attempts per game. But for a player that provides no playmaking ability or scoring, it’s imperative that he starts knocking down those shots soon. For guys like Doncic and Porzingis, there also shouldn’t be too much concern as Doncic typically starts the season slow with his shooting, and K.P. hasn’t shot below 35 percent from deep since being traded to Dallas. 

As for Powell, he’s a career 29.2 percent shooter from deep and has never averaged more than one 3-pointer. But it’s clear that his shooting from long range is more out of necessity for Dallas’ offense than anything else. The Mavericks can’t have Powell clogging the paint all of the time, because that limits Doncic’s playmaking abilities when he’s attacking. So the only other option is to stick him out on the 3-point line and have him do his best Maxi Kleber impression until the versatile forward returns to the rotation. 

Compared to the other two problems with the offense, the 3-point shooting is an easy fix. All it takes is for Doncic, Porzingis, Finney-Smith and others to start connecting on 3s. If that happens, defenders can’t sag off of Finney-Smith, which will make it easier for Doncic and Jalen Brunson to create. As the season wears on we’ll likely see some positive regression for Dallas’ 3-point shooting woes, so it could easily be resolved a month down the line.   


2. Terrible spacing

There are some really funky things happening with Dallas’ floor spacing this season, which is pretty concerning when you have an elite playmaker like Doncic. Like this pick-and-roll between Doncic and Powell that was going absolutely nowhere:

This is just bad spacing all around. Why is there only one player on the weak side of the floor, and why is it Hardaway Jr. instead of Finney-Smith? Why is Porzingis looking to post-up with Doncic coming around a screen with two defenders on him? Why is Powell rolling to the rim instead of staying out on the 3-point line? The Mavericks ran that play a couple of minutes earlier and had similar results, and it resulted in another errant pass from Doncic and a Porzingis turnover.  


The issues are more glaring in losses, but similar errors are happening in Dallas’ wins where the spacing just doesn’t make sense. Like in this win against the Pelicans where Hardaway Jr. and Powell are running a pick-and-roll, and Porzingis for some reason is posting up four feet from where Hardaway is trying to operate.

Hardaway nailed the jumper, but Porzingis should’ve slid to the corner and allowed Hardaway space to either attack the basket, or kick it out to someone for a 3-pointer. There’s also this possession where Doncic is trying to take his man one-on-one, but at the same time Finney-Smith is cutting toward the basket, which brings his defender over, and suddenly Doncic is surrounded by three Pelicans players.

What’s odd about the bad floor spacing we’ve seen from Dallas is that this wasn’t as prevalent of an issue last year, and it’s not like there was major roster turnover during the offseason. What’s causing the court to shrink for the Mavericks on offense is a direct correlation from the next trend we’re seeing from this team.

3. Trouble with the starting lineup

Ahead of Dallas’ win over the Kings at the end of October, Kidd was asked if he’s thought about tinkering with the starting lineup due to the Mavericks’ slow starts in the first quarter this season.

“That’s always something we can go to, but you want to give that group not just two games or five games, you want to give them enough games to work through the process of starting slow,” Kidd said. “Once we get healthy, we’ll go through that process to see if we can get off to better starts.”


It’s fair to give the current starters time to work out some kinks, especially since Porzingis already missed five games due to back tightness. But in the six games that the starters have played together, they’re getting outscored by 19.4 points this season, per Cleaning the Glass. That ranks dead last in the league among lineups that have played at least 100 possessions together. Yikes.

Starting Powell over Kleber was one of the first major changes Kidd made entering this season, despite the great results Dallas got out of its starting lineup last year. The Mavericks outscored opponents by 11.2 points a season ago with Kleber starting, as his floor-spacing ability was integral to Dallas’ offense. With Powell, you lose that floor-spacing and so far most opponents have ignored him and Finney-Smith when they’re standing beyond the arc. That throws more defenders at Doncic when he’s attacking the basket, which gives him less space to operate. When Powell, Finney-Smith and Doncic share the floor — which is the second-most used trio by the Mavs — Dallas is getting outscored by 14.3 points.

But this is less about Powell’s inability to shoot 3s and more about how he’s used, because he’s beneficial when he’s the only big on the floor. When Porzingis was sidelined for five games, that pushed Brunson into the starting lineup, and that group of Doncic, Brunson, Hardaway Jr., Finney-Smith and Powell outscored opponents by 15.8 points. That ranks fifth in the league among lineups that have played 100 or more possessions.

It’s not difficult to see why that lineup’s been successful for Dallas this season. Having Brunson on the floor with Doncic adds another playmaker in the lineup, which takes pressure off the All-NBA guard. Then there’s the benefit of having only one big in the lineup, which means more space to operate in the paint for Doncic and Brunson. Interestingly enough, Dallas typically runs with lineups that feature one big man, except for the starters.

In fact, the floor spacing issue is mainly happening when Powell and Porzingis are in the lineup together, although Finney-Smith has been a culprit of it too. When there’s only one big man out there, the offense just moves along easier. Like this:


The spacing on this possession is great, because as Porzingis pops out off the pick-and-roll with Brunson, it pulls Jaxson Hayes away from the basket, giving Brunson an open lane to the rim. Finney-Smith also provided a secondary option for Brunson by cutting at the right time, while Bullock also could’ve been an option for the corner 3-pointer.    

Figuring out the rotations is going to be the most important aspect of Dallas’ success this season. When Kleber returns, perhaps Kidd will put him in the starting lineup to mix things up. Or maybe Finney-Smith gets swapped out for someone like Reggie Bullock who is knocking down 3s at a higher clip right now. Kidd could also decide to keep the starting lineup as is. Those five players did have a plus-5.6 net rating last season, so it means a lineup featuring Porzingis and Powell can work…but in smaller doses. 

The season’s still incredibly young, so all of these things can be fixed and shooting slumps can change. But Dallas has to start putting the pieces together soon because they won’t be playing the Spurs and Pelicans every night to help pad their record. At some point, the Mavericks are going to have to prove that they can beat quality teams, otherwise, the losses are going to start to pile up.


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Pac-12 football: Can Lincoln Riley and Dan Lanning make immediate impacts?



High-profile Pac-12 programs USC and Oregon both have new head coaches. How they do are among RJ Young’s key storylines to watch.

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Cleaning Manchester United’s transfer mess starts with Cristiano Ronaldo exit; the next steps will be tougher



At last Manchester United appear to be seeing the reality of their situation. A sweeping of the decks at Old Trafford might be the only way to eventually restore some star power to this fading icon and that starts with the A-lister who shone brightest the last time this club were at the top of the European game.

Manchester United sources Monday night were publicly insistent that Cristiano Ronaldo is not for sale and is expected to see out the final year of his contract. In particular, they insisted that reports United would look to terminate that deal were incorrect. By Tuesday morning, that stance has gotten somewhat softer and the five-time Ballon d’Or winner could indeed be allowed to leave.

The question, of course, is where to? Of the possible Champions League contenders that he wants to join, only Chelsea took a long look at him and they have concluded otherwise. Atletico Madrid’s fans are campaigning against his signature while Barcelona president Joan Laporta did not deny that his club had been offered (and rejected) the chance to sign the 37-year-old before picking the younger model in Robert Lewandowski and then activating the fourth “lever.”


Indeed, CBS Sports understands that the only offers currently on the table for Ronaldo come from Saudi Arabia, where two leading clubs have made plain their willingness to take the Portugal international on increased wages despite his own reticence. Ronaldo, the current Champions League record scorer, feels he has unfinished business in that competition and will want to be playing at the highest level before this winter’s World Cup in Qatar. One of the two Saudi clubs interested in his services has told CBS Sports that their offer would still be on the table for Ronaldo in January, but that may be too late for Erik ten Hag’s new start.

Ronaldo could be well be unshiftable in the closing days of the transfer window. The worry for United ought to be how many others in their squad are of the same status.

It was instructive to see former Manchester United defender Gary Neville apply RAG status to the club’s financial business in the years since their guiding light, Sir Alex Ferguson, retired. Of 33 signings made over the past nine years, two got the green light from the pundit, seven were amber and the rest were the sort of unqualified disappointments that constituted red status. To which one had two immediate reactions. First of all, surely something deeper than red is required? After all, Daley Blind wasn’t great but he was hardly an Alexis Sanchez-style blow up your wage bill, rob minutes from talented youngsters and end up paying his wages just for him to go away disaster.

Then when your eyes moved from the mass of inadequate recruitment to the supposed successes, you cannot help but feel the bar might be too low. Zlatan Ibrahimovic gave United a great first season but didn’t even make it to the end of a deeply disappointing second while Bruno Fernandes‘ form has fallen off a cliff since Ronaldo, implausibly an amber on Neville’s list, arrived.

Many of these players that Neville was so unimpressed by make up the rump of ten Hag’s squad now. There are plenty, the Phil Joneses, Eric Baillys and even Anthony Martials (at least until his preseason revival) who seem bound to see out their contract until the bitter end, but also foundational pieces of the squad that finished sixth. United are swimming in center backs who are above the aforementioned two in the depth chart, but who would throw a stack of money at them to pay the sizable wages of Victor Lindelof or Raphael Varane


A year ago, the suggestion that United might struggle to find a buyer for Fernandes would have been laughed out of the conversation. Why would they want to, for starters? But then the 27-year-old is redolent of a playing squad that comes to Old Trafford for atrophy rather than silverware. Fred might be in the same boat. Both show often enough that club scouts were not wrong to see talent in them. However, without a defined tactical structure to sit within, Fernandes in particular seems to indulge his worst tendencies. Last season, the Portugal international ranked third for intercepted passes, sixth for those that went out of bounds (only Joao Cancelo beat him in both categories, but the Manchester City full back also completed more than 1,000 more than his compatriot’s 1,524). 

The most convincing case for a Fernandes sale — not something his club have shown any indication of considering — is that managers might still have time to deprogram his Unitedness before it is too late. One might make the same case for the faltering Marcus Rashford, who was linked with Paris Saint-Germain earlier this month. It is fair to say that revelations of dialogue between his agent and the Ligue 1 champions did not emanate from the Parc des Princes.  It would appear that ten Hag is too late to do the same where David de Gea is concerned. He simply cannot pass the football to the standard required by most modern clubs.

Ederson, Alisson and even Aaron Ramsdale have enhanced their side’s attacking capabilities with searing passes that don’t just keep possession at their teammate’s feet, but create opportunities in the blink of an eye. Where those goalkeepers speed the game, De Gea slows it down. What passes he has made so far this season have been either knocking the ball short to a center back or punting the ball aimlessly up the field. It took 180 minutes for him to successfully complete a pass into the opposition half, a goal kick thumped in the direction of Anthony Elanga when United were 4-0 down at Brentford.

Passes made by De Gea and Ramsdale this season. Note how frequently Ramsdale is able to pick out team mates high up the pitch, quickly moving Arsenal into attacking positions

Ten Hag has said — in reference to his team as a whole — that he is confident they can adapt to his demands because they did so in preseason. Speaking after his horror show at the Gtec Community Stadium, De Gea offered a clear explanation for why he will find things more difficult. “It’s too easy to play in preseason when you play for nothing,” he said. “When you play in the games that matters is when you need bravery and to be more consistent and to be proper players. That wasn’t the case today. We need to stick together and we have a lot to learn under a new manager.”

Liverpool didn’t exactly gameplan for De Gea when they were losing 4-0 in Bangkok. Brentford did with Christian Norgaard revealing after the match they had gone man-to-man from goal kicks; in theory, United should have had a spare player in De Gea. The reality is he was as effective a means of the hosts scoring goals as getting Ivan Toney isolated against Lisandro Martinez. Jurgen Klopp will surely look to repeat the trick.


What can United do about it bar hope De Gea gets better with the ball at his feet? The overlap in a Venn diagram of “clubs who can match £375,000-a-week salaries” and “clubs who will tolerate a goalkeeper who cannot pass progressively” is miniscule. Look down the squad list at Old Trafford and there are more players like the Spaniard than unlike him — those who have been rather left behind by the modern game, at least in part because of the antiquated football operations at the club, and who would curry next to no suitors.

It is why United are instead forced to cash in on talented youngsters such as James Garner, the £15 million they hope to get for him is a fair sight more than they could get for plenty of the established internationals in their team. The cash reserves are not as bountiful as they once were at Old Trafford; to adapt a Josh Kroenke phrase, this is a team with a Champions League wage bill on a Europa Conference League budget.

Arsenal, last season’s early crisis club, at least offer some sense of how United can get out of this mess and it takes them back to the Ronaldo case. North London was not short of similar players; aging stars whose output didn’t match their salary and whose conduct did not always impress Mikel Arteta. Arsenal director Edu Gaspar simply paid them to go away. 

“Try to avoid one more year with the problem inside, in the dressing room, expensive, not performing,” the Brazilian technical director said last month. “Clean, take it out. Even, I’m sorry, if you have to pay. To leave is better. Because that guy is sometimes also blocking someone.

“I know it hurts, I know it’s strange when I go to the board and say, ‘Sometimes it’s better to pay a player to leave than maintain them.’ But I consider it an investment. Sometimes people say, ‘It’s expensive.’ I say, ‘No, it’s investment.’ But someone will pay if you sell? No, guys — if the player is above 26, 27 and not performing, big salary, no chance.”


It is not an approach without its pitfalls. Right now Arsenal want a fee for Hector Bellerin, but why would Real Betis pay it when history suggests that the Gunners are more likely to rip up his deal than keep him around for the final year of his contract. And, of course, no player will terminate their contract unless they know there is another club waiting for them. The reality, though, is that the richest Premier League clubs have few other options in the current financial climate across the rest of the game.

That same reality that Arsenal faced in January 2021 when they began paying players to play elsewhere now looms large for United. They might have accepted that they don’t want their players, but the following realization might be even tougher for them. No one else wants them either.

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NBA Insider Reveals The Opening Night Schedule



(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)


We are now just about two months away from the new NBA season.

It might feel like ages away right now but it’ll be here before you know it and soon you’ll be watching your favorite team thrive or crash yet again.


While much of the upcoming NBA schedule is still a mystery, we do know the teams that will be squaring off against each other on Opening Night 2022.

The Philadelphia 76ers will face off against the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers will take on the Golden State Warriors on October 18.

That is quite the opening night, featuring the two teams that made it to the last Finals and two teams that are desperate to have a season that is better and stronger than what came before.



An Exciting Tip-Off

The Warriors will be getting their championship rings just moments before they go toe-to-toe with the Lakers.

Any betting person would put their money on the Warriors over the Lakers, but many eyes will be paying close attention to LA as they attempt to rebound from a truly abysmal season.

Meanwhile, the 76ers and Celtics will be a fascinating matchup.

The Celtics are coming off of a fantastic season, one that got them all the way to the Finals.


And the 76ers are doubling down on the roster they had last year, with a few new improvements.

Some inside the team, including James Harden, swear that this will be the season that sees them making it all the way through the playoffs.

It’ll be hard to gather a lot of information about any team based only on what we see during opening night.

But it’ll give NBA fans just a small taste of what’s to come.

The post NBA Insider Reveals The Opening Night Schedule appeared first on The Cold Wire.


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