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Wizards vs. Mavericks preview: Five questions with Mavs Moneyball

We've exchanged some questions with the good folks over at Mavs Moneyball. How will the Wizards fare on their trip to Texas?


It's game day, folks! You know what that means: yep, articles about the game... today. OK, well we were lucky enough to have Doyle Rader from Mavs Moneyball answer a few questions we had about the Mavs before tonight's game.

Without further ado, onto the questions!

Bullets Forever: So Monta "Have it all" Ellis has been playing extremely well this season. As the old saying goes, are the Wizards better off letting him get his, or would they be better off neutralizing his scoring?

Doyle Rader: With the way Ellis has been playing, he is going to look to get his no matter what opposing defenses throw his way. He is Dallas' leading scorer and a key piece in ball facilitation. Much of the time, he is the primary ball handler which allows him to set up open looks for his teammates as he collapses defenses when he drives to the bucket. Keeping Ellis out of the lane should be the primary concern for the Wizards. If they do that it could lead to Ellis talking long two-point attempts and no one likes low percentage shots.

BF: Gal Mekel has also been another pleasant surprise in the Mavs' rotation. What can Wizards fans expect to see from him and the rest of the second unit squaring off against the pace-slowing Eric Maynor and the sharpshooting Martell Webster?

DR: Mekel has certainly earned a spot in the rotation with his play and also because of necessity. With Devin Harris and Shane Larkin sidelined with injuries, Mekel has become the Mavericks' primary backup point guard. His game is not going to wow anyone, but Mekel is mostly competent on the floor. He has a nice floater and doesn't turn the ball over much. However, he can at times look a little lost on the court.

As for the rest of the bench, most people should be familiar with Vince Carter. The big surprise, though, is the way Jae Crowder is shooting the ball. He is shooting 59 percent from behind the arc and 62 percent on twos. Obviously, these numbers will regress slightly as the season continues but they are really rather remarkable to see from a player that some saw as hopeless.

DeJuan Blair has also been playing big minutes off the bench. Though he is not the tallest player, he is by far the scrappiest player in the paint on the Mavs' roster. He battles for rebounds at both ends, forces turnovers, and plays solid defense.

BF: Another year, another center in Dallas. What does Samuel Dalembert offer in the paint for which the Wizards need to watch out?

DR: Dalembert is a capable center who rebounds the ball well and who can block shots. He also has a midrange jump shot. However, that is about all. He is going to get rebounds and a hand full of points, not much else. Around the rim he has struggled to finish and will often get beat out for a rebound. It appears as though he just has some bad hands. The Wizards just need to keep a body on him, that should be enough to disrupt his offensive game.

BF: Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion are probably one of the most underrated forward duos in the league. If Washington decides to double-team Dirk, what's the most likely offensive play to result?

DR: If the Mavericks don't rotate, the most likely outcome will be a turnover or maybe a one-legged turn around fade away jumper. However, Dallas as so many weapons on offense that Washington will have to account for. We've already mentioned Ellis. Jose Calderon has played a lot off the ball this season. This has allowed him to work the perimeter and look for his three-point shot which he connects at a high rate. Carter, Marion, Crowder, and Blair can all score at high rates as well. Needless to day, the Wizards will have their hands full if they decide to double-team Dirk.

BF: And back to Marion: what's one weakness in the Matrix's defensive game that the Wizards would be smart to exploit?

DR: I'm not really sure if there are any weaknesses in Marion's game. I don't want to come off like a homer, but he is one of the most well-rounded defenders in the league. He guards every position except for center and it wouldn't surprise me if Carlisle asked him to defend a center at one point. Perhaps, though, the Wizards should exploit the fact that he can only defend one person at a time. Use Marion's man as a decoy, if possible, and open up the passing lanes. Marion is going to defend several different players throughout the game, those players need to attack and constantly be on the move. Just make him work.