By: Mitchell Felker
Ahead of Game 5 and another chance for the Rockets to close out the Dallas Mavericks, we caught up with Tim Cato of MavsMoneyball.com
MF - Rockets fans adored Chandler Parsons. Half still do, while half blame him for leaving even though thats pretty much Daryl Morey's fault for underestimating the troll inside of Mark Cuban. How hard did you fall in love with him this season, and how did it change your outlook to lose him so early into the playoffs?
TC - It took some weeks. His November was objectively terrible as he started his season with some terrible shooting and a ton of missed layups, but as the year wore on, we all began to realize just how great this dude was. From January on, I'm one of many who would argue Parsons was the most important Maverick. His spot up scoring skills, whether it's an actual jumper or that pump fake of his, make him a fit with literally any four players you put next to him, and as the season wore on, we saw Carlisle putting the ball in his hands more and more as a primary option.
When Parsons went down, the series was over. I've said for a while Houston was Dallas' best matchup, but I still picked the Rockets in seven. The Mavericks needed him for a chance at an upset, something that's pretty evident from watching the series.
Al-Farouq Aminu has had some big games against the Rockets this season comparative to the rest of his season. In short, he's killing Houston. Where did he come from? How the hell did he only average 6 and 5 for the year?? And, most importantly, whats his deal with the Houston Rockets???
He only really got into the rotation in January because he wasn't quite this good to start the season, but damn do Dallas fans love him now. His offense is in a bit of an unsustainable groove this series -- he's a below-30 percent three-point shooter -- but the defense, rebounding and hustle are a season-round thing. He honestly might be the most important Maverick free agent this summer.
I'm on the record admitting my reverence for JJ Barea. What he (and Dirk & Tyson & J-Kidd & Carlisle) did in 2011 was the most fun I've had watching basketball since I was a kid watching the Dream do his shake-thing. How did Minnesota not have a spot for this guy?
Dallas really is the perfect spot for him, in a flow offense with floor spacing around him where he can run a half dozen pick-and-rolls every time down the floor when he's the lead ball handler. There's something about being back "home" too, I think. I'm not sure the exact failings of his play in Minnesota, but he's a player who really needs all the right conditions to succeed. With Rondo out, he has that with the Mavericks.
The Rondo trade was an unmitigated disaster. How much did losing Jae Crowder and Brendan Wright hurt the Mavs? And what do you see the long-term effects being now that he appears to be leaving?
I don't really see Wright or Crowder as huge losses. Wright's a free agent this summer while Crowder's a player who's extraneous with Aminu on the roster. The big effect the trade might have had is it crippled the Maverick chances to make a move as other point guards became available closer to the trade deadline. It's impossible to know, but could Isaiah Thomas have been available? Brandon Knight?
From an outsider's view, what sort of things are you seeing upon closer inspection of Houston that has surprised you? Disappointed?
Dwight Howard's renaissance has been great to watch as an NBA fan, and if he can play like this, I think you guys have a chance against most teams. At the same time, I'm worried that if Barea can do this, how worse will things get when it's Chris Paul or Tony Parker next series?
The series is 3-1 and headed back to Houston for another chance at a close out. Do you think Carlisle has anymore tricks up his sleeve, and what are you hoping to see in Game 5?
Of course I'd love the Mavericks to push the Rockets another game, but I have my doubts. A lot of things went right in Game 4 that aren't really sustainable -- the three-point shooting on both sides, for example.