The Dallas Mavericks faced off with the Houston Rockets on Monday night in NBA preseason action. Probably the biggest storyline from the game was Rockets center Dwight Howard coming to Dallas for the first time since spurning the Mavericks and owner Mark Cuban in free agency.
Howard certainly made his impact on the game felts, putting up 15 points, 17 rebounds, one block and three steals in 29 minutes on the floor. However, from the Mavs’ perspective, Howard was probably the least of their worries. From the Mavs’ perspective, they had to be shaking their heads as they watched the bad side of Monta Ellis in full force throughout the game.
I praised Ellis early in the preseason for how he was playing. Though he was still looking to score often, he wasn’t taking terrible shots and was distributing quite nicely. For a player with the shot-selection that Ellis has displayed in recent years, that’s vast improvement and something to hang your hat on if you’re Dallas. What he was doing on the floor on Monday night, though, was the antithesis of what they want.
In 27 minutes, Ellis finished the game with eight points, seven assists, one rebound and one steal, while also turning the ball over three time. More importantly, though, Ellis scored his eight points on putrid 3-13 shooting from the field and 0-6 shooting from long-range. Even with him not being a great outside shooter and most of his shots not falling on Monday, Ellis continued to try and force the issue and that was the result.
When Ellis is forcing things, it doesn’t just affect his shooting percentage, but it affects the entire team. He starts pressing and making poor decisions like trying to make moves or take shots that he shouldn’t, as well as not making the extra pass when he should. When he’s playing with quality players around him like Dirk Nowitzki and Jose Calderon, him playing the way he did on Monday is a real problem.
If this type of performance is only an occasional thing instead of the norm with Ellis on the Mavericks, then it won’t be that big of an issue. However, his track record doesn’t exactly suggest that this will be anything but the norm when it comes to his play. I know it’s just one preseason game, but if I’m the Mavericks, Ellis’ game on Monday has me gnawing on my fingernails anxiously about this season.