May 18, 2011
Dirk Nowitzki(notes) has always been locked in, but his scoring numbers actually took a bit of a dive in 2010-11. Dirk's field goal percentage went up, but he managed "only" 23 points per game on the Mavs after averaging 25.9 and 25 in the two years before that. The "slide" ended last month, though, as Dirk has shot to 28.5 points per game in the playoffs on 52 percent shooting. He's gotten to the line 103 times in 11 playoff games, there appears to be more arc on his shot than there was in years past, and last night he nailed an NBA playoff record 24-straight free throws.
Want to see all of them? Want to immediately feel like you can waltz out to the charity stripe and knock in 12 of your own from 15 feet? Well, here you are:
And, via SB Nation, here's Dirk's shot chart:
And if you think there's something new going on with his work in the playoffs, well, stop. Dirk averaged just under 27 points per game in his last three playoffs, and his True Shooting Percentage (which takes into account three-pointers and free throws) remains a lights out 64 percent, as it was during the 2009 and 2010 postseason. He's been this good, even if his team hasn't been.
But with the emergence of Jose Juan Barea and the defensive stylings of Tyson Chandler(notes), the Mavs are a different outfit. Good thing, too. Because people were starting to forget just how brilliant Dirk Nowitzki is.