Four of the five Dallas starters played more than 40 minutes, maxing out the best players on the Mavericks' roster to get the 97-87 win in Game 3 (recap, box score). Josh Howard, Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Jason Kidd may have been gassed as they headed to the locker room after the final buzzer, but Johnson must realize it was worth it to get the win.
Furthermore, keeping the likes of Eddie Jones and Juwan Howard on the bench as well as limiting the minutes of Malik Allen made a significant impact. The more court time those guys see, the more the Mavs will suffer. I wasn't thrilled seeing Devean George get 12 minutes, but considering how off Jerry Stackhouse has been, George's minutes were a necessary evil.
Mavericks Minutes - Game 3
Josh Howard ... 43:10
Dirk Nowitzki ... 43:37
Erick Dampier ... 25:00
Jason Terry ... 40:24
Jason Kidd ... 41:06
Jerry Stackhouse ... 7:18
Brandon Bass ... 24:13
Malik Allen ... 3:10
Devean George ... 12:02
JJ Barea ... DNP (Coach's Decision)
Juwan Howard ... DNP (Coach's Decision)
Eddie Jones ... DNP (Coach's Decision)
True George hit a big 3-pointer last night, which was great, but I'm more concerned about Stack's absence. Where has he been? I'm not expecting 15 or even 20 points out of the aging vet. I would, however, like him to register a single positive stat (0-2, 0 points, 0 rebs, 0 stls, 0 blks).
Brandon Bass is the only bench player for the Mavs to make a meaningful contribution - which will be the case if Terry starts. As long as Johnson continues to get the most out of his starters, the Mavericks can get back into this series and make a run at the next round.