Thursday, June 23, 2011

Live 2011 NBA Draft Chat (with Nick Wright)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sunday, June 19, 2011

How I'll Remember the 2011 Dallas Mavericks

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I debated between 3 titles for this write-up before finally deciding on a broad name with emphasis on all three of my thesii.

(Alternate Title: The Movie Starring the 2011 Dallas Mavericks)

1. The so-called Basketball Gods DO exist
2. This team saved Basketball
3. This was the greatest NBA Playoffs and Finals of all-time

(Bare in mind that I've already waxed poetic about the man, the myth, the legend: Dirk Nowitzki)

1. The Miami Heat winning this 2011 NBA title just wouldn't have been right. Not after how they circumnavigated the system. Not after the 2006 NBA Finals. Not after those has-beens mocked the best player in the series after he just got done kicking their ass at 50%.

If these so-called "Basketball Gods" did exist, they certainly wouldn't be doing their job if they did the Dallas Mavericks in like that once again. However, after witnessing the 2011 NBA Finals, I'm ready to fully embrace their existence.

In case you're wondering just why I feel the Mavs were the team deserving of such justice, look no further than 2006. The Mavs got screwed (however, they remain at fault because of how terribly they handled it). So maybe the better proclamation is that the Miami Heat were so undeserving of that title that it hurt me as a sports fan.

Although it wasn't just that the right team won the 2011 NBA Championship, but how they won. It was almost an exact role reversal from 2006, except that the Mavs didn't need David Stern's intervention. Big lead in the series (although it was more pronounced than it actually was). Huge comeback planting seeds of doubt. Superstar crumbling in front of a nation. The way it all unfolded was like a movie. It was poetic justice at its finest. And it was beautiful.

2. The NBA would not be a beautiful sight if the Miami Heat won the 2011 NBA Finals, which was the biggest and best case of a pure team vs. a group of individuals that I have ever seen.

The Dallas Mavericks play a beautiful brand of basketball. Their passing abilities are brilliant enough to impress even Brazilian soccer fans. Their biggest strength was their belief in each other, and their collective drive towards one goal. Each and every player was ready to go to war because they believed their leaders deserved an NBA Championship. Most of the players made individual sacrifices for the betterment of the team (DeShawn and Marion come to mind first). None of them ever doubted Rick Carlisle, despite his deployed tactics that made little sense on the surface (Barea's promotion despite struggles). They believed in him. They were ready to sacrifice. And they wanted to win. As a team.

And now a word of wisdom on each of the Mavericks:

Dirk's drive
Terry's cajones
Kidd's calming presence
Barea's might
Marion's style
Chandler's tenacity
The Custodian's scrappiness
Haywood's free throws
DeShawn's N**** please 3's
Myanmar's silky smooth J
Peja's.......Peja's.......neckbeard!
Unidentified hype guy's fistpumps
Cuban's "Doesn't matter"s

And then you have the Miami pieces of sHeat. Their idea of a good offense was to sit around until the shot clock got low and then isolate 1 of their 3 studs to go 1-on-1. It wasn't basketball. In fact, it might have been the death of basketball. Professional sports leagues are full of copycats. When a team wins a Championship, everybody else looks at them to see how they did it. Then they try do that themselves. Can you imagine 28 other teams adopting that style of basketball?

I'm glad we don't have to. While some people might enjoy their chase at a repeat, I'd much rather see them face the pressure of trying to capture their first title once again. However, as great as next season might be....

3. We will never see another season quite like the NBA's 2010-11 season. LeBron's Decision may have been the biggest image boost combined with the biggest reputation hit we've ever seen. The act itself was as polarizing as the result. Never has something seemed so poorly thought out, only to turn out to be pure genius.

LeBron's wild ride of a season is something we will never forget. Suddenly everybody cared about the NBA again. Only they cared because they wanted to watch LeBron lose (or perhaps more importantly, see him fail). Yes, the Heat will be right back in the thick of the race next year, but it won't be the same. There's no way. Hatred tends to die down when given time, especially when there's reason to sympathize (and eventually he'll play a few of his cards correctly...right?). People wanted to see him fail right now. I think people are fine with him winning the next 8 titles as long as he lost this year. They wanted instant retribution.

Then you combine that with America's adopted hero, who happens to hail from a country most recognized by one of the world's biggest catastrophes ever. Talk about a redemption story. But people embraced Dirk. They sympathized with his past failures (see?). They could see how much it meant to him. They wanted him to win. There was a defiant good guy and a defiant bad guy (no matter how unlikely the casted roles seemed just 12 months ago) in the NBA Finals. That's what people want.

And then you have the actual games. Every one of them was undecided going into the 4th quarter. Games 2, 3, and 4 all came down to the last and final shot (Dirk make/Wade miss, Dirk miss, Miller miss) and will all be shown on ESPN Classic someday. Game 5 was the pinnacle of professional basketball in terms of hype and quality of play, with both teams playing well enough to win any other game of the series. Game 6 saw an underdog close out on the road to win their first NBA title of all time.

Plus, there was an actual dislike between the teams. Dirk and the Mavs despising Wade and the Heat because of the 2006 NBA Finals. Wade and LeBron mad like little school girls because everybody hated them. There was a stargazed feud that witnessed (!) LeBron's second fiddle act reach an all time high. And there was Dirk working on the proper pronunciation of "ig'nant." And there was (finally) a fight!

We saw the birth of a superstar, who gave us the "Genuine sports moment of 2011" (Sports Guy) with his escape act celebration. We saw many start to question The Unquestioned One, including a media member who may have swung the series (God bless Gregg Doyel). We saw His Dirkness become a legitimate fan of Chris Bosh (UnlikeABosh). We saw (but will soon forget) Juwan Howard and The Custodian playing crucial NBA Finals minutes. We saw Mario's Miracle versions II and III. We saw a Puerto Rican 5'8 NBA Finals difference maker. We saw an effective zone defense (first time in NBA Playoffs history?). We saw Jason Terry flash many skills, none more impressive than his prophetic tattoo. And we saw the Miami Heat wave the white (out) flag with time still on the clock in what was supposed to be their coronation.

Combine the great Finals with the beginning of a Golden Age in the NBA, and that's how you arrive at the best NBA Playoffs of all time. There were upsets like an 8 seed beating a 1. There were ahead-of-schedule contenders (Thunder) and enjoyable pretenders (Lakers). There was a series between two small market teams that people actually cared about. There was an undressing of an MVP, followed by an undressing of the world's best player. There was the antagonist juggernaut that seemed as dominant as advertised until the last act. And there were the protagonist underdogs who prevailed in the end. It all played out like it was a part of Hollywood.

Hollywood as hell.

His Dirkness

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dirk Nowitzki: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dirk Nowitzki's drive to the 2011 NBA Championship was the most impressive individual run that I've ever had the pleasure of supporting in my 25 years of existence (replacing Priest Holmes' 27 touchdown season). The least his blog namesake could do is scribble up a magnum opus on all things Dirk. So here goes...

"Dirk Nowitzki: The Man, The Myth, The Legend"

The Man - Dirk Nowitzki is one of the most uniquely talented, as well as spirited, athletes of all time.

Let me begin with his escape act celebration. I thought it was utterly fascinating. I'm still not sure what to make of it, other than the fact that I loved it. For starters, it was a breath of fresh air to see a champion's genuine emotions instead of watching Kobe seek out a camera so he could pump his fists and hold up fingers indicating whatever Championship he's on (it's 2 right?). But I loved the mystery of it all. There was no camera in the locker room to see him cry, ala Jordan. We're not even sure what he did back there. He said he cried, but did he just curl up into a ball? Was he all alone in the room? I believe anything up to and including him floating around the room in a full-lotused meditation is possible.

However, this wasn't even my favorite celebration moment of his from these playoffs. His Western Conference Championship walk out was a much bigger statement. There's a great chance he would've regretted not celebrating the moment with his teammates had they not win the NBA Finals right? It was the biggest proof we have that shows just what kind of mission he was on. He simply would not be denied this year.

His journey begins with his mentor, "The Godfather" Holger Geschwindner, who trained him with unorthodox (to say the least) drills, concentrating on spinning, fading, and jumping (leading to the tradition that is Dirk's pregame liftoff), as a teenager in Germany. He is the main reason Dirk is the most awkwardly dominant player in NBA history, and will forever be The Emperor to Dirk Vader.

However, The Godfather's teachings went above and beyond that of just basketball. He encouraged him to learn how to play a musical instrument (he dabbles on the gee-tar) and read literature (he's no philistine) to help him develop a well rounded personality.

And that's the beauty of Dirk, that his greatness goes so far beyond finally getting his deserved Championship. He has never been afraid to be himself. He's more into self-depracation than he is self-promotion (a line I keep repeating, but think of how rare that is in a culture like the NBA). He slouches in his chair and holds his own mic as he gives interviews (Scott Van Pelt's favorite thing in the world, ever). He gave us instant classics like "Take that witchuuu", "It's the old trick", and what might be the greatest photo roll of all time at the after party in Miami. However, it will be his Game 6 closeout face that is forever burned into my memory from 2011: The Year of Dirk.



The Myth - The idea that Dirk Nowitzki needed this NBA title to somehow validate his career, as if he wasn't great enough to get the job done before Sunday night, irks me.

However, that's not the only myth that needs to be addressed when it comes to Dirk. I think everybody needs to take a long, deep look at how they use the word "soft", because before these 2011 NBA Playoffs, you couldn't even discuss Dirk without that word getting thrown around. Despite the numbers never supporting this (mis)conception (even before this year), most people held on to the belief that Dirk couldn't get it done when it mattered.

Well, not only has Dirk obliterated that theory, but now I challenge you to come up with a player who is, in fact, more clutch (the direct opposite of soft, no?). Your first inclination might be Kobe Bryant, but the advanced statistics on the matter would laugh at you. Who else? Wade (it was fun watching him shoot free throws in 2006, but he could only dream of hitting shots as big as Dirk did this year)? Carmelo (possibly, but never has in big games)? LeBron? Mario Chalmers? (I'm only joking when I drop 1 of those 2 names). The only player I'd listen to in this argument would be Paul Pierce. That, my friends, is how a man goes from being soft to rock hard (lets see you crack a joke about that!).

Back to my original point though. Now that Dirk has officially become a champion, I feel this is the perfect time to say that the NBA severely overvalues winning titles (it took Dirk winning a title for me to not sound like a homer). They attempt to lump the world's best players into two categories - Players with a Championship and players who couldn't get it done - As if that player can control the excessive amount of variables that go into winning it all.

So if the Mavs never signed a good post counterpart for Dirk, it was somehow a fault of his? If Barea never got his game going, swinging the NBA Finals in the Mavs favor, that's on Dirk? It just never made sense to me to diminish so many great players' careers by including them on what Charles Barkley refers to as the "shit list." I say this does not invalidate a career, especially because the NBA is the hardest professional sport of all to win a Championship.


The Legend - I'm not interested in discussing where Dirk Nowitzki ranks as an all time NBA great, especially while his career is still unfolding. Top 20? Top 30? Who gives a shit?

The man should be remembered for how much unjust criticism he took (and how he handled it), how much he improved his game seemingly every year throughout his career (despite being in what should be the downside of his career), and how determined he was to win an NBA title (not to prove everybody wrong, but instead, for himself).

He should be remembered for his free throw shooting. A truly remarkable stretch when the spotlight shines bright on you, and you alone. 175-186 (94%) for the 2011 NBA Playoffs (amazingly, 7 of his 11 misses came in the Portland series). 24-24 in Game 1 of the Thunder series (an NBA record). Two separate streaks of 39 straight FT's made. 45-46 (97.8%) in the NBA Finals. We may never see anybody approach this again.

He should be remembered for denying Kobe's chance to tie Jordan with 6 Championships (for now, maybe forever) in a series that was an undeniable ass kicking.

He should be remembered for the 48 points he put up in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, an effort that many would call the most efficient shooting night in NBA Playoffs history (12-15 from the floor, 24-24 from the line - 3 missed shots total). As well as leading the Game 4 comeback in Oklahoma City, when the Mavs trailed by 15 points with 5 minutes to play, with Dirk scoring 11 of the final 12 points in the 4th quarter. And last, but not least, for his series-ending 3 that put the Mavs ahead for good in Game 5.

Perhaps, most of all, he should be remembered for his performance in the NBA Finals when he outshone two stars that had dominated the hype all season (and series) long. Despite what may have been his worst series of the Playoffs, he came up big when it mattered most (equalling Wade and Bron's 4th quarter output of 62 points) on the stage that stopped him just short of achieving his dream 5 years ago.

The Game 2 comeback and game winner - After playing 3 quarters of truly awful basketball, filled with missed shots, turnovers, and the inability to calm his nerves, Dirk was able to turn it on the 4th quarter. The Mavs erased another 4th quarter deficit with Dirk scoring the final 9 points for the Mavs. First, it was Dirk's 3 that put the Mavs up with under 30 seconds, and then his spin, hesitate, and finish with the left hand (fresh off the injured finger) over Bosh to win the game, which may be the lasting image of Dirk's playoff run. Without this win, there's little-to-no chance the Dallas Mavericks win the NBA Championship.

Game 4 "The Sick Game" - How much did Dirk have to hate life after coming down with a 102 degree fever the night before/day of the must-win Game 4 of the NBA Finals? This was the game that I will always remember because the Mavs had no business winning. Trailing throughout most of the game, and with Dirk looking more and more like Gary Busey, the Mavs were able to persevere once again. Despite Wade and Bron publicly mocking Dirk for being sick, it was Dirk that publicly humiliated them by, once again, driving to the basket to seal the Heat's fate (I think it's totally awesome that Dirk, a notorious jump shooter, drove to the basket on the two biggest plays of his career).

Game 6 Closeout - 1-12 in the first half. Without a fever to blame this time, Dirk had nobody to look at but himself if he wanted to clinch his first NBA title. Or maybe it was as simple as Terry reminding him to "Remember 06" (and they said that wasn't a motivator). Making his first shot of the 2nd half may eventually become the most undervalued shot of his career. Miss that shot, and he may never get into a Game 6 rhythm. With all other players on the floor seemingly afraid to shoot down the stretch, it was Dirk who never allowed the Heat to go on a run, carrying them to a win, a clincher, and the franchise's first NBA Championship.




Isn't that the stuff that legends are made of?

The man. The myth. The legend.

Dirk Nowitzki.

His dirkness

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Remember The Journey Mavs Fans

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"We're one win away from my dream, what I've worked on for half of my life." -Dirk Nowitzki

One. More. Win.

I want to give Mavs fans my most genuine piece of advice in what could be my last post before they cut down the nets (the NBA does that right?) and bring home the franchise's first NBA Championship.

It's not the destination, it's the journey.

I really began to embrace this philosophy once concluding some of the most triumphant accomplishments of my life (not enough room to list them all out here). The most beautiful part about reaching the mountain top is looking back down to see just what got you there. All the bumps in the road become euphorically clear. "That's why this happened, this is why that happened." It all makes sense.

But there's also a small feeling of let down that sets in. A sort of "what now?" thought races through your mind. I didn't like it, and I wish that it hadn't, but it did. You've reached the top, accomplishing exactly what you've set out to accomplish, and yet, you're still the same person. I've actually hit rock bottom a few times after some of my greatest achievements. This is what turned me on to this belief as a young lad, and it has quickly evolved into a life philosophy that I abide by.

And yes, I do believe this sort of philosophy applies to being a fan of a sports team. I LONG for the day when I see the Chiefs win a Super Bowl. As great as this Mavericks run has been, it'll be dwarfed 100 times over by that day. But I know to enjoy the journey, embrace the hardships, and find the beauty in the pain of coming up short. Sunday could be a special, special day for the diehard Maverick fans out there. They've been through a lot with this team, and their dedication just might pay off after Game 6. Or it might not. You never know, and that's why sports are so beautifully representative of life itself.

So lets take a quick look, a short synopsis if you will, at the journey of Dirk and the Dallas Mavericks.

Pre-2011 - I don't have to tell you what has been said about this Dallas Mavericks team, or Dirk Nowitzki, in the past, but I will. They're soft. They can't get it done when it matters. They're soft. They're choke artists. Oh, and they're soft. They lost to this Miami Heat team in the NBA Finals, and frankly, it wasn't very fair. The Mavs were by no means innocent in what transpired, but if the NBA hadn't intervened then the Mavs would already have one title to their credit. Well, those who remained patient are one game away from being rewarded via karma. And as great as that title would have been, it wouldn't have come close to matching what this title will mean to Dirk, the Mavs, or you, the fans.

Portland series - All of the experts needed an upset to pick in the 1st round. None of them had the gall to pick Memphis over San Antonio (except for this one guy). A quick look at the teams with home court advantage revealed one team that came up short time and time again. So yeah, go ahead and pick against them. Then there was the Game 4 collapse, which prompted me to text my brother, "The Mavs are done." But what was I supposed to think? I have closely observed this team since the early 2000's, and I knew how fragile their psyche was. But isn't that what this team is all about - proving me and everybody else wrong?

Lakers series - The Mavs played about as well as a team could play in an NBA playoff series, crescendoing with their Game 4 close out win, the best team performance I've ever seen in the NBA Playoffs. They led by 24 at half. They hit 20 3-pointers as a team, including a combined 15-16 from Jason Terry and Stojanky Nutz. This was the series that forced the country to take this team seriously. They not only beat the defending NBA Champions, they bludgeoned them, and resorted them to taking multiple cheap shots out of utter embarrassment. This series was as good as it gets for a Dirk fan/Laker hater.

Must Read - Lakers Suck, Dirk Rules

Thunder series - Dirk's grand opus. Put together what may have been the most efficient game in NBA Playoffs history in Game 1, and it wasn't even his best game of the series. This is the series that officially cemented the Mavs as The Comeback Cripples (once was a fluke, twice was a coincidence, thrice is a trend) with 2 monstrous 4th quarter comebacks. This series also certified the newfound mental toughness of these Mavs, a team made up of a collections of misfits unified by their one and only goal, evidenced by Dirk Nowitzki wanting no part of the celebration that followed this series, the coolest thing I have ever seen in sports.

Must Read - The Key to the Dallas Mavericks' Success

NBA Finals - In what could be the greatest NBA Finals the game has ever seen (so good I think they should extend the series to 9 games), the Mavs' toughness and resolve have reached a whole new level. Despite injuries to Brendan Haywood, Shawn Marion, Dirk's finger, and Dirk's esophagus, the Mavs have slowly swung the power of the series in their favor. But it ain't over yet, not yet by a long shot. Mavs fans should want this more than anything. Getting revenge for 2006. Proving all the skeptics wrong. Dirk getting rewarded for what he so rightly deserves. This is your moment.

But don't forget the journey that came along with it.

One more win.

His Dirkness

Friday, June 10, 2011

LeBron and Wade - Bunch o' Bitches

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
It dawned on me soon after watching the video of Dwyane Wade and Baby Bwon Bwon mocking The Man, himself, that I haven't spit enough venomous, irrational hate towards the Heat. And isn't that what being a fan is all about? I say yes.

{Note: For the record, I do not intend for this piece to be articulate, sensible, or even well written. This is unfiltered hatred aimed at a team that I believe completely deserves it. This isn't a post that I'd like to be judged on, and I might even regret writing it at some point. However, I want this to be written and will stand behind everything that I say.}

In case you have yet to see the video I'm referring to, here it is...




These two chumps are so fukkin ig'nant that I don't think they fully realize just how badly Dirk is kicking both of their asses right now. The idea is that when you mock somebody, you should be beating them (and even then it's kinda cheap) or be prepared to bring it. Well, LeBron is putting on one of the bitchiest performances of all time, and not even just in sports, but in life. And Wade opened himself up to an equal amount of mockery by questionably exiting Game 5 of the Finals (can't tell you how many people I heard question the validity of it all). Not to mention, that the use of mockery would only really be fitting if Dirk had lost the game for his team and then used his sickness as his excuse. Well, my sources tell me that the Mavs won that game and Dirk hit the big shots down the stretch. But don't worry, you guys looked plenty cool mocking the man that's currently whooping up on you.

Lets set the record straight before we get too far ahead of ourselves. Dwyane Wade gets up to the podium each and every day complaining about how nobody likes him or his teammates, and he can't figure out why (he usually goes into a tough guy routine about how it doesn't bother him and that his team is fine with it). Well, I'd buy that because of the team's success thus far, but then why would he continue to whine about it over and over? It's as if he's still in high school and doesn't have any friends, only those kids usually handle themselves better than Dwyane has - Congrats to your mother by the way, she spells about as well as Grandfather Favre. I'm sure she's a true scholar. I might be getting too personal, so before I feel any ounce of empathy for what I'm writing, I'd like to say fuck you, Wade, you're a whiny ass bitch.

Meanwhile, the 2nd man in this video. Ay, ay, ay, where do I start? Well, how about the way he follows D-Wade's lead in this video, as well as everything else he does. He, too, resembles a desperate, insecure high schooler who will do anything to be liked by his night and shining armor, Dwyane Wade. I think 'Bron may have disappointed Daddy Wade in Game 3 and he still hasn't gotten over it. I'm sure he cries himself to sleep at night wishing that he would've handled the situation differently, calling Wade in the middle of the night begging for his forgiveness, only Wade is tired of listening to him complain about his menstruation problems.

LeBron remember when you used to be your own man and followed every one of Jay-Z's moves? Oh wait, I guess you have always been a follower. There's no surer sign of a weak individual than somebody who is afraid to be himself. "I'm gonna do what everybody else does in effort to be cool and fit in." That just might be his motto. Or maybe being so afraid of failure that you don't even try is weaker. Tough to say. Hopefully, PTI does a Toss-up on it next week. However, I think one is a cowardly act in sports, while the other relates more to overall life. Good thing he has them both covered.

My guess is that these guys might figure this all out someday and look back on this embarrassingly. Their kids might even ask them about it, and If they were any kind of men they might own up to it and explain the errors in their way. But they would have to dump truckloads of ignorance to ever reach that point. To these two, they can do no wrong. This is their world and everybody else is just visiting. If they lose, it's their fault, and if they win it's because of their excellence. Their level of entitlement is so far off the charts it's unreal. Good luck with your 8 Chumpionships.

Woo, that felt good. This LeBrant isn't really indicative of how I feel right now, entrenched in the middle of possibly the best NBA Finals of all time. However, I felt the need to stick up for my man, who is in no position to respond (except for on the court) to these two clowns.

Go Dirk, Go Mavs, Fuck the Heat,
His Dirkness

Thursday, June 9, 2011

10 Thoughts on LeBron

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I've been trying to stay solely focused on the Dallas Mavericks throughout these NBA Finals because of the mostly one-sided focus of the national media, but The LeBhronicles have become too damn fascinating. And who doesn't like a Top 10 list? So here goes...

(Note: Michael Jordan's name will not make one appearance in this write-up after this paragraph. The fact that any and every good player gets compared to MJ on a game-to-game basis is an incredibly lazy and elementary train of thought. To make Lebron out as a failure simply because he doesn't measure up to Jordan is absurdly ridiculous. Anybody who states "Jordan would never have done that" in reference to LeBron deserves to be mushroom stamped by a big, fat LeBroner. End rant.)

1. All of the LeBronalysis that followed the LeBreltdown is leading up to tonight's crescendo, in what could be the most intriguing game the NBA has produced since Michael J.....damnit! Since No-Tippin' Pippen and the Chicago Bulls won their last Championship in 1998 (and that's only what most people would say, I'd say ever). Not only is the power of an NBA Championship on the line, a title that would be the first for each of the team's biggest stars. But can you remember a game with so much significance placed on one man's shoulders? Whether LeBron plays good or bad, he's going to be the story. And every action of his on the court is fair game. How will he react? With what we've seen from him before, anything from another single digit no-show to a 50-point takeover is possible. Hell, I wouldn't rule out him giving birth to a baby hippo at midcourt, AND THEN hitting the game winning shot. One thing is for sure, for better or worse, and whether he likes it or not, LeBron has all of our eyes directly on him.

2. Lebron has played mostly bad in the NBA Finals and was truly awful in Game 4. However, the most interesting part of his Game 4 meltdown wasn't that he played a bad game (because everybody has bad games), it was how eager he was to disappear. Have you ever seen a 6'9, 270 pound man try to hide in an arena filled with 19,600 people that happens to be on television with over 16 million people watching from home? Well, if you watched Tuesday night's game then you did. While much of the Game 3 criticism was unfair, it was foreshadowingly clear that he wanted no part in being a deciding factor of the game, or the series. He seemed so afraid of failing that he didn't even try, which is cowardly - and I don't like saying that - I'd much rather hurl that insult Jay Cutler's way, who actually went through a very similar situation in the NFC Championship Game this year - but it is very cowardly.

3. I wouldn't label LeBron as a choker, but when he does start to feel the pressure, he feels it immensely. And he shuts down in an unbelievable fashion. Like "Are you sure LeBron is still playing?" fashion. Like "Oh my god, is one of his teammates sleeping with his Mom?" fashion. The first big case of it was seen in last year's Game 5 loss to the Boston Celtics. But, Game 4 of these Finals may have been a bigger, better, and brighter example.

4. The most surprising part of the Game 4 LeBreltdown might have been what happened before it. Jason Terry, who likes to talk, and who had been shut down by LeBron in the previous 3 games, called him out, saying that he wants to see if LeBron continue to shut him down throughout the entirety of the series. Everybody thought he was crazy. You're gonna call out LeBron after he already had enough motivation coming off a game where he received a tremendous amount of criticism despite winning? However, it's impossible to say it didn't work. I wouldn't pinpoint it as the main reason for LeBron's poor performance, but it very well could've been a factor. And yes, it was Terry shaking free from LeBron and hitting the two most important shots of Game 4. Did the words play a part in his intimidated demeanor, or was it simply the moment?

5. The other theory about the causation of the LeBreltdown is that he is somewhat sensitive. Was he sensitive from the tongue lashing he got via Dwyane Wade down the stretch of Game 3? Or was he sensitive from the infamous Gregg Doyel question, when he asked him about shrinkage ('it shrinks? Yes, like a frightened turtle')? Was all of that in his head? Did it lead to him questioning himself and his game? Was the talk of Wade winning the Finals MVP over him a factor? Was he affected by the talk of The Rapture? Will we ever find out the answers to any of these questions? How many questions can I write in a row? Answer - 8.

6. The biggest LeSponse being tossed around is that 'Bron is simply fatigued - physically, mentally, and emotionally. He played every single game this season with an eff-U attitude aimed at the rest of the league, because of how everybody responded to The Decision. He's played atleast 39 minutes (usually in the 45-46 minute range) in every playoff game. The solution to this seems simple enough (rest him more during games), while the blame has to fall squarely on Erik Spoelstra (for not resting him more during the inconsequential regular season). I expect to see him take a few breathers in tonight's Game 5, while I expect the Mavs to run Jason Terry in circles if they stick LeBron on him again.

7. Even at his very worst, LeBron is still comparable to, say, Rajon Rondo. He still dished out 7 assists, including a length of the court outlet pass that hit D-Wade in stride, giving him a chance to tie the game at the free throw line with 30 ticks left. He still came down with 9 rebounds. He still came to the postgame presser in an olive green blazer. He still....well, that's all I got, but I fulfilled my obligation to include one optimistic thought!

8. LeBron has never had to work hard for what he's wanted. Everything has always been handed to him. He was born with the athleticism that makes him the most talented basketball player in the world. He became a household name in high school before he'd ever really accomplished anything. He didn't stay in Cleveland trying to make it work. He came to Miami expecting Championships to be handed to him. He might just not know how to work hard for what he wants, but this could be developed over his career.

9. The polarization of LeBron is fantastic for sports and NBA fans. While his fans remain insecure without a go-to argument like Kobe's 5 rings, the haters remain terrified of what will happen if he gets his head on straight. However, the point that most of his fans are missing when they complain about the amount of hate he endures, is that it's a tremendous sign of respect. It's his greatness that leads to polarization like that. Remember that if you're a LeBron fan and you've taken on the attitude of the Heat, whining every chance you get about how everybody is rooting against you. A non-response might be more telling than an articulate response. People would stop hating pretty fast.

10. I wonder if LeBron would change his Decision knowing everything that he knows now. All the hate, all the criticism. Is it worth it? Would one Championship as the top dog outweigh multiple as something of a sidekick (might be able to ask Dirk after this series)? Would he prefer to go back to being beloved by a city (and a country) at the risk of never winning a ring? Has this been experience been anything like he imagined (there's no way right?)? This is a question that will never get answered because LeBron has to live with the results and would never admit that he made the wrong choice. It was the choice he made. It was - The Decision.

His Dirkness

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mavs Play With Heart of a Champion

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
They may not win these NBA Finals, but nobody (and The Rock means, NOBODY) can question the heart of the Dallas Mavericks.

On a night when Dirk Nowitzki resembled His Dirkness at a 6AM meeting following a night of multiple Dirk No-Whiskeys (shot concoction soon to sweep the world), the Mavs refused to lose. Dirk hit the biggest shot of the game on a night when he was rushed off the court and hurried into the press room only to hack up Maverick green phlegm all over my man, Shan Shariff. Dirk did his damage by putting the ball on the floor and getting to the rim on a night when he shot the ball Like a Bosh. Dirk put up 21 points and 11 rebounds on a night when he was visibly exhausted down the stretch of an NBA Finals game that was taxing for players that were 100% healthy. All of this coming in a series that has seen him sustain a torn tendon in a finger, an injured right wrist, and now this feverish game where Dirk resembled Lebron in a 4th quarter (zing!). All of this in a series that will define his career. (P.S. I'm currently the highest bidder on Ebay for Dirk's game-used towels that he coughed into throughout the game. I want them germs).

But the Mavs game 4 victory wasn't about Dirk NoQuitzki (eh? eh?), although he is the main power source for the team's resilience.

It was about Tyson Chandler, who was the Mavs' MVP of Game 4. On a night where he admittedly had to pick up his game because of Dirk's fever, the man straight outta' Compton snagged 16 huge rebounds, including 9 on the offensive end. After drawing my ire for most of the first 3 games, Chandler finally brought the necessary amount of energy to the floor for Game 4. Despite being crutched by the injury to backup Center Brendan Haywood, Chandler did his best rim protecting job of the series on Tuesday night. Tyson is absolutely vital to the success of the Mavs in the series. He has to continue to play with that level of energy, avoid all foul trouble, come down with double digit rebounds, and not allow any easy buckets. Just remember, if it's not him, it's The Custodian.

It was about DeShawn Stevenson, who desperately deserves some love right now. After playing well in Games 1-3 (6-9 from 3, good defense), he was told that he had been demoted for Game 4 in favor of a player who is strugg-a-ling (Barea). Did you see or hear anything from him that would make you think he didn't have the team's best interest in mind? I sure didn't. And he was rewarded with crunch time minutes, playing a key role with the lineup that ultimately won the game for the Mavs (he usually doesn't sniff the 4th quarter). I believe this may have been the strategy when he was replaced in the starting lineup all along. Despite the benching, DeShawn ended up playing a series high 26 minutes in the game. Try and guess the other game that saw him play over 20 minutes in this series? You bet your sweet ass it was Game 2.

This series is all even because of the Mavs' resolve, toughness, and heart.

It's laughable to me how 95% of the world still believes the Mavs have no chance to win this series. What are they watching that I'm not? It has me questioning their chances because I feel like it must be my biases that are blinding me when I wonder aloud, "How could this series be anymore even?" The total margin of victory of the first 4 games has been 15 points, the lowest total since 1969. And yet people are treating this series like it's Spurs-Cavs or Lakers-Nets. It's not all bad, necessarily, because the outpouring of smugness makes me care about the Mavs winning that much more, but it is definitely strange. I cannot even comprehend why. These two teams are even during the regular season. Even through the Playoffs before this series. Each game has been relatively even. The series stands even. What am I missing?

My best guess is because the Heat have led throughout most of the NBA Finals. However, if the roles were reversed, then I believe people would still believe in the Heat over the Mavs.

This brings me back to my original point. I am amazed the Mavs are alive and well in this series. They've been trailing for a majority of 7 of the 8 halves. Their will and determination not only outweighs the Heat's, it catapults the Heat through the air when measured against. I'm not sure the Mavs have any business being in this series, but that shouldn't discount the fact that they are.

I thought the Mavs were done. I thought it was over. I had begun the rationalizing process, putting the series into perspective, at the beginning of the 4th quarter of Game 4. The Mavs were down 9, and Dirk didn't seem like he had it in him to lead a comeback. But then Jason Terry stepped up, making the next 2 shots, the most important two of the game (not to mention the 2 FT's at the end). They stepped up their defense with a beautifully designed 4th quarter switch to zone, stifling the Heat, who suffered an end-of-the-game meltdown for the second time in 4 games. This was supposed to be a time dominated by the Heat, but it's been the Mavs, and their collective heart, that have dominated the 4th quarters of this series, leaving their prior reputation in the dust of a Texas sunset.

The question now is can the Mavs heart, will, and determination overcome the Heat's advantages in terms of talent and athleticism? These 3 games will tell, but I'd never bet against heart.

His dirkness

Monday, June 6, 2011

It's Clear What The Mavs Must Do

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Today's write up will be more of a grab bag of thoughts. Organization is for the healthy minded, of which I am not, after feeling the effects of last night's close loss all the way up to the local saloon. A different sort of effect than the morning jubilation felt after celebrating the Mavs comeback in Game 2. Ah, the ups and downs of the NBA Finals. I'll try and bring it from the beginning instead of waiting until I get down 15 points to write like I mean it. (Note: If you need organization, read Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo, he good.)

What the Mavs must do - Win the next 2 games. It's that simple. Well, simple for me to say, not for them to accomplish. But this series isn't over. Yet. Lose 1 of the next 2 and it is. But winning two in a row at home isn't that too much to ask. And if the Mavs are able to win the next 2 games, I would favor them taking 1 of 2 in Miami and taking the series. The blueprint is there. They just gotta go out and take it.

Sense of Urgency - The Mavs have dominated this series once they're behind 15 points. They play with a certain desperation and sense of urgency that has proved effective against the lockdown Heat defense. They look to get out in transition more (how they came back in the 3rd quarter) and Dirk looks to be more aggressive (how they came back in the 4th quarter). They have to find a way to play like this to start the game. They have played the entirety of this series from behind it seems (exception - 1st half of Game 2), and this is a team that when they do get a lead, they can extend it to 20 at the drop of a courtside drink. I worry that they're mentally exhausted after battling from behind so often in the first 3 games. I don't think they have another 15 point comeback in them, so they must come out firing in Game 4.

Why the Mavs lost Game 3 - The possession that nobody talks about. Dirk was not only heating up, he was on fire. He had scored the last 12 points for the Dallas Mavericks, and the Heat had no answer for him. The game was tied and the Mavs had the ball with a chance to take the lead with just under a minute to go. Terry CANNOT take that shot. If your name ain't Dirk, you cannot take that shot. I screamed "Noooooo" before he even shot it. Of course, the very next possession Bosh hit what eventually came to be the game winner. The next possession, the Mavs were too preoccupied on getting a 2-for-1, leading to a Dirk turnover after Wade made a great defensive play. On Dirk's last shot, he got exactly the look he wanted, just didn't knock it down.

Jeff Van Gundy's rant - I was very excited to hear a voice of the NBA discuss the problem that is flopping. Van Gundy supports fining players for flopping, (or as he says, "ruining them financially") which makes the already-difficult-enough job of a referee infinitely tougher. It was great to hear somebody speak up about the problem at a time when so many people could hear it. The weird part is that nobody else ever brings it up. Hopefully, Van Gundy's voice reaches enough people that we do, in fact, see a change in the future.

Mario Chalmers - This guy. My goodness. He's been something of a difference maker in this series. He's hitting enough 3's that helping off of him isn't really an option for the Mavs, which in turn is allowing all of those easy layups. Game 1 he hit three 3's. Game 2 he hit the biggest shot of the game for the Heat. Game 3 he went 4-6 from downtown (which really should be re-nicknamed "the suburbs" if you think about it). I have a very appropriate comparison for Lil' 'Rio - Robert Horry.

I was wrong - I'm ready to admit that it is, in fact, the Miami Heat defense causing all the problems for the Dallas Mavericks. I truly believe the length of the Heat defenders are disrupting the flow of the Mavs' offense, and is especially bothersome for the Mavs' shorter guards - Jason Terry and JJ Barea, both of whom are severely struggling. In fact, I believe the onus of the Mavs' struggles falls on Barea. If he isn't better in the next few games, they will not win. During the Thunder series, Barea had spurts where he was more dominant than Lebron James, with his ability to penetrate and finish or find an open shooter. He has given them almost nothing in these Finals so far, which cannot happen for the Mavs to win.

As for Tuesday night's Game 4, I am taking the Dallas Mavericks. I got nothing to lose and have no problem going down with the ship. The question I have for my audience is - If the Mavs win the next 2 games and head back to Miami for Games 6 & 7 with a 3-2 lead, who you taking to win the series?

Let me know in the comments. Best comment gets a name drop in my next write up.

His Dirkness

Sunday, June 5, 2011

NBA Finals - Game 3 is THE Game

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Dallas Mavericks are the better team. Despite the arrogance seeping from the majority of the media believing the Heat can lollygag their way to this NBA Championship, and that their Game 2 meltdown was nothing but a blip on the radar, I have yet to waver from my belief. I might be the only one out there, but I'm sticking to it.

However, Game 3 is big enough that it could change my mind.

The Mavs have played so frustratingly bad in these NBA Finals that my usual routine of superficially berating my friends and hitting my dog hasn't even gotten the job done (Milhaus 3000 has a German alter-ego that I turn against when Dirk plays bad). Through 7 1/2 quarters of basketball they had yet to calm down and truly play their brand of Mavsketball. If the epicness of Thursday night's comeback/collapse combined with the return home isn't enough to settle their nerves, then I will concede the fact that it actually is the Heat's defense forcing the Mavs into careless turnovers, brick nasties, and whatever it is that Peja Stojakovic is out there doing on the court. Until then, I will continue to believe it's a bigger case of the Mavs playing timid.

Meanwhile, the Heat are pissed off right now (the Heat is pissed off? The Heats be pissed off?). Every man in that locker room (sorry Bosh) is telling one another just how big a fluke the Mavs comeback was. I don't care what they're telling the media, they know they let off the gas on Thursday night. And they aim to prove that fact in Game 3. In other words...

The Heat are gonna bring it on Sunday night.

Which makes Game 3 an absolute monstrosity of a game. If the Mavs win, the first seed of doubt, since the Playoffs started, begins to creep into the minds of the Miami Heat. They might begin to question each other. They might begin to question themselves. Judging by their season's ups and downs, and because of their style they play, I don't think any team in the NBA is more affected by self-confidence than Mami's Heat. Once stories began, earlier this season, about how they couldn't close out games, they bought into it, and it manifested itself throughout the season. Now in the Playoffs, stories have spread about how they own the 4th quarter, and voila, they've bought into that as well. This is a vulnerable team. They buy into their own hype. The truth is, we have yet to see a team challenge them in the Playoffs. I believe the Heat are frontrunners and that if the momentum of this series does officially swing, they won't be able to recapture it. They are not as mentally tough as the Dallas Mavericks. Not even close. I'm not sure they have it in them to battle their way through a long series. However, if they are able to pull out Game 3, this whole paragraph is a moot point. So again, I state....

Game 3 is huge.

So huge, in fact, that my prediction for this series rests on it. While everybody from Delonte West to Lebron's momma picked the Heat to win, I originally predicted the Mavs to win in 5. If pressed, I'd probably come down off that prediction, but I don't think it's as laughable as you, the reader, do right now. Contrary to what the media says, I believe the Heat are exactly the type of team that could lose 4 straight games.

Believe it or not, this entire write up was conceptualized before ever hearing this stat...

Since the NBA Finals have gone to the 2-3-2 format (1985), the series has stood pat at 1-1 11 times before. The team that has won Game 3 has gone on to win the series. Every. Single. Time. Do I love that stat? Not necessarily. The better team is going to win a majority of the games, as well as the series. However, the fact that there are no exceptions intrigues me. But nothing about that statistic tells me that it's impossible for the Game 3 loser to come back and win the series, almost seeming more like a coincidence. This might actually be a more telling statistic though...

Of the 11 series tied 1-1, the team with home court advantage has come back to win Game 3 on the road 8 of the 11 times. That's the Miami Heat.

However, I believe the Mavs will win Game 3, and I wouldn't be surprised if they did so decisively. I think the seeds of doubt will be planted in the minds of all 8 of the Miami Heat's faithful (Dan LeBatard included). I think the Mavs are riding too high right now, and will come out shooting lights out. I think Dirk plays his best when he is comfortable, which he finally is after 7 1/2 intimidated quarters of basketball. I think this is the Mavs' series. {Warning: This paragraph has been brought to you by an extremely biased Mavericks fan}

Mostly, I just really hope that it's the Heat's arrogance that costs them these NBA Finals.

Something about this series all seems too familiar though. Dominant team through 2 games of the series. Series swinging 4th quarter comeback. Vulnerable team. Shattered confidence. Questioned legacy. All that's missing is the winning team's star going to the free throw line 85 times per game over the next few. Which might happen. I feel like there's a word to describe this. Ah, yes!

Poetic justice.

His dirkness

Saturday, June 4, 2011

How Dirk and the Mavs Did It

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Complete and utter frustration. That's the only way I could describe what it was like watching the first 41 minutes of Thursday night's Game 2 of the NBA Finals. While I sat in despair as the Mavs' potential title chances fell by the wayside, I couldn't help but think, "I've seen this before." Once again, the moment was too big for Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks. No matter how badly the announcers wanted me to believe it was the Miami Heat's suffocating defense and unmatchable star power, I couldn't shake the feeling that the Mavs were somewhat...intimidated. Committing elementary turnovers (Kidd and Dirk with 5 apiece) and bricking shot after shot that they had lived on through the entirety of these NBA Playoffs, the Mavs, led by The Dirkster, were once again coming up short on the sport's biggest stage. And then something interesting happened...

Dirk and the Mavs hit rock bottom.

Dwyane Wade had just sunk a 3 and slowly meandered through the Dallas Mavericks huddle, who had just called a timeout, in a move that was as bitchy as D-Wade gets when he drives to the basket. After 7 1/2 miserable quarters of basketball, the Mavs found themselves down 15 points, with 7 minutes to play in the game, in their season, and in some ways, Dirk's career. The Heat were well on their way to a title, without a worthy challenger in sight. Meanwhile, I sat with both hands covering my face, watching the game in between my fingers.

And then it happened.

Hitting rock bottom can work magic sometimes. You know how in movies, it usually takes the character in conflict to get as low as possible before they realize what's important and turn themselves around once and for all? It sounds silly, but this serves as a valid comparison to Dirk and the Mavs. Once the game seemed out of reach, the pressure was lifted off of the Mavs. Suddenly, they weren't playing to win the NBA Finals anymore, they were just playing basketball. In fact, it was the first time all series that they were actually playing Dallas Maverick basketball - Finally, some Mavsketball! It was all very reminiscent of the Indianapolis Colts finally getting over the hump in the NFL. Much like the Mavs, the moment always proved to be too big for the Colts. While they dominated the regular season year in and year out, they always came up short in the Playoffs. It wasn't until a 21-3 deficit in the AFC Championship against their arch nemesis, the New England Patriots, that the Colts were finally able to seize the moment, and reach their full potential of winning a Championship. They came back to win 38-34.

These following moments could be what Mavs fans always look back upon when discussing what became of this season. For these types of moments, I think it's always cool to go back and try to recapture what you were thinking at the time, so I'm gonna kick it into personal narrative mode...

Jason Terry hits a shot (making him 1-18 on the night by my count). Then, he hits a layup (I'm excited that he might get a rhythm going for Game 3). Then Lebron gets stuffed by the rim (the first sure sign that the Heat had completely removed their foot from the gas). Then a cheap foul leads to 2 Terry free throws (I love how the NBA sends a trailing team to the line so easily). Then Chris Bosh misses a shot like a Bosh. Then Shawn Marion (best Mav of this series) hits a fancy banker. The bleeding temporarily stops with 2 'Bron free throws on an iffy foul call. 90-81. Then Kidd hits a big-time, wide open 3 (the first moment I truly believed). 'Bron misses again, and Terry hits again (a sentence that seemed impossible to write at one point and time). Then Bosh dribbles the ball off his leg and out of bounds (#LikeATerry).

Dirk time. He hits a long jumper after getting wide open somehow (what happened to that swarming defense?). Haslem and Dirk trade misses (the Mavs' only missed shot of the final 6:30). The Heat finally get a stop and can now regain control with one made shot (crucial moment), but all they can muster are two inconceivable, off balanced, fadeaway 3's from 'Bron (loves to shoot deep shots with the game on the line). The team that could do no wrong down the stretch of Playoff games now find themselves relying on unanswered prayers. Dirk hits a layup in transition that plays out in slow motion because of its inevitability from midcourt. After the Heat clank another desperation 3, it's time for Dirk to work his magic. Time stops as he launches an open 3 (jersey untucked). I have 8 or 9 complete thoughts while the ball was in the air. This is it. This is his shot. This is his time. Splash down. Bang-a-rang. Squish.

Only I forgot the Heat have somebody clutch on their team as well. Somebody that I've seen hit a big shot before (you may be asking 'to beat USC right?' - but what I actually mean is the National Championship Game). I feel unfazed. I don't even react. I knew it was in the moment Chalmers shot it (Apparently, Dirk cussed out Terry in the huddle following this play). It was time for Dirk to go to work once again. Heat coach Eric Spoelstra elects to put Chris Bosh on Dirk (despite Haslem's overwhelming career success against him). Dirk gets the ball with 10 seconds on the clock and attacks with 8 (earlier than usual because the Heat have a foul to give). He dribbles right, spins left, hesitates, and then blows by Bosh (#LikeABosh) finishing with his left hand that domesticates his injured finger ('Bron elects not to help off of Terry). He has just made the biggest shot of his career and his casual strut shows it. I can't believe he drove the ball. I'm sure I'm not the only one. The Heat get a decent look to win the game but it clangs off the rim. While Wade looks at the ref for a foul (#LikeABitch), Dirk displays a look of shock on his face. I know the feeling. It's a feeling of emotional numbness, amidst all the chaos and hysteria, when you know you're the man, and you look at your fellow comrades to make sure they all know that you're the man too. There's nothing else left to accomplish (for now).

Ball. Game. Unbelievable. Incredible. Miraculous. It was the kind of game that makes me happy I'm just a blogger, and not a professional writer, so I could justifiably celebrate what had just happened. I was so overcome with emotions that there was nothing else left to do but get wasted. Chocolatey wasted. And that, my friends, is why you're reading my reaction to the most unbelievable comeback I've ever seen today instead of yesterday.

Sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom to find out what you're really made of.

His Dirkness

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Mavs Didn't Show Up

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I'm not ready to overreact. The Mavs had a great chance to steal Game 1 last night and take control of the NBA Finals, but they simply didn't bring it. They come out tentative, and maybe somewhat intimidated, exactly what I didn't expect to see when I picked the Mavs to win in 5 games. While each of the Heat's big 3 put up a good, but not great, game, Shawn Marion was the lone player on the Mavs who I'd say had a good game. Combine that with the rebounding advantage (+10 for the Heat), which included 2 offensive rebounds in a backbreaking 4th quarter possession that ended with an And-1 from Udonis Mosslem. However, it was the 3rd quarter when the game really swung, with the Heat turning an 8 point deficit into a 4 point lead, proving too much for the Mavs to overcome in the 4th quarter.

Meanwhile, the Mavs have to get their rhythm back on offense. There are two explanations for their lack of rhythm last night (only truly on display for the first half of the 3rd quarter) - 1. They had a week off in between games and were simply out of sync, and rely on rhythm much more than the Heat, who run more isolations on offense (which is such bad basketball to watch, and is the reason why purists are sickened by the Heat winning it all). 2. The Heat defense really is that good. They are awfully quick on their rotations, and their double teams of Dirk were very effective last night. I guess it depends which side of the fence you're on, but we might know the true answer after Game 2.

Dirk is at his best when he is comfortable on the floor. He never truly looked comfortable last night. He missed a few bunnies in the first quarter, as well as some open shots that we've come to expect him to make in these NBA Playoffs. Without looking at the numbers (which weren't bad by any stretch), that felt like Dirk's worst game of these Playoffs (Portland games aside - too distant). Well, now comes the news of his injured middle finger on his non-shooting left hand (depressing). I'm more concerned about how this will affect the other aspects of his game aside from shooting - dribbling, rebounding, defense. The excuse is there now for his poor play, but in a weird way, I think this might ease some of the pressure on him and elevate his game. I don't even entirely understand why, but I know this man inside and out, and do believe this. Dirk has to be more aggressive in Game 2, either looking to score more, or force the double team early in the shot clock. The Mavs had too many bad shots in Game 1, a problem they've stayed away from these Playoffs.

A quick look at who's hot and who's not after Game 1:

HOT

  • Chris Bosh - Best player on the court in the 1st half (somehow finished 5-18 FG though)
  • Lebron James from 3 point range - His shot at the end of 3rd quarter was a dagger
  • Shawn Marion - Mavs' best player in Game 1
  • Mario Chalmers - Bang-a-ranged three 3's in the first half
  • Branden Haywood - Force on the defensive end last night
  • NBA And-1 calls - As many ticky-tack And-1's as I've seen in a game

NOT

  • Tyson Chandler - Rebounding disadvantage falls on him (only had 4) - somebody remind him he's from Compton
  • Peja Stojakovic - The worst player on the court last night - couldn't hit a 3, couldn't play D
  • JJ Barea - My X-factor for the series was more of a non-factor (1-8 FG)
  • Mike Bibby - I cheer whenever he shoots
  • Commentators - Usually enjoy Van Gundy, but they were missing stuff left and right (Terry getting hacked on dunk attempt comes to mind). They were also wow'd by Lebron's jersey being the #1 seller in the NBA. OF COURSE IT IS! He changed teams this season, so it's an all new product, when compared to products that have been on the market for a number of years. Hearing people talk about this, ignorant to these facts, hurts my brain.

While the Mavs could've easily stolen Game 1 from the Heat and sent a message, it's simply not going to happen when your top 3 offensive options all have bad shooting nights (Dirk, Terry, Barea). They must come out ready to play in Game 2 though. The Heat tend to start slow and the Mavs have shown the propensity to come out swinging after a loss - raced out to a 20 point 1st half lead following Game 2 loss to the Thunder. To be a champion, you have to be able to overcome a loss. And if you can't, then you don't deserve it.

Every time the Mavs have been questioned so far these Playoffs, they have responded. Lets hope they got (atleast) one more in them.

His Dirkness
There was an error in this gadget