Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Murky View from the Other Side

The detachment strategy only sort of worked. I think I’ll be able to sleep tonight, but I still feel queasy.


ryan b said...

While I still care, I don't there are words to describe what is happening to the Mavs right now. I'm not a basketball or sports history guru, but if the Mavs don't win 3 straight, will this go down as the biggest collapse in sports history?

scoots said...

I dunno, but if you combine it with last year’s finals, I bet it would give you two of the top three. And Dirk wouldn’t even get a little bit of respect unless/until he won a championship. The only way I could see otherwise is if the Warriors win the title.

It’s enough to make you want to encourage the Mavericks to coast through the first half the season next year, just so they can’t set high enough expectations to disappoint by this much.

You can only get this low once you’ve been that high.

Jeremy said...

Some horses run best in the lead and others run best from behind. It’s pretty clear that the Mavs are bad frontrunners. (Remember cruising into LA with the league’s best record and coughing up a 27-point fourth-quarter lead?) But Sccoots is right that they usually close when they must. It looks bad now, but I’m not giving up.

JKnott said...

I don't know, Jeremy. It seems that the Mavs are bad frontrunners (in individual games, at least) only because they don't want to be frontrunners. That is, they want to just hold on to small-to-medium sized leads down the stretch, rather than just attacking and attacking until they make a 10 point lead into 20. I blame Avery for this. He knows he's made Dallas a defensive team, but doesn't realize how little this defense works when you stop playing offense that is geared to scoring and instead just try to run off the clock. Then they miss, the other team gets a fast break, and the whole thing starts over. The best defense is a good offense for the Mavs, always has been and certainly is now.

ryan b said...

Even in the pain and disappoinment, this still beats the Mavs teams of the early 90's. Back then, we just were happy to win more than 10 games. My friend consoled me with his own experiences: try being an Atlanta Hawks fan. Or, try being a Braves fan: until last year, they had won 14 straight division titles with one world series to show for it. I hope we're not starting a similar trend for the Mavs.

scoots said...

Here’s who we really don’t want to be (though it’s starting to sound familiar):

The ’92–’93 Supersonics finished 55–27 and lost the conference finals to the Suns in 7 games.

Then the next season they finished 63-19 and lost to eighth seed Denver (42-40) in the first round.

Then the next year they went 57–25 but lost in the first round again.

Then the next year they went 64–18 and finally made the finals, but lost to the 72-win Bulls.

Then the next year they went 57–25, but lost again in the second round.

Then they retooled the roster and went 61–21, but lost the second round in 5 games to the 61–21 Lakers.

After that they faded into obscurity.

Jeremy said...


Avery has not coached well in this series, I grant you, but it seems unfair to blame him for the collapse against the Lakers, which occurred in December 2002.

JKnott said...

True, Jeremy, I can't blame Avery for that. I don't know if there is really any connection between Mavs' blown leads of old and of the present day.

All I'm claiming is that the tremendously bad blown leads of late (Game 3 of last year's finals, the Mid-season game against the Suns this year, and the last game against GS) have a common theme in trying to get conservative and play slow, when they should just keep playing sharp and attacking. I think that strategy would have won all three of these recent games, and the Mavs would now have a title and be 2-2 right now (at least).

Again, Avery has made them good on defense, and deserves credit for that. But he doesn't seem to get it that this defense works when the mentality is to attack at the other end, not when you hold the ball until the shot clock is low, force a bad, low-percentage shot that bangs off the rim and gives GS or Phoenix a fast break!

JKnott said...

If Dallas would just play the way I'm suggesting, I think they could not only win the last three games, but blow GS out for them (that, indeed, needs to be their goal). Their current "end-of-game-with-a-smallish-lead" strategy is so bad, it would be better just to throw the ball out of bounds every time down the court as the shot-clock expired.

Avery seems to still be mentally in San Antonio. He needs to learn the abilities and weaknesses of the team he has, which by the way when they play with intensity and a desire to attack is the best team in the league!

JKnott said...

It's a crying, %@!$&*, shame!

(OK, off my soap box)

Jeremy said...

I agree that Avery does not know this team.

Frontrunners start in the lead and stay there, confident that the front is where they belong. They love the attention. Tiger Woods is a frontrunner. When he has the lead going into Sunday, he never loses. On the other hand, he’s never won a major when he started Sunday behind.

Closers are more comfortable running with the pack. They might be excellent horses, but they hate attention. Their game is waiting for the frontrunners to falter, and then slipping into the lead. Dirk Nowitzki is a closer. Give him a lead (say a 2-0 lead in the Finals or a presumptive MVP) and he doesn’t know what to do. Put him behind and he’s likely to scramble like hell.

If Avery made a mistake this year, it was pushing the Mavs to a ridiculous regular season record. The Mavs got out front and didn’t know what to do.