Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Rolling the Dice

Okay, so two different ways to tell the “story” of tonight’s game 1 Finals loss.


One is that we hung in there for the first half, but then the Heat shifted gears, buckled down, and put us away.

That’s definitely possible, but I think we could be a little misled by the big Lebron dunks that he put in once the game was mostly over and we were already playing desperate. I’m not saying I’m not worried about those plays, but I think it’s possible they would go down a bit differently if it were a two-point game instead of an eight-point game with a couple of minutes left.


Another way to view the game is that our bench has really been the difference throughout the playoffs, and that bench did not show up tonight. As in, 17 points on 4 of 22 (18%) shooting from Barea, Terry, and Peja.

Someone could point out that the Miami bench didn't play great either, shooting 8 of 22 (36.4%) for 27 points.

The difference is that our bench is a big part of how we got to the Finals. Despite Nowitzki’s brilliance through most of the playoffs so far, Barea, Terry, and occasionally Peja need to show up with big games for us to succeed against good teams. We have gambled by placing heavy stock in the ability of those guys –– especially Barea and Peja –– to make big plays and help us get wins. Now we risk paying the price for placing a lot of weight in players who may have been playing beyond their potential for awhile now.

We didn’t always close great against Portland and Oklahoma City, but we played well enough across the span of the whole game to win those series convincingly, and that overall play included nice contributions from the bench.

So for me, two big questions now are, is Barea really a rotation player for a contender, or just a guy who got hot for a couple of weeks? And, can Peja still hit big shots in big games, or have we already gotten out of him more than we bargained for?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

T.E.A.M. ... but I love Jason Kidd

My wife can attest that the two most common things I say during Mavericks games are “Kidd wants the ball” (whenever I seem him run down a loose ball) and “I love watching Jason Kidd play basketball.” I’m the proud owner of a commemorative opening night towel from Kidd’s first NBA game in November 1994, when he missed a triple-double by one rebound, I believe. My brother and I got cheap tickets in the upper deck end zone, and I’ve been in love with Kidd’s game ever since.

It still boggles my mind that the Mavericks let coach Jim Cleamons push to trade Kidd in 1997, and I was a big advocate of getting him back a couple of years ago, even if it did cost us Devin Harris.

Dirk is having a spectacular playoff run this year, but you could the Mavericks’ quality as a team summed up in their last offensive possession, when Jason Kidd came up with a tough offensive rebound after Dirk barely missed a 14-footer, then got the ball back to Dirk to force a Thunder foul and two free throws.

Kidd can’t really be called a star anymore, but he knows how to make winning plays. As much as I love watching Dirk shoot, Kidd’s play may be even more delightful. And in this particular series, he came up big over and over again.

In addition to the big offensive rebound to seal the game tonight, in game 4 Kidd also had the big three-pointer in overtime, plus a steal against Durant with four minutes left and the Mavericks trailing by four. Kidd just grabbed the ball and took it from him, and three seconds later Shawn Marion was scoring at the other end; in overtime, Durant did the same thing to Durant again, stealing the ball from him with a minute left and the game tied. This was actually the *third* time Kidd stripped Durant like that in a key possession in the series––the other one happen with 1:47 left in game 2. Add to that another big offensive rebound with 1:04 left in that game.

I don't know if the Mavericks will beat the Heat in the Finals, but this guy plays like a winner, and he deserves a title. He’s not an all-star anymore, but he plays the right way.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

We’ll take it

Looking at the big picture, the outcome of tonight’s game 3 of Mavericks-Thunder doesn’t make very much sense. Dirk and Durant both shot horrible, Jason Terry didn’t have a good game for Dallas, and Russell Westbrook was dominant for the Thunder. Dirk had more turnovers (seven) than his combined rebounds-assists-steals-blocks. And the Mavericks still won on the road.

I suppose it comes down to this: if you shoot 37 percent from the field, including 1-17 three-pointers (which is what the Thunder did), you’re usually not going to win a playoff game.