The San Antonio Spurs just won their fifth title since 1999, and they have won all of these championships “bucking” the trend league wide to pay a lot of money for some of the best players. Instead they have found a core group of players who come from international backgrounds and built into a present day dynasty.Twitter and Facebook
Last Sunday night I was able to experience something that I never thought I would see in my life time, and that was the Dallas Mavericks winning an NBA championship. I saw how close it came in 2006 when it was snatched from us by the Miami Heat. But ever since then, it has been a series of first round exits and playoff catastrophes. Until this year, after what looked like the same old song and dance when the Portland series started, turned into something amazing and special during the Lakers series. It has been a full week since that final buzzer sounded in Miami, but the feeling today is just as fresh as it was last week.
In my post game article, I summed it up in one word…Champions, but as the week went on and I really thought about it, it became more fitting. For 31 years this team has gone from the “new kid in town” to an NBA laughing stock, to a consistent 50 win team to now being a champion. For someone like myself who can remember seasons when this team won all of 12 games, and were the butt of every joke. This is such a special feeling that some words can not describe. As a kid in elementary school people would call me crazy for wearing a Mavs shirt or even admitting to being a fan of such a bad team. But they were my hometown team, they were in my city and I cheered and loved them just the same. Now that feeling of elation and joy overwhelms me to the point I have to pinch myself to make sure that I am not dreaming.
There was never anything really special that made this season seem like anything would happen, even the start of the playoffs went about as expected. But then there was the game 4 collapse in Portland and that feeling of not again started to set in. But they were able to over come that and win the series, then came the sweep of the Lakers and all of a sudden I started to think it was going to be a special run in the playoffs. Little did we know that the run would complete itself on a stage in Miami with the trophy being given to former owner Don Carter.
The fact that the Mavericks won the title was awesome enough, but it really hit home when Don Carter was on stage and was the first person to hoist the trophy. As a long time Mavs fan, this was a great sight, and a very awesome gesture from Mark Cuban. Even though most local fans would say that he has been one of the better owners in the area, that gesture alone would catapult him to the top of the list. So, once the game ended, there was no way to know how to act or feel because nobody would have expected this to happen to this team, but it is a reality and now the fans will spend the summer basking in the glow of a championship.
The Dallas Mavericks are the 2011 NBA Champions, let that sink in for just a moment. This team was a team that everyone wanted to face in the playoffs, and everyone thought they would be an easy out. That is until Dirk Nowitzki showed up and proved that he is one of the best in the game.
The Mavericks became a franchise 31 years ago, and for the majority of those years, it has been a long road of pain and suffering. But last night those years of waiting and hoping all became a reality. Back in 2006 the Mavs thought they had it in their grasp, only to have it stolen from their hands.
This year you could feel the drive to finish the job. While players have come and gone, only Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry remained. There was a drive and a purpose with this team. Each game through the finals, you could just sense that they were going to find a way to win, but you feared the old luck at the same time.
While watching everyone celebrate and enjoy the fact that they just won a title, only thing missing was seeing Dirk out there, but he had to go have a private moment. Which is understandable after everything he has had to endure with this team. There can’t be anyone unhappy with the fact that Dirk finally got the ring he has deserved.
The moment that it really hit home that this was real was when I saw the original owner Don Carter and his trademark cowboy hat on stage to accept the trophy. That was a very classy move on the part of Cuban. While he isn’t always the most popular guy, he has found ways to do the right thing. Mark Cuban has always tried to better the Mavs, that no fan will ever bash him for being greedy.
There are some questions that will start to crop up as the celebration wears off, but those will be for another day. For now, Dirk, and Jason Kidd both got the ring that any basketball fan would say they deserved. This will be a championship that will be celebrated for a long time and I am sure that Cuban will find every way possible to include the fans at every turn.
In the end, there is a lot of emotion and joy in the fan base. And there was a lot of emotion and jubilation on the faces of the players and executives. But there is only one word that will send chills down the spine of everyone associated with the Mavericks. And that word is…
Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks were able to show up last night during game 4 and even the series. The big story line was the game itself and the fact that Dirk was playing with a 102 degree fever. After the way the Heat played in game 3, there was speculation that if the Mavs couldn’t get off the ropes, the heat could deliver a kill shot and have a chance to end the series in Dallas. But that was not in cards for this series, as the Mavericks showed a back bone and found a way to pull out a victory.
Watching the game there were a few observations and thoughts I had about the game itself and what was happening throughout the course of the game.
Lebron James and his comical flops and dives:
Lebron James has pretty much disappeared in the 4th quarter this series, but he has made his presence known elsewhere so far. He has proved that he should be an Oscar winning actor or an Olympic diver because he has made an art of diving and flopping when somone just waves at him. Can’t fault the guy for doing it repeatedly when the refs will allow him to do it and give him what could be considered very cheap fouls.
The refs and their footprint on this series:
I am not going to say that the refs are leaning one way or the other on this series. But there is a common fact that all superstars will get the sometimes questionable calls. Dirk has gotten his fair share of the calls, but it seems like Wade and Lebron seems to catch a few more lucky breaks when it comes to those close to even questionable calls. Overall the refs have been good in the series, but as referenced above, they need to crack down on flopping.
Mavs and their lack of rebounding:
One area the Mavericks have been getting killed this series is on the boards, Miami always has at least 3 guys in the paint to try for a rebound, while the mavs have 4 players half way down the court. This is one thing that could make a big impact on the remaining game, and if I am Rick Carlisle, then I am getting into every one’s face at shoot around and screaming that they need to attack the boards like a homeless man would attack a buffet line. Rebounding could affect the remaining games of the series and the Mavs need to make an effort to be better.
Jump Shots are killing Dallas:
Every game of this series there has been one thing that has been maddening to every Mavs fan, the fact that everyone will just take any jump shot that is available. When the team is hot and is making them with ease, it is great and everybody loves it. But in games that mean so much, and when it is coming down to have to make buckets then the team needs to force the issue and drive to the basket. But 9 times out of 10 everyone on the floor will take a jump shot first. Until late in the game, then it is almost like they realize that you can go to the basket, but that usually doesn’t happen until the final 6 minutes of the game. If the Mavs could do that for the whole game, they wouldn’t have to make a hard push in crunch time to try and win the game.
Overall this has been a great series, but point blank the Heat have out played the Mavericks in all four games. The Mavericks have just had a combined 10-12 minutes through two games that have helped them win the two game. If the Mavs have any hope of winning this series, they need to correct that and do it in Game 5. Because realistically, if they don’t find a way to win in game 5, they probably won’t win the championship. I don’t see anyway this team could go into Miami and win two games. You are far better off to have to win only one on their floor, and you have already proven you can win on the road.
For fans this will be deja vu all over agian as we are about to see the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks are getting ready to square off in the NBA Finals. But these two teams are very different than the teams that met in 2006, and both of these teams have fought and earned their way into the finals this year. While the favorite will be the Miami Heat and their stable of superstars, I wouldn’t expect to see the Mavericks just laydown because the “heatels” will be on the court.
The biggest key of the finals will be the home court advantage, if the Mavericks can steal one of the first two games and have the home court switch to Dallas, then this will favor the Mavericks. But the Mavericks have been a better road team this playoffs than years past. One of the biggest keys for the Mavericks is how are they going to contain Dwayne Wade and Lebron James, but even if you can control those two, Chris Bosh has been known to catch fire from time to time. This will be a tough defensive assaignment for the Mavs, but I think the improved defensive look can and will help the Mavs out.
This series will be an intersting chess match from start to finish, the Mavericks are a better offensive team than the Heat have seen all playoffs, but the same could be said for the defensive side for the Heat. The big difference in this series will come down to what the non-superstars do, this will be about the bench play from both teams. While the Heat have the bigger stable of superstars, I think the Mavericks have the better bench, and can be a bigger factor in the series.
There are two players that could make or break this series for the Mavericks, JJ Barea and Jason Terry will have to be as big a factor as they have ever been in the playoffs. Dirk Nowitzki will get his 30 points and will become Mr. clutch when the time calls for it, but Jet and Barea will have to step up and create havoc for the Heat. This could be a fun series and I wouldn’t be surprised if this goes the full seven.
I will probably be called a Mavericks homer, and people will probably say I am biased in my pick here, but I have looked at all the of the factors and I am picking the Mavericks to win the championship in 5 games. My reasoning behind this is simple, The Mavs need to win one game in Miami, then they have a chance to sweep the next three at home to clinch the title. But even if they lose one at home, the Mavericks have been a better road team than home team. Plus this Mavericks team has been able to know when they can finish a series off and do it in impressive fashion.
With everything I have seen this playoff run, it is simple to think that this team is a team of destiny.