Saturday, April 30, 2005

Road Court Advantage: Dallas ties series

It could very easily be argued that in one night of riveting playoff basketball, the Mavericks found out that they need another long-term solution at Point Guard (let's hope the development of Devin Harris doesn't take long), while getting a performance from their current Point Guard that might have saved their season.

Jason Terry had a concerning 5 turnovers and only 3 assists. The Point Guard play of the Mavericks has been well below par in this series from a ball distribution standpoint. Of course, he also had 32 points, including some of the most cold-blooded shots of his career. And he had to; Because Dirk Nowitzki, the man who has carried this franchise to enormous heights in the last several years cannot get going.

The Mavericks won a game that they perhaps had no business winning on Saturday night, and now this series suddenly is right back to square one. They did what they had to do. They rose from the dead, when so many said they were done. You know who you are.

And while we are identifying those who might want to enjoy a warm plate of crow tonight, how about we offer some to those Michael Finley critics. He was money tonight, and he was money on Thursday. I have received so many emails demanding that the torch be passed to Marquis Daniels (who by the way has been an inch above awful for about 60 days now), but it is now hopefully obvious to his critics that Finley has a few bullets left in his gun. The dude is a flat out leader on this team, and it wouldn’t hurt if the Mavericks fans would pay him a little respect.

Some other random thoughts:

--Erick Dampier might have a basketball IQ lower than his shoe size. If you have been dealing with foul trouble the whole series, how do you commit your second foul at the opposing free-throw line 3 minutes into the game? And how do you commit your fourth foul 3 minutes into the second half after getting to the intermission with only 2? He has to be smarter. He cannot help them from the bench, and yet he is there as much as Pavel these days.

--Nice to see the Rockets spares act like it tonight. T-Mac will not be slowed, but they cannot have Bob Sura and Jon Barry killing them. Tonight, the effect of the spares was quite minimal.

--Speaking of T-Mac, he is so inside Dirk’s skull right now it is sick. I fear Dirk is lost in this series, and it is because he is trying to equal McGrady. If he shows up, the Mavs are easily through to round 2, but he is showing no signs of returning to his MVP status.

--How far is Shawn Bradley in the doghouse? Far be it for me to call for more of the mantis, but he really needed a few minutes in the second quarter when Dampier and Henderson were sitting with foul trouble. But we can assume that Avery does not want to see him anymore.

--Did McGrady’s poor performance in the fourth quarter happen because he was chasing Dirk all night? Van Gundy doesn’t think so, but you can only wonder why he was suddenly human as he went 1-5. There is no question that he bothers Dirk when he guards him, but they need his offense badly, that it is a quandary for his coach to deal with.

--After Stackhouse missed his free throw, the Mavericks were perhaps given a game-saving gift from the refs on that Out of Bounds call. I am sure we will not protest the league on this apparent blown call.

Edit 12:15am: OK, I have seen the replay now- Not a blown call at all. One major disadvantage of being at the game is only getting the replays that the Houston people want you to see. My Bad. Brilliant play by Howard.

--Game 5 Monday. Let’s stop this “road-court advantage” theme right there. Time to take this series over…

--One last thing: I'd like to thank Alan Henderson for demonstrating what a hard foul is. Well done. Was everyone paying attention? Shawn?

How many big shots did this guy hit all season long?

Do you think Van Gundy wanted Dirk to find Terry on this play?

Above, find Yao Ming, perhaps the most frustrating player in basketball. Why does he insist of trying to draw charges against guys 18 inches smaller than him? You can’t help your team from the bench, chief.


Michael Malphurs said...

A couple of points about your game 4 post:
- Dirk doesn't have to score to be a team leader OR for the Mavs to win. He can do other things... like block a shot in the last few minutes of the 4th quarter, save Jason Terry from a game-ending turnover, OR have 6 assists.
- Erick Dampier has been one of the most influential players in the 2 Mavs wins. Even though he only had 2 points tonight, they kept the Mavs close and in the game. Monday night, he had 4 or 5 plays that led to AND sealed the Mavs victory.
- Pretty easy of you to not "diss" Finley when he is MIA most of the time, but come to his defense when he shows up. Finley is inconsistent at best, and has not earned his high salary for several years now.
- You think that the out-of-bounds call on McGrady after the Stackhouse miss was questionable? Did you not watch the replay? That was the easiest call of the game. Now, if you want to discuss the lack of calls for Dirk when driving the lane and/or the touch fouls McGrady always seems to be the recipient of, we can talk.

Sturminator said...

I did not see the replay until now, and I clearly see now that McGrady did touch the ball last. One disadvantage of being at the game is the inability to see a replay. My bad.

big smooth said...

The fact that the Mavs won committing as many turnovers as they did shows that they barely squeezed this win out. Yes, Houston played sloppy too with their 18 turnovers, but I just found the Mavs settling for jumpers way too many times. Finley does deserve alot of credit, just as Terry does for those big shots in the last couple of minutes. He is definitely the leader for this team, but they aren't getting far unless Dirk shows up.

I thought Dirk would have alot of his confidence back after success in Game 3, but they are defending him well. I don't like to see him having to play at the 5 and defending Yao. I think that is hurting him b/c when the guards aren't doing a good job defending T-mac etc. he is leaving Yao to help. This is making him look silly.

I have to agree with you regarding Dampier. He needs to be in the game alot more in this series and contribute. He has to play smarter. I know he had a great put back dunk on Thursday night during that 20-0 run, but it's very frustrating when he gets a rebound and puts up a weak layup, only to have to get another board before finally getting the shot in. I think he can be timid at times and not really use his brain.

When Henderson came into the game, which I believe was a good move, it was quite apparent that Bradley is not even considered an option anymore.

Looking forward to Game 5!

Michael Malphurs said...

Good call this week on predicting the Mavs comeback (even if you did so under protest) and not jumping off the badwagon. The series is not in control yet, but things are starting to look much better.

Keep up the good radio...

Andy Douthitt said...

Can you believe that we are back in this with Dirk looking so flustered out there?? By the way Bob, your point on point guard play is right on... I was so pissed last night at J. Terry because of his sloppy ball handling and passing (but his scoring saved us, so I can forgive him this one time)... I am so happy that Fin is showing us that he still has a heart and can make a team pay for not paying much attention to him. Bottom line is this, if Dirk can wake up from the dead and everyone else contributes like they have been... we win this in 6...

Nick said...

To all the finley haters:

If you really expect finley to "earn his money", a guy that makes more than tim duncan, you might as well get over it and not ever watch the mavs. Finley is no longer a star in the league, but he can bring some intangibles that are irrefutably needed.

Maybe I'm crazy, but in the last 2 games, Finley has played some of the best defense in his career. He has been by far the best defender on T-Mac and has worked so hard to deny him the ball on every possession.

I was yelling at Avery to put Fin back on McGrady when they switched to Josh.

Lew said...

Let me be the first to step up and be a man and eat the "crow".
There is no way I thought the Mavs were gonna come back to tie this thing up. I admit it, I had my crow. Regardless of how it all turns out, the fact that the Mavs tied it up is a victory in itself. It's been exciting to see it all happen this way. My opinion is (and of course I can be proven wrong as already noted) is the play and leadership of Michael Finley. I think you would agree he was a different player in games 3 and 4 than we saw in 1 and 2. Additionally, Coach Avery's new strategy of letting Yao and T-Mac get their points which was 54 in game 4, wasn't enough to beat the Mavs. But the Mavs better play on the Houston bench has proven to be critical.
Great job Bob, and I hope just because I was wrong doesn't mean we still can't be friends.


Mary said...

Bob, Dirk "got it going" plenty in the fourth quarter. He made clutch play after clutch play. He boxed out Deke on a key possession that allowed another teammate to grab a defensive rebound. He stripped Yao on another late possession. He saved JET from making ANOTHER costly turnover and got the ball back to him for the game winning shot. He dished out 5 of his game high 6 assists and took very good care of the ball under pressure. He also drew alot of defensive attention, which left his teammates wide open.

Meanwhile, TMAC goes 1-5 in the fourth, misconnects on a pass to Yao, misses 2 FT's and lets Howard poke the ball off of him out of bounds.

Dirk didn't have the sexy stat line - but its clear to me that one "Star" was helping his team win in the 4th quarter, while the other "Star" was helping his team lose.

Of course, none of that excuses Dirk FG % or rebounding stats, but the Mavs don't win the game without him making plays when it counted.

Anonymous said...