A solid enough 4th Quarter helped the Mavericks do something in Game 2 that they let get away in Game 1. Their MVP was the best player on the floor, and if you don’t think the big German is a million miles from where he was just 1 year ago, then you aren’t watching very carefully.
The rhetoric from each side is pretty interesting at this point of the series. You hear the Phoenix guys talk with confidence and with real strong chin that this series is going perfectly and they consider their trip in here a success, and are already talking about winning at home and sealing the series.. Meanwhile, The Dallas side seems real confident, too, and after their win last night they will suggest to you that they have figured out what they need to figure out and this series is going in just the right direction.
I think they are both full of it. I don’t think either team would pass a lie detector right now if they were to be tested on if they really believe what they are saying.
Let’s focus on the Mavericks here: I think they are just a bit shocked that they have played 2 home games against this team and only seemed to have the game in their control for very small doses of each game. Sure, in Game 2, they controlled the pace, but can you imagine how freaked out they were to do that and still be down 5 at the half? I know I was frustrated, and I don’t play.
But, the bottom line is that we have solved nothing through 2 games. Phoenix will have more jump at their place, and they will also have the crowd. They cannot be allowed to sweep those 2 or the Mavericks will be in a real mess.
Here are some various Game 2 Quick Hits:
• We never know just how bad injuries really are. Many times, players act really hurt and then are not, or it looks like nothing but ends up being something huge. But, in the case of Josh Howard, it sure looks like everyone was fooled. His teammates had no idea he was playing until 7:00 Friday night, and he wasn’t around for practice on Thursday. When he was seen between Games 1 and 2 he was on crutches, but Friday night he was awesome. We will never know what might have happened had he not played, but for that guy to be doing what he did on Friday bought him a ton of credibility with anyone following this thing. I have been saying that he is the 2nd best player on this team for a long time, and that is the type of performance that will get other people realizing that.
• The story in the press room appeared to be Steve Nash attempting his only shot of the 2nd half with 3 seconds left in the game. What was he doing? He says he was making the right play and not forcing a shot. Did the Mavericks do something different? After 2 years of allowing Nash to shoot and score anytime he wants, have the Mavericks decided to make him pass? This is a radical departure to Avery’s philosophy, but it makes sense when Leo Barbosa is 3-15 and Shawn Marion is 9-20. Make them beat you. They don’t have Amare this year. Take your chances on them, not Nash. But still, 1 shot?
• Speaking of radical departures from Avery: Dampier DNP. Diop 32 minutes? I love it and all, as Diop really deserves credit for changing this game, but where did this come from? Diop got the DNP in Game 1 and Dampier played plenty. Also, Marquis went from big minutes to 1 minute in Game 2. We know Josh’s return made that happen to some extent, but I would suggest Avery still doesn’t care for Daniels’ playoff composure.
• David Hasselhoff – Drunk? Not sure, but he had his routine memorized for Craig Sager, eh?
• If Jerry Stackhouse is going to make bad decisions and not score, what purpose does he serve? Also, If Keith Van Horn is going to make bad decisions and not score, what purpose does he serve?
• To win last night without Jason Terry’s shot falling is pretty impressive. This team usually wins when he plays well and loses when he does not. He did make a few huge baskets in the 4th, but we may have to investigate how the Suns defend him because I don’t think he shot real well last year, either against them. Actually, I think they just leave him wide open.
• You want to say Shawn Marion had a bag in game 2, but he did have 19 points and 19 rebounds.
• Mike D’Antoni is weird. He reminds me of Nellie quite a bit, as he never seems to change his mood in a press conference. You can’t tell if he won or lost, and when he lost he just explains to you that if they would have hit more shots they would have won. Never refers to defense for a second. Doesn’t care at all. I realize the Mavericks are not that far removed from that style of basketball, but there is no way someone can win a title with such indifference to one end of the court, right?
• How is Boris Diaw doing this? And who is Boris Diaw? A throw-in to the Joe Johnson trade? And Tim Thomas was a waiver pick up? Tell me players don’t like playing in a system that asks them to launch shots until their arms hurt.
• I still don’t feel good about things. I assume the Mavericks find another gear in this series as Phoenix should continue to wear down, but those guys do hit enough shots just to hang around when it appears they have no business doing so.
• During a commercial, I flipped over to the Rangers game. Rangers up 3-2 going to the 8th. Coco time. He walks the lead off man (I kid you not), gives up the lead (blown save) and then gets the win when the Rangers score in the bottom of the 8th. Worst rule in baseball that you can enter a game, spare everyone to death, hurt your team and still get a win for doing nothing positive. I don’t care what his numbers are, I wouldn’t let him near the closer role again.
• Does Humble Billy ever look in the mirror and start crying at what he has become? Just curious. Also, curious if TNT has to pay him to be the 4th man in their booth or if he does it for free. I love you, Billy, but, c'mon.
• Is Diop the key to this whole series? Did the Mavericks find the way to stop Nash? Will Van Horn see the court again? Tune in Sunday as the plot thickens, and the gorilla finally has a chance to make an impact.