Well, 105 games later and 59 days into the playoff run of 2006, it all ends without a payoff. It all ends with a thud that has everyone in the metroplex walking around like zombies today.
I heard Craig and George this morning assure me that before long I will be pleased about what the Mavericks accomplished this season, but right about now, I am anything but pleased.
The Heat came back and won 4 straight games. They are the NBA Champions, and despite the exciting and exhausting run of the 2006 NBA Playoffs, the Mavericks have a silver medal. One that I am guessing that they don’t care to display it.
I wish I could say this a better way, but I can’t. The Mavericks choked. They were the best team in the NBA this post-season (a highly debatable point now), and they demonstrated it several times. The most recent time they demonstrated it was when they beat the Heat senseless in games 1 and 2. Then, they fell in love with their press clippings, parade routes, and past accomplishments and let it all slip away with 6 minutes left in Game 3.
And the cold hard reality in sports is this: Once you let it slip away, there is no promise you will get another chance to grab it again. The Mavericks never recovered from their Game 3 meltdown. Oh, they tried. They left it all on the court. They should not be blamed for effort. But the ability to close the ultimate deal eluded them, and now they have a summer of wondering where it all went wrong.
Choked is a tough way to describe guys you really love. There is no question that we would like to say it a different way, but given how rare it is for a team to take a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals only to lose the series in 6, I see no other alternative.
• Dwyane Wade is amazing. Yes, he does get every call, and yes, he does get treated as if he already in the Hall of Fame, but please don’t lose sight of what we are looking at. To put that display on for four games in a row with almost nobody having a chance to get in his way is very impressive. You have to wonder how that “window of opportunity” in Dallas is effected by young Wade, young Lebron, young Amare, and even young Yao and Carmelo. The rest of the league will not rest.
• Why, Why, Why did the Mavericks take several 3 pointers in a row in the most crucial moments of the game? At 7:21 to go in the 4th Quarter, Alonzo and Shaq both were on the bench. The Game was tied a few seconds later when Josh Howard hit 2 free throws, 79-79. Then, Jason Terry missed a quick 3, Dirk missed a quick 3, and Marquis missed a 3. Only on the 4th possession did anyone take it near the rim as Stackhouse got a baseline hoop to make it 83-81, Miami. At 4:25, Wade hit a free throw to up the lead to 84-81. and Shaq returned. Soon after Posey hit a 3 which was basically the kill shot, 87-81. That is right: No shot blocker in the game for 3 minutes in the 4th Quarter, and the Mavs jacked 3 3’s, and the game left them. For some reason, they went back to the perimeter game at exactly the wrong time. Is it Avery’s fault? Partially, but Dirk and JET have to recognize who is on the floor.
• Alonzo Mourning killed the Mavs last night. You know it is weird when you would rather see Shaq on the floor than Zo, but where did all of that defense come from? Holy cow, talk about a man on a mission.
• Jason Terry had the worst night he could possibly have when the Mavs needed him most. I believe he was 4-4 in the first quarter, and then went 3-21 the rest of the night. I would never have believed it. And, if you go back to that 1st Quarter, you may recall the amazing rolls he got off the top of the backboard on two of his shots.
• I am not sure how to summarize Dirk’s series. I guess it is similar to how I felt about the team. Moments of brilliance, but overall not enough. It surely wasn’t from a lack of trying, but he could never get rolling like we would like. I am certainly proud of the big fella, but it wasn’t enough. He is much improved, but he was not close to being the best player in this series.
• Yes, I am still annoyed at the City of Dallas. Yes, I am still annoyed at those who declared our parade plans. And yes, I think it is partially to blame for this debacle. Combine it with letting the Cowboys move to Arlington, and I have had enough of this anti-sports local government. Link ...
• If you would have told me that Shaq would average 13 points per game and the Mavs would still lose, I would have laughed at you. I am not laughing this morning.
• Was that the end of Keith Van Horn in Dallas? Yes. Darrell Armstrong? Yes. Marquis Daniels? Possibly. Who else? I will tell you I have already received 3 “how do we get Kevin Garnett” emails.
• I was truly amazed that Mavericks fans left so early last night. There were still 2 minutes left and the fans were leaving. I am sure those fans have seen lots NBA Finals decided on a shot with 8 seconds to go, but I kind of wanted to see how it ended. I guess traffic was bad, but come on.
• Not sure if any of this made much sense this morning, but it was the best I could come up with. Training camp begins in a few weeks, I guess.
• This sucks.