Monday, June 12, 2006
I am not here to knee-jerk or anything, but it sure seems like we can now begin to use the word “when” instead of “if” the Mavericks win a World Title this year. That total and utter domination of the Eastern Conference Champions was amazing on so many levels that you actually had to say to the human next to you last night, “Are the Mavericks really ahead by 27 in an NBA Finals game?” Is this all some sick dream that when we wake up in the morning we are going to be really pissed? Or are the Mavericks this good?
We almost don’t have any other choice.
But, what do we make of Mr. Shaquille O’Neal? I spent part of the pre-game show with Ben and Skin, and during that part, I boldly proclaimed that I expected nothing short of 30 and 20 from the big man. Why? Because, HE IS SHAQ!!! Shaq does this. Shaq does not get punked. Especially two games in a row! But there it was for all to see. Shaq was 2-5 for 5 points. I felt a little sad. Kinda like When Darth Vader was laying on his back asking Luke to help him remove his helmet at the end of Return of the Jedi. We surely have not seen the very end of Shaq yet. But, we have seen the end of the part of his career where he decides to dominate, and then does just that.
Also, do we start to admit that Dampier is worth the money in games involving his Royal Shaqness? There is no question that Erick is giving him big trouble. Whether Dampier is really affecting Shaq or just the right guy in the right place at the right time is a source for discussion. But through two games, we are left to assume that Dampier rested well during the Phoenix series, and is now fully serving his purpose.
And now, other notes from a Game 2 Domination:
• The Mavericks ability to dominate on defense, dominate the boards, and dominate all elements of hustle just shows how good the Mavericks are as a team. They did not shoot very well, and they certainly did not take good care of the ball (18 turnovers), but it was obvious that they were not going to lose the game. They were going to outwork the Heat, and the margin was amazing.
• Antoine Walker is so much fun to watch. He does virtually nothing for the first 2 ½ quarters. Then, Shaq is out of the game, and the Heat are down 27 and then Toine wants the rock. He starts raining shots from all over the court on his way to 20 points. Proving once again that scoring points in the NBA doesn’t mean you are a good player. Nobody fills up a boxscore without impacting a game quite like Toine.
• Flip Saunders and the Detroit Pistons have to be sick to their stomach that they are not in this series.
• There was a game in the Phoenix series when Jerry Stackhouse did not play real well, and the critics of Stackhouse emerged, even comparing him to Keith Van Horn. I said that is absurd, and that there will come a time when Jerry Stackhouse will demonstrate why you need him. I suggest it has happened many times during these playoffs. Last night’s display late in the 2nd Quarter was the most amazing. He nailed 4 three’s including the 4 point play and the 3 right before the half which blew the game wide open from 39-34 to 50-34. Just like Game 6 at Phoenix and Game 7 at San Antonio, Stackhouse emerges at the big moments and makes big plays. Sure, his shot selection is suspect, and his judgement comes and goes, but please do not compare him to KVH. Stack does his share of heavy lifting in this run, and to ignore his great nights is flat unfair.
• Udanis Haslem looks hurt after that hard foul on Jason Terry. The Heat have done well in defending Dirk so far, but if Haslem is lost for a few games, their primary defender will be gone. Think about it, they return home down 0-2, and Dirk still hasn’t played to his playoff level. Dirk had 26 and 16 last night, but in this season, it is pretty much routine.
• During the relative boredom of the 4th quarter last night I noticed that D-Wade spells his first name “D-W-Y-A-N-E”. I would like to apologize to his family for incorrectly spelling his name every time I have ever typed it in his career. My bad. I always assumed Dwyane spelled his name “D-W-A-Y-N-E” like the rest of the world. Sorry.
• Watching Shaq shoot free throws is excruciating. It feels a lot like watching Chuck Knoblauch try to throw the ball to first base a few years back. It should be routine, and yet it brings a star player to his knees. To suggest that his free throws are not even close is kind.
• In the 2nd round, we marveled at how weak the Spurs bench looked. Then in the 3rd round, we marveled at how weak the Suns bench looked. Now, we are amazed at how little the Heat have on their bench. Is it possible that all three teams have normal benches and Dallas just has an extraordinary one that many of us overlook because we see it all the time?
• In the first quarter, when neither team was playing well, didn’t you feel pretty good because Jason Williams was the Heat’s best player? I have watched him play for almost a decade, and I have never seen him win a game, so I wasn’t too worried about him going off.
• Devin Harris, in his youthful exuberance, has a confidence issue. Sometimes, he looks extremely confident, and other times, he looks horrible. Last night, he knew he could expose Payton or Williams, and he did. I hope he develops confidence on a more consistent basis soon.
• Pat Riley has no idea what to do.
• And just think, in 2 more games, D.J. Mbenga returns!
• 2 More to Go! Now, you have 3 chances to win one in Miami. And if you do, you will have 2 chances to win 1 back in Dallas. So now, merely must win 2 of the next 5 games.