Going boldly where no Mavs team has gone before! Ladies and Gentlemen, prepare because the NBA Finals are coming to your town. For years, you have been bold enough to even dream about this happening, well, the Dallas Mavericks are the Best in the West. They cannot take that away from you after a stunning Game 6 performance that is also worthy of “Do Not Delete” status on your Tivo. Gritty, Gutty, and determined to get a win: The Avery Johnson Mavericks are not the Mavericks of old.
Please, for a day at least, soak this one in. You have the Mavericks winning their 3rd round of the NBA Playoffs, with only 1 game this entire run that was “do or die”. I am not saying this has been easy, because my blood pressure says otherwise, but it has been done without the aid of miracles. This is just a real freaking good basketball team. So, before you look ahead to a daunting task of taking on the Miami Heat, please remember to enjoy the trip. I understand that “it don’t mean a thing if you don’t have that ring”, but we can talk about that in a few days. For now, enjoy the journey!
Enjoy the fact that many of you thought their goose was cooked last night at 60-45 with 6:30 left in the 3rd Quarter. That of course, was when the Suns looked to be running away, and the Mavs still looked a bit clueless on offense. But guess who was there to take over after a real poor first half? Let me help you: Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry, who combined for 5 points in the first half (all for Dirk), scored 21 points in a row to put the Mavs down 66-64. Everyone played Defense, but those two did the heavy lifting during that run. Thanks for the help boys, because Josh Howard was tired of covering for you.
Here are some Quick Hits to round up the Western Conference Finals:
• Ok, Steve Nash is a great player. I don’t doubt that. What I do doubt is that his body can handle the meat grinder that is the playoffs. It is too much. We saw it spring after spring, and when I saw him make brain dead plays in the 4th quarter last night when his team could least afford it, including two drives to the basket where it looks like he just dropped the ball along the way, it again occurred to me why the Mavericks would not be where they are if he was still their point guard. He was exhausted again. Those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it, right? Well, Mark Cuban must have learned. Nash can’t play this time of year any better than a goalie in hockey who doesn’t win in the playoffs, and as much as you love him, it is hard seeing this problem get better as he looks ahead to the twilight of his career. It happens every spring.
• Jerry Stackhouse has taken his share of abuse. I hope those of you in the Stack-haters club would at least give him your best today. Dude was great last night on both ends of the court. In the 3rd when the Mavericks made their run, his hands were causing steals on defense which is a rarity. Understand that this is a guy finding new depths to dig because he never thought he would get a ring. He can now smell it.
• I am only going to say this one last time: When I originally claimed that Josh Howard was the 2nd best player on this team, I was widely ridiculed. I received email that suggested I go get tests done by a physician. I just am not receiving those emails anymore and I wondered if something was wrong on my end. What a stud. What a player that you can always count on in the toughest situations (provided he is not in foul trouble). I promised not to look ahead, right? Well, I think he is your best option against Wade.
• Mark Cuban, the master of comedy, scored high again as he conducted an interview with a trophy on his head. Well done, Cubes. Seriously, be as goofy as you want because this franchise is nowhere close to this if you are not the owner. I hope everyone understands that.
• Shawn Marion: Not half the player I thought he was. I am sure he will be better next year when Amare and Diaw are getting guarded by the 2 best front court players and Marion gets whoever is left, but I am amazed at how spare he seemed in these games.
• I must agree with Barkley on something: I thought the refs were out of their minds last night for calling that game as close as they did. I understand wanting to get the attention of the players, but at some point, let’s not let this turn into the Bernie Fryer show. Geez, bro, the foul trouble on both sides was absurd.
• Did Devin Harris not play in the 2nd half or did my eyes deceive me? Also, did Marquis Daniels play exactly as much as Devin Harris did? And the Mavericks won?
• I hope Erick Dampier is well rested and well focused.
• I thought TNT was a bit Pro-Suns last night. Of course, I think this blog has been pretty Pro-Mavs most of the way, too.
• This morning, the Phoenix paper was quick to point out that everything went perfectly in these playoffs until Raja got hurt. I swear, this guy doesn’t need an agent anymore.
• This is stolen from Bill Simmons, but I want to use it anyway: The Closer and Saved both start June 12 on TNT, in case you didn’t know.
• Dallas scored 14 points in the 1st Quarter. Seriously. Isn’t it awesome that this team can win like this on the road without shooting well? It is just like the Bulls and the Spurs do it. Grind it out with great defensive efforts. Wear the home team and their crowd right out with getting stops. I love it.
• KVH = 4 minutes. Perfect.
• This won’t go down as one of Dirk’s greatest games, but I thought he was driving this bus in the 2nd half. What great drives to the hoop and what killer jumpers when it mattered most.
• 4 More to go. Seriously. You are not being pranked. The little, cute Mavericks, the team in Dallas that you dared to never dream could win it all are now just 4 wins away. With home court advantage in the NBA Finals. Remember, it goes 2-3-2 now. So, win both of the first two, please.