Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Don't You Die On Me, Mavericks!

The Basketball World proposes new Mavericks Logo, above.

Well, here we go. Your last chance to save your name, your reputation, your cred. This is it. Go quietly into the night, and you will take this to your grave.

But, figure this out tonight – and refuse to be denied, and maybe….Just maybe…This thing isn’t over yet…

I am expecting 20,000 Mavs Shirts tonight that say, “We wish we believed”.

Dirk sounds beat; Avery sounds beat because Dirk sounds beat

With stubble on his cheeks and resignation in his voice, Dirk Nowitzki didn't look or sound anything like a dominant player determined to prevent one of the most embarrassing, stunning upsets in NBA history.

Maybe he was sapped by the long flight back from Oakland and film session that immediately followed. Or perhaps the listless appearance was just further proof of how much the Golden State Warriors have flustered Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks while winning three of the first four games in this first-round series.

Whatever the reason, the expected league MVP talked Monday about being ready to shrink from the spotlight even more than he already has in Game 5 Tuesday night.
"I got to take what they give me and they don't really give me a lot," said Nowitzki, who is averaging 20 points and has yet to score more than 23. "So I've got to make other stuff happen -- help out on defense more; hit the glass harder, as hard as I can, get some extra possessions; if I have a shot, try to knock it down and if I don't, move the ball and let someone else make a shot."

Nowitzki rarely boasts. Talk of "fitting in" is more typical than predicting a big game.

Yet would Michael Jordan talk about passing more when his shot wasn't falling? Did Kareem Abdul-Jabbar focus on rebounds when his sky hook was missing the mark? And how many titles did their I'm-going-to-score-no-matter-what attitudes produce?
The answer is enough to explain why coach Avery Johnson was angered by Nowitzki's comments, which are typical of his attitude throughout this series.

"I'm tired of hearing about how they've taken him out of his game and any lack of confidence. You're just not supposed to have that, all right," said Johnson, perhaps team's most intense player even though he's no longer playing.

"I wasn't the best of players and didn't have the best of skills, but you were not going to shake my confidence. We need all of our players to be confident, to be resilient, to be persistent and that's what I want to see tomorrow. If I don't see it at shootaround, I'm going to be highly upset ... because I need to have it going into that game tomorrow night. We've got to be confident and really sure about what we're doing."

And if he doesn't see it?

"We'll figure something out," Johnson said. "We'll figure something out."

Bay Area paper makes the case this is the Biggest. Upset. Ever.

Everything changes for the Warriors now. Scrappy outsiders no more, they actually have something to lose. As enviable as their position might be, they're about to face genuine pressure for the first time since the playoffs began.

This is somewhat reminiscent of the first round last year, when the Lakers took a 3-1 lead against Phoenix and seemed on the verge of a titanic accomplishment. As Kobe Bryant and his underlings discovered, finishing off a great team isn't so easy. At some point, you have to cast aside the adulation, the next-round schedule and the newspaper clippings and finish the job.

Not that anyone doubts the Warriors at this point. They have the Dallas Mavericks beaten physically, psychologically, strategically and emotionally (other than that, they're completely at a loss). But let's establish something here on the eve of Game 5: If the Warriors do win the series, it won't be "one of the biggest upsets in NBA history," as so many have suggested.

It would be the biggest.

Kiper Says

Dallas Cowboys: GRADE: B

Purdue's Anthony Spencer -- who I think has a chance to be the rookie of the year -- gives Dallas a great pass-rusher opposite DeMarcus Ware. James Marten provides good security behind tackle Flozell Adams, who will be a free agent after next season. Isaiah Stanback will move from QB to wide receiver, and I really liked the pick of tackle Doug Free in the fourth round because he has a lot of talent. Dallas took place-kicker Nick Folk when Mason Crosby was still on the board; Deon Anderson will be an excellent lead blocker at fullback, and Courtney Brown has the necessary skills to be a developmental cornerback.

Meet Anthony Spencer

Meanwhile, perhaps we are only 24 hours from Rangers season: Rangers drop to 10-15

April ended just as it began for the Rangers: with a single, lonely run, the lineup explaining its lack of hitting and, most significantly, a road loss.

After a 6-1 loss to Toronto on Monday, the Rangers found themselves 10-15 as April gave way to May. And the team that was no-hit less than three weeks into the season still finds itself starving for runs after a brief glimmer last week that things might be about to change.

Roy Halladay, who might just be the AL's best pitcher, held the Rangers to five hits Monday, further lowering the team's AL-worst on-base percentage to .303. They rank 12th in the AL in hitting at .235 and 12th in total number of times on base.

As a result, the Rangers have scored four or fewer runs in 12 of their 15 losses, starting with the 4-1 opening day loss to Los Angeles. One thing the Rangers have proven in past years is they simply can't win with that kind of production. Over the previous five seasons, the Rangers plodded along at a .210 winning percentage (78-292) when scoring four or fewer.

Today, Liverpool stands with its back against the wall, too. They must win today (1:30, ESPN2) by a 2-0 score or more against Chelsea Or their hopes of a 6th European Cup end …An away goal by Chelsea and this run ends, me thinks…I am guessing Tom Hicks is in town – not sure if that is good…PLEASE NO SPOILER EMAILS TODAY...Thanks.

Rafa Benitez believes that even if Chelsea score tonight, his stirred-up Liverpool team will find the three goals they would need to reach the Champions League final. In reality, putting the ball three times past Petr Cech would make Mission: Impossible look like a gentle ferry ride across the Mersey.

Benitez promised his side would pour forward in numbers towards Cech's goal, playing with a "high tempo", and probably hoisting more than a few high balls towards Peter Crouch, but they must beware the threat of Didier Drogba. One slip by Benitez's backs, one goal by Drogba and it is surely game over.

"Liverpool will want to play a very strong, very fast game but there is always the danger of a Chelsea goal," Jose Mourinho said before overseeing the visitors' training at Anfield last night. "Liverpool have good defenders. They play a lot of offside; that's one of their qualities. But Didier is in good form. Didier is powerful. He did it at Stamford Bridge."

Too true. The muscular Ivorian bullied Daniel Agger in the first leg, setting up Joe Cole's goal that divides the two sides. "At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea played about 45 long balls, and maybe 80 per cent to Drogba," Benitez said. "We know they are using the system for years, and are winning. We will try to control this situation. We managed against Drogba when we won 2-0 here, and we can do it again."

That January triumph for Liverpool was the last time Chelsea tasted defeat, when their cutting edge was blunted by Jamie Carragher's superb stifling job on Drogba. If they are to suppress the Chelsea heavyweight again, Liverpool must ensure that Carragher, not Agger, sticks close. Carragher tonight breaks Ian Callaghan's Liverpool record of 89 European appearances and will break Chelsea's game-plan if he can keep Drogba away from Pepe Reina's goal.

Dan Majerle is the king

Baron Davis works in the drive through


Jay, Christi and Andrew said...

Oh the bittersweet irony of Baron Davis working in the drive through...I'll say it.

He drives through us all night! I'd like to echo the comment from another blog reader yesterday that has driven me nuts all series: why will no one put this guy down? You can even foul hard in a legal way. But this guy's hurting. This is a jump shooting team. You put them on their butts a few times and maybe it throws their rhythm off. And shows you aren't a little girls' toy.

Go Mavs! Goonies never say die.

Brad C said...

Okay Mavs, if you guys lose this game tonight, you will take it to your effing grave.

(walks away, turns around)

Your effing grave!

arthur said...

end of 1st quarter:
GS 31
Mavs 19

Devin Harris will have at least 2 fouls. don't will be 1 of 4 and our leading scorer will be Stack. jumpshots a'plenty. Mavs lose! Mavs lose!


get rid of both the Devin/Deveans and their respective bags.

arthur said...

wierd.... i meant to type "Dirk" and i typed "don't".


BACM said...

Stars, Rangers, Mavs....Welp See ya later.

I picked a hell of a time to stop drinking.

Brad C said...

Quite a Freudian slip Art.

Kipster198 said...

I'm calling Vegas today and placing $100K on the Rangers to win the division, only to lose in the divisional series. That way all 4 local pro teams will have advanced to the playoffs, only to lose in the first round in the same Calendar year!

Would that be called a Goat-Slam? (Not to be confused with the Tiger Slam...)

Go Frogs!

Kip in Burleson

Jay said...

Um, sports?

michaelandfaith said...

Elimination game at home? There is no way the Mavs lose tonight, right? This team went to finals and then won 67 games, they have to have some testicular fortitude.

Jake said...

10-15 Rangers, 7th game Stars, 5th game Mavs?

I picked a hell of a time to quit methamphetamines.

Joe said...

"Elimination game at home? There is no way the Mavs lose tonight, right?"

I think people really need to stop making these type of statements about the Mavs.
"The MAvs in 5!"
"Ha, the Mavs will steamroll these pathetic little Nellie Warriors!"

Settle down and take it quarter by quarter, game by game. We need to protect Diop, Howard, and Harris from foul trouble and hope we good decent contributions from Stack, Terry and Dirk.

Andy D. said...

Tonite, no starting lineups at the AAC. The arena goes black, then on the bigscreen having Nellie dressed as Johnny Cash singing "hurt". "My sweetest friend, everything I know goes away in the end." Have pictures of Dirk on draft day in the background, have Nellie waving to the fans 2 years ago in the background.
Then the arena remains black and Cuban goes to midcourt dressed in a tuxedo and announces Dirk as the MVP with David Stern. No one claps... Dirk comes to midcourt and when he grabs the trophy from Stern, Cuban grabs it and hits him over the head with it making his head bleed. The crowd starts to get restless and charges the court. After the maylay is over, Cuban announces his retirement and the Mavs and Warriors resume with the game. Mavs 92 Warriors 94.

Baron Davis at the horn.

Phil K. said...

Brad C - the Mavs didn't just beat the Russians in the biggest game of their lives.

I cannot believe how much that Baron is such a likable nice guy. Junior/Jub Jub are right: the Warriors are a team possessed. Have you seen Baron's eyes during the game? They're like Michael J. Fox's eyes in that movie Teen Wolf...the scene where he goes in and asks for a keg of beer. Scary.

Like Bob said yesterday: I'm so scared, baby...

Cap It said...

Say what you want about Nellie, but he's one of two coaches in this series that:

1. Has a gameplan that's working, and;
2. Has his players playing to their potential.

I'm neither a Nellie-lover nor a AJ-Hater.

I'm not saying the coaches need to be on the court playing the game.

However, at some point, it is the coaches responsibility to find something that works.

One coach has.

FBombAndy said...

Ugh, it would be the biggest upset in Mavs history, but not NBA history. Like Hollinger pointed out, this Warriors team is better than their record. They got injured players back, created a system that fits everyone, and ran with it for the second half of the season. This team is not a regular 8th seed. If they had been together all season long, they might be a top-3 seed. Don't those GS writers remember anything about the regular season, like trades? And injuries? They're just trying a preemptive counter to any criticism they receive if they lose in the 2nd round. "Oh, we lost in the 2nd round? Doesn't matter, we beat the Mavs. Biggest. Upset. Blah blah blah."

Sorry, that was long.

That's what she said.