#BlogBoys Vol. 2: Mavs Playoff Memories & First Round Surprises/Disappointments
Welcome back to the #BlogBoys! This week with the NFL Draft, we decided to post a few days early as we’ll have an abundance of Draft content posted throughout the weekend. In Volume 2, we touched on our favorite Mavericks playoff memories and non-Mavs playoff memories, as well as first round surprises and disappointments so far.
1. Though the Mavs didn’t make the playoffs, we can always reminisce. Besides 2011, what is your most memorable Mavs playoff moment? Favorite non-Mavs playoff moment?
DuPont: The 2002-2003 season is near and dear to my heart. Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki were both All-Stars. Michael Finley was in his first season removed from being a 20 point per game scorer (19.3 ppg). The Mavs bench was no short on talent. Eduardo Najera blossomed into a beloved contributor from the second rotation. Avery Johnson settled in for one of his final stops, while Nick Van Exel settled in as the primary scorer off the bench with a knack for the big shot with an energetic Raja Bell anxious to scrap things up on the defensive end. This Mavs team was no joke and their run to the Western Conference Finals remains one of my early memories as a young sports fan as they fought past two veteran teams in the Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings before losing to cross-state rival San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals.
My favorite non-Mavs playoff moment was the Memphis Grizzlies run through the 2013 NBA playoffs. As someone who remembers a league filled with hand-checking and actual defense, the style of play demonstrated by Memphis under former coach Lionel Hollins was a memorable and pleasant experience. The Grizzlies were heralded for their half court offense, led by a pair of foundational pillars in Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Rudy Gay added an uber/athletic swingman to the Grizzlies rotation while Mike Conley defensive guru Tony Allen were tasked with backcourt responsibilities. O.J. Mayo kept the offense flowing as the first guard off the bench and allowed Memphis to push a more up-tempo, fast-paced attack with Randolph and Gasol off the court. In 2013, these Grizzlies ousted the Los Angeles Clippers in six games. Memphis was returning the favor after Los Angeles eliminated them the season prior. It took five games for Memphis to rout the promising, young Oklahoma City Thunder led by Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. But karma is undefeated and it took San Antonio just four games to oust its southwest division rivals in the conference finals. Moral of the story: don’t play San Antonio in the conference finals.
Konkle: There are some solid choices here. I was initially going to say Dirk dropping 48 on Serge Ibaka’s head in Game 1 of the 2011 WCF, and only doing so in 15 shots (!!!!!!) But that was a part of the Championship run, so I am going to go in different direction and say the Vince Carter’s Game 3 buzzer beater against the Spurs in 2014. I literally blacked out afterwards. After I regained my bearings, turns out I had took off running down the street in celebration. It was great.
Mulford: Two come to mind besides the 2011 Championship run. First, Game 7 in the second round against the Spurs in 2006. Though that postseason obviously ended in heartbreak for Dallas, but finally getting over the hump and defeating the Spurs was a huge moment for Dirk and the Mavs. In Game 7 in San Antonio, That Dude dropped 37 points and 15 boards while Tim Duncan put up 41 points and 15 rebounds. It was an absolute dog fight. Second, another Mavs-Spurs moment. Game 3 of the 2014 first round. Vince Carter hit the fadeaway three in the corner at the buzzer to go up 2-1 in the series. Witnessing this game in person was incredible. I’ve experienced nothing else like it.
Non-Mavs playoff moment probably goes to LeBron in several instances. First, his true coming out party in the playoffs in 2007. It was Game 5 of the second round against the Detroit Pistons and LeBron put the entire city of Cleveland on his back, scoring 48 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists to take a 3-2 lead in the series. Second, LeBron against the Heat in 2012. In Game 6 facing elimination, James took control of the game, scoring 45 points and 15 rebounds, helping tie the series and ultimately winning in seven. And lastly to end the LeBron fandom, the block in Game 7 against the Warriors. Self-explanatory.
Rathbun: This might be an odd answer but the 2006 run was the second most memorable (good and bad) Mavs playoff moment for me. Of course, it ended in the most heartbreaking fashion but it cemented my love for the game. Dirk dropping 37 and making the and-1 layup to send it to OT against the Spurs in the semi-finals was the most anxious I have ever been watching a sporting event. Then, Dirk got to take on his best buddy Steve Nash in the Western Conference Finals. He dropped 50 points and 12 rebounds in front of the home crowd in Game 5 and went on to win the series in Game 6. We know how the finals went. I’ll admit it, I cried when the Heat won, because we were robbed, but it made me love the Mavs even more.
My favorite non-Mavs playoff moment comes out of pettiness. One of my best friends is a huge Spurs fan and constantly shoved all those rings in my face. When the Mavs lost to the Warriors as the 1st seed in 2007, he never let me hear the end of it and called Dirk soft for years to come. A couple years later, in 2011 when the Mavs won the Championship, the Spurs lost to the Grizzlies as the 1st seed. I was in Austin watching outside of a bar when it happened and immediately called my friend and let him have it. The Mavs Championship that year was the icing on the cake in our Spurs/Mavs rivalry and I have never heard him refer to Dirk as soft again.
2. What has stuck out in your mind during the first round so far? Any surprises or disappointments in your eyes?
DuPont: The biggest surprise this postseason has been the production of young, core talent. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum continue to blossom while Donovan Mitchell and Ben Simmons each have utilized the national stage to demonstrate exactly why they are deserving of the Rookie of the Year recognition. This might be the first time in a long time that we’ve seen a majority of what will likely be the first team all-rookie squad contributing significant minutes in the playoffs. Between Mitchell, Tatum, Simmons and Zach Collins, the rookie class is well-represented this postseason.
Konkle: The New Orleans Pelicans look like a buzzsaw right now. I legitimately think they can push Golden State if Steph isn’t all the way back. Obviously, the Warriors present a whole different set of challenges than Portland. They are more talented, less predictable on offense, which I think is where the Pels really took advantage of the Blazers, and they are better on defense. I’m not picking New Orleans, but this team looked so, so good in round one that I think they can give the Dubs a good run.
Mulford: I was pretty shocked of how easily the Pelicans handled the Blazers. Their defensive game plan for Lillard and McCollum was so impressive, which makes me curious on how their strategy will work against the Warriors. Besides the sweep, I’m with DuPont. The amount of youth in the playoffs is refreshing and these kids aren’t backing down at all. Simmons and Mitchell are looking primed to take over the league at some point. And with Kyrie and Hayward out, it’s a huge blessing in disguise as Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are forced to the forefront.
Rathbun: What has stuck out to me is how dominant the Pelicans look with a vintage Rondo playing his best basketball in years. “Playoff Rondo” is a thing and him and the Pelicans defense made Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum almost non-factors. Rondo came close to averaging a triple double during the series. Coach Alvin Gentry has done a tremendous job in re-making the team after Cousins went down and it shows with their first round sweep of the Blazers. Also, Anthony Davis is a freak. I am excited to see what the Pelicans can do to the Warriors if Steph Curry isn’t ready to play when the series starts. I bet their game plan is pretty similar to how they attacked Portland but instead of Lillard and McColumn they will be focused on Durant and Thompson. The coaching battle will be excellent too, since Alvin Gentry was an assistant on Steve Kerr’s staff when the Warriors won the Championship in 2015.
3. Several of the playoff teams, though in the postseason, seem to have hit their peak and become stagnant. What playoff team do you think needs to make a major move or blow up their team to get to the next level?
DuPont: I don’t think there’s a team that needs to commit to overreacting just yet. Hassan Whiteside’s performance this postseason has been abominable, particularly against a team with little-to-no playoff experience beyond Marco Bellineli and J.J. Redick. Miami might need some reshuffling this offseason, though I don’t think they need to implode their roster. If the Heat could make a decision as to what style of basketball they would like to play, primarily, I think this would help define and make roles clearer while acknowledging flaws within its current roster. Portland is another team with an interesting offseason ahead of them. The experiment with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum as primary scorers has produced favorable postseason results. The lack of success suggests Portland may need to explore trades for one, if not both players. That doesn’t mean trade both tomorrow. But at least explore how the roster could be improved or redesigned as its current roster makeup has clearly lost the allure that once intrigued many.
Konkle: Portland would be the easy answer here. They have massive payroll and a team that has literally lost 10 straight playoff games.That’s not very good, if you’re keeping score.
But another team worth keeping an eye on would be the Washington Wizards. I personally don’t believe that management is ready to blow that team up just yet, but a lot of Mavs fans seem to think that’s where this thing is headed if they can’t get by Toronto in round one. And if that turns out to be the case? Guys like Bradley Beal and Kelly Oubre could become available.
Again, I don’t think this is the case. Especially with Beal, since you know, trading a 24-year old All-Star is usually not the best idea. This team does look like it might have become a bit stagnant though, so it’s something to monitor if they flame out in round one.
Mulford: As much as I love watching the tandem of Lillard and McCollum, they might have to make a serious move. The abundance of cap they have tied up to guys like Evan Turner and Mo Harkless has handcuffed their franchise. Resigning Jusuf Nurkic to a big deal this summer seems like a bad idea to me. If Kawhi Leonard is made available this summer, I’d make a call if I’m Portland, offering a package led by CJ McCollum.
I find the Heat and Spurs in a similar boat. For the Heat, they have contracts weighing them down in Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters, but Pat Riley always finds a way. As does Pop. With the Kawhi conundrum, who knows what is going to happen, but the culture in San Antonio always seems to figure itself out in the end.
Rathbun: I think the obvious answer here is the Portland Trail Blazers. They simply do not have the roster to do significant damage in the West. Sure, Lillard and McColumn are both amazing at scoring the ball, but the team’s lack of other playmakers, finishers, and scorers was painfully obvious in their series against the Pelicans. The Pelicans constantly double-teamed the Blazers stud guards and dared other players to try to do something. Portland’s lack of scoring on the offensive end seemed to have a negative impact on their defense. I think Terry Stotts is the right guy for the job but he needs some help from the front office to make the Blazers offense a little more balanced. Evan Turner, Mo Harkless, and Meyers Leonard are not the answers to Portland’s struggles.
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The #BlogBoys will be a round table discussion between a few of our Mavericks staff: Mike DuPont, Reese Konkle, Michael Mulford, and Trevor Rathbun. We will touch on Mavericks specific topics while also speaking on what’s going on league-wide around the NBA. A new edition will be posted every Friday so sit back, grab yourself a cupcake, and welcome to the #BlogBoys!
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