Welcome back to Earth, Dallas fans. It’s been a while since we’ve been this deflated. Last year it seemed that we could do no wrong but this year has been anything but. Minus a good win in Boston; at home vs. the Spurs; and another home win vs. the Thunder in the regular season, this year has been an ugly portrait. Our championship season was a Jackson Pollock, random and beautiful organized chaos. But this season has been the equivalent of a notepad doodle that I drew in the last work meeting. It was fun while drawing it, but it’s in the trash now.
So here are a few things to look back on in hopes that it clears our heads before the offseason. Some of these are sore loser-ish excuses (I’m man enough to admit that) while others are facts
1. Tyson, JJ, D-Steve:
I’ve been reluctant to blame this season on the loss of Tyson Chandler, JJ Barea, and Deshawn Stevenson. Based on our defensive stats, I thought that we were able to fill the void. But it’s been obvious that without Tyson guarding the paint and grabbing boards, this team has struggled in the intense environment of the playoffs. Haywood has been disappointing and Mahimni and Brandan Wright just aren’t ready. We’ve missed the play making of JJ Barea as well. I originally thought that Roddy B would replace him but it hasn’t been successful. Roddy B seems nervous in the playoff lights in the little amount of playing time he receives.
2. The Buzz Saw
All season the Mavs made it clear that they just wanted to make it into the playoffs. By doing this they ran the risk of being a low seed and matching up with these Oklahoma City Thunder. OKC had the advantage of keeping the same staff and roster in place from last year minus the late addition of a proven veteran and Mavs killer, Derek Fisher. I personally don’t feel that OKC has all the pieces for a title but they do have everything needed for a first round beat down. Especially to an older team as the Mavs are. But getting back to the OKC playoff potential; the cocky attitudes and chest pounding won’t get them through the next round. The Thunder are a very streaky shooting team. Take Russell Westbrook’s mid range jumper for example. The one that has brought the Mavs to their knees. In the regular season, he made that shot 41% of the time. In these playoffs, that percentage has jumped to 59%. Can that keep up throughout the playoffs when Jason Kidd isn’t covering him? OKC also gets in jump shot mode and is turnover prone. Sorry OKC fans, you’ll have to settle for OKC Redhawks games and tailgating in Norman or Stillwater this fall when your team is sent packing in a few weeks. But for now, this Thunder team is on fire and it’s at our expense.
3. Shortened Season
Before the season and during the lockout, we had the rare opportunity to potentially get to enjoy our title for 2 years. Looking back that would’ve been nice. It looked as if there would be no NBA season. However, the owners and players would figure it out and the season started fashionably late on Christmas Day. We all knew after game 1 vs. the Heat that we were in for a long season. That was followed by a thrashing by the Nuggets, then the first of many buzzer beater losses the following night by this same Thunder team. The lack of practice time along with the roster changes took its toll on this team and resulted in a very up and down season with more lows than highs. It was rare to see our complete team on the court together as injuries kept out different players at multiple times of the season. Maybe with a full season, the guys would’ve learned each other tendencies a little better and maybe the extra rest between games would’ve helped this team re-group. Guess we’ll never know. But the good thing is that whoever wins the championship this season will have a nice little asterisk next to their name. So that’s funny. (cough cough, 1999 Spurs)
4. Lamar Freaking Odom
Other than the loss of Tyson Chandler, this is one of the main problems we’ll remember from the 2011/2012 Season. This guy came as close to sabotaging (RIP Adam from Beastie Boys) a team than we’ve ever seen before. Worse than the Antoine Walker experiment. Lamar was inconsistent and non existent at times while on the team. Then he blamed it on outside circumstances that quite frankly, we all deal with on a daily basis. Then he took his $9 million and went back to LA to root for the Lakers/Clippers. Then he had the nerve to delete his twitter account so that we couldn’t send him any messages about how much we hated him! After Lamar left, there was a gaping hole in the roster. There was nobody left to back up Dirk at the PF position. Nobody on the bench to grab a much needed rebound or a key pass. Brandan Wright was forced to play more at the PF and seemed uncomfortable there. Thanks Lamar, thanks a lot.
5. Mark Cuban
Saving the best and most difficult for last. First of all, I love Mark Cuban and everything he’s done for the franchise. He brought the team from the deep dark basement to the top of the basketball world. But after all the hard work and heartbreaking seasons and ultimate triumph, it just seems as if the rug was pulled from underneath us. I’m not going to act like the team’s accountant and pretend that I know the financial repercussions of not signing Tyson Chandler. From what I understand, it could’ve set us back for the 2012/2013 free agents. But I feel that Cuban owed something to the team that worked so hard last year and also to the fans that weathered the storm for years. Cuban should’ve worked harder to keep Tyson Chandler, the Defensive Player of the Year. If a repeat or at least another Finals appearance means that we’re strapped for cash for a few years, I think it would be worth it. Cuban decided against that theory and chose to roll the dice and barring a small miracle, the Mavs will be without Deron Williams and Dwight Howard next year.
Now let’s move forward and attempt to stay positive. No matter how bad this post season turns out, we at least have the 2011 title to fall back on. How sweet it was. This article would be filled with much more “color commentary” if the Mavs wouldn’t have been able to win a championship last year. The team has also saved a lot of money due to Cubans financial decisions. I trust that the team will make the best educated decisions in order to get a mixture of youth and talent on the roster for the next few years.
Most importantly, don’t let any “analyst” or “expert” tell you that games 1 and 2 of this series were “Deluded” or a “fluke”. The Mavs played the Thunder tough all year and those games could’ve gone either way. Game 3 was a product of the Mavs panicking early and the Thunder pulling away with streaky shooting. People will look only at game 3 and decide that we never had a chance. That’s simply not true. This team, with all that was against them all season, played their asses off and made the best of what they had. Don’t let anyone say that this team is “one and done” or that last year was a fluke because we got knocked out of the first round. We all know what this team has accomplished. We were once the worst professional franchise in all of sports and climbed our way out. We have a superstar, one of the greatest of all time, that never moved teams. He even took a pay cut for the teams benefit. We’re lucky to have witnessed this. We’ve been to the playoffs 12 straight years and have been a force in the West for a decade. Not many other teams, other than the Spurs or Lakers can say that. So anyone that tries talking down about our Mavs, just point up to that banner. And tell them about the best all around playoff run the NBA has ever seen. Be sure to let them know that we’ll be back.
Nice season Mavs.
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