A collection of some of the best clips today on the Dallas Mavericks winning their first ever NBA Finals…and remember that yes, Miami did lose and it was a beautiful thing to watch them flame-out, but don’t forget to give Dallas the credit they deserve in the middle of all your Miami/LeBron hating.
Jason Whitlock thinks it is time to blow up the big three – A knee jerk reaction without question and I don’t think for a second that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, or Chris Bosh are going anywhere. Whitlock describes LeBron’s performance as “putrid” and James as a “national laughingstock and late-night punch line.” It is hard to argue with that right now, there is nothing more frustrating for people who the love the sport of basketball to watch the most talented player on the planet play with zero effort and heart when it matters the most.
Adrian Wojnarowski gives Dirk Nowitzki his due – The story of this playoffs should really be Nowitzki and everything he did right, not James and everything he did wrong. The emotion shown by Nowitzki as he left the floor in the final seconds was a beautiful sports moment. He has stuck it out in Dallas, through plenty of rough times and in the end managed to take his team and his franchise to a title with an epic post-season run.
It is good to see in basketball, a team…not whatever you would call the Miami Heat…win the championship. The team that played the game right way, beat the supremely talented one. The high-school team with a group of seniors that had played together their whole career and were desperate to win a trophy for their town knocked off the AAU team playing for college scholarships.
Overall, a great playoffs for the NBA, capped off by a great Finals. Keep an eye out for Justin’s reaction here at TOJ in the coming days, along further commentary from myself and upcoming draft coverage.
These videos are certainly fun to watch today…
Other thoughts on what is now a best of three series…
1. I can’t imagine there isn’t some type of divide in the Miami locker room. There is no way LeBron James liked hearing Dwyane Wade repeatedly calling the Heat “his” team after game three and there is no way Wade liked LeBron doing nothing to help him down the stretch last night. Dallas has no business having this series tied at 2 right now but somehow Miami has let the inferior Mavericks stick around.
2. Even though his supporting cast finally showed up last night, Dirk Nowitzki is still doing it all in the final minutes of all these games. Their entire offense in crunch time is predicated on Dirk making something happen and he is handling that pressure well. He wasn’t deterred at all by his early game struggles and still found a way to do enough in the fourth quarter to make sure this series is tied up.
3. It is about time Dallas gave a solid all-around effort to support Nowitzki. DeShawn Stevenson is giving them more quality minutes than expected. Jason Terry has been inconsistent but when he is on, Dallas is very tough to beat. I’d like to see Tyson Chandler finish at the rim more, but his rebounding and presence around the basket was huge last night.
4. The Mavericks have to take game five. You can’t bank on taking two straight in Miami, even after stealing one in their building in game two. I originally picked Dallas in seven and I think if they take game five, I will end up being right with a prediction…for once.
A few thoughts on game three of the NBA Finals…
1. LeBron James is starting to look a little timid in the final minutes of these tight games. When we entered the Finals, the Heat were LeBron’s show…they are now back to being led by Dwyane Wade who has been spectacular the past two games. Watching Wade and Dirk go shot for shot in the final minutes last night is about as entertaining as it gets, yet at least Wade has a few other people on his team who can knock down an open shot.
2. Dirk’s supporting cast has been a major let down so far in this series. You have to wonder if the big guy can really pull off this upset, this much on his own. You are asking alot for a single person to create every single point in the final seven minutes of every game. The Mavericks are well overdue for one of their three point barrages, that they used to sweep the Lakers away in round two.
3. Say what you want about Chris Bosh, but after playing such a poor game, he didn’t hesitate to shoot and knock down what turned out to be the game winning shot. You also have to be impressed with Mario Chalmers who isn’t shy at all in a big spot despite who he is surrounded by, which is an admirable trait.
4. This does feel like an inevitable seven game series at this point, right? Although somebody else on that Dallas roster needs to come up with a big game Tuesday night to avoid a 3-1 hole, which would all but wrap things up for the Heat.
5. Great defense by Udonis Haslem on the final possession last night. He should always be covering Dirk in a big spot, not Chris Bosh…as we saw in game two.
1. Of course since Donnie Walsh dug the Knicks out of one of the worst financial holes in NBA history and turned them into a contender again, it made sense to push him out the door so Isiah Thomas, the man who dug the financial hole could have more influence. It is hard to believe that whoever the Knicks name the new GM, still won’t have as much power as Thomas regardless of what his official title is. In this city, James Dolan needs to go as bad as the Wilpons need to go.
2. You can’t think this move bodes well for Mike D’Antoni’s future with the Knicks. It also doesn’t help with the rapidly approaching draft. The Knicks can’t afford to miss with the number 17 pick, as they don’t have a first round pick next year. As of now it is up in the air who is ultimately making the final call, which is never good thing.
3. If you aren’t a D’Antoni fan…remember the Knicks could have had Rick Carlisle as their head coach once upon a time.
5. You think the NFL Lockout is bad? Wait until both the NFL and NBA are locked out this fall and baseball is over…time to dust off my old Rangers jersey and start liking hockey again.
6. How about that game last night? The entire world was ready to hand over the next five NBA titles to the Miami Heat with about 7 minutes left on the clock in the fourth quarter. Fortunately, Dallas showed Miami is far from invincible and if you punch them in the mouth, there is a good chance they will back down. Perhaps the Heat should have finished the game before prematurely starting their celebration. Dirk Nowitzki gave us all a performance for the ages and now we have a series again.
1. Do any of you Knicks fans out there disagree about Fredette? Forgot about the big name, it is time to realize the Knicks can’t outscore everybody on their way to a NBA title. The reason Miami is probably going to win it all this year is because of how they have dedicated themselves to playing elite level, high energy defense these past few months. It is time for the Knicks to surround their two stars with the proper role players, who can rebound and defend…and then of course hope for Dwight Howard or Chris Paul in 2012.
2. Dallas had a great opportunity last night to steal game one and they let it get away. There were too many missed open shots by Dirk’s supporting cast, most notably Jason Terry. Now Dirk will be dealing with a torn tendon in his finger, which is only going to make the uphill climb Dallas has now that much harder. The role players need to do more for the Mavericks, especially when it comes to rebounding and hitting open threes or this will be a short series.
3. Amazing how out of it Dwyane Wade could look in the first half and then completely hit the switch in the fourth quarter. This is LeBron’s show now but Wade was the key player down the stretch last night, with his block of Shawn Marion followed by a back breaking three.
4. I can’t help but think Udonis Haslem is in Dirk’s head…at least just a little bit.
5. How in the hell is Juwan Howard playing fourth quarter minutes in a NBA Finals game?
Justin weighs in with his thoughts on the NBA Finals before they tipped off last night…
This is it. The finals. It has been a long, strange road. We had the foolish notion to assume a 6’2 point guard could actually work over the greatest power forward on earth without a legitimate 2nd man. Boozer was a joke. We assumed you could live off of pure talent and athleticism without having second or third round playoff experience. Both thoughts have been struck out with a rather convincing display of wisdom and what I can only call “complete” basketball.
The Mavericks showed that a roster of players who have been to the Finals will always outdo the inexperienced Thunder, who had to rely on out of this world displays by 21 and 22 year old players who are still learning how to play team basketball.
I thought that the Heat would have to rely on Lebron and D-Wade. Then I realized Udonis Haslem, who has been gone for what seemed like the entire year, was what really made the Heat machine tick. Remember, he was there for the 2006 championship and knew that the Big 2 would need help. They got it in both the physical and emotional sense.
I tried to go about this objectively, but after considerable thought, trying to think of a Dallas championship seems to be rather far fetched to me. Let’s say Dirk does go for 50. The Heat would probably do better letting him score that many, because playing defense on the rest of the team would be a joke. Jason Terry against Dwayne Wade? That’s almost laughable. Watching Jason Kidd trying to keep up with Lebron would be even funnier. Mario Chalmers may not be an All Star, but he will be a wash with Kidd. 38 years old makes him the oldest point guard in Finals history. This is not the team you want to play against.
The Heat will make plays that throw SportsCenter into a complete frenzy. They have been waiting for this. They will make people who hate them throw televisions out the window. It will be like a Michael Bay movie. They are actually currently installing 43 pyrotechnic towers along the sidelines with tags in Heat players sneakers for fast breaks, and I am told they are preparing backboard flamethrowers for every LeBron dunk. It will make Transformers 3 look like Little House On The Prairie. Some even say the temperature in their building will be increased to 136 degrees before warmups. It will be like watching Ali in Africa. Complete and utter physicality.
The question remains. Do we want the Heat to win? I don’t know. Do I want Dallas to win? I don’t know. Perhaps I would like to see Dirk vindicated…
Do I want to see Lebron vindicated? Not really, but I do think there is a certain point that you reach when your entire life has been devoted to something, reaching a dramatic arc, and violently exploding like the eventual megastar status of the sun…maybe it will be a last second game 7 dunk. One can only hope.
Five other observations and predictions for the NBA Finals…
1. A key factor in this series is how much DeShawn Stevenson, the Mavericks starter who usually barely plays 15 minutes a game, can slow down Dwyane Wade or LeBron James if given the chance. Most people are assuming he will cover Wade considering the job he did on him during the regular season (2 points in 30 minutes) but if LeBron starts going off, will they slide Stevenson over? Don’t forget the old Stevenson/LeBron beef from the 2008 playoffs, when Stevenson was on Washington and LeBron was on Cleveland which was big enough to pull in both Jay-Z and Soulja Boy.
2. How much longer can the unexpected renaissance of Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion last? Dallas is going to need Kidd to continue to spread the floor with his three point shooting and outplay the Mario Chalmers/Mike Bibby combination the way he should. Marion will be part of the committee thrown at slowing down LeBron and needs to continue with his surprising offensive contributions to compliment Dirk.
3. Will Dirk Nowitzki still have what Udonis Haslem did to him in 2006 floating around in his head? Yes, the supporting cast is obviously important but the only way Dallas is beating Miami’s big three is if Dirk remains on the level he has been this entire post-season. He needs to play like an all-time great to pull off this upset, especially with the tear LeBron has been on.
4. Even if the previous comments may not indicate it, I do think Dallas will sneak this series out in seven. They have that “team of destiny” feel and I think they will get revenge for what happened in the 2006 Finals. Dirk will remain at the level he has been this post-season and I think the supporting cast will hit enough big shots. Beyond Dirk, Dallas is a collection of former all-stars (Kidd, Marion, and Peja Stojakovic) with one final shot at a ring and I think they will answer the call in a big spot. Miami is going to get their titles eventually, I just don’t think it will happen in year one.
5. It is too bad this series won’t be on TNT. You can’t beat that studio show.
Perhaps we were expecting too much from the young Oklahoma City Thunder in only their second playoff appearance or perhaps they just ran into the wrong player at the wrong time.
We knew how good Dirk Nowitzki was before these playoffs started. We didn’t know he was about to rip off a playoff run of legendary proportions, that is going to change how he is viewed historically. If Dirk finishes what he started, you can expect plenty of people to start rearranging their all time top 20, 15, and maybe even 10 player list…that is how much of a monster Dirk has been in these playoffs.
It almost feels like destiny that the Mavericks will get another shot at the Miami Heat (sorry, Chicago is done) to right the wrongs from 2006, when the NBA Finals MVP should have been the referees, not Dwayne Wade. Let’s hope this year’s Finals aren’t decided by the whistle…
As for the Thunder, the young pups clearly weren’t ready for the big stage yet, particularly Russell Westbrook who was the x-factor coming into this series and simply didn’t come through. Oklahoma City won a single game this series and in that game Westbrook didn’t see the floor in the fourth quarter. He spent way too much time missing shots and way too little time running the offense, while making sure Kevin Durant and James Harden were getting enough touches.
Last night was a perfect example, 28 shots is too many, especially when they are coupled with only 5 assists and 3 turnovers. Westbrook is an immense talent and hopefully this year’s playoffs will serve as a valuable lesson to him because with a nucleus of himself, Durant, and Harden this team should be right back to contending for a title next year.
“Pressure can burst a pipe or pressure can make a diamond”
– Robert Horry
As drama critics are looking for work, NBA writers are writing odes to Dirk and Derrick. How could you not become poetic after each game 1? With a Western Conference Finals pitting two 22 year old superstars against a bunch of rapidly aging veterans with a 7 foot shooter who all of the sudden realized somebody had to be Playoff Kobe when Kobe isn’t around, who wouldn’t watch with a box of tissues and a bottle of Jameson next to them? I personally prefer a glass of red for every home team basket and a glass of white for every away team basket, but details at this point are trivial.
So why do I keep looking at Miami and Oklahoma City like they’re not ready for the stage? The Heat will not win a championship with two guys that aren’t playing to absolute perfection. Apparently there are three other guys that are supposed to do something on the court as well, but in Miami the other three, save for Bosh occasionally showing up when there is no hope, do not seem to share the same desire to win.
Remember the Lakers? Didn’t have the desire to win. Got comfortable. The Heat are going through the same thing, except they have rested on the fact that almost all NBA writers watched the 2nd round series against the Celtics and pretty much wrote off the Bulls. The Celtics were running on pure fumes, there would have been nothing left against the Bulls, it would have been an all out thrashing. The whole team would have broken down, resulting in Delonte West and Jeff Green becoming starters by game 4.
The Thunder however, seem to be on the verge of becoming a great team, but due to mid season trades, things have become a little strange. Yes, they had enough to finally put away the Grizzlies, but the pressure only gets higher, and every missed basket is like a last second shot attempt. Athleticism will not win championships. Ask Lebron. They have to get smarter, they have to be more efficient, and can’t turn over the ball on these insane, free for all fast breaks that seem like a last ditch effort to simply outrun the opposing team. Speed kills indiscriminately. Westbrook getting stuffed results in one less man on the defensive end when the Mavs start that insane shooting parade.
There will be enough swing between games one and seven to bring back the 70s. Ordinary sports writers will become schizophrenic and watch every game with split personalities. Old vs young. Good vs. Evil. All sides will reign at some point.