My Thoughts on the Mavericks Win

Yesterday, the Dallas Mavericks punched their tickets to the NBA Finals with a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.  The Mavericks, again, came back from a sizable deficit in the final minutes of the game to secure the win.  Dirk wasn’t his usual amazing self.  He was just really good, which was all the Mavericks needed, as players like J.J. Barea and Shawn Marion stepped up.  Jason Terry and Tyson Chandler contributed the last significant portions of the points, and the Mavericks were able to squeeze out another win.

It should be noted that James Harden and Russell Westbrook both played really good games.  Kevin Durant was good, but the Thunder needed him to step up more if they were going to win this game.  Westbrook silenced his critics with an amazing 31 point, 8 Rebound, 5 Assist game, while Harden had 23 points and 5 Rebounds off the bench.  The entire third quarter and the first half of the 4th quarter saw them driving through the Dallas defense and hitting layups and tough jump-shots.

As I said, Dirk wasn’t amazing, but he did his job, contributing 26 points and 9 rebounds.  When Dallas went with their “small” lineup in the 4th quarter, Dirk had to shift from Forward to Center, but for the most part, he just made tough shots and forced OKC to drape their better defenders, such as Nick Collison on him.  That’s not to say he didn’t have a large impact, or that he wasn’t the leader of this team, as he sank a beautiful 3-pointer that put Dallas ahead with 1:14 left.  With 13 seconds left, he hit a couple free throws to seal the win for the Mavericks.  Dallas and Dirk especially seemed to have a reputation after the 2006 Finals as being anti-clutch (In those finals, the Mavs won the first 2, and they lost the next 4 in a row, 4 games that saw the Heat take 50+ more Free Throws than the Mavs) so this must feel even better for him, because he’s finally got an opportunity to win his ring.

What’s interesting to me is something Bill Simmons pointed out in one of his columns, where he talked about the Mav’s run as the last breath of what he calls the “Post-Jordan Era”.  Meaning, after Jordan, we as fans got to watch great players such as Kobe, Shaq, Dirk, Tim Duncan, Paul Pierce, Steve Nash, etc.  Now, with Boston’s Big 3 and now the Thunder having been eliminated from the playoffs, Dirk is the last “Post-Jordan Era” Star left standing, and he gets to go up against either LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, or Derrick Rose, who represent the next era of great players.  A group that represents those three, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, etc.  So that’ll be an interesting storyline that the longtime viewers of Basketball will get to pick up on when the Finals starts, whether Dirk and the Mavs get to face LeBron an D-Wade, or Derrick Rose.

One thing is for sure though, either the Bulls or the Heat are going to have it tough playing against the Mavs.  They’ve shown that they can out-grit and out-effort any team they play against (which was one of the common themes in the Bulls-Heat series I’ve been talking about.)  The Mavs had to take down a Portland team that almost forced Dirk to be defined as a career choker, and while sweeping the Lakers doesn’t look to be a huge deal in hindsight, playing the Thunder certainly was.  It was decided by most analysts that the Thunder had the best chance to unseat the Lakers in the post-season.  The Spurs were actually supposed to be unlucky that they had to face the Thunder in Round 2, rather than the Mavs.  But not only were Dirk and the Mavs able to beat the Thunder, they were able to come from behind twice in a row against them.  The Mavs played out of their minds in this series to win it, and while a 4-1 series win looks rather convincing, you have to remember that Dirk scored 48 points in Game 1 and was nearly perfect, and that the Mavs came back from behind in Games 4 and 5.

The bottom line for me, is that this is the big German’s chance to win himself a ring.  I hope he does, as it’s obvious that both Derrick Rose and LeBron James will have plenty more opportunities than Dirk to get their first rings.  And in addition to Dirk, I’d like to see guys like Jason Kidd get one too.  Lastly, as Yahoo! pointed out in their recap, Dallas sports fans are really lucky.  They got to host the Super Bowl, the World Series, and now the NBA Finals.

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