Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Mavs: Turn out the lights, the party's over

In a rather depressing turn of events, the Dallas Mavericks’ run for the championship ended last night. It was rather depressing, because mere days ago, the Mavs were up 2-0, and there was already talk of parade routes and such. Unfortunately, such talk proved premature, as the Mavs hadn’t won the championship yet. NOTE FOR NEXT TIME (if there IS a next time): Win Championship Before Talking Parades!!

First, I gotta give the Heat credit. They overcame their own obstacles to get to the championship, including starting out the championship series down 0-2. But they fought, and they fought, and they fought. And Dwayne Wade had an awesome series. He played like Dirk Nowitski should have played. If Wade doesn’t get the MVP for the series, then Mark Cuban should complain about that just as vociferously as he did about the officiating.

While the Heat fought for their championship, the Mavs responded by wilting and complaining. And while I love Cuban to death for what he’s done to bring the Mavs back around, sometimes he needs to sit down and shut up. I agree that the officiating was rather suspect –if it was enough for Avery Johnson to complain about it, then it was suspect—but sometimes Cuban does more harm than good whenever he goes off on one of his rants.

Now my complaints about the Mavs. Somehow, someway, they are going to need to make driving to the basket the bread-and-butter of their offensive strategy. While having perimeter shooters is great, nothing affects an opponents’ defensive strategy than an aggressive attack plan like driving to the basket time and time again. Find big, strong guys that are hard to stop when they drive to the basket, or get small guys that can run around the big dudes like a deer running around in a forest –in other words, SOMETHING that involves moving towards the basket for a high-percentage shot as well as a chance of drawing a foul.

Either option would be better than the perimeter shooting strategy that the Mavs kept falling back on time and time again. And those 3-pointers! ARRGGH!! Logic should tell you that if you’ve made only 1 out of 10 3-pointers during a given game, then you just don’t have it going for that game, and you need to do something else to get your baskets –like driving to the basket and drawing a foul.

In other words, if you can’t get the threes from beyond the arc, then get them the old-fashioned way: at the free throw line. While threes can be fun and exciting, they need to be used selectively –they should not BECOME the whole offensive strategy for a team’s offense. That’s like playing the lotto as a retirement plan!

The Mavs have their work cut out for them in the off season. While there is no need to replace many of our starters, I think some of our bench can be offered up for better players. My # 1 trade bait is Keith Van Horn. The guy’s got the skills –so long as he stays healthy. But his inconsistency and unreliability are only going to get worse the older he gets –so the Mavs might as well let him go and try someone else.

I’d like to hold on to DeSagana Diop (I’m not sure exactly how that name is pronounced, but it always sounded like “Savanna Jack” to me) if possible, but if he can bring a player with similar skills AND who can score, then I’m willing to let him go, too. Jerry Stackhouse is also likely expendable for the right replacement. I want to keep our core players intact, though, since they are used to working with each other, and now they can provide more leadership for the rest of team with this recent playoff experience under their belts.

Anyway, I am glad to have had the Mavs get this far. It was a great ride –disappointing in the end, of course, but how many teams would kill for the chance to be in a Finals? As with any sport, there’s always next year, and with the growth and learning experiences from this year’s playoffs, it gives us hope for future championships.

Thanks for the ride, fellas. See you next year.

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