Those of you who enjoy commentary on the Rangers, Liverpool, Cro Cop, Youtube, and other regulars on Bob’s Blog may not enjoy the transition that the playoffs bring, but prepare for the morning after notes column to continue through the Stars and Mavs playoff runs. We do it every year, and it seems to be well received. So, without further ado….
Nelson: Belly Up, Mavs
So much for the honeymoon. So much for the assumptions that this would be an easy ride. Don Nelson rolled in here with his sandbags and stole the pot in Game 1 using textbook Nellie Ball, but also a cast of very interesting, exciting players. The Mavericks had little to say after that thrashing, and already they find themselves needing a win on Wednesday – just a few days into their playoff march. Random observations from Game 1 follow:
• Baron Davis was off the charts last night. I have always liked his game but there have been times where his attitude and his fat have kept him from getting “all world” consideration. Well, I would suggest that Nelson has obviously moved him past those two problems as he is clearly more slender, and played as a warrior last night. Clearly, he isn’t going to hit every shot he takes every game – like he did in the second half last night. But, he is a very tough match-up and when a guy gets 10 rebounds early in the 2nd quarter, you know his head is right for the playoffs. Honestly, I had far greater fears about Jason Richardson, partly because all you hear is that Baron’s knee isn’t right, but it looks good to me, and now I think all game plans must revolve around what to do with Baron.
• The Mavericks on offense were a confused and clueless bunch from the opening tip on. Why do they look like they have never seen Dirk double-teamed before? Why did it turn quickly chaotic? They looked out of rhythm and confused. They looked reluctant to pound the ball when they had a match-up in their favor. And of course, the shooting was miserable. I am not as worried about guarding Golden State. I think the real issue with the Mavericks is on offense. If Jason Terry shoots 6-14, Dirk shoots 4-16, and Stackhouse 0-6, then this is going to be a short playoff campaign.
• Josh Howard was so good last night. His game has developed to such a level that it is now not a shock to say he was your best player. I thought his hands on defense were lightning quick, and he attacks on offense like nobody else. Things weren’t good last night, but Howard was clearly not the issue.
• Many, many emails about the refusal of the Mavericks to maintain their normal lineup. Avery is getting ripped for changing his game because of Nellie Ball. But remember, that is the beauty of small ball. If you don’t adapt, you have a match-up issue at pretty much every spot. Let’s say the Mavericks started with the normal 5 of Dampier, Dirk, Howard, Devin, and Terry:
Dampier guards Harrington (he can’t),
Dirk guards Jackson (he can’t for long),
Howard guards Richardson,
Terry tries to guard Baron Davis because Baron would pound Devin physically,
And Devin chases Ellis around.
I really think the only advantage is what you do on offense, but since Dampier doesn’t do anything on offense besides pound the glass and set screens (Diop, too), then you have quicker defenders swarming Dirk even worse. So in this case, I think Avery had to adapt to that lineup. This series may be all about Devin Harris taking the ball to the hoop like he did last night, but he needs to convert more bunnies. And, we have to hope his shoulder is not too damaged from the collision.
• Why is Mark Cuban looking so mad entertaining television?
• This is one of those times when you wish Dirk wasn’t so bad at posting up the smaller players. If he would just be determined to do this, many of these offensive issues would go away. But, this reminds me of Houston ’05 and Phoenix ’05 and ’06. Dirk is going to be guarded by smaller and quicker, and it is up to him to figure it out. What that means to us is that he will continue to launch shots from 18-23 feet. It works most the time. But, since we all enjoy our Larry Bird comparisons, I am reasonably sure Larry would have his dude down on the block.
• Yes, I do wonder if Jason Terry can be as good as he was last spring. His play all season has me wondering if we should expect last spring’s clutch performances. I have my worries.
• So who guards Baron Davis? And what game does Jason Richardson go for 35? And why does Stephen Jackson annoy me – because he reminds me of the ’03 Spurs series?
• Dick Stockton is amazingly consistent. He seems lost during his own broadcast whether it is football or basketball. One time he had Baron Davis with the foul when Baron wasn’t even in the picture. His observations are pretty much inane, and his call of the game has errors everywhere. If you weren’t sure, I think Dick Stockton has been bad for years, now. Of course, he was awesome 15 years ago.
• Did you think this was going to be easy? Did you forget the ice cream headaches, the knee jerk reactions, and the day after games pondering whether the Mavs were done? Look, bro, this isn’t for the faint of heart. Dig in and realize this thing isn’t decided in Game 1 of Round 1. Your boys did not when 67 games by getting lucky. They didn’t get to Game 6 of the NBA Finals by getting lucky. They got there because they are really good, and they know how to win a chess game. But, they get 7 games to win 4. So, knee jerking after 1 is jumping the gun. Let’s see what Wednesday brings.