Well, a lot of people wrote off the defending NBA Champions, Dallas Mavericks, but they proved to a point that they still have some gas left in the tank to maybe, just maybe give Oklahoma City a run for their money.
Yes, this is NOT the same Mavericks team from last season, but they still have some heart left and are trying to step up to the plate and defend their title as they should. I have never got so tired of hearing all the analysts say that very stupid statement, “this is not the same team from last season”, and I want to say, no *&%!, Sherlock. We all know that there are some of the key players from last seasons team gone, but there are some of the integral key players still here and they want to win as well as those that joined the team this season, minus one of course, that are just as hunger for a championship as those that were here last season.
Case in point, Delonte West. This young man has won a lot of respect from his teammates, the fans and me for one for what he has done this season. Take away the goofy incident in Utah with Gordon Hayward and the “West Willie”, Delonte has shown impecable respect for the game, for the team and for the fans this entire season. We all know about his checkered past, but he has tried diligently to erase those memories and step up to the plate for the Mavericks organization and be a total professional, and I believe he has done that.
I read an interesting article about him and his family recently and it brought a new light of respect to him that I had no idea of what he was truly like. Yes he got in trouble with the gun situation and has had mental health issues that he has had to deal with, but with this young man, ever since he has been in the league, he has always tried to take care of his family both immediate as well as extended and at times run his finances amok to tend to his family.
When the lockout occured, he had no money to fall back on since taking care of his family, plus his legal issues (the gun thing) and his medical situation, so he took what ever jobs he could get to earn a paycheck and never complained about poor pitiful me as some of the millionaire players did. When he came to the Mavericks, he had no money, no place to call home in Dallas, so he slept in the locker-room until Mark Cuban stepped up and helped him secure a place to call home, to put a roof over his head; kudos to Mr. Cuban for thinking about his players in that capacity, not many owners would step up like that.
Since Delonte has been with the Mavericks, he has advised them that he would do whatever they needed him to do in order to play and he has done just that. He was being admired by his teammates for his professionalism and for fighting through the situation with his finger when he got hung up in the other players uniform and got injured and was out for awhile, but was determined to get back and help his team, and he has done just that. He might not put up spectacular numbers in all categories every night, but he does what he has to do to benefit his team.
For an old team, Dallas had the bull by the horns, so to speak and made the Thunder make the necessary adjustments to make it a game against Dallas. The thing of it was, Dallas didn’t make all the adjustments at the end to compensate which resulted in the loss to Oklahoma City.
Not trying to take anything away from the Thunder, they are a good team; they are young and can run and dive with the best of them, but I think our old troop proved that they can get on the floor with the best of them and take it to the hoop. Another case in point, Jason Kidd. Here you have the oldest man on the floor between both teams, trying to get the ball from the defender after a steal, winds up on the floor, while sitting on the floor, makes a long throw across court to Dirk who then passes it off to a teammate. The brilliance of the play from Kidd to Dirk was quite impressive from a sitting position, sort of what I saw in Dallas at the All-Star practice when Kidd was making half-court shots, not bad for an old-timer.
Thankfully though Dirk was on top of his game, well except for the 6 turnovers he had, but to lead your squad into battle and get 25 points after having a slow start for himself, was a great thing to overcome. He also connected on 9 of his 10 free throw attempts. JET has been talking about being on display for 29 other teams this season and doing an audition, well his audition for the night was what the Mavericks needed. He had 20 points which included 4 of 5 from behind the arc; the only problem was getting a performance from him in the fourth quarter. Terry was 8-for-9 throughout the first three quarters, but was only able to take one shot in the fourth, and he missed that one. As Dirk stated, they have to find ways to get the ball to JET in the fourth to help with the scoring, since Dirk and JET are the main fourth quarter guys, proven as Dirk scored 11 of his points in the fourth.
As always, there was help all the way around, besides Dirk and JET, Shawn Marion scored 17 points on 7 of 14 from the field and was 3 of 5 of his three-point attempts and pulled down 8 rebounds, Vince Carter showed he still has some “Vinsanity” left in him as he scored 13 points and was 3 of 4 from downtown. And as the leader of the bunch, Kidd, well he had numbers all over the place. Not only did he score 8 points, but he had 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 7 steals for the night, now that might not sound like much, but it is a thing of mystery as how he still can do these type of things for being in the league as long as he has and still giving young and old guys alike fits.
Now a point I want to make is, Dallas did not give the game away, Oklahoma City didn’t take it away, it’s just that the Thunder were able to make and adapt to the adjustments that Dallas had made and smothered their two key guys.
Russell Westbrook, who some feel is MVP material, led the Thunder tonight with 28 points and Kevin Durant added 25, including the go ahead basket with 1.5 seconds remaining in the game that secured the win for Oklahoma City. Serge Ibaka added 22 points and also had 5 blocks and James Harden added 19.
What all this boils down to is this, no matter what you do in the first three quarters, you had better be prepared to bump and grind and knock around with the big boys in the fourth to either get ahead, stay ahead and fend off the opponent to get the victory and that’s what Dallas is going to have to do on Monday to take a game in Oklahoma City and come back to Dallas with the series tied at 1 each and get the 2 wins in Dallas. I am not going to take a thing away from the Thunder, it’s just like the Heat, I am tired of them being crammed down my throat every time I turn around.
Write Dallas off is you want, but rest assured, they are not going to go down without a fight and they are not going to run away from anyone they face.
If you look at the numbers from Saturday’s game, statistically they were pretty even, except Oklahoma City did have the edge on the field goal percentage, but Dallas came out like the team I know they can be, took a four point lead after the first quarter and led most of the game until the fourth quarter, when Oklahoma City outscored Dallas 18-6 in the paint and 7-0 on fast breaks and held the Mavericks to just 36.8 percent shooting, that’s what got them back in the game and Dallas was trying to recover, but was unable to do completely.
So now we wait until Monday night to get game 2 underway and see what happens next and see if Dallas can regroup themselves and again put it to the Thunder and I know they can and should. And with that, I will bid you a good night and say good luck and let’s go Mavs!