I find it difficult not to chuckle upon hearing the word “fluke” regarding the Dallas/Golden State series. Likewise with the notion that the Mavericks ran into a hot ball club. We hear it from members of the organization, players, and fans. It truly is an amusing notion.
The Warriors have thrashed Dallas the last two seasons, winning nine of the last twelve - six by double-digit margins. The Mavs were fortunate to push the playoff series to six games. A three-minute barrage by Dirk Nowitzki prevented them from dropping the series on their home floor.
Dallas has lost eight of its last ten playoff contests. Four of those defeats were also by ten points or more.
Nightmare matchup? Go ahead if that works for you, but from where I stand, it’s obvious this team has some cracks.
Sixty-seven regular season wins. That’s obviously nothing to sneeze at. Though, it’s more product of Avery Johnson’s pedal-to-the-metal approach. We should definitely credit the Mavs for that much. They do not take nights off.
What exactly does that do for the Mavericks in May? There are no back-to back games (Dallas went 12-1 on the tail-end of BTBs last season). The post season rolls around and opposing coaches have the luxury of an off day. They are allowed to recoup and focus.
Five years ago, it was exciting to hear how this club would work its tail off to improve within. Now when Avery or General Manager Donnie Nelson rattles it off in a soundbite, I can only chalk it up to noble sentiment.
Work hard. Improve within. Stay the course. This has been the mantra.
Can the Mavs return the current roster and honestly contend for its first title? I don’t believe so. This team lacks in specific areas. Maverick fans are quite familiar with the shortcomings. These are very real issues that won’t be remedied by simply asking Dirk to work harder on his post-up game.
Dallas is still in dire need of a reliable second gun - a Robin to Dirk’s Batman, if you will. Or perhaps Nowitzki could slide into the Boy Wonder role, provided Mark Cuban & Company land such a big fish. Point being, when teams decide to take Dirk away – as Golden State and Miami have in Dallas’ two previous playoff series – no other Mav has answered the bell.
Team brass remains adamant that the hard work will eventually pay off. I am not sure it’s that simple.
The Mavericks has also insisted there will be no major changes. There will be no shakeup, or so they say. Ask Donnie Nelson about various parts and he is quick to label Josh Howard and Devin Harris as “untouchable.”
That is either one of the grossest cases of overvaluing one’s own or a true poker face at work. When a name like Kevin Garnett is floating about in trade discussions, as a Maverick fan, I seriously hope it’s the latter.