Mavs/Spurs Game 6 Recap
Say hello to your Playoff dark horse.
by Adam Sweeney
Shawn Marion, allow me to paraphrase Haley Joel Osment from The Sixth Sense. I see fat people singing.
The Mavericks’ forward popped off with an adaptation of the classic “It ain’t over til the fat lady sings” line after his team blew a pivotal Game 4 in this series. Well, open your eyes, Shawn. It’s over. In the biggest game of their season, the Dallas Mavericks failed to even remotely show up until it was too late. Maybe they were auditioning for The Biggest Loser.
The Spurs helped their cause with suffocating defense. How good was their effort? They tied their Playoff franchise record for fewest points allowed in a quarter, matching their 1999 feat against Portland, by holding Dallas to eight points in the first quarter. Oh, they also limited Dallas to 34 points, their lowest point total in first half of Playoff basketball.
Manu Ginobili looked far more comfortable in Game 6 after breaking his nose in Game 3. He busted the 2-3 zone Rick Carlisle employed out of desperation to the tune of 26 points. The Spurs pretty much came at Dallas harder than critics come at a Michael Bay film.
Then a funny thing happened. Dallas showed heart. Fueled by the speed of Rodrigue Beaubois, the Mavs cut the Spurs’ 22-point lead down, even taking a one-point lead in the third quarter. It wasn’t enough. Dallas pushed the Spurs to the end but couldn’t seem to make any key stops when it counted. Now they head home wondering what went wrong.
Hey Rick Carlisle, way to get a clue and realize you needed to play Roddy Buckets to up the tempo, then take him out with the series on the line. It’s hard to argue what was worse; putting Dirk Nowitzki back in with three fouls or sitting Roddy after he proved to be the catalyst for your team’s comeback. Could Rick Carlisle have coached this team worse in this series? I’m not sure.
Game 6 was a case study of Dirk Nowitzki’s career. He committed four fouls in the first half, including two against George Hill that prompted my roommate to ask, “Does he think he’s playing flag football?” Then he drops fifteen in the third quarter with said fouls and scores 33 points. In short, he did just enough to lose. That may be the sentence written on Dirk’s basketball epitaph. “He played just well enough to lose.”
Is Dirk Nowitzki officially the greatest active player with 10 years of work in the League without a ring? He has to be up near the top, right? Tracy McGrady is in there with Steve Nash, Jason Kidd and a handful of others. It’s sad to watch the window close on such a prolific player like Dirk. Alas, we can’t all be champions, not this year at least.
It’s time to close out this series and hand out some awards.
The Best Supporting Actor Award
George Hill has impressed me with his confidence and level of play but damn if the dude didn’t show his acting chops, flailing his arms and falling on the ground multiple times on touch fouls. I’m writing him in on my Oscar ballot next year. He also gets my vote because of how clutch he has become in the Playoffs. Every great cinematic performance is lifted up by supporting characters. Think Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. Hill played at that level and the joke is on Dallas. Someone make me a “Why So Serious?” t-shirt with Mark Cuban’s frowning face on it, please.
The “Did He just Say that?” Award
With 6:51 left in the game and San Antonio up 78-76, TNT analyst Reggie Miller said, “This is an old fashioned Texas shootout!” What the Hell? A shootout is the 1988 Eastern Semis between the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics. Two teams failing to break a hundred points is the opposite of a shootout. By Reggie Miller’s definition, I’d say Dirk Nowitzki is the greatest American of our generation.
The “Remember the Rim?”Award
Is there something Dirk has against going to the basket? He is one of the best shooters in the game but I will never understand why a guy who is pushing seven feet doesn’t boom on defenders. The Mavs’ offense always benefits when he attacks the heart of the defense. You don’t have to settle for twenty-foot jumpers.
The You Make the Breaks Award
With Dallas up one in the third quarter, nearly every loose ball and break went San Antonio’s way, including a basket interference no-call on a Tim Duncan score. It would be easy to complain about situations like that but you know that? San Antonio earned the breaks by playing smarter basketball. The aggressive team usually gets the benefit of the calls, as was the case with the Spurs. So save the trash talk about the Spurs. They earned every bit of this series win.
Dallas enters the off-season wondering what went wrong. They had a world of depth and talent but also lacked composure and desire to match a buzz saw like San Antonio. Mark Cuban has to decide if this team can get over the hump and if not, what can he do to create a team that can. Changes have to come for a disappointing Dallas squad.
San Antonio is officially the sickest seventh seed of all-time and is peaking at the right time. They played, as Manu Ginobili said, like there is no tomorrow. Because of that there is an immediate future. The “Big Three” has found a way to win without them dominating offensively. They owe that to George Hill. If Richard Jefferson ever finds where he fits in they may jump L.A. as the Western Conference favorite. As it is, they are the team nobody wants to face. Ask Dirk Nowitzki about that.