Mavericks Need to Rebuild

The Mavericks don’t realize how big an impact the loss of J.J Barea, Tyson Chandler and Caron Butler is to their team. While watching their game against Denver, one thing jumped out at me. The Mavericks are soft again. Tyson Chandler changed the culture of the Mavs last year. Notice the word changed. Meaning before him they were soft, and didn’t impose any intimidation or toughness. They’ve gone back to their ways.

Right now the Mavericks have no chance at winning the championship again this year. With the loss of Marion on opening day, their chances went down even more. Losing him in the starting lineup leaves only Jason Terry on the bench. Their defense is noticeably sluggish, without Chandler commanding the paint. And they’ve had long scoring droughts throughout both of their games. Dirk can’t do it all, and all of their secondary scorers aren’t young or athletic.  I’m not saying this to be harsh, but they’re game is a huge downgrade from last season. Losing to the Heat and the Nuggets is not a terrible thing, they are very good teams. However, they weren’t just beat. They were thrashed. The Mavericks lost by 22 points to Denver and 9 by the Heat. The Mavericks were down by 26 to the Heat at one point.

Both the Heat and the Nuggets are stacked with young talent. Look Dwyane Wade, Lebron James, Chris Bosh, Danilo Gallinari, Ty Lawson. Both teams love to run and gun. They are all athletic and quick, that’s what is killing the Mavericks. They don’t have a quick young center anymore, they don’t have a J.J Barea to come off the bench and provide energy, they don’t have a young Caron Butler to put up points or a Deshawn Stevenson to knock down some threes. Most of their players are easy to guard, nobody will explode to the rim.

It may finally be time to rebuild for the Mavericks. They had four young players that they could’ve used for the future that they let go in the offseason. That could’ve been the foundation for the future, however now they’re team is mostly veterans. Everyone said they were too old last year but now I think they actually are. This is clear, and their two games are proof. Especially with this condensed season, the back to backs may tire out the Mavericks more so then other teams.

Mark Cuban is stubborn but he may have to face the facts. The Mavericks reign is over.

Exciting Moments Ahead

Only 22 more days till the most anticipated NBA tip-off in recent memory. The excitement is indescribable, already rumours are beginning, teams are practicing and fans are biting their nails, anxiously awaiting Christmas day. Exciting moments are on their way. In the spirit of Christmas I bring to you the 12 most exciting things to look forward to this season.

12. NBA Tip-Off

Although, the NBA tip-off is only one day of a 66 game season. It will begin the domino effect of exciting games. The match-ups all consist of star players and exciting teams. Boston’s Big Three takes their talents to New York to match up against the Knicks Big Three.  A finals rematch in Dallas. Former MVP’s match up as the Bulls take on the Lakers. Superman is flying to Oklahoma as the Magic take on the Thunder. And Bad Blake will begin the hundreds of mind-blowing dunks as the Clippers take on the Golden State Warriors. Merry Christmas indeed.

11. Celtics Too Old?

After the Celtics lost to Miami’s Big Three in the conference semi-finals last year, a lot of people said they didn’t have the young talent to compete with the upcoming teams in the league. Such as, Miami, Oklahoma, Chicago and so on. The Big Three in Boston have a title and know how to win and what it takes to win. Something that is taken for granted through the eyes of fans. Garnett still has his toughness, and maybe he isn’t as quick as he used to be but he still has a killer shot and knows when to step up. Ray Allen, hasn’t aged at all. His three is still lights out, as well as his mid range jumper. And people can say nothing about Paul Pierce, after all his exciting plays this season. This play in particular….

There is no need to even watch past 0:24. I’m just saying, the Celtics still got it and although they may be looked upon as the old timers in a new generation they have some tricks up their sleeves. The Celtics may play with a chip on their shoulder and that means terror for other teams in the league.

10. KD Not Kidding Anymore

After barely beating the Grizzlies last year and losing to the Mavericks in the conference finals, KD knew he could never go through anything like that again. He was done losing, after getting his heart broken by the Lakers in the 1st round in ’10 and losing to Dallas in ’11 he knew he had to change. This summer he has wasted no time improving his game. Here is proof…..

I cannot wait to see Kevin Durant develop more as a player and as a scorer and bring Oklahoma City their much deserved ring.

9. Grizzlies Back on Their Grizzly

When the Grizzlies defeated the number 1 seeded Spurs in the west I was shocked. Heck, the whole world was shocked. The Spurs had been having a picture perfect season. 60 wins and the 1st seed in the West. They thought they had a legitimate chance at a title. Then the young, scrappy, Grizzlies came along and silenced San-Antonio and the NBA world. Then when they forced a game 7 against KD and the Thunder we began to really take them seriously. Unfortunately, they couldn’t push past the Thunder. However, they exited the playoffs with nothing to be ashamed of. They gave two of the best teams in the West a run for their money. They may have failed in the playoffs but succeeded in imprinting their game in everyone’s mind. Now that Mike Conley, Z-Bo, and Rudy Gay are back, the Grizzlies will enter this season as legitimate competition. I can’t wait to see more of their electrifying game.

8. Rookie Class

This year’s rookie class is nothing special. There are no Lebron’s, no Kobe’s, nobody that is an obvious star. However, that’s what makes it interesting. Anyone of the  rookies can jump out and surprise us, almost like Blake Griffin did with his first  NBA dunk. The favourites for Rookie of The Year are Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams. However, Enes Kanter, Kemba Walker, Jimmer Fredette and Ricky Rubio may want a piece of the spotlight. Maybe this rookie class isn’t filled with future stars but they are filled with exciting players.

7. Knicks Gelling

The new look Knicks played 42 games together last season, Melo and Amar’e brought  a glimmer of hope to the one city that needed it most. Now they hope to develop upon that and expand that glimmer of hope into a championship.  Due to Amar’e’s back injury during the 1st round of the playoff’s last year the Knicks didn’t have a chance. I believe if Amar’e had been fully healthy they would’ve played Miami in the 2nd round. The big question heading into this season, is how will Amar’e, Melo and Billups work together. Last season there was definitely some miscommunication on the court, but when these guys learn how to work together. Miami better watch their back.

6. D-Rose 2 Time MVP?

After D-Rose’s breakout season last year and the Bulls surprising success, I’m intrigued by what they will bring to the table this year. Lockdown defense is for sure. But can Derrick Rose match the stellar performance he gave last year.  He clearly has tricks up his sleeve, and if you haven’t seen his highlights from last season then prepare to be astounded….  

 The question is what will he surprise us with this season? A 50 point game? More killer crossovers? Unbelievable hops? D-Rose is unpredictable, but what we do know is that he will be eager to show everyone that last season’s success was no fluke. And that the Bulls and himself are here to stay among the elite.

 5. Lakers Redeem Themselves  

The Los Angeles Lakers suffered an embarrassing defeat in the Conference semi-finals to Dirk and the Mavs. Phil Jackson will try to forget his last series as a coach. He will try to forget Andrew Bynum throwing an elbow of frustration to J.J Barea. He will definitely try to forget being swept by Dallas. Now with a new coach, and a hungry Kobe, the Lakers can start on a clean slate. Everyone knows Kobe is angry and wants back on that throne. NBA fans everywhere, brace yourself for a Kobe overdrive.

4. Miami Back With a Vengeance  

Miami suffered at the hands of greatness last season when losing to Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks in the finals. Everyone, including themselves called the season a failure. This summer Lebron, and D-Wade didn’t waste time sulking or lowering their heads. They’re focused on greatness and focused on championships so they’ve been hard at work preparing for this season….

 Now that Lebron, D-Wade, and Bosh have additional criticism and motivation from last season it will be interesting to see how they come back this season. I’m predicting full on domination.

  3. Blake Show is Back  

If you ask any fan what team was most exciting to watch last season I bet you more than half would say the Los Angeles Clippers. This young and talented squad showed true potential last year when the Blake Show came along. They even made the Lakers a little nervous about being the top team in Los Angeles. But, Blake Griffin and the rest of his crew are back with more experience and more flavour this year. I’m eager to see them in action and to see Blake throwing down monster jam’s this season.

 2. Dallas 2-Peat

 After winning a title last year, Dirk and the Mavericks must be careful about their throne. The Lakers will be back and ready to redeem themselves, Miami will have more firepower than ever, and every other team in the league wants a seat on top. Dallas are prime targets this season and the fact that Tyson Chandler hasn’t signed an extension should worry them more. They’re veteran roster must be ready for the new guys in town who will do anything to defeat them. I wonder if J-Kidd, Dirk and Jason Terry will have what it takes this year. It will be more than exciting to see them in the finals once again.

 1. CP3 and Superman

 The best center in the league and arguably the best point guard in the league are free agents next summer. CP3’s agent has released statements that he wants a bite out of the Big Apple and there is speculation the Dwight wants out. We know the Magic and Hornets will try to improve their rosters around their stars before it’s too late. We also know they will trade them to get the most out of them if their stars don’t agree to an extension. This will be the most exciting part of the season due to the impact that these players will make on any team. Imagine CP3, Melo and Amar’e in New York. They’d instantly be best in the East. Or if Dwight went to Los Angeles, the Lakers would instantly be best in the West. After the Melo-Drama and the free agent frenzy of 2010-2011 we have all grown to love stars teaming up. It will be exciting to follow the drama that surrounds these players all season.

Changes Needed: Miami Heat

After a season of stardom, criticism, and losing the NBA finals, the Miami Heat have some things to think about. Playing against the Mavericks in the NBA finals really took their flaws and put them under the spotlight. There was Lebron’s disability to finish out games and their depth not being able to produce.

I think this offseason the thing they have to focus on most is their roster changes. It was clear that if one or two of the big three wasn’t producing like a superstar, their bench couldn’t hold up their load and stay in the game. They’ve won about 55 of their 58 regular season wins solely on the production of D-Wade, Chris Bosh and Lebron James. The biggest problem they knew they were up against in the Finals is the monstrous depth of Dallas’ bench. Jason Terry, J.J Barea, Brendon Haywood all contributed greatly to the success of the Mavericks. From J.J making big shots of pick and rolls, to Jason Terry scoring 27 in game 6, to Brendon Haywood protecting the paint from people like Lebron. Often times when Lebron or D-Wade or Bosh sat down for a break, that’s when the game got a bit out of hand, and they started to lose their handle on the game. Then it was too late to get back into it. The Heat need to keep their eye out for productive role players. Ones who know their place on a team and are willing to do that to win. Players like Mario Chalmers. He was the only helpful player besides Haslem off the bench but they need more then that. They need someone they can count on to pour in 10-15 points off the bench. Someone like Shawne Williams from New York or Delonte West from Boston.

Then they need Lebron to start playing like the label he gave himself. A king. Not a scared little boy afraid to get physical in the paint. C’mon Lebron you owe the NBA better then you have given us this year. This summer it’s not his skills or his endurance or his jumpshot that needs refining but it’s his self confidence, his ability to make big plays when they count and his aggressiveness back. In the first 3 rounds of the playoffs he was attacking that basket like a man fighting for his life. He saw the basket, and drove straight to it. That was the Lebron we expected in the finals but unfortunately for some people and fortunately for those Lebron haters it wasn’t the one we got. He passed the ball away too many times in big moments to players like Mario Chalmers and Mike Miller. What does he expect those guys to do with the rock in their hands in the biggest moment of the game. I was so disappointed with how he played, and this summer he has to look in the mirror, start listening to the criticism, get angry, and translate that into his play. For the big moments there is no way to practice those until your actually in the big moment but Lebron’s problems are all in the mind. That’s harder to solve then the play itself. But he is the king, isn’t he?

It’s not all him though, Lebron isn’t perfect, he wasn’t exactly given a plan in the 4th quarter. He had had to improvise which is hard to do when the pressure is all on his back. Erik Spoelstra was out coached during the finals in his aspect of 4th quarter planning. They ran no plays for Lebron or D-Wade. I bet if Lebron or D-Wade were given a play to run in the 4th quarter and a plan to work on then their 4th quarter production would be much greater then it was.

To be honest the Miami Heat played a great series and with some slight depth changes and some determining of their 4th quarter star then the Miami Heat will be the ones with the parade after next season.

 

 

 

The Kidd Without the Credit

While Bill Russell stood up on that stage and handed Dirk the much deserved Finals MVP trophy, the only thing anybody could do was cheer. Here he was, one of the all time greats receiving his first finals MVP from sports’ best champion. He held that trophy up high and let out a childish german smile. Surrounding him was his loyal and hardworking teammates like Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler, Shawn Marion, Deshawn Stevenson, but squished between all the 6-7 feet champions was the 38 year old unsung hero, Jason Kidd.

The spotlight on Dirk has never been brighter. He took a team of hungry veterans to the NBA finals and with his determined attitude he took them to a championship. Fans everywhere are glad that Dirk got the championship he’s always deserved, but we may be forgetting about the other 30 year old without a ring.

The facilitator named Jason Kidd.

In 2008 when Mark Cuban shook up the basketball world by sending his developing young point guard named Devin Harris to Dallas for the experienced veteran in Jason Kidd. Jason had had two chances at an NBA championships in New Jersey, but fell short both times. The trade was seen as a negative through the eyes of fans and analysts. Jason Kidd’s career was winding down, he was 36, he couldn’t run fast or jump high, but Mark Cuban had faith. He had faith that Jason Kidd didn’t need the athleticism of this era of basketball, all he needed was experience, maturity and a passing skill like no other. Now as the Mavericks have been crowned basketball champions of the world it seems the trade was a success.

Jason Kidd may not turn up in the stat sheet a lot. His plays may not pop out to the typical NBA fan, but he played his heart out in those 6 games. In game 5 it was his three pointer that put Dallas up 4 points with about 40 seconds remaining. In game 6 it was his control of the pace and of the game that slowed the game down in Dallas’ favour. It was his big threes that gave momentum to the silent Dallas crowds and silenced the loud Miami crowd. It was his ability to get Dirk’s offense rolling and his ability to reach the open man that won Dallas the NBA finals.

Let’s not forget about Jason Kidd. He may not shoot off of one leg, or score 27 off the bench. But this veteran does more then that. Wasn’t it him who took over as the vocal leader during Dirk’s flu game. All these behind the scenes things that Jason Kidd did, helped win them this championship. What about guarding Lebron sometimes and guarding Mike Bibby. He deserves one just as much as Dirk, he has played longer and has been through some rough times. To win this championship means the same to him then to Dirk, although it may not be his MVP he knows what he has done is indescribable.

At an age of 38, Jason Kidd does not want to be forgotten. His performance in the Finals prove to us that the little things count in big games. A big three, a great pass, a jolt of energy on the bench. Think about how much effort and hustle Jason Kidd has to play with at the age of 38 to win a championship. Most NBA players are young, quick, athletic but here is a 38 year old man playing alongside players like Lebron and beating them.

While Dirk held up that MVP trophy, Jason Kidd wasn’t sighing with jealousy, but cheering because he knows his production can’t be measured and because he helped Dirk get to where he wanted to be.

Championship Team

6-10 championships. That’s what they said. The Big 3 boldly stated that they could win 6+ championships with the Miami Heat. Everybody including themselves called this season a failure without a championship. I guess that’s what this season was for them a big failure.

When the finals rolled around, the veteran Mavericks were the underdogs. Rick Carlisle said it best, ” We don’t run fast or jump high, but we have a great team.”

A great team. That’s what wins championships. Not the superstar power of three players and a few points off the bench. No. It takes a Hall of Famer committed since the day he was drafted, to win a championship in Dallas. It takes a 6th man who is more clutch then a two-time MVP in this league. It takes a gritty interior defender who dives for loose balls everywhere they go. It takes an underdog foreign point guard who lights up everybody unexpectedly. It takes a veteran point guard with the best passing skills in NBA history. It takes a veteran forward who dreams of championships every night when he is sleeping. It takes a coach who loves his players and will stop at nothing to get them the championship they deserve. That’s what makes up a championship team.

That also carries over into the legacy conversation. Lebron James will never have a legacy as great as Dirk. Never. He may be more athletic, and more talented, but he played 7 years and needed a championship. So he took the easy route and that was it. He was in a better position for glory. Dirk went through 12 hectic, championship short seasons, he never doubted his team, or teammates, he never thought of leaving. Even when Steve Nash left he never called out the front office or did anything to jeopardise his legacy. He stuck with Dallas for 13 years and eventually won a championship. This championship that he won yesterday will mean more then any that Lebron ever wins. He won it over Lebron, he won it with the team he was drafted by, and he did it all by himself.

  

Dirk really showed what the heart of a champion meant. He played sick and scored 21. He was the lone star of a team without his number two scorer, in Caron Butler. He outplayed everybody on the court even two top 3 players in the NBA. Dirk will be remembered as a champion, like no other. He has no bad rep on him, he has not had a bad season in 13 years. Every year has been consistent and stat filled. Up and coming players should look to players like Dirk instead of Lebron. Players who don’t let their team down when it counts most, players who don’t call themselves the king and then don’t win a championship in 8 years, players who take the easy route to a championship. Not players like Lebron but like Dirk.

When we take a look at Dirk’s career we can really see how complete it has been. An MVP, a finals MVP, an NBA championship, recreating the power forward position, developing the 2nd most unstoppable shot in NBA history, scoring 20 or more points for 10+ years, 10 time all star, leading the Mavericks in points. I mean from top to bottom Dirk Nowitzki is a prize possession for this league. When we look back at this series we won’t be looking back at Lebron’s failure but Dirk’s great and much deserved success.

 

 

Finals: Game 6

This could rap it all up. This could roll out the curtain call. This could pop the champagne bottles. This could give Dirk his much deserved championship. Miami won’t let it slip though. If Lebron thought game 5 was now or never then wait till he is embraced by the anxious South Beach crowd.

Miami is the little boy at school being held up against the wall and robbed of their lunch money. The Mavericks are the bully.

Miami has so much pressure on them to keep the series alive that Lebron just might have to play Lebron James basketball. At least give us a little taste of what the “King” has in store. So far this “king” has played more  like a peasant locked up in the dungeon. Dwyane Wade has played like the king this series. Averaging around 28 points and showing everybody who the man in town is. Dwyane is a leader, and a captain and he knows that he needs Lebron to get involved for them to win. Dwyane can’t do it alone. Even in 2006 he had Shaq and Gary Peyton helping him out. Bosh has even played better then Lebron this series. Those two guys need to call out Lebron on every possession he is not aggressive enough. His sissy play on the perimeter is not going to win championships. Driving into the paint and attacking the rim is going to win championships. That’ll be key for the Heat to win this game.

 

The Heat as a whole have to come out on fire in game 6. Their crowd will be eager for something to cheer for, and they have to create an environment that Dallas won’t want to play in. They have been letting Dallas get the upper hand when the games have begun and they have found themselves fighting back in the first quarter. Not this game. They have to force turnovers, and get Lebron, Bosh and Wade into a rythm offensively. Then they need their role players to step up. Dallas’ depth has killed them in the past two games. The only player who is really producing is Mario Chalmers. That’s one 12 points bench player against a crew of Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, J.J Barea, and Tyson Chandler. The supporting cast has to step up. I always say that the bench will play better at home. It proved correct for the Mavericks, let’s see if it will prove correct for the Heat.

The Mavericks know what they’re going to be up against. They know how much hype is surrounding this game. They also know how loud the Miami crowd is going to be. Which is why they have to use their veteran skills to their advantage. Most of their players have been in big game situations, for a long time in this league. When the 4th quarter rolls around they have to jump on any opportunity to silence the crowd. They have closed out games terrifically, but they have to be sure to hold the Heat when the 4th quarter arrives. Lebron will be looking for more opportunities and they have to be ready to counter that with defense and maturity.

They also need their role players to continue playing like they have. They struggled a bit in Miami in the first two games but when they got home they were on fire. Now as they step back on the road they can’t shrink out from the spotlight. Last game it was big threes from Jason Terry and Jason Kidd that won them the game. They need that production from those same guys again.

When they’re hot offensively, it spreads the floor for Dirk. Giving him room for his one legged jumper and room for him to spin to the hoop more often. Defenders have to stay with their men and Dirk gets to dominate. That only works if the Dallas supporting cast comes to play. And they must. If they do then this game will be won. If not then look forward to a tense game 7 showdown.

Game 6. See you in 1 hour.

 

 

Finals Game 5: Notes

He stepped up. Just not enough, it wasn’t enough. A regular triple-double of 10 assists, 10 rebounds and only 17 points were how he responded to his meltdown.

He wasn’t as aggressive as I expected him to be. Those 10 assists show that, and his 17 points. He only attempted 2 free throws this game. It just shows you that against a tough defense, Lebron chooses to settle instead of attacking the hoop like he should.

I noticed that in this game Dallas came out ready to play. They were prepared, they were energetic and they were wild on defense. They started the game forcing turnovers and not giving up the easy lane to the basket. That was the beginning of their road to victory. Dirk made his first two shots from the field and his first two free throws.

Dirk was in a rythm.

Jason Terry started to look for his offense.

 

Shawn Marion was getting out in transition.

Everything was going well for the Mavericks, yet Miami was still persevering. Lebron was playing more aggressive, and the role players were helping him out.

This game was close. Closer then some games that have been played in the NBA Finals so far. Then the 4th quarter rolled around. People sat up in their seats, people put their drinks down, they started biting their nails, kids all around america begged their parents to stay up a bit longer, analysts looked more intensely at Lebron James and the Miami Heat, and Dirk Nowitzki and Lebron got ready. Here it was, the biggest game of their lives so far. The most important 12 minutes of their life so far. To put it all out there is an understatement, to do anything it takes to win sounds about right. This is the place where legends are made, and chokers are established. This is the place that Dirk has made a name for himself as one of the most clutch players in history, while Lebron has made a name for himself as the one who chokes. This was the moment for one of them to take their team to victory.

It started off like most 4th quarters. Close and tense. Until Dallas made a little run and then Miami made a comeback run, and it went back and forth until about 2 minutes in the quarter when Dirk span baseline and dunked the ball in to ignite the crowd and his teammates. Then Jason Kidd hit a big three and Jason Terry hit a big three the next possession. Then it was over. The Mavericks 4th quarter antics got them the win.

Lebron James on the other hand scored 2 points in the 4th quarter. Only 2 points in the game which was supposed to be the biggest of his career. If that’s how he treats the biggest quarter of the biggest game of his career then I am not looking forward to his career developing at all.

If Game 6 goes the same way. If Dirk’s supporting cast of Tyson Chandler, Jason Terry, J.J Barea, Jason Kidd, and Shawn Marion can score 62 points again. Then it will go very smoothly for Dallas, and their title hopes. If Miami can’t get Lebron to attack the paint and get to the line then the series will be done in 6 games.