I remember that after the 2009-2010 season ended for the Dallas Mavericks, with a first round exit against the San Antonio Spurs, there was that same talk again about how this team has made its final run for the title with Dirk Nowitzki as the centerpiece. I mean, how many times can try to re capture the 2006 magic which imploded anyway? The Mavs were after their third first round exit in four years despite having home court advantage. Dirk Nowitzki was nearly 32.
Deciding to test the waters of free agency was another sign. Nowitzki wants a title, badly. Hey, the man deserves one. He has done everything possible for the Mavs. He leads nearly every major statistical category in franchise history. He is undoubtly the greatest European player in NBA history. I know that in Europe itself it’s viewed differently. You gotta succeed infront of European eyes in final fours to garner huge appraisal in the “old” continent. Nowitzki left Germany when he was 19.
I don’t remember anyone giving Dallas a chance for a title shot when this season began. I don’t remember myself thinking about that either. Yeah, they have a good matchup with the Lakers, they always had. Still, who knew they’d F’ing Sweep them?! Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant getting swept into summer vacation? By a team of old ‘losers’!
A few dirty hits later, and Nowitzki moved on to another huge night. No three pointers, just pure Nowitzki shots. Those only he can make, with long Serge Ibaka hands in his face, while falling back on one leg, using the board, and five fingers up in the air. 24-24 from the line. I didn’t notice he went so much to the line during the game actually. Only later, when I was watching the stat sheets did it dawn upon me. I was thinking – The Thunder got screwed right? Nope… they even got seven more shots from the line. They had Durant on another 40 point night, his third in this post season. Every time he scored over 35 the Thunder won, including the Game 7 against the Grizzlies.
I guess a lot of rest for old bones didn’t hurt the Mavs at all. The Thunder came into the series young, athletic but no longer the favorites. The team many picked to be those to knock off the Lakers had a tough time against Memphis. Russell Westbrook’s weaknesses have been exposed. Even Durant on a mega night couldn’t stop that. No one on the Thunder team couldn’t stop Nowitzki. No one has been able to during the playoffs.
Maybe more double team is the way to go. Man to man is a complete failure, be it Durant, Ibaka or even Sefolosha on a couple of possessions. I’d like to say recaptures, but I don’t Dirk Nowitzki ever lost “it”. If at all, he seems to have gotten better, at least in the post season. His regular season numbers have dropped, but that has been done according to his minutes. This post season he looks hungrier and fresher than ever. The teammates surrounding him look ready, for the first time in five years. I know Westbrook can’t have a game any worse than he did in Game 1, and Durant will keep up with his hot hand, and he’s not even home yet. Still, this series is going where Dirk Nowitzki and his guys take it to.
And I just heard Charles Barkley call him the White Mamba.