Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mmm, Yummy Crow

I guess after being nigh on suicidal after game 1 and incredulous after game 2, I should write about the Mavericks unbelievable championship. It shocked the basketball world. In fact, I think it shocked the Mavs. It seemed at the end of the game that as time was ticking down they just looked at each other as if they were saying, did that just happen? Am I dreaming? The Heat were stunned, too. After one of the Heat's final baskets, when they had to foul to try to prolong the game, they let Jason Terry dribble around like it was a shoot around. They seemed to mail the last 5 minutes of the game in, which was a common theme in the finals.

I listened to a podcast of Miami sports writer Dan Lebatard with Bill Simmons recapping the finals. I didn't count, but he probably said 10 times that the Heat were close to winning all the games and if Lebron James had played to his averages then they would have won. I obviously can't dispute any of that, but the question has to be asked why did those things happen? Why did Lebron struggle so much in the series and the fourth quarters in particular? Why did the Mavs own the last few minutes of the games they won? How were they able to take apart the Heat defense late in games? These are legitimate questions because that is what happened on a consistent basis throughout the series.

After the historic comeback in game 2, the assumption (at least on my part) was that the Mavs it was a blip on the radar. They made a few shots and surprised the Heat, but it wouldn't happen again and game 3 seemed to prove that out. But in game 4, Mavs outscored the Heat by 7 in the 4th and won by 3. In game 5, the Heat were up again by 4 with four mins to go, but lost by 9! In game 6, the Mavs led most of the game, but after the Heat got to within four early in the fourth, the Mavs answered quickly and the Heat never got closer than seven after that.

The thing is in just about every playoff game or series, one can always point to a couple of plays here and there that won or lost the game. Rare is the game, especially late in the playoffs when a team gets so outclassed that they can't play the "what if" game. What if that borderline call went our way? What if the shot had fallen in instead of out (or vice versa)? What if that guy didn't get hurt? In the 2006 Finals, Mavs fan were asking what if the Mavericks had been able to pull out game 3 when they had a big lead and looked poised to go up 3-0? What if the refs hadn't given game 5 to the Heat? Here in 2011, what happened in the fourth quarters goes beyond what if. If it happens once, ok, those things happen. Four times? Whatever happened (and I'm still not quite sure how it happened) was real. The Mavs, shockingly enough, were better than the Heat. The Heat clearly had the talent advantage, but this is a case where the Mavericks' whole was great than the sum of it's parts.

For me, I didn't truly believe until the end. I expected them to collapse or the refs to make sure there was a game 7. At last, the Mavs were stronger than whatever forces were arrayed against them. It was a ton of fun.

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