Monday, May 30, 2011

The Evolution of Your Quiet Mavericks Leader, Dirk Nowitzki

Mavs break huddle at AAA in Miami
Dirk Nowitzki will never be mistaken for that in-your-face, rally the troops guy.  Yet, he has grown and embraced the role as the Dallas Mavericks leader this past season.

Case in point:
When the Mavericks took a 2-nothing lead over the Lakers, he warned his teammates not to get too excited.

"Dirk got on us when we won two games in LA," Deshawn Stevenson brought up after the Mavericks beat Oklahoma City to advance to the Finals.  "We got our leader and franchise player saying that and he doesn't have a smile on his face; it just makes you sit back and realize there's more work to do."  

JJ Barea added to the story during Monday's practice at the American Airlines Arena in Miami. 

"He said, 'It's only 2-nothing we gotta go home and still take this' I never seen him talk like that.  He didn't look right."

Barea added the last part jokingly but his point is well-taken.  Nowitzi hasn't been a player who is a "win one for the Gipper" guy.  But he has developed into a player who will speak to his teammates when he feels it is necessary

"He's been doing it this year a little bit more.  He's even talking this year," Barea said.  "His work ethic, the look in his eyes, his body language, everybody just wants to follow him." 

I still think the Mavericks are still more of leader-by-committee team with Jason Kidd and even Tyson Chandler stepping up to the plate.  But when your best player, in this case Dirk Nowitzki, is sending a message, it's important that his teammates listen.  And in the Mavericks case, they are.
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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Why You Still Won't Be Hearing From Mavs Owner Mark Cuban Anytime Soon

You've heard all postseason long about Mark Cuban's silence.  You haven't heard him talk any trash about this postseason.  He hasn't made any postgame show appearances, given any lengthy interviews or made reference to dirty Riverwalk water.  Sure, he may have vented about a call or said a thing or two about the Dodgers but that's about it.

While he's been incredibly cordial and polite to all of us, even delivering a live postgame fist-pump to me on TXA21 outside the Mavs locker room in Portland after a Game 6 six win, he's politely declined ust about every substantial on the record interview request.

Don't expect that to change.

After the Mavs amazing comeback win in Game 4 Monday night in Oklahoma City he came out of the locker room following the game while the media throng was gathered in the hallway.  He had a relieved, half-smile on his face.  A number of media peeps asked him if he wanted to talk.  He broke into a bigger smile and shook his head no.

We joked with him, asking him if he's ever going to talk again, considering how well his team is playing with his lips somewhat sealed.  It was another broad smile with a head shake as he walked away.  He said something to the effect of "I'm not messing with what's working."

Much has been made about the genesis and inspiration of this silence.  I wouldn't be surprised if this wasn't a more coordinated effort.  Perhaps head coach Rick Carlisle has seen what a potential distraction Cuban's chatter has been in the past and maybe suggested that the owner stay quiet.

Just a thought.
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Mavs Come From Behind to Beat Thunder in Game 4 of the Western Conf...

   

Yes, that happened.

In my Michael Johnson-like pace to churn out a video blog before we hit the road to Dallas, I forgot to mention something.  Brendan Haywood told me that Rick Carlisle told his guys this was a character win.

Watching the Mavericks come from 15 points down with less than five minutes to go to beat OKC can understand why.  But what was so interesting was what Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd said after the game.

Both said that the Mavericks could have easily given up.  Think about it.  Down 15.  They had already gotten a win in Game 3.  A split in Oklahoma City (a tough place to play) would have been just fine by anyone's standards.  You would have taken that, wouldn't you?  But Dallas wasn't willing to settle for "just a split".  Both players admitted as much.  Obviously, if the Mavs don't win, we're having a different discussion.

That being said, I think "character win" is an appropriate description because Dallas showed a hell of a lot of it in Game 4.  It definitely wasn't anywhere close to a perfect game.  FAR from it.  I know most of you Mavs fans were cussing at the tv (and at me on twitter and facebook!).  But it's one they'll learn from, take and hope to build upon in Wednesday's Game 5.
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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Are the Mavericks the Most Battle-Scarred Playoff Team in the NBA?

You could almost make the case for that.  And it might just be a reason why the Mavericks could be primed for one of their most successful seasons in franchise history. 

We've focused all offseason on just how playoff-tested the Mavericks are.  Jason Kidd, Dirk Nowitzki and Peja Stojakovich each have at least 10 years of postseason experience.  The rest of the squad, save for Corey Brewer, Dominique Jones, Brian Cardinal, Rodrigue Beaubois and Ian Mahinmi, all have at least five years of playoff experience.  All this postseason experience and, let's be honest, disappointment each individual player and Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle have been through with other teams have shaped this 2011 Mavericks squad.

It's made the Mavericks a hungry, smart team that understands not to take a ride on that emotional roller coaster than can be an NBA postseason.

But no one put it better than Jason Terry on Sunday before the Mavs watched film of Game 3.

"You look at each individual, almost to a man, Peja Stojakovich: Sacramento vs LA, he didn't get it done. Myself and Dirk: in the Finals up 2-0, didn't get it done.  Coach Carlisle: two Eastern Conference Finals, never made it to the championship.  Jason Kidd: two Finals appearances, didn't hoist up trophy.  Someone told me the other day Shawn Marion's been to Western Conference Finals twice, hadn't got the Finals.  Those unique stories in itself (is) what drives us and motivates us to get it done this year."

We know getting it, a championship, is the goal this season.  Can this be the team that finally does it?  I think it's in better shape, both mentally and physically, than the team that made the Finals run in 2006. 
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Friday, May 20, 2011

It's One Silly Little Loss, But Are the Mavs Taking the Thunder Too Lightly? Yes, Says 1 Mavs Player



I'm not a girl who likes to say I told you so, but......

The Western Conference Finals are tied at one after Dallas lost to the Thunder 106-100 on Thursday. It's only one loss to but I definitely feel the Mavericks Game 1 win masked a few areas of concern that enabled the Thunder to win Game 2, particularly on defense.  Remember the Thunder were within six with under three minutes to play in Game 1.  We pointed this out on Mavericks Game Night prior to Game 2 Thursday night. 

This series is still right on pace for what I predicted to be a win for the Mavericks in six (I had OKC winning Game 1).  But have the Mavericks lost their edge defensively?  OKC is averaging 109 points a game through the first two.  Dallas didn't given up more than 100 in the entire postseason prior to the Conference Finals.  At least one Mavericks player admitted that they're concentration is off, perhaps they're taking OKC too lightly and that, yes, they have lost some edge.

Dallas allowed OKC to shoot 58% percent in Game 2 and, for the first time in a while, was outplayed by an opposing team's reserve players.  The Thunder bench outscored the Mavs second unit 50-29, led by James Harden's 23 points.

Much more in the video blog.
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Some Mavs/Thunder Pre-Game 2 Fun...NERD ALERT!

Life has gotten in the way and blog posts from me have been tougher to come by than a botox-free celebrity (no judgement).  Excuses be damned!  While doing some homework for Thursday's Game 2 between the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder, I thought I would share some stat geeky fun.

Look at how different these trends are from the past four Mavs postseasons:

-Dallas has won the first game of each of last three playoff series.

-The Mavericks have won seven (7!) straight playoff games.  Their longest previous win streak in the postseason was four which they have done on two separate occasions.  They're also 6-0 at home.  They've also won three straight playoff games on the road, the first time in franchise history.

-The Mavs are looking to go up 2-0 against the Thunder tonight.  Dallas is 4-1 all-time in a best of 7 series when it has a 2-0 lead.  The only loss after leading 2-0 (do I really need to remind you): the 2006 NBA Finals

-Dirk Nowitzki went 24/24 from the free throw line.  Dallas is unstoppable when he gets to the charity stripe.  The Mavs are 5-0 this postseason when Nowitkzi attempts at least 10 free throws, 12-0 during regular season with at least 10 attempts.

-The Mavericks bench (my key to this series for Dallas) is averaging 41.6 points a game this postseason.  Dallas is 8-1 when its bench outscores the opposing team's reserves.   That loss was in Game 3 vs the Blazers when the Mavs bench outscored Portland's 48-23.
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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Victoria's Secret & Rangers Intro PINK Line: Even the Grumpy MLB Reporters Might Like This One

The Rangers and Victoria's Secret are doing a little to-do to introduce their Rangers PINK line at Dallas' Northpark Mall on Thursday.  I blogged about the offerings here.  I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that even the grumpiest of the grumpy baseball reporters might crack a tiny smile covering this event.  Let's at least hope!

Here are the detes from the cut and paste department:

TEXAS RANGERS TAKE OVER VICTORIA’S SECRET PINK


WHO: CJ Wilson – Pitcher, Texas Rangers

Chanel Iman- VS PINK Supermodel

WHAT: Victoria’s Secret PINK is coming to Dallas! VS PINK Supermodel Chanel Iman will be joined by CJ Wilson of the Texas Rangers at the Victoria’s Secret store in Northpark Mall to meet and greet fans and celebrate the new line of PINK Rangers gear. The first 100 people in line will be able to pose for photos with CJ and Chanel and all fans can shop the new collection.

Launched in 2004, Victoria’s Secret PINK is a fully articulated lifestyle collection for young women. The VS PINK Major League Baseball Collection, launched in March 2010, is an exclusive assortment of co-branded merchandise with select teams. This unique program features VS PINK’s highly recognizable brand iconography and the names and logos of some of the biggest teams in baseball including the Texas Rangers, who were added in March 2011. Items in the collection include tees, shorts, hats, hoodies, and sweats. To learn more information about the exclusive VS PINK MLB or Collegiate Collection, visit www.vspink.com.

CJ Wilson is a stellar force on the mound and finished among the American League’s Top ten wins. He is passionate about traveling, photography, his new company "CJ Wilson Racing," going to South Africa for his charity, music, tatoos, surfing and his “STRAIGHT EDGE” way of life. C.J. is constantly engaging his fans and letting them know what’s behind the #36 Texas Rangers jersey and his signature blue glove.

WHERE: Victoria’s Secret
Northpark Mall
1010 Northpark Center


WHEN: Thursday, May 12th
1:00PM
Press Check in at 12:30PM
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Thursday, May 5, 2011

What We Learned in the Mavs Win Over the Lakers in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals.


You can look at the box scores and stats anywhere on-line. These are my impressions of how the Mavs are handling this success.

I think it's fair to say the Dallas Mavericks have shown us something we haven't seen in a while. They are a more mature, veteran team that seems poised to deal with the roller coaster the NBA postseason throws at them. I was impressed with the Mavs victory but even more impressed with the player's reaction afterwards.

It's also worthwhile to note that Mavs owner Mark Cuban is keeping a lower profile in these 2011 playoffs. He seems to be letting his players and coaches do the playing and talking. He came out of the locker room Wednesday night, with an expression of relief, elation and restrained calm that was refreshing.

"We got two games. We got two games. Gotta get two more," he said emphatically but with a calm, almost library-appropriate voice.

I think everyone involved with this entire team is showing us something and, eight postseason games in, it looks good.
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