The NBA Finals, a winning script
There are certain elements that a good movie needs to have to capture an audience’s attention, to keep an audience’s attention, and to inhabit a place in the audience’s heart. I know I’m not going to house good vibrations about something long after it’s done if I can’t find a way to connect to it. I love “The Shawshank Redemption” because it is easy to sympathise with Andy Dufresne, an everyman who was wrongfully imprisoned. I love “Into the Wild” because we’ve all felt like Christopher McCandless at one time or another, wanting to live outside a flawed societal structure and blaze our own trail. I love “Hot Rod” because the part when Rod tells Denise that she looks shitty cracks me up.
At the heart of every unforgettable movie, there is an accessible protagonist whose shoes the audience can step into and understand why they do what they do. Let’s use “The Truman Show” as our example, since Dallas coach Rick Carlisle starred in it.
The most underrated movie in Jim Carrey’s filmography tells the story of Truman Burbank, a man who was adopted by a TV station and had his life filmed and broadcasted to the entire world. Truman works at an insurance company and is a likable everyman who struggles through a bit of an identity crisis when he begins to catch on to the whole “my entire life has been filmed and has aired on national television” idea.
The NBA Finals have truly been a major Hollywood production for several reasons. Cut to Dirk Nowitzki, one of the top one least hatable superstars the NBA has ever seen. The only people who hate him also hate V-neck shirts and a Wendy’s Frosty, so they have no credibility. Prior to this postseason, the verdict on Dirk was that he couldn’t close out a game. He shattered this identity he had been labeled with by scoring a bunch of fourth quarter points in the Finals. Crisis = solved: the dude can finish.
Despite being a seven-foot German, America felt like they could relate to Dirk Nowitzki because he is a humble guy going up against a big evil force. Superstars have changed teams before, but none until LeBron have turned it into such a grand spectacle, broadcasting it live 24/7 and creating a “Trumania” (yes, the Heat are Christof here). None have assumed the crown before earning it like the Miami Heat did. None have carried themselves with as much smug asshole-ery as LeBron and Wade. None have looked as much like an ostrich or raptor or other animal of choice as Chris Bosh.
This all culminated to make them a team hated unlike any other before them. In the 2010-2011 NBA season movie, the Miami Heat are Voldemort, Master Shredder, Team Rocket, almost every role Will Arnett has ever played, and Lord Farquaad. The entire country became 76ers fans in the first round, Celtics fans in the second round (although that bandwagon was already kind of large to begin with), Bulls fans in the Eastern Conference Finals, and Mavs fans in the big show.
There’s always love for Scal.
I remember the exact moment when my disdain for the Heat went from a casual dislike because of LeBron jumping ship in Cleveland and because they were serious competition to my Celtics: in late January, Dwyane Wade said, “We’re not the Boston Celtics. We’re not these kinds of teams that need to play together.” Are you serious? You don’t need to play together? If all it took was a big time player to take over, score points and forget that there are others wearing jerseys similar to his, Allen Iverson would have nearly as many rings as fingers to put them on.
From day one, kids learning the game are taught that basketball is a team game. It’s not baseball, where a dominant pitcher can take over (even then, only sometimes), or tennis, where it’s just a foreign guy, his luxurious hair and his racket. One Dallas player admitted that the Heat were fielding three of the four best players on the court every night. A competitor deep in the Finals would never admit that their opponents were a better team, so what does that say about his stance on teamwork and how one guy can’t just take over? (By the way, I just forget who said the “three out of four players” thing, I don’t feel like checking.)
Dirk said himself that he needed help, and being one of those “teams that needs to play together,” other guys stepped up while he went through his fever and through his awful first half in Game 6. DeShawn Stevenson hit key threes. Terry picked up the some of the scoring burden. Chandler grabbed big rebounds that extended possessions. Jason Kidd continued being a triple-double threat. J.J. Barea stepped into the starting lineup and brought his spark from the bench with it.
It was obvious to anybody with a brain stem that the Mavs are Dirk’s team, but he was smart enough to not claim that he is the team. When the pressure was on, the pressure was on the whole squad, not just Dirk, who acknowledged and played like he was not the only one on the court capable of hitting the big shot or getting the big stop. LeBron put the pressure on his shoulders and crumbled beneath it (Wade had the pressure too, but he was clutch enough to handle it). Two people can’t take as much as 9 or so can. When weight is spread over a larger area, there is less surface pressure. It’s science, look it up.
Moviegoers love a happy ending, when the good guy overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to claim victory. Dirk and his crew of supposedly over-the-hill old-timers had the maturity to handle themselves with class and to rely on each other to defeat the flashy young guns who thought they already had it all figured out. America latched on to this team because Dallas were the good guys who had a big hill to climb.
Nice guys allegedly finish last, but it’s always the villain who says that, right before he doesn’t show up in the fourth quarter and reminds his haters that he is richer and better than them after he loses. The final twelve minutes are where games are won and lost, but in case we don’t see you there, LeBron, “good afternoon, good evening and good night.”
2011 NBA Finals ‘Online DVD’
The NBA will offer one of those cutesie thirty-or-whatever-dollar Mavericks championship DVDs, but the price is always a bit steep, especially for the casual fan who doesn’t pledge allegiance to the champion, but enjoyed the drama and intensity of a great NBA Finals.
This is why I have made a sort of “online championship DVD,” compiling relevant YouTube clips and stats into a quality summary of the Mavs’ and Heat’s seasons and the Finals. There are over 246 minutes, or about 4 hours, of great video content here.Presenting the NBAmmkay 2011 NBA Finals “Online DVD”
~~ NBA Mini Movies: The NBA produced a series of 6-7 minute YouTube videos for each game of the Finals that capture both the drama and the highlights of every night, which cumulate into a nice 40-minute feature when watched consecutively.
~~ Game summaries: Highlights from NBA.com (25 minutes)
~~ Dirk Nowitzki receiving the Finals MVP award (2 minutes)
~~ Box scores: Complete statistics from Basketball-Reference.com that cover the entire playoffs, stats leaders and much more.
~~ Miami Heat Championship: What seems to be the 2006 Championship DVD. (59 minutes)
~~ Final minute of 2006 Finals: It is possible to watch all of Game 6 by going to the user’s channel and watching all 11 parts of the video. (9 minutes) // Watch final minute- Bonus Features: The Mavericks
~~ NBA Stories: Dirk Nowitzki: a 25-minute special from 2008 that covers Dirk’s entire career, from his upbringing in Germany to his 50-point playoff game.
~~ Mavericks 2011 Top Plays: Different Top 10 videos about the season the Mavs have had. (12 minutes)
~~ The Decision: Somebody recorded this copy with a camera, but it’s the only complete version I could find. (37 minutes)
~~ Inside the HEAT: Dwyane Wade: A local TV special about Wade’s career. (23 minutes)
~~ Heat 2011 Top Plays: Different Top 10 videos about the season the Heat have had. (14 minutes)
**********************************************Like NBAmmkay on Facebook
Jason Kidd finally beat someone that wasn’t his wife.
My brother Dom.
I love me some Jason Kidd and some Mavericks, but this was too funny not to share.
Game 1: Heat 92 - Dallas 84
This is just a quick post from my iPod before bed, but I’ll share one thought: aside from poor shooting and being dominated on both ends the second half, the Mavs’ downfall was actually in their bench, whose praises I sung in my series preview. Miami’s bench outscored Dallas’ 27-17, and Terry had a weak night, going 0-3 in the second half for approximately 0 points.
My tone may suggest Dallas should feel disheartened, but let’s not forget that Miami won a game at home, exactly what they are supposed to do. Winning either of the first two games would almost be a steal for the Mavericks.
Game 2 is Thursday at 9ET on ABC.
The “Dallas not being able to keep up with the young guns because their old bones just can’t handle it” story line has been discussed and dissected to death and it has clearly been wrong thus far.
If anything, the lengthy careers of Dallas’ ring-less core makes the team that much hungrier: the Mavs’ starting five have played for a combined 58 NBA seasons without a championship, and among active players, Jason Kidd has played the most playoffs games without a title.
The fine folks over at ESPN and every other sports news outlet have been hearkening back to the ‘06 Finals, which also pitted the Mavericks against the Heat. In my opinion, the 2006 Miami Heat have one of the worst rosters that ever won an NBA championship: The Blob Formerly Known as Antoine Walker was their fourth leading scorer! Their third leading scorer: Jason Williams, and not the awesome Sacramento White Chocolate version either (sweet old Jason Williams mix).
For Dirk, losing to that subpar Heat team after finishing the season with a 60-22 record must have felt like a slap in the face from the basketball gods, whether or not he’ll admit it. The big angry German inside him wants to crush those who called him “No-win-ski” and smoke a championship cigar in front of a roaring fire and a LeBron-skin rug. Oh, how sweet victory would be.
I assume that members of the Miami Heat would also enjoy winning the Larry O’Brien Trophy. LeBron wants to shut up the critics. I’m sure LeBron browses tumblr often enough and sees photoshopped pictures of him whining enough to know that people don’t particularly care for him. What better way to hush the angry masses than earning a ring that reads, “I am the best at what I do, as evidenced by this elegant piece of jewelry. Now quiet down so I can wash the champagne out of my hair”?
The only thing that feels better than winning your first title is winning your second, and Dwyane Wade knows this: Shaq probably told him or something, I don’t know. More importantly, the whole team has banded together and feels a sense of urgency to help Erick Dampier finally win that ring he deserves.
Mmkay, that was fun, let’s have a look at the positional match-ups in an attempt to quantify an advantage for either side:
PG: Jason Kidd > Mike Bibby
Jason Kidd is third all-time in regular season triple doubles (107) and second in playoffs triple-doubles (11). Jason Kidd has taken his teams to the post-season in each of the past 14 seasons. Jason Kidd is third all-time in made threes (interesting note: current teammate Peja Stojakovic is 4th. Bottoms up!). Jason Kidd is second all-time in career assists and third in career playoff assists. Jason Kidd is averaging about 10 points and 8 assists in these playoffs, close to his career averages.
Mike Bibby averages 3.6 points and 1.2 assists this postseason, and with that I conclude my unnecessarily-robust explanation about what we already know: advantage to the Mavs.
DeShawn Stevenson Jason Terry < Dwyane Wade
Yeah yeah, Stevenson is the “starter,” but we all know what’s up. It is very clear that Dwyane Wade is the superior player here, so I’m not even going to cite any numbers to prove myself.
I would like to use this time to say something: I just realized that the Mavs got Terry (and Alan Henderson and a 1st-round pick) in a 2004 trade for Antoine Walker and Tony Delk. Fast-forward to today: Terry is a key component of a potential championship team. As for Antoine:
Walker is a key component of the Idaho Stampede… yes, the NBA Development League team.
Oh yes, by the way, Advantage to the Heat.
SF: Shawn Marion < LeBron James
According to the NBA.com StatsCube, not only does Shawn Marion’s presence fail to slow LeBron down, it makes him better. In the 34 minutes that Marion and LeBron were on the court together this season (I’m assuming with Marion guarding LeBron for many of those minutes), LeBron’s scoring jumps to almost 35 points per 36 minutes, compared to his regular average of 24.8. On the other hand, his field goal percentage also drops to 38%, compared to 51%.
Extrapolate from those numbers whatever analysis you may, but it’s still obviously clear that this matchup presents an Advantage to the Heat.
PF: Dirk Nowitzki > Chris Bosh
Basically, we have this:
…advantage to the Mavs.
C: Tyson Chandler > Joel Anthony
Tyson Chandler has almost twice as much playoff experience as Anthony (47 games to 26). Despite that, I’m gonna have to go with Joel Anthony here. He may be giving up four inches, four points and four rebounds per game… couldn’t keep myself composed, of course Chandler is superior. Both guys are probably the worst starters on their teams, but the disparity is not nearly as extreme. The difference between Dirk and Chandler compared to that between LeBron and Anthony? Sounds like a lot of… (image from fapitalism)
Advantage to the Mavs
BENCH: Mavericks > Heat
Counting Stevenson as part of the bench, the Mavs can practically field a second starting lineup that is more than capable of holding most teams off: J.J. Barea at point guard, Stevenson at the 2, Peja at the 3, Corey Brewer at the 4 (given, they don’t use him that much) and Haywood at center.
How much do the Heat rely on their bench? When it mattered, in the final game of the Bulls series, Miami went three players deep, giving minutes to Haslem, Miller and Chalmers. Four players received a DNP - Coach’s Decision.
Advantage to the Mavs.
The final tally we have reached puts Dallas ahead 4-2.
Miami lost both games against the Mavericks this season, but as my Celtics learned the hard way, LeBron and company are a different beast in the playoffs.
Regardless, I think the Mavs are capable of defending Miami, especially down low with Chandler’s ape arms hanging out near the rim, and Dallas also has a giant edge in long range shooting.
I guess it comes down to which versions of Wade and LeBron (and even Bosh) show up: the clutch ones that destroyed the Bulls’ hopes with a 10-2 run in just over a minute last series, or the whiney pretty boys who do photoshoots for Maxim.
The last time the Heat beat the Mavericks in any kind of game, Steve “The Crocodile Hunter” Irwin was still alive. That game took place on June 20, 2006: the deciding game of the NBA Finals. Goodness, that certainly makes things interesting, doesn’t it?
With all this up in the air, I predict the Mavericks will be our NBA champs after a grueling seven-game series, half because of my love for Dirk/disdain for LeBron and half because I think Nowitzki has a few goodies left in his bag of tricks.
The NBA Finals start on Tuesday night at 9ET on ABC.
I am going to be away for a few days, so I’ll have a few posts queued up, but I’ll start writing again on Thursday or Friday. Thanks for reading, and be sure to like NBAmmkay on Facebook.
Oklahoma City dominated the Mavs all game; on the boards, shooting from the field, blocked shots. In fact, Dallas only got their first lead with 4:44 left in overtime. So how did Dallas come away with a 3-1 series lead after all this?
The big moments got lodged in the throats of Durant and Westbrook, and they choked on them. To compare their performances to Dallas’ top two scorers tonight (Dirk and Terry), OKC’s pair combined for 16 of 44 from the field, a mere 36%, while the Dallas duo shot 19 for 39, connecting on 48% of their shot attempts.
Here’s the kicker: KD and Russ combined for 15 turnovers, while Jason Kidd, DeShawn Stevenson, Tyson Chandler, Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Jason Terry, Brendan Haywood, Peja Stojakovic and J.J. Barea (yes, every Dallas Maverick who played) had only 13.
Dirk was amazing as he has been all postseason, dropping 40 points on 12-20 shooting and prompting this masculinity-crushing post from me.
The Thunder had not lost back-to-back games all postseason until tonight. Portions of the normally faithful Oklahoma crowd were seen leaving early, which may just foreshadow Oklahoma City’s exit from the playoffs. As Mike Breen said on-air, this was truly “a crushing defeat for the young Thunder.”
Oklahoma City has shot 42% in their losses this series and 56% in their win. Hmmm, shooting seems important.
That Shawn Marion fella was helpful last game (18 points, 2 steals, 2 blocks), although that was due to increased minutes (25 minutes first game, 25 the second, and 38 the last game), so really, he was just doing what he’s been doing.
Game 4, tonight at 9ET on ESPN.
At halftime, I made a crazy post about random nothingness, and one thing I mentioned was how the last time Dirk had a 48+ point playoff game, he scored about half as much the next game. I thought I had uncovered a real Kirkgem until the fourth quarter rolled around, in which Dirk came up big (ending up with 29 total) and almost led Dallas to victory in a real hamster-cage-cleaner (some people bite nails, I deal with nerves differently).
Cheers to Scott Brooks for playing his bench-plus-Durant lineup for most of the fourth quarter. Ballsy move to bench Westbrook, who must have been fuming inside while also realizing that the arrangement was what was working at the time.
Thanks to KD’s 24 and James Harden’s (who from now on will be known as Black Galifianakis) 23 off the bench, the series is tied 1-1.
With the energy of the Dallas crowd and the this-is-the-Mavericks’-night vibe of the fourth quarter, there was no way they were losing this game, even with OKC being within ten points for most of the quarter.
KD went for 40 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists, but Dirk was that guy at the party who always has a better story than yours. Dirk scored 48 points, grabbed 6 rebounds and got 4 assists. Here’s the kicker: he got all those points on only 15 shots. Dude went 24 of 24 from the foul line, breaking a playoff record for most free throws without a miss.
As far as efficiency, technically speaking, Dirk was not the tops. That would be JJ Barea, who scored 21 points in 16 minutes off the bench, which is about 1.3 points per minute.
…I don’t have anything to say about Oklahoma City…
As for my series prediction, boom, Dallas in 6.