And while Michael Vick should certainly be considered as part of the world, he bears singling out. You know the rumors of Brett Favre “not saying anything” about going to Philadelphia as a backup have to be at least irksome and at most downright disturbing.
Can you imagine the outcry from Philly fans the first time Vick limps back to the sideline after tossing an interception? For the rest of the NFL (read as: the civilized fans) it would almost be worth it. But no. It’s not.
One hopes Brett Favre has finally retired for good. I mean it. The act is beyond old, beyond tired. Stay down, Brett. Stay down there in your backwoods Mississippi paradise, driving your tractor in your Wranglers.
Negotiations continue and the end is near. If you believe the NFL, the only sticking point is the rookie salary structure. CBS Sportsline says the same thing but one figures their information also flows down from the league office.
Image from WorldNewsInn.com
This all sounds about right, I mean, something had to be the final sticking point. But don’t be fooled by the timing – we should have seen this coming all along. It’s no coincidence that negotiations are wrapping up just in time to ensure that no preseason games are missed. That reads as, before any real money is lost. Right? Yeah.
Assuming things wrap up within the next couple of weeks I’m forced to admit that the NFL Lockout has been a big, fat non-issue. It affected my life not at all save for the time wasted on a few blog entries. Sigh. One nice side-effect though: a welcome break from constant NFL coverage. It has been so enjoyably quiet that I vow a football blackout following future NFL seasons – with the exception of draft week. That’s right, I’ll waste no time obsessively following off-season NFL news. Eh, it’s more of a promise to myself.
So get ready folks, they’re about to blow the dam.
Beat the Heat! That’s a phrase with a double meaning now in Dallas. What a ride these playoffs have been. From such low expectations this season after the debacle of 2006 and playoff failure after failure from the loss to 8th seed Golden State the following season to the San Antonio loss in 2010.
A few random thoughts:
Dallas gets their first double-digit lead of the series.
Jason Kidd had to come back to Dallas to win a title.
Peja Stojakovic finally gets a ring.
Dirk Nowitzki, MVP. Started off cold (1-12), ended with double-double (21-11).
Unfortunate post-game quote: “Jason Kidd’s DNA is all over this title.” -Mark Jackson
Now LeBron James decides to score a few points?
From 88-73 with 6 minutes left in the fourth quarter of game two, down 1-0 in the series, the Dallas Mavericks flipped a switch and took control.
This series was about a Mavericks team rather than a Heat dream team. From that fateful fourth quarter in game two Dallas simply outplayed Miami. This was about a smarter and more cohesive team imposing their will on another. The Mavericks refused to lose. And they are now champions.
By taking a 3-2 series lead in the NBA Finals the Dallas Mavericks have effectively erased the horror of the 2006 finals. One more win and it’s buried forever – vindication will be theirs.
There were too many fourth quarter heroes to name. Dirk Nowitzki rained three pointers from the rafters, J.J. Barea hit timely shots, Jason Terry threw deadly daggers late in the shot clock and Tyson Chandler absorbed a LeBron James charge during crunch time. It was an instant classic and should the Mavericks manage to take one of the next two games, it will be remembered forever by their fans.
LeBron James posted a triple-double but once again disappeared in the fourth quarter. He missed several three point attempts and was called for a charge the one time he drove to the basket.
The Miami Heat had five players in double figures but it wasn’t enough as Dallas had an answer throughout the contest. When the Heat took their first lead of the second half, the Mavericks shut them down, ending the game on a 15-3 run. Even with the 112-103 win they have yet to hold a double-digit lead at any point in the series.
Flu-like symptoms and a 102 degree fever? The Dirk-i-nator has no time for such things. The Dallas Mavericks again played from behind but managed to win with clutch fourth-quarter performances by Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki. Center Tyson Chandler’s 13 point and 16 rebound contribution helped keep the Mavericks close and prevented the Heat from dominating the offensive boards after nabbing nine rebounds in the first quarter.
LeBron James continues to shrink in the playoffs even as teammate Dwayne Wade excels. As tough as the series has been so far, the Mavericks may have a 3-1 lead if not for Wade.
Like game two, the Mavericks delivered the vital win largely due to their defensive efforts by holding the Heat to only fourteen points in the final quarter.
Even with the series tied, Dallas must maintain focus and deliver Miami their first consecutive defeats of the post-season by taking the pivotal fifth game. Accomplishing that, the Mavericks can travel to Miami needing one victory to take their first NBA Championship. Keep the dream alive!
Game five is Thursday @ 8 pm CDT in Dallas.
Dirk seals the deal (MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Falling behind in the series and ceding home court back to the Miami Heat has the Dallas Mavericks in a tough position. They must solve the Heat tonight and even the series at two games apiece.
To accomplish this the Mavericks must not allow themselves to fall behind early in the game. Then they need significant contributions from their bench on both sides of the ball. Ideally, they would use the raucous Dallas crowd as inspiration to bury the Heat early. But none of this is possible if the Mavericks bench shooters continue at their wretched pace. The instant Peja Stojakovic spells Dirk Nowitzki, the Heat go on a 10-0 run. Jason Terry and J.J. Barea must make the most of their open looks. Dirk cannot do this thing alone! Cut down on the turnovers – that single aspect could be considered the difference in game three.
So, on the menu tonight are early stops of the Heat and productive offensive possessions for the Mavericks, followed by frustrated Heat players taking bad fouls and desperate three point shots.
Well, that sucked. Obviously, the next two games are must wins for the Mavericks – they simply must get back to Miami up 3-2 for any hope of taking the championship. And if Shaun Marion and Jason Terry continue to shoot, it wouldn’t hurt if they did better than 4-12 and 5-13, respectively. Dirk Nowitzki won’t be able to reach the prize alone.
Game four is Thursday @ 8 pm CDT in Dallas.
Nowtizki stretches for a rebound (David J. Phillips/AFP/Getty Images)
Once again we saw a tight contest. Game two was generally close throughout and like game one, saw an early lead squandered by the Dallas Mavericks and a late lead built by the Miami Heat. But this time the Mavericks solved the problems of game one. While the 3 pointers eventually dried up for the Heat, the Mavericks bench upped their contribution as guard Jason Terry scored 16 points – sans a single 3 point bucket. And they won both the offensive and total rebound battle.
But all of this only serves to bury the lead – the Mavericks staged an epic comeback from 15 points down with 6 minutes remaining. After Dwayne Wade sunk his final 3 pointer from the corner to put the Heat up by 15, the Mavericks looked finished. But after a timeout they started a 17-2 run that began with 8 straight points by Terry. At the end they finished on a 22-5 run with Dirk Nowitzki scoring the final 9 points.
Dirk’s only 3 pointer with 27 seconds remaining gave the Mavericks their first lead since the second quarter and his drive to the basket sealed the deal with 3 seconds to go. The funniest part? Wade’s flop fail on his desperation attempt at the end. Oh, I loved that. For once, the referees got one right.
The Mavericks head home with the series tied 1-1, mission accomplished.
While it was a close game throughout one gets the disquieting feeling that the Miami Heat were merely playing with their food. If the Dallas Mavericks managed to hit a few baskets in a row while getting a few stops, the Heat would reel them back within minutes.
And while the Mavericks shot more free throws than the Heat, it seems that Dirk Nowitzki can be bludgeoned with blunt instruments before a foul is called while Dwayne Wade gets to the line after a dirty look.
But for all the perceptions, the fact is that the Mavericks were close when it counted. To beat the Heat they’ll need 10 more points from Jason Terry and Peja Stojakovic and another 10 rebounds from Tyson Chandler. The Dallas bench cannot continue in their scoring slump and expect to play more than four games against the Heat. Likewise, they cannot allow 16 offensive boards. Yes, it may be obvious, but bench scoring and rebounding will make all the difference.