Photo from AP Photo/Winslow Townson via ESPN.
“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”
Oh, so that’s what good ball movement looks like.
The Dallas Mavericks reminded us that that they can forget to show up for a game any time they want to, and apparently came to a unanimous decision to stink it up against the defending champs in front of a national audience. On some level, I’d like for the Mavs to retain a certain sense of a national respect, but that’s not the real issue here; the Mavs had a chance to not only establish some momentum and wow the ABC viewers, but they literally had a chance to redefine the way their season is evaluated. One of the beautiful things about having an up-and-down team is that as infuriating as it is, the team’s play fluctuates towards the cream of the crop and the bottom of the barrel ad infinitum. In doing so, it’s hard to determine exactly where they they fall in the basketball continuum, giving them a mysterious potential for unspeakable power when you least expect it. You feel like they could all of a sudden open up a 30-point can of utter destruction on a bonafide championship contender.
The Mavs are as up-and-down as they come, but they aren’t that team anymore. Sunday’s loss (yes, I know, it was just one game) effectively shackled this team’s upward potential once and for all. To be honest, the offense wasn’t terrible. Dirk had an awful shooting night; just another merit badge on Kevin Garnett’s vest, and perhaps a nomination for Brian Scalabrine to make an All-Defense team. But the rest of the team shot over 47% from the field, an effort that might be good enough to get a Dallas win on some days. Needless to say, this was not one of them.
The Celtics just managed to pick out almost all of the Mavs’ significant weaknesses and attack them simultaneously. They attacked Jason Kidd with Rajon Rondo, one of the quickest point guards in the game. Dallas’ D got absolutely slaughtered on any play that involved a pick; the typical results were an open Ray Allen jumper, a good look at a J from Kevin Garnett over a smaller defender, or a wide open three on one of the wings. It was brutal. You could certainly say that the Celtics hit a ridiculous amount of their shots (notably a ridiculous 16 of 27 from three). That said, there’s a reason why the Celtics hit at almost 54% on the night: there often wasn’t a defender within ten feet. I hear that helps. Throw in the fact that Garnett played some killer, active defense against a lackadaisical offense and blitzed everyone that tried to guard him, and you’ve got the makings of a blowout. I wish I could say this was an isolated incident, and in a sense I guess it kind of is — not many teams have the talent on both ends that the Celtics have. That doesn’t mean we won’t see one of these weaknesses attacked each and every night, whether it’s Chris Paul making Jason Kidd look like a guy with a peg leg trying to catch a squirrel covered in vegetable oil or the Spurs making the Mavs’ heads spin.
No ‘Gold Star of the Night.’ Just…no.