“No [game] is an Island, entire of itself; every [game] is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any [game]‘s death diminishes me, because I am involved in [Fan]kind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”
-John Donne, with a little help from yours truly
No Game is an Island will be the gameday previews here at The Two Man Game. The goal is to establish context for each contest; after all, “every game is a part of the main.” Rather than focusing on each individual contest, the emphasis will be on identifying the importance of games in larger contexts, identifying symbolism and archetypes, and declaring the trends and implications of each of these “almost meaningless” regular season battles. Enjoy.
The Dallas Mavericks visit the Milwaukee Bucks
7:00 CST, FSN SW
The story of how Don Nelson (the elder) fleeced the Bucks in the 1998 draft is practically a Dallas folktale. It explains the creation story of the team as we know it, the genesis of the “new-look” Mavs that learned little by little how to harness the powers of a scrawny, seven-foot German kid. The Mavericks have committed plenty of blunders in terms of trades and acquisitions, but on that fateful day in 1998 the Dallas front office got themselves a doozy.
It’s been said that since that time, the two franchises found themselves shot in opposite directions. The Mavs climbed up the Western Conference ladder behind Dirk, Michael Finley, and Steve Nash, and the Bucks found themselves even further submerged in the tar pit of perpetual mediocrity. Makes it kind of strange that both the Mavs and the Bucks find themselves at 9th place in their respective conferences today. Of course the Mavs have a big advantage in terms of record (Wild Wild West, y’all) at 24-17 compared to the Bucks’ 20-24. But if either team finds themselves stuck just outside the playoff window, it all counts the same. The Mavs may end up being the prettiest girl who never got asked to the dance, but she’ll be sobbing into her pillow just the same as that homely chick who has been wearing paisley for the past ten years. It’s definitely funny to see how things work out. In spite of the considerable talent on the Mavs’ roster, this is still a team trying to find that coherent identity with which to push forward. After 41 games, I really have no idea “who this team is,” in an abstract sense, and I’m not sure that the players and coaches know any better than I do. The Bucks are equally lost, but many of their players are still developing and finding themselves. Michael Redd is their guy of the moment, but the whirlwinds in ‘Waukee constantly beg for a coup.
As far as the Mavs have come since 1998, a look across the conference divide places them on-par with the very team they got the better of. But where the Bucks have the hope of youth and development (Ramon Sessions, Charlie Villanueva, Andrew Bogut, Joe Alexander), the Mavs are holding out for the light’s to flicker on. The talent is there and the coaching staff is there. The culture and the fanbase have been there. We’re waiting for our second creation story, and all we can hope is that sometime between now and April, the Mavericks’ fortunes light up and actualize their own potential.