Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 20, 2009 under xOther | Read the First Comment

  • Joey from Straight Bangin’ sometimes writes about basketball, but always writes in a way you can’t help but admire.  His post is largely appreciating the Spurs as a team, a franchise, and an entity, but it does paint quite a picture of the current Mavs: “After years of manic tinkering, reactive decisions, and impulsive risks, always trying to be at the leading edge of the industry, Dallas came into this season relative staid, somewhat forgotten, and widely dismissed. Many people thought the Mavs would fail to make the playoffs, and it was generally accepted that the team was this almost grotesque amalgamation of mismatched parts, the ruins of all those hurried decisions and ever changing new directions…The Mavericks, instead, have coalesced, and now play with this assured calm. And don’t mistake calm as a synonym for plodding or boring. It’s not a stylistic designation; it’s one of identity. Suddenly, Dallas just seems to get what it is, and more importantly, it likes itself. I’d imagine that being marginalized was a key component in this odd renaissance of collective self-esteem. The Mavs are much more a team than they have been in the past. Far from a series of players colliding as each seeks out an identity, and far from a group in the throes of constant upheaval, Dallas is actually content to be what it is…Suddenly, Dallas is very much like San Antonio in this regard. And as such, I am suffering this bizarre sort of Stockholm Syndrome. I should hate the Mavericks for stealing away my moments with Pop and Timmy, yet I secretly love Dallas thanks to the identity metamorphosis.”
  • An appraisal from Graydon Gordian of 48 Minutes of Hell: “For the time being, I have few recommendations to give. The theories behind the decisions we made on both ends of the ball remain sound; our difficulties lie in the execution. The most glaring failure was our interior defense: If we limit their points in the paint, we will quickly regain control of the series.”  The Spurs seems to agree, and the Mavs hope to stay a step ahead.
  • Tom Ziller of The Sporting Blog: “For years, analysts have been racing each other pronounce the correct time of death for the Spurs. In the process, they have all been wrong. Pardon me, after watching S.A. dominate the Mavs for more than a half before submitting to incredibly hot shooting, for having a little patience with a team that has proved its power time and time again.”  We’d all be wise to heed Ziller’s advice.  This series is far from over.
  • Tim MacMahon does a wonderful job breaking down the stints of each defender on Tony Parker.  The good news: J.J. Barea.  You knew that already.  The bad news?  Antoine Wright had some serious problems staying in front of Parker, and figures to be a relative non-factor in defending TP.  Don’t worry, Antoine, we have need for you in other places.
  • The Mavs are oozing confidence right now.  Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News: “The Mavericks played the second half Saturday like they knew they were the superior team and were supposed to cart a W off the AT&T Center court. There was no tentativeness.’We knew we could come out here and get the win,” J.J. Barea said. “I’m not going to lie – it was a good feeling. But we still know we’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got to beat them three more times. It’s not an easy task. We’ve got to keep our heads and not get too excited.’”
  • Jakedfw of Mavs Moneyball drops some truth bombs, and they are awfully startling: “The Mavs defense stunk. Sure, the Mavs played some great defense during stretches of the game, but that can’t hide the fact that we gave up nearly 100 points in a game played at a snail’s pace.  To put this game in perspective, the Mavs had a defensive efficiency of 119.8. This is very similar to the defensive efficiency they had in the Utah game on February 5, which was actually a slightly better 118.6. The result of that game where the Mavs played better defense? Well, you may remember it—the Mavs lost by 28, 115-87. And this, in a nutshell, is the scary part of the Mavs this post-season: Their offense has become so spectacularly good that they can play worse defense than in a game they lost by 28 earlier in the season and still win.”
  • Jason Kidd needs some Pepto.  Do we have a problem on our hands?
  • Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News: “Watching Josh Howard torch the Spurs in the first game of the Dallas Mavericks’ postseason Saturday, a few onlookers might have thought they were seeing a story involving renewed dedication, or healing, or obstacles overcome, or even redemption. The problem is Howard thinks all of that is baloney. Told Sunday that teammate Jason Terry complimented the way he’s been able to focus recently, Howard said, ‘Same focus I’ve had since I’ve been in the NBA.’ Asked if his 25-point performance in the Mavericks’ Game 1 victory was a sign that his injured ankle is finally feeling better, Howard said, ‘No, it’s the same.’ When someone mentions the turbulence of his past year — one in which trouble popped up everywhere from talk radio to YouTube — Howard asked, ‘What have I been through?’ And as for the idea that he’s somehow using this postseason as a way to show how determined he is? ‘I was determined last year,’ Howard said, ‘and (expletive) got blown out of proportion.’”  Regardless of where you stand or stood in regard to Howard’s recent past, he’s been turning lots of heads lately.  I’ll raise my glass to the prospect of him turning a few more.
  • I’m not sure I agree with Jean-Jacques Taylor of the Dallas Morning News when he seems to indicate that bench play has been a strength all season long.  I won’t argue that JET has been incredible.  But lest we forget, the bench presented huge problems early in the season.  Who was going to compensate for Josh Howard’s injury?  Who was going to provide scoring on the second unit besides Terry?  Barea and Bass had effective stretches, but there were dark times.  The reserves have emerged in a big way of late, but let’s not fool ourselves by saying that the bench has been a strength the entire season.
  • Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie: “…you’ve got to admit, there are some troubling signs for the Spurs. For all the talk about the Spurs supposedly falling way off defensively during the regular season, let’s get real, this team was fifth in the NBA in defensive efficiency. Now, that’s down from third last season and second in the NBA when they won it all back in 2007, but that’s still a pretty stout year overall. And especially considering Duncan’s ineffectiveness on that end down the stretch, and so many of Manu Ginobili’s minutes being replaced by the hard working but ultimately step-slow Michael Finley. About 130 points per 100 possessions? With Dirk Nowitzki sitting most of the first half? At home? No, the Mavs couldn’t guard the Spurs at times, but they’re supposed to be average defensively. San Antonio’s issues on that end are a lot more troubling.” Dwyer is absolutely right, though.  The Spurs are a step down defensively based on their own ridiculous measuring stick, but this is still an elite team on that end of the ball.  And yet Dallas was able to put together a remarkably efficient game in spite of a sandbag of a first quarter.  If the Mavs lose this series, it’s doubtful that the blame will lie on the offense.  Rather, Michael Finley, Bruce Bowen, and Roger Mason will be standing in the corners, bloody daggers in hand.
  • Somehow I missed Basketball-Reference.com’s preview, but here it is.  And for comparative purposes, here’s the Spurs.
  • Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com: “Well, after JJB’s sweet turn on Saturday (13 points, seven in the final quarter), the Spurs have a decision to make. Bowen on JJB? Then who covers Jet?Parker on JJB? Then how does Tony ever get a blow? Alter the rotation to include young Hill and or old Jacques Vaughn on JJB? Playoff series are all about game-to-game adjustments, and I’m sure Pop will come up with … something. But I’m not sure why he wasn’t able to ‘come up with something’ going into G1. Didn’t he already know JJB was capable of this?”  Well, Pop?  What up?
  • Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm: “The best thing about [Barea] on Parker was that Parker would burn him, and Barea would go right back to work. That’s a big thing to do against the Spurs. They’re effective against everything, but if one thing works 8 out of 10 times, then you look stupid 2 of the 10, you should still do it. Barea risked Parker going to the rack and breaking his ankles to not give him the first step of his explosion.”
  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News relays a question that has never, ever, ever been asked before: “Was Mavericks point guard J.J. Barea the chicken, and center Erick Dampier the egg in Game 1, and which came first?”
  • http://straightbangin.blogspot.com Joey

    Appreciate the dap, Rob. Thanks a lot.