The Golden State Warriors visit the Dallas Mavericks
Just in time for your post-Boston Massacre chronic depression, the powers that be just so happened to schedule a nationally televised game against Golden State followed by a weekend game against Miami. Call it “The Ghosts of Playoffs Past” week. Why don’t we just invite New Orleans and make an event of it?
I really do like watching this year’s Warriors play, and no, I don’t feel like a traitor for saying that. Baron Davis was the engine that made this outfit go, and the idea of them running without him is just too delightfully contrarian for a guy like me to not appreciate. I always did love “Helter Skelter.” Or maybe I was looking for a reason to like them all along, but Baron was too much “the face of the enemy” for my senses to overcome. I also have yet to watch Monta Ellis since his return to action last week, and I’m anxious to see if his future as a “real point guard” is as nebulous as it seems.
The thing about being part of a playoff series that made history is that no one will ever let you forget it. Since Warriors over Mavs was the first and only time an eighth seed has beaten a first seed in a seven game series, the event has attached itself as an epithet to the two most relevant players. Dirk Nowitzki will forever be “Dirk Nowitzki, the leader of that Mavs team that blew it against the Warriors,” and Baron Davis will forever be “Baron Davis, the noble leader and people’s champ who defeated Goliath.” Baron was definitely the talent of that team, and on the court he turned the Warriors into a swag machine that could do no wrong against Dallas. But while Baron was wearing bullet fedoras and giving a grassroots movement a face (and a beard), Stephen Jackson was, for lack of a better term, the heart of the team. Do I find Jackson more pallatable because I’ve identified him as a Spur/Champion and a Pacer-turned-brawler? Or similarly, because while Baron Davis’ contributions with the Hornets were largely shadowed by doubt and injury, his renaissance with the Warriors was the defining moment of his career? Could be. But the fact remains that although the Warriors’ best player bolted for the Clippers this summer, the heart and soul of “We Believe” is still very much in Oakland.
This game will be marketed as an exorcism of demons, and to an extent that’s true; there’s always something cathartic about beating Golden State since The Fall, and the Mavs have plenty of new, internal demons they have yet to conquer. The fact that Jackson, and Monta, and Nellie are all still staring down the Mavs from across the court is meaningless aside from the fact that this is a team that the Dallas Mavericks are going to engage in a basketball game against, and that they desperately need to win this game to save themselves from themselves. I know the purpose of No Game Is an Island is to provide significance through context, but this is one situation that should truly be viewed in a vacuum. Golden State at Dallas. No asterisk. No footnote. Just a dangerous offensive team coming to American Airlines Center, and hopefully a Mavs team ready to respond.