DONUT 1: Sports rivalry! It makes you watch when otherwise you wouldn't. What makes a good rivalry? Do teams have to be evenly matched? Do they even have to be good? Not always. Here's an article talking about NFL rivalries. Was the Raiders/Patriots rivalry worth watching when the Raiders were so awful and the Patriots so...er...patriotic? You might think about the great games of the past but perhaps you know they're rivals when one of the teams becomes even more bitter and resentful after the loss. Yankees and Red Sox are both good teams now, but they were rivalries even when one or the other was not so good. And who can forget the historic Yankees meltdown of 2004? I bet the Yankees can't. I know I can't...it's one of my favorite memories.
Do Mavericks and Thunder have a genuine rivalry? OKC columnist Barry Tramel wants it to be. .
But for locals the definition of a rivalry is Cowboys and Redskins. How do Cowboys fans feel about losing to Redskins? Does it matter if the Boys are awful or the Skins are awful...or both? Hell, no! If you don't feel like that about Mavericks/Thunder, is it still a rivalry?
DONUT 2: Mike Ditka is a dirty rotten cheater. Sure, a Mini Ditka and 14-inch-tall Chicago Bears are still two-touchdown favorites over the Giants.
But Cheatin' Mike coached Team White in the Under Armour All America Game and instructed all 11 players to blitz the placekicker on the final play of the game that would win the game for Team Red.
My God, is nothing sacred?! As everyone knows, this is clearly illegal. So the livid referees allowed Team Red to kick the field goal again, while Team White was made to stand on the sidelines and keep their big mouths shut while Evil Ditka stood in shackels and hand cuffs (OK, that last part is not entirely accurate). Team Red made the field goal and won the game 24-22. Justice was served.
Don't believe for a moment Mike Ditka didn't know what he did. He figured he couldn't win and decided to just blitz and dare the refs to know it was against the rule book. But everyone knows this rule! Hell, my sainted grandmother knows it. And I'll bet all 12 people watching that game on TV were clearly incensed about seeing Ditka cheat ONCE AGAIN.
You just can't trust anyone, can you?
DONUT 3: What's wrong with the Lakers? Who the hell cares?! As Mavericks fans, we don't care WHAT is wrong with the Lakers, so long as SOMETHING is wrong with the Lakers. 'Nuff said.
Having said that, I do enjoy the Lakers and Celtics. Now, there's a rivalry! And The Onion fondly remembers the days of the great Lakers/Celtics playoff games.
This was back in the old days, when dinosaurs ruled the earth. Telephones tethered to the wall by a cord. 1200-baud modems. Standing on the roof adjusting aerial antennas Cowboys games. Ah, yes...good times...
DONUT 4: For all the talk about how painful a Dirk-less Mavericks offense is, does anyone remember all the complaints after a loss where Dirk hardly touched the ball in the fourth quarter? Think for a moment about how ugly it has been in the past with Dirk on the floor. And how so many of us were...uh, let's use the word "perplexed"...at how Dirk could play the 4th quarter and take only one or two shots in a Mavs loss.
In other words, Dirk Nowitzki doesn't automatically make an offense efficient, beautiful, or even effective. Maybe there's something else to it, such as...
DONUT 5: Chemistry. If only we could figure out what in the hell it is. Witness Yankees and Red Sox in 2004, again.
"Chemistry on a team is overrated on some ends. As long as you win, you can all hate each other. If guys don't get along, but you play hard on the field and go out and play the game, you can win. The Oakland A's, you hear the stories of how they used to get in fights, but they still won back in the day. I don't think you all have to be one big happy family off the field."
I don't agree with everything he said on the subject, but I agree with that part. Kobe and Shaq didn't get along but they won. Jordan was not a particularly nice guy to be around.
Exceptionally talented people are often highly intolerant and impatient with poor performance. What wins? Learning to succeed as a team wins. Don't work too hard trying to quantify chemistry. Just recognize it when you see it. 2004 Detroit Pistons. That's chemistry. "The 2004 Pistons were an outstanding basketball team. They won because they played well together." Straightforward, yes. Easy, no.
It helps if you get along in the locker room, but if Dirk is injured and isn't playing, your chemistry ain't there, friends.
DONUT 6: Alas, the Mavericks can't hide under their beds until Dirk is ready to play. Dirk is official out for tonight and says he'll try it next week. They have to suit up again Saturday night, now without Mr. Dress-Up Guy. For Mavericks fans (and Jason Terry) the last couple of weeks is an eternity! And the team has a lustrous .333 winning percentage in that stretch. Are the Mavericks painful to watch without Dirk in the game? Not always. But that's not the point. Dirk is a winner. He's 32, maturing more each season, a monster on the court, and without him the Mavericks simply don't have what it takes to win. You don't win 50 games a season for a decade if you don't have Dirk Nowitzki (or Tim Duncan) on your team every year. Again, if Dirk is injured and isn't playing, your chemistry ain't there...and you ain't winning as much.
Who's coming to town tonight? The Orlando Magic, who have won seven in a row, are quickly climbing the Eastern Conference standings...and guess who's now in their starting lineup?
I know it might upset you to know The Animal is no longer a Maverick, but you really shouldn't grind your teeth like that.
DONUT 7: I tried, just for entertainment purposes, to find an article written by Skip Bayless. I was gonna link to it and then let all y'all pile on, 'cuz I know you and Fish love him so much and stuff. But I couldn't find one. Not in the short amount of time I gave myself to find everything else in these Donuts.
Does ole Skippy write, anymore? Or does he just yap with his big yap?
We know one thing for damn sure: Skippy doesn't dance.
Not without significant help from Will Smith, anyway.
DONUT 8: Back to the Mavericks as a painful-to-watch team without Dirk. Yes, they lose without him (and without Caron) but let's not forget these guys are human, right? The Spurs at full strength could not beat the Celtics without Kevin Garnett. A couple of years ago, the phrase "Celtics without Kevin Garnett" was redundant...even when #5 was dressed and out on the court. But he's got his game back, my friends, and without him the Celtics are missing something. Still, they beat the Spurs on Wednesday night even while trying to lose it.
But let's add some context to the win.
These Celtics lost to Detroit and New Orleans without Garnett and looked very much like a Dirk-less Mavericks team. Then they beat Toronto and Minnesota. You mean, THAT Toronto? THAT Minnesota? Yep, them. Again, looks like the Mavericks, beating teams they should beat, even if only sorta barely hardly.
But then they beat a fully-armed Spurs? With Ray Allen clanking TWO CONSECUTIVE FREE THROWS at the end of the game? C'mon, basketball gods! When do we Mavericks fans get that kind of break?
DONUT 9: In the face of the Mavericks loss of Caron Butler for the season, and still having Roddy out, and still having Dirk out, it's tempting to say, "Hey, they're still 26-9!" But there have been games where you could have pretty much said that midway through the first quarter. "Hey, they're 29-5!" Thing is, big leads often don't last...either in the game or the standings. It's all about today's game, what they do now, and tomorrow.
Or are you going to make me post the December 6, 2002 meltdown thingy again? Don't make me do it!
I'm one of those guys the "Talent Wins" folks love to hate. The is the NB of A, guys. Lots of talent around the league. If you think the Miami Heat won the 2006 Finals because they were more talented than the Dallas Mavericks, I have very bad news for you. When you have Shaq and Zo and Payton and and and...Antoine Walker?! Really? Him? OMG, how did they win? Never mind, I know what you're going to say.
Anyway, I'm the "Chemistry Wins" guy. Mavs had it, Heat got more of it at the right time. Can't predict what the chemistry do, man, it's craaaazy.
Is a 32-year-old Dirk Nowitzki (y'know, the one in the 3-piece suit) the chemistry of this team? Could it be that he IS the lightning-in-a-bottle ready to ignite this team, this year? We always talk about it around here, but...could this be the year?
DONUT 10: I hope Roddy's back soon. Some of y'all think he's done for the season, some think he's done until after the All-Star Game, some think sooner. Fish and Roddy B himself, judging from their breaking-news conversation (nice scoop, Fish, ya ol' beat writer, you!), seem to think he'll be back end of this month. I tend to agree with the theory that management isn't going to say much because people will make crap up whether they're given correct information or not. May as well be able to say you didn't mislead anyone.
The only problem is, management already screwed up by making estimates and getting the whole thing screwed up. Looks to me like they're now exercising the virtue of silence. (Except with Rick's radio slip on Friday, when he did indeed utter the "setback'' suggestion.) It worked pretty well with the subject of Tim Thomas, but unfortunately they waited a little too late to shut up about Roddy Beaubois.
My prediction: February 5. The Mavs will roll him out on the road in Charlotte where it might not be too tough, and they'll want to avoid too much excitement and unrealistic expectations. They have to get out the steel brush and WD-40 and get the rust off the guy. Then back home for trumpets and fanfare ...
... and a theoretically easy game against Cleveland, then back on the road where they can manage his minutes without angering a home crowd with too much bench time. Then a week of rest for everyone (including Roddy) and they play him in earnest from there.
That's my prediction for what it's worth. And what it's worth is precisely zero. Unless I'm right, in which case I told you so!
DONUT 11: Remember the theory that Amare was good only because he had Nash, that he couldn't be nearly as good without Nash, and that the Suns couldn't win with Amare?
DONUT 12: I must say, I was rather impressed with the work of The 75-Member Staff in the All-Access Coverage of the Mavs-Thunder game. I'm looking forward to more of the same tonight. Go check that out … and tell me if you think that maybe, just maybe, your support of the site is worth 10 pesos. (Or however many pesos adds up to 10 cents.) Check out ways to get your Premium membership right here.
DONUT 13: Thanks to Fish and BJ for the Quoteboard on Thursday night's OKC game.
where we heard Shawn Marion say this:
"We had them on their heels and we didn't put them away when we should have. We had a 10-point lead and we should have pulled away and left them at the gate . . . We went away from what was working in the first half that we didn't do in the second half."
Tyson Chandler put it this way:
"In this situation tonight we kind of had them on the ropes and let them off the hook. We had a 10-point lead then I felt like the momentum changed at that point in the game . . . When you give a team like that life they feed off it and took the lead in the 3rd quarter. It seems like we were never able to catch up."
OK, let's stop here for a second. Tyson and Shawn are two big lead-by-example guys. Glue guys. Chemistry guys. Defense guys. Both admit the team stopped doing what made it successful.
Is this hindsight? Or did they see it at the time?
Who's in charge here? Isn't someone barging into the huddle at a timeout and saying, "WTF?! We're not doing what was working...let's go back and do what works!" Assuming someone did, who's the head of the Not Doing What Works Department and why did they overrule Shawn and Tyson?
More to the point, did the team realize that a 55-53 halftime score is not a 10-point lead, and use that time to avert catastrophe before it hit them? Or did they wait until they were down by 10 points in the fourth quarter and decide to amend their ways?
This pro basketball stuff...I guess it's not as easy as it looks to the rest of us. Otherwise everyone would be 41-41 at the end of the regular season, the playoffs are determined strictly by tie-breakers, every playoff series goes to 7 games and someone wins simply because the clock runs out before the next brilliant play.
Now all I need to do is find some strong black coffee for these Donuts!