DONUT 1: I have a feeling that stabbing this idea in the heart just once, in one Donut, won't kill it. So I'm keeping my pitchfork handy for future stabbings. But here's a start:
NO, the Dallas Mavericks would not automatically benefit from slipping from second or third into fourth place and therefore, NO, the system should not be manipulated to make it so.
OKC is on the come. The Thunder is threatening to bunch itself with Dallas and LA. And if OKC finishes fourth, it gets to avoid a second-round duel with the feared Lakers to instead take on San Antonio in the second round.
Should Dallas wish to be in that spot? Go ahead and wish. But if you intentionally make it so, you …
*Insult and inspire the Spurs.
*Risk overlooking your Round 1 opponent, who might also be insulted and inspired.
*Might find yourself having manipulated your way into a tougher first-round foe than would've otherwise been the case.
*Need to eventually beat the Lakers, anyway (theoretically), in the West Finals … so if you are good enough to beat them, why not just go ahead and beat them?
*F' around with the basketball gods.
*F' around with the positive vibe that is supposed to go hand-in-glove with being a title contender storming into the playoffs. Losing games on purpose? Or even secretly wishing to do so? That invites a cancerous mindset into a locker room that needs to be completely focuses on greatness.
That "positive vibe'' I'm talking about? You want it to feel like this:
You want it to sound like that. (Maybe as a fan, you want TAKE THAT WIT CHEW to look like this ...
It's the 'TAKE THAT WIT CHEW!' from the DB.com Store!
Anyway, anything less than that complete focus on TAKING THAT WIT CHEW, and you aren't winning a title, regardless of when or if you oppose the Lakers.
DONUT 2: My Big Question worth investigating today: Does Jason Kidd have an arm injury he's not telling anyone about?
The Mavericks need J-Kidd to score. … at least a little. As teams focus more and more on stopping Dirk and Jet, Kidd is going to be left open as a weakside 3-point thread. So he's gotta be a thread.
Yet in Portland, he scored one point. And at Golden State, he made just one basket in six tries (as big as the one was).
Is Kidd's lack of shooting from Tuesday night, and his lack of overall effective shooting on Wednesday night, a result of an arm injury we noticed he sustained late in the LA game?
I'm launching a Big Question Investigation … DB.com will be all over Mavs-Spurs all day, shootaround to guys walking to the parking garage ... and we'll get some answers.
DONUT 3: Why are there so many Mavs fans who have signed on to be DB.com Premium Mavs Fans? This happens to be the most explosive membership growth in the history of FOX Sports, and here's an example of why:
A blockbuster piece that details how San Antonio so effectively controls Jason Terry in the postseason -- and what Dallas can do to change that. Photos, words and video -- we play "Coach 'Em Up'' and 'Jet's Failure To Launch' it's a must-read for a Mavs fan who wants to be in the know. ... about what the Spurs do to Jet, and Dirk, too ... Lots to look for tonight.
DONUT 4: Rotations and lineups and who's who … "We're far from settled,'' Rick Carlisle said late Wednesday night.
And once again, we've got Rick's "Be Ready'' philosophy clashing with what I think we all agree is conventional wisdom, that with 15 games left in the regular season and a championship chase on the horizon, we – or rather, they (the Mavs players) – ought to know who's who.
Is "far from settled'' a reflection of Rick's desire to button-push … even when some of the buttons kinda push themselves? Are we seeing shades of Nellie – you know, the old Mad Scientist thing, with Uncle Nellie making lineup changes and even roster moves seemingly simply because he enjoyed tinkering?
We'll find out at tipoff tonight when the Mavs threaten to roll out one of many different starting lineups (Corey Brewer in GS made it 18 lineups and 15 different players used this season to start a game)… and do not at all seem to be on the path to ‘tightening the rotation'' for the playoffs.
DONUT 5: Roddy B is getting lots of credit for having gone toe-to-toe with Monta Ellis on Wednesday.
"Phenomenal,'' Dirk said of the job his Little Frenchie did.
Now, go back and look at the video of the night before. Tuesday in Portland. Guess what else Roddy B did?
He went toe-to-toe with Andre Miller at times, too. And he survived that as well.
Maybe Beaubois' unraveling in the Lakers game was an aberration. Maybe someone around here should come to the realization that if he can do it against Miller and against Ellis, he might just be able to do it against Tony Parker and George Hill, too.
DONUT 6: The use of Roddy B – not only late in the GS game but also at point guard late in that game – signifies a recognition of a Mavs fact, I think and hope.
We know that if Roddy B struggles, Rick goes elsewhere for answers.
But now maybe there is somewhere to go when JJB struggles.
The ease with which the likes of Rudy Fernandez completely erased Barea's effectiveness is bothersome. That sort of thing leads to turnovers, overdribbling, and ultimately, blocked shots in the lane even when JJB does finally dribble his way free. Barea cannot pass over the top of a defender or over the top of a defense, so he's got to find a way around it.
As well as the offense is clicking in so many ways – and as much as JJB has been a part of that – tonight I'm hoping he is urged back to ‘bus driver'' mode … just spend his 12-to-14 minutes maintaining what Kidd (and Roddy B?) have hopefully built.
DONUT 7: On the DB.com agenda for tonight: I've got pre and postgame TV duties alongside Emily Jones for FS Southwest ... and I'm on 103.3 ESPN Radio at 6:30 (maybe on the Plaza outside the AAC!) ... a visit with Ro Blackman regarding a project we're working on together ... another visit with a Mavs exec about an idea that would allow the Mavs themselves to partner up with DB.com readers ... and I'm probably going to have a soda pop with Spud Webb to discuss this:
In addition to his work with the Texas Legends, the iconic former NBA Slam-Dunk champ and Dallas resident appears to be getting a "lift'' from GameProvenExecutives. After I get done investigating the BBIQ of Kidd, I'm launching an investigation on the Business of Spud.
DONUT 8: Our man Ryan at MavCowTickets can get you into an AAC suite for tonight's game ... he can get you playoff tickets ... he can get the whole family into a game affordably ... and MavCowTickets is helping me with our building of our new DB.com Dallas Mavericks FISH Facebook Page, where we are about to give away a pair of Mavs tickets!
Check us out! Click that LIKE button and come on over!
DONUT 9: Phil JackZen said it about the Mavs and Mark Cuban and the "pecking order'' that insists certain people not complain about certain things lest King Stern behead them (or even arrange for them to lose a championship.).
Now Stan Van Gundy is learning the same lesson in Orlando, where he griped about the pounding taken by Dwight Howard … and was rewarded with a pounding at the hands of his league's commissioner.
"We won't be hearing from him for the rest of the season," Stern announced of Van Gundy, a comment that ranks with the most arrogant and smug you will hear from a commissioner of a league … until you hear the next one …
"I see somebody whose team isn't performing, whose star player was suspended, who seems to be fraying."
That is the commissioner's evaluation of Stan Van Gundy. That is way out of bounds, far outside the parameters of Stern's job description, and hints at the possibility that Stern is a step away from helping make sure the Magic aren't performing, that the Magic gets suspended, that the Magic fray.
King Stern should be acting as a traffic cop here, not as an executioner. But sadly, we – his subjects – must bite our tongues or have them cut off.
There is a pecking order. King Stern so decrees. We wait in anticipation tonight so we can learn if King Stern has allowed Dallas and San Antonio to decide the order for themselves.
DONUT 10: While Stern fiddles ...
Good Lord, Mr. Sterling, does it ever stop? Here's the tale of assistant coach Kim Hughes, his prostate cancer, and the way his boss at the Clippers handled things.
And of course, Kim Hughes' boss at the Clippers also has a boss. King Stern.
DONUT 11: Barkley on 'Letterman.' Talking March Madness. Which is televised by Barkley's TNT ... and CBS. Home of Letterman. Does Billy Packer still not understand what this all means? Anyway, here's Chuck:
DONUT 12: DB.com's "Coach Fain'' checks in to voice some concerns about what once seemed like easy first-round pickin's for the likes of the Mavs and Spurs:
I'm no longer convinced that the Mavericks or the Spurs are going to win their first-round series. In fact, I'm not entirely convinced either team
will even be competitive. I'm beginning to believe that the playoff guard is changing in much the same way that it did when the Mavericks "upset"
that Stockton/Malone led Utah squad so many years ago.
Portland and Memphis both have hungry, under-rated big guys that are extremely versatile playing next to determined rebounders and defenders. Both teams have great depth and athleticism on the wings, and Portland has a very, very solid veteran point guard.
New Orleans seems the most "beatable" of any of those teams, but has anyone noticed the lines Chris Paul has posted since returning from his concussion? I think that blow to the head made him forget that his knee isn't supposed to work.
I see a lot of the same things in these Mavs and Spurs that I saw so long ago in those Jazz. Veteran stars that can still get it done (Dirk, Manu, and Parker) surrounded by a supporting cast of over-the-hill guys (Timmy, Kidd and Peja) or guys that are playing above their heads (all those undrafted Spurs, Barea, and maybe Marion). Both teams have been considered pretty good defensive teams in the recent past (Dallas earlier this season, San Antonio just last year) but are now struggling mightly on that end of the floor.
I'm not (and have never been accused of being) a "doom and gloomer" but I'm pretty sure that I see more reasons why the Mavericks and Spurs will lose in the first round than reasons they would win.
We don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves here; focusing on Mavs VERSUS Spurs tonight is enough without spending too much time on Mavs/Spurs VERSUS the World … But it's a Donut to consider as we watch tonight: Are the Dallas Mavericks good enough to beat SA? And exactly how good would that make them?