Thursday Donuts: Are Mavs Inside Heat Heads?
DONUT 1: "You're my b----.''
Is that what Shawn Marion told LeBron James? See for yourself:
'Trix says it's just guys "jawin'' back and forth. But is it something more?
DONUT 2: Dirk -- who with sleep and team and soup is back to normal, health-wise -- was asked about Jet's boastful nature. The UberMan said he's tried to shut up Terry in the past but, "He didn't follow that. But he's a very confident young man. That's what I like about him.''
As with Marion above, there is something going on here that we sofa-bound humans cannot fully grasp: To us, the likes of LeBron James represents something bigger-than-life. He is a prodigy, a freak, a monster, a star. He can wear that strange sweater on the State Farm commercials and get away with it.
But to Jason Terry and Shawn Marion? He's a peer.
A prodigeous, a freakish, monstrous and sparkling peer. But a peer nevertheless.
So they talk this way to him ... Jet and 'Trix as guys who are five or six years older than him, guys who in their minds are as capable of basketball heroics as he is, guys who in their heads can get in his head.
DONUT 3: One of the ways we've celebrated the greatness of Dirk Nowitzki: We WEAR Dirk Nowitzki.
"The UberMan'' is the standard, the original. A DB.com Mavs legend. And since the middle of this year, when Dirk took to the microphone and coined the phrase "Take That Wit Chew!'', this is what all the kids are wearing ...
We've even arranged to have it available in the Mavs Fan Shops! But you can get it here, answering the question Dirk asked me when he first saw the design:
"Fish, where can I get one of those?''
Dirk got two. Get however many you need right now in the Mavs DB.com Store!
DONUT 4: There's little doubt in the veracity of the Miami Heat defense. It's been praised by analysts and players alike, and delivered them to the doorstep of another championship.
Same exact doorstep the Mavs are on. Two guys, ringing the same doorbell, trying to date the same girl.
Yet even as the series is at 22, the Dallas Mavericks continue to miss makeable and often extremely open (by NBA standards) shot attempts. They continue to rush through or bobble on-the-mark passes and/or lose control of light to uncontested dribbles. In G4, Kidd was even guilty with his 5-run-homer pass attempts.
So you begin to question if the respect paid to the defense has exceeded its true reach.
DONUT 5: Memory can turn moments into tangible architecture our minds will wander endlessly, effectively haunting particular environments or situations. Like a wide receiver who gets flattened on his first catch will hear footsteps on all chances that follow, or a boxer at the wrong end of a monstrous hook will flinch at the mere threat of another, if we review the two Dallas losses (and maybe the wins, too), the Mavs appear to be supplementing the already strong play of the Miami defense by reacting to defenders who aren't there, by reacting to ghosts.
While Jason Terry may claim the Portland defense is the best the Mavs have seen this postseason, as he did Monday, the rest of his teammates have been quick note the strengths they house. Should you ever require an honest, unfiltered response void of the false bravado so many seem to put stock in, you needn't look further than Dirk Nowitzki. Few in the sport speak so consistently with as much open honesty.
"They're so long and athletic on the perimeter that they're able to swarm me and my post-ups," Dirk said after G3, "and when we swing, they're still athletic and quick enough to get to our shooters on the weakside and run them off, or at least contest them."
So the Mavs are well aware of the defensive prowess of their opponent. They've felt the pressure, found open looks harder to come by, felt the weight of the additional effort needed to create space, and witnessed the near inhuman athleticism of LeBron James (at times, at least) and Dwyane Wade. Dallas is a lot of things, but supremely fast and quick as a group is not among them.
Instead, they thrive with precision, guts, wits and the calm granted via experience.
And still: Think of the two losses. Think of Game 4 and JJB's missed layups, Jet and D-Steve's late missed 3's, Dirk's missed in-the-paint shots ...
This is a series in which the games seem to be destined to be determined by one or two buckets.
So when people say, "Miami could be up 3-1 in this series if ...'' they are ignoring a fact that we say is about Dallas' O as much as it is about Miami's D:
The Mavs could be up 3-1 in this series, too.
DONUT 6: As much as they may acknowledge the Heat's ability to contest their shooters, to ably trace the destinations of their passes, another punishment comes on the back of any mistake made: spectacle.
We predicted and we were right: G4, in Dallas, didn't work for the visitors in terms of spectacle. A two-point dunk was only a two-point dunk.
In this series, any turnover, any minute error seems to directly feed the sweet spots of James and Wade's talents, delivering an array of dazzling dunks and breakaway finishes.
These displays can either frenzy or silence the crowd, depending on if the game is home or away, remove the opportunity for the defense to dig in its heels, and create a tangible punishment for any stray from precise play. In the first three games, Miami has 62 points born of 45 Dallas turnovers; with a high percentage of those yielding improvised in-game dunk contest routines.
That needs to stay tightened up, and as crazy as it sounds, it truly is beneficial if Dallas' turnovers come in a way that stops the clock.
Miami isn't killing Dallas as a half-court offense. Turnovers have dominated the Heat runs, and while some have certainly come directly from strong defense, the Mavs do contribute their fair share of "unforced" giveaways. They mustn't allow the ghosts to turn five defenders to six, seven, to eight.
Tonight, curb mistakes as much as possible, but don't fear them. Be aware of the defense, but most importantly, embrace the moments they fail to be perfect. Don't bury them beneath impossible expectations. ... and J-Kidd, it's time for your BBIQ to be supplemented by some winning numbers.
DONUT 7: We'll chase the health stories more today, but along with Dirk's fever breaking, Big Wood's hip remains a problem and Marion's calf (despite team denials) is a bit troublesome.
We also hope LeBron is OK after absorbing this vicious hit from Big Wood:
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DONUT 9: Paraphrasing every single Miami Heat beat writer this morning:
"It's so odd watching LeBron jog through the offense without focus.''
What's odd about it? Did you fellas not observe LeBron's final stand in Cleveland? (And by "stand,'' I mean, "barely moving his feet during the game.'')
D-Steve (willing to join Jet and 'Trix inside Bron-Bron's headband) said James "checked out'' of Game 4. Outrageous? No. It's what LeBron does when that's what LeBron wants to do.
DONUT 10: Happy Birthday, Peja! Celebrate it with a made 3! Or a supportive towel-wave, whichever Rick says.
DONUT 11: Yes, you can get into the game tonight!
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We can't do what we do without them ... and without you! Thank you, DB.com Mavs fans!
DONUT 12: Full-circle to the mental thing, and who is the b---- of whom:
"He will be more aggressive (in Game 5),'' Miami coach Spoelstra said of Lebron. "He will have more of an attack mentality. He doesn't need to over-think it ...''
OK. But wasn't "he'll be more aggressive'' the James theme going into G4? And isn't "don't over-think it'' a sort of code for the rare area in which Miami might not be a championship team?
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