Monday Morning Mavs Playoff Donuts
DONUT 1: WHEN DOES A FLUKE BECOME A HABIT? ...
The Dallas Mavericks greatest concern in their Round 1 series with OKC is a sudden one: At some point, if you make enough late-game mistakes and lose enough last-minute games, it's no longer "uncharacteristic.''
It becomes you. You become it.
"We made mistakes you can't make down the stretch," Rick Carlisle says of Saturday's 99-98 Game 1 loss at the Thunder. "We made some uncharacteristic mistakes that we're not going to make anymore in this series. We can't."
In the final 3:23 of action, Dirk had seven points, hitting two of his three shots … but gave away a pair of turnovers. Dirk finished with six turnovers, the second most he has ever had in a playoff game.
Weird? Maybe not.
KD's blind jumper with 1.5 seconds left is the fifth game-winning shot made against the Mavs in the final five seconds of contests this season. And it happens to the Mavs against OKC the same way it happens to the Mavs against everybody else: Dallas has now played three games at OKC this season and is 0-3 -- but has held a lead in the final minute of each game.
That must spin around tonight (Game 2, 8:30 at OKC). Maybe Dallas is due here. Or -- if you are the worrisome type -- maybe you recognize that if you do something crummy as a matter of habit, it's no longer "uncharacteristic.'' And if you lose once every 13 games via an opponent's "miracle,'' it's no longer a miracle.
Because "miracles'' don't happen once every 13 games, do they?
DONUT 2: DID DIRK GO TOO EARLY? ...
In G1, Dirk Nowitzki gave the Mavericks the lead with :09 to go. He had Perkins on him. (That's a good.) He had 12 seconds to work with when he began with the ball. (That's a good.) And again, with :09 left, he took the shot that earned the foul that gave him two FTs. (Made ones, and that's a good, except ...)
Did Dirk go too early?
You wish you had a timeout left in your pocket there. You realize that whether the Thunder had nine seconds or three seconds left, KD might get off that same shot. And there is a sentiment that says, "Hey, when you get the opening, you take the opening.'' But so often we've seen Dirk back down a foe while glancing up at the shot clock on the other end of the floor ... and waiting ... and waiting ... and then making his move with five seconds left rather than with 12 seconds left.
Am I nitpicking? Too detailed in my criticism? Hey, when it comes to the Mavs and the way they so often beat more athletic teams -- and OKC is clearly that -- "detail'' is what it's all about.
Fresh out of the film room for Premium Mavs Fans: A 'Coach Em Up' video breakdown of Dirk's turnover issue ... what the Thunder did to cause it and what Dallas must do to protect The UberMan.
DONUT 3: WASTED JET ...
Biggest Mavs regret of G1? Biggest OKC success of G1?
They are one in the same: The lid put on a boiling Jason Terry.
At the 9:22 mark of the second quarter, Terry was 6-of-6 on his field-goal attempts, including 2-of-2 behind the arc, for 14 points.
By the end of the third quarter Terry was 8-of-9 for 20 points.
But then in the fourth? He would only be allowed to take one attempt in the fourth quarter, a missed 3-pointer with 10:51 on the clock.
"I hate to waste a game with Jet like that,'' Dirk said. "He was on fire. ... We've got to find a way to get Jet the ball. He had the hot hand. They denied him everywhere. We've got to counter that."
To his credt, Jason Terry isn't popping off about any of this, isn't spouting off with the CTC business and isn't mouthing off about his future with another employer.
"We know we can beat them,'' he says. "There's no doubt in our mind. It's a one-possession game."
And maybe tonight, Terry will be more involved when it comes down to that one possession.
DONUT 4: THE HOLES IN THE DIKE...
Among the reasons the Dallas Mavericks had/have reason to believe a matchup with OKC is not too unfavorable? Scott Brooks vs. Carlisle, Serge Ibaka on offense and Perkins trying to guard out on the floor.
All three of those guys combined to have some success against Dirk. Brooks calling the shots, assigning Perkins to Nowitzki late, and Ibaka as a help defender eyeballing him as well.
Carlisle will find a way to counter some of that tonight (you watch, he will) but there is a Brooks-Ibaka concern that Dallas can really do nothing about.
Ibaka not only had six rebounds (acceptable) and five blocks (not abnormal, as he blocked 10 Mavs shots in February), he also scored a lifetime-high 22 points.
Ibaka made a 3 before the half that was pivotal. (He'd make one from the arc all year.) But other than that, how do you make a change to absorb 22 points from the non-offensive threat that is Serge Ibaka?
Answer: He scored nine points a game in the regular season. So ... You don't.
Carlisle was asked "what adjustments'' he'll make for Ibaka in Game 2,
"Well, we're going to try to take away his 3's," the coach joked.
Get the message? There are ways to combat Durant. There are ways to combat Westbrook. But 3-pointers and freak fouls leading to 22 points from a guy who usually scores one-third of that? Very difficult to have that many fingers to plug up the dike.
DONUT 5: A HAPPY NUMBER ...
During the regular season, Dallas was 30-2 in games in which they entered the fourth quarter with a lead. They are now 0-1 in such games in these playoffs -- but that habitual success is a building block. Play well enough against a team you match up well with to get a lead going into the fourth ... and then commit one fewer fourth-quarter turnover and you have a 1-0 series lead against the team many thing will roll into the NBA Finals.
A building block.
DONUT 6: THE GRAB-'N'-HOLD ...
Carlisle on the officials' handling of the Thunder's handing of Dirk:
"I've seen this for four years,'' Rick says. "Dirk Nowitzki's the hardest guy in the league to guard because at 22 feet, if you back up and take your hands off him, he's going to make the shot. So people grab and hold him all the time. I mean, all the time.''
Ah, but wait. Didn't Dallas make 20 FTs, the same number OKC was allowed to shoot? And wasn't Shawn Marion trying to "handle'' Durant the same way at the other end? And isn't petitioning the refs after a playoff-game loss the oldest Carlisle (and Phil JackZen, and every other wise coach) trick in the book?
Brooks finds himself flailing about in response to Carlisle, noting that this is the same complaint Rick always registers.
So Scotty is complaning that Rick is complaining? Gotcha.
There is wisdom is what Carlisle is doing. But that's for coaches and players to do on the offday. In terms of evaluating and reacting from where you and I sit, and in terms of handling the matter in Game 2, there is wisdom in concerning yourself with things that are within your control.
The Mavs cannot control the refs. Nor can the Mavs media or fans.
So, what to do? It's raining. You want to gripe about it or you wanna grab an umbrella?
DONUT 7: COMPLETELY IGNORED MAVS POSITIVE ...
We get so caught up in what Dallas didn't do. But I'll give you a quote and a number that translates very well if the Mavs can keep it up tonight:
G1 pregame Rick quote: 'We don't want to get in a willy-nilly, windshield-wiper game with these guys.''
G1 postgame OKC number: OKC averaged 103 points per game on 47-percent shooting. Here, they scored just 99 (while still shooting 48 percent). The Thunder shot well enough, but the Mavs were largely in charge of pace. Doing that while keeping OKC under 100 keeps Dallas in the game again tonight.
DONUT 8: TALK IT OUT ...
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DONUT 9: QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND ...
"If you're not into the competition and you don't like a loud building, then you should get the f--- out of this." -Coach Rick Carlisle.
DONUT 10: THE DEEPEST MAVS COVERAGE ANYWHERE! ...
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DONUT 11: CARLISLE STRATEGEMS AND DELONTE'S VOMIT ...
It is commonplace to question and to doubt whatever moves are made by the coach who loses.
Too much Ian and not enough Big Wood down the stretch? No Roddy B? Not for a minute? Rick himself wonders whether he should've double-teamed KD at the end ...
Then at the end, we wanted Marion guarding him [Durant], but he made a great shot,'' Rick says. "The only other thing we could have done was double team him and get the ball out of his hands, and we should have done that, obviously. So that's on me. I take responsibility for that."
And another second-guess: Delonte ... was he really healthy enough to be allowed to play?
Delonte missed Saturday's pregame shootaround due to stomach issues either resulting from oysters or food on the team plane, but refused to miss a playoff game. I respect his spirit, but it's hard not to feel this may have had an impact on his performance, which was not up to par.
And there Roddy Beaubois sat, my prediction of him not being a rotation player coming true.
Even as Delonte was trying to keep down those bad oysters, which he eventually did not do once he returned to his hotel room.
Today? Skip the oysters, son. Eat your Donuts.
DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD ...
Jason Kidd's Game 1 line was brilliantly bizarre: eight points, six rebounds, five assists and seven steals -- and only four times in the playoffs since 1986 has anybody matched that four-category level of boxscore-filling.
And then the Mavs lose by one and you realize a) Kidd's boxscore could've used one more number and b) what separates the Mavs from the Thunder going forward, starting tonight in Game 2 -- is that same "one more number'' -- from Kidd or any other Mav who can manage to offer it up.