Monday Morning Mavs Playoff-Bound Donuts
DONUT 1: Isn't it lovely? ...
"It's lovely," said Monta Ellis of the Mavs' Saturday night playoff-clinching. "We set this goal at the beginning of training camp. Everybody doubted us. ...''
The chip-on-the-shoulder/us-against-the-world mindset is the oldest self-motivational tool in the sports book. So even though it's not exactly true that "everybody doubted'' Dallas would be a playoff team -- I remember viewing Rick Carlisle's bunch as a 47-win seventh-seed -- Monta's got one thing right.
It is, indeed, lovely.
DONUT 2: Mavs 101, Suns 98 …
The 101-98 victory over the Suns, which clinched a berth in the postseason for the Mavs, was reflective of this entire season in that, as coach Rick Carlisle likes to say, "they made hard work out of sex.''
The Mavs struggled for much of the game as Dirk Nowitzki struggled. But Ellis scored 23 of his season-high tying 37 points in the second half and Nowitzki -- despite twisting an ankle late -- turned it on, too, the pair combining for 44 second-half points in the comeback victory.
Overall, Ellis was 15-of-23 from the floor, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.
Overall, Dirk had 23 points and eight rebounds.
"He's just one of the most amazing guys that I've been around in basketball, and I've been around some pretty amazing guys,'' Rick said of Dirk. "He was not going to allow us to lose this game. ... "The reason we won is because we had one of the best players on the planet in Dirk. And, because Monte Ellis, at the time we needed him most, stepped up and played his biggest game of the year.''
DONUT 3: The official NBA highlight reel …
And speaking of "official'' ...
"We feel official now," Vince Carter said. "We're back where we feel we should be. This is a tough bunch. We walked in the day before training camp and looked at all the talent and said: ‘It can happen.' We knew it was going to be a bumpy road, but there's so much talent in this locker room."
DONUT 4: What's next? …
Start here: The Mavs have 49 wins and are in seventh.
On Sunday night, the Grizzlies got their 48th win by beating the Lakers. That means Memphis is teed up for a showdown with the 47-win Suns tonight. If the Suns win, Dallas clinches at least the seventh seed (and avoids an 8-vs.-1 playoff opener with the Spurs). If Memphis wins, Phoenix is out and Wednesday's Mavs-at-Memphis game becomes the "seventh-place'' decider.
Meanwhile, 49-win Golden State lost in OT to Portland on Sunday. So the door remains ajar for Dallas to finish sixth. But that requires not only a Mavs win at Memphis on Wednesday but also two more Warriors losses in their final two games -- to Minnesota tonight and at Denver on Wednesday.
The Mavs, for all their ups and downs this season, are a half-game out of sixth and on the verge of a 50-win season.
"It's big," Carlisle said of Dallas' berth - wherever it might be. "Our franchise, it stands for winning championships. And you can't win a championship unless you get to the playoffs. I don't know who our matchup is going to be. It'll be tough, whatever it is. But we'll be ready."
DONUT 5: The DB.com Mavs TV Party! ...
The Dallas Mavericks figure to be playing a monumental regular-season-closing game Wednesday. You need a monumental place to watch it.
DallasBasketball.com and Red Rock Bar & Grill aim to please.
The DB.com MAVS TV Party is scheduled for Wednesday April 16 at 6:30 p.m. - with the Mavs-at-Grizzlies tipoff at 7 on TXA21. We'll do it at Red Rock Bar & Grill, 18110 Midway Rd #208, Dallas, TX 75287 ... (972) 733-3683.
We'll have free UberMan t-shirts (while they last), postgame Karaoke, 'First Beer's On Fish' for DB.com Boards members and a drawing to win Mavs playoff tickets!
All your favorites from DB.com will be in attendance and lots of the fellas from 105.3 The Fan will, too.
How do these parties sometimes roll?
Yeah. Decent. Now let's do it again. See you Wednesday!
DONUT 6: Thanks to McKinneyDentist.com! …
For almost 20 years, I've been referring to McKinneyDentist.com as "The Finest Dentists in the land!'' And I put my money where my family's mouth is; Dr. Berlin, Dr. Markham, Dr. Lynch and Dr. Wood are based in McKinney, and my family isn't ... but my kids and I make the trek to Collin County for every appointment because they really are that special.
Give them a call or a click. They truly are recognized not only in my household but throughout the country as "The Finest Dentists in the land!''
DONUT 7: Dirk's deal …
For some observers there is more drama coming because Dirk is in the final year of his contract. Outsiders who don't understand his commitment to the club speculate about him leaving; others speculate about him sacrificing all financial realities to stay.
"We'll just wait and see what [happens],'' Dirk said. "I think one thing is for sure: I'm not going to play for the minimum, I think we all know that. But I think it's got to be a fair contract for both sides, where we can still be competitive and get even better again, and I still feel respected."
Dirk's words reinforced what we at DB.com have been emphasizing for months: even though Dirk's contract will be lower this time than last, showing respect to a player of his stature is a biggie here. Dirk is an all-time NBA great, his play continues to be of superior quality, and undoubtedly the Mavs will budget an annual salary amount that is at least like those given to Duncan (three years, $30 million) and Garnett (three years, 36 million) in their most recent deals. And rightly so.
And we will educated-guess even more, all the while completely certain The Uberman is coming back to the Mavs: What if Dirk's $10-to-$12 million per year desires (or perhaps even more) leaves the Mavs with a budget squeeze as they try to sign someone else? Then that "someone else'' will obviously be asked to take a little bit less, since that's all the Mavs will have available.
Dirk's the prize, he's the priority, and he gets what he deserves. That's how to show respect to a franchise player, and we think it's clear that's what the Mavs will do when they make their offer to Dirk this summer.
Nowitzki demonstrated his worth again this season, moving into 10th all-time as an NBA scorer. He demonstrated his worth on Saturday in a must-win game as Dallas is playoff-bound with the inside track on keeping the seventh seed. And we bet he'll likely demonstrate his worth again come playoff time ... and then be paid in a form of a compromise this summer.
DONUT 8: Be Ready and B-Wright …
Carlisle inserted little-used rookie Shane Larkin into the game at the end of a quarter and Larkin immediately hit a monster 3. He went away from Jose Calderon as the finisher at the point, opting instead for Devin Harris. And he went back to Brandan Wright as the closer at center (after briefly trying a center-less lineup with Dirk as the single big).
And that last concept came up especially large.
B-Wright totaled 12 points and 11 rebounds in a season-high 32 minutes. He also came up with three blocks, including a block of a Bledsoe layup attempt with 10 seconds left was essentially a game-saving play.
"It's probably No. 1," Wright said when asked to list his defensive highlights this year. "It probably clinched a spot. I was setting him up because I knew he was going to drive, and he couldn't see me. I know I surprised him at that point."
None of us should be surprised at Carlisle's button-pushing here.
The coach said Saturday marked a time to forego the usual rotation and find people with "heart'' to gobble up minutes. B-Wright has heart.
DONUT 9: Who Deserves "The Dirkie''? …
You know the drill: Mavs win, you get to pick the Player of the Game. It's a DB.com tradition and once again we get to do it in the playoffs, but first ... for the Phoenix game ... Who deserves "The Dirkie''? Cast your vote!
DONUT 10: DB.com Mavs Podcasts …
We're cookin' up the latest tonight ... in the meantime, get caught up on iTunes and elsewhere with the latest from the DB.com Staff ... listen in on the DB.com Mavs Podcasts here!
DONUT 11: Quoteboard ...
"It's a hurricane in a urinal. We flush and move on.'' -- Mark Cuban, on the NBA's petty suspension/rescinding/fining merry-go-round regarding PA announcer Sean Heath's tweets.
We've got the complete Mavs Quoteboard here.
DONUT 12: The Final Word …
For the 13th time in 14 seasons -- but just the 19th time ever -- Dallas is in the playoffs. Among the 20,000 or so at the AAC on Saturday I got no sense of the "spoiled deservedness'' I've written so much about.
There was a palpable appreciation for what this has accomplished on the way to 49 wins. And Nowitzki feels it, too.
"It feels good to be back in the 'Big Dance,''' Dirk said. "I mean, that's where competitors want to be -- on the big stage and in the playoffs."
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