Mavs Monday Donuts: Grabbing Twigs + Berries
I don't play near-enough pickup basketball anymore, so I don't know when this became a "thing'' ... but why are NBA players suddenly grabbing each others' twigs and berries?
Shawn Livingston of the Warriors is the above culprit. And while Dirk has forgiven him and is joking about it, owner Mark Cuban and others confronted Livingston about what is pretty much the dirtiest play in basketball ... and now the league has handed down a one-game/without-pay suspension for Livingston.
"I really enjoyed his tight grip,'' Dirk deadpanned later.
It was symbolic of the game on Saturday, the top-ranked Warriors having the Mavs "by the balls'' and all that ... but then it happened again on Sunday ...
It's an epidemic!
The 46-31 Mavs are essentially locked into the No. 7 slot, with no real need to screw with the basketball gods on that. So the No. 2 slot -- and Dallas' first-round playoff foe -- is all about how Houston and Memphis handle their business.
The Rockets' remaining games, as they go down this stretch with a one-game lead on Memphis: at Spurs, at Charlotte, home for the Jazz, home for the Spurs, home for the Pels.
Memphis' remaining games: home for the Pels, home for the Pacers at the Jazz, at the Clips, at the Warriors.
As we detail below ... you as a Mavs fan are rooting for a) Dallas to start looking sharp and staying healthy and b) the Rockets to maintain a lead on Memphis ... which, if they do, will also give Houston the division title -- its first, oddly, since 1994.
The difference between what Dallas can and cannot do against the Warriors and what (they at least believe) they can and cannot do against the Rockets is stunning. That was illustrated in the loss to Golden State on Saturday, which helped us with our "Five Reasons The Mavs Want Houston.''
But understand this: Houston probably has even more reasons it wants Dallas - including a 3-1 regular-season edge against the Mavs.
I recognize that Mavs Nation has not at all bought into the concept of Rondo as part of the Mavs future. But before you start figuring out which free agent you want to replace him, you should understand how critical it is, in terms of Mavs salary-cap management and roster-building, to keep him.
And one more thing: While lots of people in the building get to pitch in their two cents about how difficult Rondo can be, I believe the owner remains very much in favor of retaining the vision of a Rondo-led future. ... so much so that maybe we ought to start worrying way more about Monta's fit than about Rondo's.
Consider some Monta Ellis trends for the Dallas Mavericks going into the weekend:
*He'd continued to launch threes despite the fact that he’d only made four of his last 30 attempts from beyond the arc.
*In the last 10 games he’d turned the ball over at basically the same clip he’s assisting (3.1 assist to 2.6 turnovers).
*He shot 5-of-9 from the free-throw line in the Houston game, a concern because Ellis' percentage has dipped to 72.9 percent from the charity stripe over the last 10 games entering the weekend.
*Remember all that "Monta Magic'' we saw earlier in the season? Well "Monta Magic'' means "clutch scoring'' and it’s basically disappeared. Since the All-Star Break, Monta has played 12 minutes of clutch basketball (less than five minutes left and within five points) and has gone 1-of-8 in those 12 minutes. Previous to the All-Star Break, Monta was at 50-percent shooting in his 49 minutes of clutch basketball.
What's going on here? He's become the lid on what the Mavs can do. We can argue this team will go as far as Monta allows it to go. ... and that needs to change. But be forewarned: In the NBA there’s nothing worse than a broken volume shooter. Monta Ellis shouldn’t be frustrated with Parsons making double what he does or being sat one game in January. Monta Ellis, right now, should be frustrated with his own game. Mavs Premium Analysis is here.
"I think we've got a lot to prove.'' -- Amare Stoudemire.
Maybe I'm remiss in not including the Spurs in our scoreboard-watching. The Spurs are two games back of Houston ... and just this weekend ended the Warriors' 12-game win streak while running their own streak over visiting Golden State to 32 straight victories dating back to 1997.
San Antonio knows when to turn it on ... and against whom to turn it on. Yeah, add them to the list of contenders for the No. 2 slot and to the Mavs scoreboard-watch.
Former Mavs coach Avery Johnson is now the head coach at the University of Alabama and as the gang discusses here, his intense, grinding, authoritative style may actually be better suited for the college level than the pros.
When is it inappropriate to use "the N word''? For sure, when you are sitting in front of a live microphone on national TV.
Andrew Harrison's gaffe -- uttered in the wake of Kentucky's loss to Wisconsin -- is hardly earth-shattering. This is cultural, regional, generational ... and acceptable in many circles. Harrison clearly didn't mean it as a racial slur against Frank Kaminsky; it was simply "conversational,'' representative of the way the kid thinks and speaks.
That doesn't make it "right'' but I haven't the moral authority to demand that people quit speaking that way. I do have this, though: If you're an African-American parent, and you have a young son ... would you prefer he did, or did not, use that word?
Soon enough, the Madness will turn back to the final game, Wisconsin vs. Duke, and "THE MAVERICK'' will have it on the 200-inch screen tonight ... Sports, live music, specialty burgers, all with a Texas flavor ... at 121 and Hebron ... swing on in!
But in the meantime, recognize that Harrison accidentally did himself and the rest of us a service as we discuss (hopefully without the knee-jerk race-baiting) the power of words.
The place for Mavs fans to congregate and talk about all these games and all these issues? On DB.com Boards! C'mon in and sign up for your free membership today!
I have, over the years, had a few laughs (and a few drinks) with Nortie Cuban, who this weekend celebrated his 89th birthday with the Cuban family.
Happy birthday, Nortie!
"I'm biased,'' says Lakers coach Byron Scott on the MVP race. "I think Kobe should be in the conversation." And with that, "The Black Mamba'' continues his descent from all-time great into oddball cartoon character.
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