Dirk And Mavs Spunk For Game 5 At OKC? Good, Because They 'Hate Spunk'

You can argue that Round 1 has established that OKC gets rattled by 'spunk.' But you can argue, too, that ‘spunk’ is all the Mavs have left.

"You've got spunk,’’ grizzled boss Lou Grant told his sunny new employee Mary Richards on the legendary old “Mary Tyler Moore Show.’’

"Well, yes,’’ Mary replied, prepared to accept the out-of-character flattery before Lou interrupted her.

"I hate spunk.’'

                                   

In these NBA Playoffs, “spunk’’ — or, as their coach Rick Carlisle chooses to term it, “grit and guts’’ or “disposition’’ or “fight’’ from his “Masking-Tape Mavs’’ — is not always evident for 48 minutes for 16 teams every night.

Dallas has spunk.

I like spunk.

But it’s not enough.

Dirk Nowitzki undoubtedly spent the last 40 hours or so sleeping in a bed of ice in the hope that he can go get another 40 or so minutes and another skillion or so points in order for his Mavs to stave off elimination tonight in OKC, where Dallas is down 3-1 in the series.

As I said on 105.3 The Fan, “Dirk is tired — not retired.''

You want feisty? Dallas is feisty. The Mavericks were able to upset the Thunder at home in Game 2 and that will probably be the for-the-books high note here for a club that doesn’t have Chandler Parsons until next year (assuming they have the free-agent-to-be at all), won’t have Deron Williams and David Lee tonight, and will feature the limp-around efforts of JJ Barea, Salah Mejri, Justin Anderson and Zaza Pachulia, all of whom probably had their own ice naps over the weekend.

But how about the work that won’t show up on the stat sheet? Like Charlie V’s interruption of Russell Westbrook’s weirdo dance steps before Game 2, or Serge Ibaka’s nasty elbows seemingly in search of Mavs crotches, or Carlisle engaging in a conversation about Ibaka and Adams being two of the NBA’s five dirtiest players after having declared OKC the “initiators’’ of non-basketball-play aggression throughout the series, or the OKC bench weirdly trying to steal the basketball so the Mavs couldn’t inbounds it, or Roberson plunging into a screener as if he was a tackling dummy, or Durant earning a Flagrant-2 and an ejection for knocking Anderson so hard in the head that the kid heard a ringing in his eyes and lost clear vision in an eye.

“That’s not my game,’’ Durant keeps saying … but in this series, it is, and because this will be Dallas’ only series, this is the only series of games worth evaluation.

Said Nowitzki: "You feel each other out in Game 1. By Game 2 and Game 3, you hate each other.''

“Hate’’ is a strong word. “Peskiness’’ is better and the more of it Dallas displays, the more likely it is that OKC allows itself to expose a flaw — a team that doesn’t close well, a team that resorts to violent foolishness, a team that, if the Mavs could just keep things close enough, might get so caught up in its dance moves that it forgets how to win.

A calm, cool Thunder team tonight would mark OKC’s best way to win. A frantic, pesky, spunky effort would mark Dallas’ only chance to be eliminated with the badge of honor that goes with “effort.’'

We can remember that from this series. It won’t be on the scoresheet but it will carry forward, as will Nowitzki himself, who contrary to the melodramatic world of Twitter isn’t retiring. He’s doing what he’s always done. Class before, during and after the game, as on Saturday, when he acting in that old Mean Joe Greene for Coke commercial only it is REAL LIFE ...

https://twitter.com/dwatkinsNBC5/status/724070525387964418

And “spunk,’’ too. Because that’s about all Dallas has left.

And hey … OKC hates Dallas’ spunk.


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