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Hoop it up all week with SI.com's writers in the NBA Playoffs Blog, a daily journal of NBA commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
1:10 AM ET, 5/23/06

Dallas deserved to win classic semifinal

Posted by Kelly Dwyer
In a thriller typical of the best postseason series in years, the Dallas Mavericks held on to defeat the San Antonio Spurs in overtime, denying the home team a chance at its third title in four seasons. The contest itself was mighty satisfying, with Dallas coming through with probably the best 20 minutes of first-half basketball we've seen any team play all season, followed by a defensively dominant San Antonio comeback, and a late-game stand by a Mavs team that seems eminently championship-worthy.

Late in the contest, TNT commentator Steve Kerr relayed comments from Dallas and San Antonio coaches Avery Johnson and Gregg Popovich, respectively, that seemed to intimate that both teams could have battled for 20 consecutive games without a clear-cut winner emerging. It seems like a sage sentiment on the surface, but the bottom line in this series was that Dallas was the better team, and had the edge in all the right spots.

It wasn't a huge advantage, if you could call it an "advantage" at all. It was merely a difference. Battling at full strength for six games (Jason Terry's Game 6 suspension being the difference), the Mavs won a close series by a 4 to 3 mark. Three games went into overtime, five games were decided by five points or less -- but make no mistake, the Mavericks won this series because they are the better team, even if the difference is criminally minimal. Dallas had quickness at every position but center; they intelligently took control of every mismatch situation, without resorting to the sort of gimmicky offense that marked the Don Nelson years. They defended well, never swaying in the face of San Antonio runs (both on the road, and at home), and conquered the defending champs as a team. Dallas' Game 7 win boiled down to the team's prime and role players, in concert, contributing in the areas where they're most needed.

Dirk Nowitzki was the Mavericks' rock, knocking in huge jumpers whenever the moment begged for it, while refusing to settle for the long-range bomb. Dirk shot just one 3-pointer Monday, a heave that missed as the shot clock was dwindling, and he shot just eight 3-pointers in the series (making one). Eight 3-pointers in 310 minutes in the semifinals, or, 38 less 3-pointers than his entire 2005 postseason run, when he played 399 minutes. His old-fashioned three-point play against Bruce Bowen, with 21 seconds left in regulation, tied the game for Dallas and gave his team the confidence to execute freely in overtime. Dirk finished with 37 points, with 15 rebounds, three assists, and zero turnovers in 49 minutes. Since the postseason started, Dirk has made a point to carry his team in the clutch, and he's been rewarded for his efforts.

And the star of overtime? DaSagana Diop. Seriously? The Dallas center held Tim Duncan to 1-of-7 shooting in the extra session, managing to contest shots and patrol the boards as the Mavericks pulled away. Most observers shrugged (or laughed, mocked, whatever) when the Mavs signed the underachieving center last summer, but Dallas identified one issue that most of us had overlooked in the big man's first four seasons in the NBA -- the dude was out of shape. Forget trying to teach him a jump hook, or asking him to stay on the court for 30 minutes without fouling out. Just get him in NBA shape, and see what you have. With that accomplished, Diop rounded into a darn good defensive center, with surprisingly good instincts for a player who's been working at the game for about eight years. I had to scout Diop at a high school camp in 2000, and the kid's play at the time made Brett Szabo look like Hakeem Olajuwon. He's come a long way, and credit the Mavs for taking a chance -- albeit a low-risk, high-reward gamble.

The rest of the usual suspects were at the top of their games, even if the results weren't always top gear. Jason Terry's shot came and went, but he was unrelenting in his attack, as he contributed 27 points and one turnover in 48 minutes. Josh Howard was aggressive as well, playing solid defense while scoring 18 points on just 12 shots. Jerry Stackhouse (13 points) was clutch in overtime. Keith Van Horn came out of the crypt to nail three huge 3-pointers. Devin Harris had five fouls, five turnovers, two points and zero assists in 33 minutes. It didn't matter. Dirk was brilliant.

San Antonio played like champs in the face of a team that was a wee bit better than they were, as if you'd expect anything less. Tony Parker picked his spots on his way to 24 points, five boards, four assists and just one turnover. Manu Ginobili kept up the inspired play, scoring 23 points on just 11 shots. Fabulous stuff.

And Tim Duncan, in spite of what happened in overtime, was as good as anyone you've ever seen in a playoff game. If you've never had plantar fasciitis before, it's hard to understand just how much pain Tim was in this season. The pain never goes away, it affects you every time you plant, walk, run, or jump. It's a searing, sometimes-crippling pain that affects just about everything you do. Tim was hurt during these playoffs, never forget that. Plantar issues don't go away unless you hit the shelf for a few months, and somehow he rose above. Way above. 25.9 points (on 57 percent shooting), 10.5 boards, 3.3 assists, and three blocks in the postseason for Tim, playing 37.8 minutes per game. On one foot. That's a man, right there.

Sadly, the Spurs are done. They'll hit that shelf this summer, try to recover from another long postseason and look to improve their bench and overall quickness in the offseason. Getting back to the Finals won't be easy, but with a healthy Duncan and Manu in his prime, it's hard to bet against them in 2007.

The Mavs will move on to the Conference Finals -- they've been there twice before but with entirely different teams. The 2003 squad that made it featured Steve Nash and Nick Van Exel and lots of strange isolation plays for Raja Bell in the crunch time of playoff games. Nellie's gone, though, as are all of the playoff participants save for Dirk and a then-active Avery Johnson (active in relative terms, of course). Both leftovers understand exactly what they'll need to do in order to make the team's first Finals -- don't try to run with the Suns, don't get too slogged-down with the Clips. This team has the personnel, the focus, and the smarts to pull anything off.

The best Conference Semifinals ever? Probably. No reason to rank, but why not? We're still buzzing from a seven-game series that lived up to and beyond all expectations, one that saw execution, emotion and elevated play at a premium. It'd be a bit of a bummer if each of the Conference Finals and Finals series were full of lopsided sweeps, but in lieu of the seven games I just witnessed, I'm cool with that. This series was as good as basketball gets.


Posted: 3:04 AM   by Anonymous
Why is it that when Shaq has an injury, everybody acts like he's slacking? Or when his free throw percentage is low? Or when his teams lose?

Yet, everyone cuts Tim Duncan so much slack for the the same things? Yeah, sure, he played so poorly because of his injury, but injuries didn't stop Shaq, Dwayne Wade or Steve Nash from winning when it counted in the playoffs this year -- even though Duncan has a much better supporting cast.

And Duncan's -- along with the rest of the Spurs'-- free throw shooting has always hovered around 50% and below. But they never catch any heat for it. Nor does Detroit for that matter.

And remember Tim Duncan's horrendous performance in the Olympics when he couldn't adapt his game to even be a factor in any of the games? Was he injured then or was he just not smart enough or too stubborn to take what they were giving him instead of try to force his own game? Weren't those losses his fault more than the others considering he's always considered the most valuable player in the game?
Posted: 3:04 AM   by Anonymous
i agree that dallas played a really great game. and dirk was phenomenal.
just have to wonder about the spurs. they'd always done well with the twin tower game, and with horry. we didn't see any/much of that during the whole series.
Posted: 3:12 AM   by Anonymous
How about the officiating in that game? I root for Texas teams in general...but it looked to me like the Mavericks were getting hosed all night by the officials. I'm referring to plays like the Ginobili's 3 foul shots, the fouls that took Van Horn/Dampier out of the game (looked DAMN straight up with the arms), and Bruce Bowen using Dirk as a punching bag all night. Towards the end they started calling them (as the Spurs protested each one), but did anyone else notice these incidents?
Posted: 3:16 AM   by Anonymous
"Dallas' Game 7 win boiled down to the team's prime and role players, in concert, contributing in the areas where they're most needed."

Man sports writers are something else. Just think, if the Spurs had hit one more free throw, how different your "comments" or "analysis" would have been. Perhaps the exact same qouted sentence above, but with the word "Spurs" in place of "Dallas"? And I'm a lakers fan.
Posted: 3:41 AM   by rfennekohl

regardless of what happens next,
the Mavs will have to face the Spurs again next year, and the year after that....

Both teams will have to find ways to get better, just to keep up in the battle of Texas.

Give the Spurs a healthy Tim Duncan and a little more help of the bench, bye Nick, and the next series might be even more even...

Maybe tossing a coin would do the job....

Go Mavs!
Posted: 4:06 AM   by Anonymous
Not very good at predictions now, are you ?
Duncan got his 40p, Spurs lost. You got the Suns right, but i really really hope you'll turn out to be wrong about miami-detroit. Nothing against you personally, but the way they played against the Cavs, the Pistons do not deserve to be in the final. True that the way they played against the Bulls, the Heat do not deserve that either, but since the Cavs are gone, I am picking Wade over the Wallace brothers.
Posted: 4:27 AM   by SGS
I'm a bit loathe to say that Dallas was clearly the better team. Kerr mentioned Dallas's speed incessantly--and at least once praised the speed and quickness of Tony Parker in the same breath. The six close games and the buzz surrounding what may be the best series of the postseason seem to support the coaches' contention that the teams were evenly matched.

I'm shocked that so little has been said or written about Ginobili's foul on Nowitzski at the end of regulation. It seemed Bowen was intent on eating up time but giving Nowitzski the shot, which made sense with SA up three and shooting free throws well. Was futile, last-second help defense part of Popovich's plan? Or was Ginobili fatally freelancing?
Posted: 5:02 AM   by TheFlo
Dallas deserves it. They just deserve it. I am so happy they beat the Spurs, and I can't wait to see them playing the Suns. I hope they win it all, and they definitely have what it takes to compete against any team remaining in this year's playoffs. GO DALLAS.
Posted: 5:14 AM   by Andreas
As a German I was naturally cheering for the Mavs, but as the series went on I was mostly impressed by the thrilling series and its intensity lead by the big duel between Nowitzki and Duncan. Both players challenged eachother and were showing their best basketball.

One interesting fact about Nowitzki was, how much he actually changed his style. As the reigning 3-ponit champ he attempted only 8!! throws beyond the arc in 7 games (he just made one of them). Instead he was fighting inside and also lead the team with quick and accurate passes.

Interestingly this comment:
"The new Nowitzki, asked by Johnson to play more of a Duncan style, showed just how much progress he's made operating inside the 3-point."

Very impressing transformation.
Posted: 6:35 AM   by Anonymous
definitely agree...they blew a 3-1 series lead n a 1st half lead during the game...also jason terry must have been a difference because when he was out, the team didn't do as good on backcourt...also the spurs lacked intensity but battled back to force overtime and the 7th game...i think the mavs will win it all except that if they face detroit, it will be a similar series...
Posted: 7:44 AM   by Dave in Dallas
While I agreed with most of the fouls called on Dallas--the exception being the fact that if there was any contact on Duncan it was a foul on Dallas--I do find it curious that Dallas shot no free throws in the 3rd quarter when the Spurs tightened up the game. Amazing that when the 4th qtr started, the 1st foul called was on the Spurs with Nowitzki shooting. Hmmm....I guess the game was considered tight enough to call normally in the 4th.
Posted: 8:15 AM   by Anonymous
This was the third game in the series where a bad call or lack-of-call at the end of regulation gave the game to Dallas. But for poor officiating in the last minutes, the Spurs would have won the series 4-2.
Posted: 8:17 AM   by glasnost
inspired writing, man.
Posted: 8:34 AM   by Anonymous
I'm a big Tim Duncan fan. Quiet, effective, and plays with great heart without using his mouth to do the talking. But I'm just as big a Dirk Nowitzki fan. Both gentlemen playing to the best of their abilities. As much as I hated to see San Antonio lose, some series are just classics. Game after game of nailbiting closeness.

Congrats Dallas and Mark Cuban ... this was basketball at its very best.
Posted: 9:23 AM   by Anonymous
The NBA bigwigs drop the ball on this one. This series was worthy of the conference final. Dallas and San Antonio played a great series. I was very glad that Dallas won it. It is just sad that Don Nelson didn't get to lead the group instead of Avery Johnson. Dirk showed the basketball world in this series that he has heart and that he is no punk. He showed true leadership this go around. I an not just saying that to be saying this. I would say the same thing about Dirk if Dallas lost too. Devin Harris almost gave the series to San Antonio with his play. But his teammates covered him. Give Tim Duncan credit. Tim made this go this far on one toe. I will say this again, the NBA bidgwigs goofed this one. These two teams should have met at the Western Conference Finals, not the semi.
Posted: 9:34 AM   by ed a. de lara
I appreciate your analysis, it's right on. Lots of reasons, but just ranking this semifinal series with the best in NBA history is obviously fitting. I totally agree this was a classic, along with the games played by Magic, Jabbar, Bird, Russell, the titans of the game. This is what makes basketball simply exciting. Kudos!
Posted: 9:56 AM   by Anonymous
When is the media going to start calling out Tim Duncan for what he has become: the biggest whiner in the NBA. All throughout the second-half and overtime, whenever a call didn't go Duncan's (or the Spurs') way, he would have this look of disbelief on his face and his arms outstretched as if some huge misjustice had just been committed against the world. If you started up a drinking game where every time Duncan complained to the refs after a call, you'd be hammered beyond belief after the first quarter. Tim Duncan might have once been the best player in the NBA, but he's been replaced by the biggest whiner (on a team full of them) in the league.
Posted: 10:16 AM   by Anonymous
If the ref would not have swallowed his whistle at the end of the game when Tim Doucan was fouled as he was going up for a shot the Spurs would have won the series.
Posted: 10:24 AM   by Jake
Last night could have been had very different endgame had the refs called legitimate fouls on Bruce Bowen. While watching Nowitzski's three point play near the end of overtime, we counted four (FOUR!) fouls on Bowen as he hacked at Dirk's arms. A foul before the shot would have resulted in a free throw contest, and who knows what might have happened?
Posted: 10:28 AM   by Jim in Dallas
Congrats to the Mavs, they were the better team by a nose. The Dallas bench is just deeper than the Spurs. Manu is a gamer. I have to say that it will be nice to not have to watch Parker and Duncan whine after anyone dares to call a foul on them. I mean, cmon!!!
Posted: 10:42 AM   by Anonymous
Thank you Kelly for giving Dallas the credit they deserve! It was an fantastic series any way you look at it. GO MAVS!

Fort Worth (Cowtown), Texas
Posted: 11:24 AM   by Jujulaw
The Mavs are not the Rodney Dangerfield of the NBA any longer!
Charles Barkley and all other critics may eat their words now.

The Mavericks were the better team and prevailed.
This is the year for the Dallas Mavericks and the true MVP of the league, the Big German.
Posted: 11:39 AM   by Greg
Kelly, if it's possible, I guess I have to agree and disagree with your comments, all at the same time. Dallas deserved to win because they hit the shots when it counted, but sometimes thats determined by how the ball bounces. Do not forget that the Spurs had themselves in position to win three different games in the series on the last shot and just missed each time. Credit Dallas, but don't discount the Spurs by calling the Mavs the better team, they were just the winning team.
Posted: 11:54 AM   by Anonymous
Watching the two western conference semis, one thing I came to realize was that Duncan's back-to-the-basket post play is aesthetically ugly compared to Brands impressive square-up-and-elevate post shooting.

IMHO, the other western conference final was far more enjoyable to watch - elegant, stylish and very athletic. The Mavs and Spurs demand respect, but the Suns and Clippers gave us beauty.
As a MAVS fan for years, and watching the playoff failures of the past few years, this really looks like our year. Too many weapons. The Suns whooped us last year, but it was mainly a 2 man show, and Amare is gone. I am just glad the Spurs are gone, no more Ginobli flops!!! That dude should doing Vaudeville somewhere. Play some hoops and quit flopping around like a bluegill on acid. Spurs'll have to wait until next year to bring there whining roadshow to an arena near you. This is the MAVS year. Keep them palms up Timmy!!! Who Me?
Posted: 12:02 PM   by TIM Jirus
This is why the NBA's playoff picture is seriously flawed. The two best teams in the West were in the same region and battled all year for the top spot. Pick the three winners of each region, the five other teams, and then based on their W/L record make the brackets. This was a GREAT series and the more athletic team won by forcing their game on San Antionio. I'm a big Spurs fan, but this year their lack of quickness at all postitons was exposed by a fast squad. It will be a horserace between Suns and Mavs that should be great to watch.
Posted: 12:02 PM   by Anonymous
Maybe Dallas deserved to win, but I want to hear someone talk about Popovich's bonehead of a play at the end of regulation. Duncan had been unstoppable in the post all night, either scoring, drawing a foul or creating for a teammate. Instead of letting the best player on the planet decide their fate, Pops has Manu dribble out the clock to attack a packed in lane hoping a prayer went in or was rescued by Duncan on an offensive board. Pops's play to to get Barry the 3 pointer against Sacto was brilliant, so for SA to lose this series because he came up with Manu driving to the basket to end regulation was very disappointing.
Posted: 12:49 PM   by Anonymous
Excellent analysis, Kelly. Both teams played extremely hard and you could tell both teams are very evenly matched. I think the Mavs just wanted the series a little bit more, since they've never tasted the success of winning an NBA title. I'm glad the nation was able to see what we Mavs fans knew along - Dirk is a MVP-type player who CAN carry a team and will his team to victory.
Posted: 1:54 PM   by Liam
Excellent writing and analysis
Posted: 2:13 PM   by Anonymous
HOLY %#$* the NBA is baaaaaaccccckkkk! Me and all my rowdy friends have been glued to the television throughout the playoffs and the last two days were no different with the historic Game 7's. You really think as a sports fan you're watching history unfold before your eyes. The emergence of the "King", The Pistons showing their championship mettle, a series for those fans who strictly love up & down basketball and offense, offense and more offense with the Clipps and Suns and the greatest seven game series in the last 5 years in ANY sport: Mavs and Spurs. Incredible. Simply incredible!
Posted: 2:14 PM   by Anonymous
Dallas was very very good, and very very lucky.

In game 3, they shot free throws for the win with about 2 seconds left. In game 4 they shot free throws for the tie with about 15 seconds left. In game 7 they should have been watching Tim Duncan shoot free throws for the win with 0.9 seconds left. I have a nice screen capture of Dirk with his arm slammed into Duncan's shoulder/neck on the last play of the game. Why the refs felt the need to decide the game in games 3 and 4 but not in 7 will never be known, but only one team benefited from all late game calls.

Congrats Dallas! Phoenix should not present a problem. Unfortunately, I think Dallas will be a poor representative for the West in the finals (highly dependent on the tone of the referees).
Posted: 3:42 PM   by Anonymous
Go Mavs!! Finley thought he could coast to a ring, now Dirk will take out Nash. No rings for the other 2 of the "big three". Dirk has all the game needed to win a title.
Posted: 5:17 PM   by Anonymous
The only reason that Spurs could make that 2nd half comeback (or any game of the series) after trailing 20 points is that Duncan got the whistles 90% of the time when he was near the basket. The mere standing in front of him constitutes a foul in the eyes of the refs. And he still complains about the no-calls!
Posted: 6:36 PM   by Anonymous
Anybody else notice that Duncan initiates the contact on a majority of the 'fouls' committed against him? If a player driving to the hoop lowers his shoulder and plows over a guy, it's an offensive foul. Yet when Timmy does it in the post on practically every play, they call it a defensive foul! Unbelievable.

The game wouldn't have even been close without all of SA's free throws. Yes, Dirk fouled Duncan on the last play (one of the few legit fouls against him all night), but it was the least the officials could do after gift-wrapping 25 free throws for Timmy the rest of the night...
Posted: 7:20 PM   by Anonymous
This first poster is living in a cave somewhere.
"Yet, everyone cuts Tim Duncan so much slack for the the same things?" Huh? Can't you think of something interesting to post instead another conspiract theory?

No NBA player is above criticism for poor play. Obviously Spurs fans aren't going to rip Duncan. Fans usually aren't objective when commenting on their own. Don't make it seem like another league wide conspiracy against Shaq or Wade.
Posted: 9:33 PM   by Spurs
Any one see Dirk foul Duncan on Duncan's last shot in regulation? Because I did.
Posted: 11:54 PM   by Anonymous
It is considered luck when it happens once, when it happens more than once luck is no longer an issue.
Posted: 12:04 AM   by Anonymous
All I have to say is that we got robbed...Game 3 and 4....Mark Cuban paid someone the right price to get those 2 critical fouls on Duncan and Bowen in those 2 games down the stretch. It should of been Spurs in 6.
Posted: 12:21 AM   by Anonymous
I'm so tired of hearing all these crybaby spurs fans complaining about fouls. The Mavs were called for 19 more fouls than the Spurs for the series. Anytime Duncan touched the ball and was touched he got the call, EVEN WHEN HE WAS THE ONE TO CAUSE THE CONTACT!! If any Mav player was standing near him with arms extended up all little timmie had to do was walk into them and he'd get a call. Ginobiflop was even getting rediculous calls. His attempted three-pointer which he knew wasn't going in resulted in three free-throws. Why? He wasn't fouled. He kicked his right leg out in front of the defender as he was going by to avoid contact. THE SPURS GOT WHAT THEY DESERVED!

Posted: 12:22 AM   by Anonymous
what player doesn't whine after a being whistled for a foul....just the state of today's NBA.
Posted: 11:33 AM   by Anonymous
Some thoughts for my fellow blog posters:

1.The time for complaining about fouls (if there ever was such a time) on both sides is beyond over. It was a great, great series, The Mavs won. The Spurs lost. End of the story.

2.Duncan didn't play poorly, he had his best playoff series ever. He did this despite an injury, so whoever said that excuses were being made for Duncan needs to work on reading comprehension. Also this fantasy that he whines more than any other player about whistles on him is...well, fantasy. Any NBA fan who watches player reactions to foul calls knows full well that NO fouls ever happen in the NBA and refs are are just making it all up to be meanies.

3.Spurs fans (and I'm one), before you bitterly promulgate the "one whistle here and one roll there and we'd have won" theory, true as it may be, why not look first to the equally true "one quicker defensive rotation here or one stronger offensive rebound there" explanation for why we came up a hair's width short?

3. For the Elton Brand aesthetician who finds Duncan's game ugly, last time I checked, basketball was not figure skating and the awarding of the O'Brien trophy will once again be based on a comparison of the numbers on the scoreboard once the clock expires. The higher number wins. And that, as I'm sure Elton would agree, is the only thing of beauty that matters.

5. Someone needs to tell Mark Cuban to review the ratings for his short-lied reality show "The Benefactor." He seems to once again be under the mistaken impression that the world cares about the preening and posturing of a narcissistic billionaire egomaniac. Worse than my disappointment at the Spurs loss is my nausea at the thought of having to suffer through another month of his "provocative" blog snoozefest pronouncements.
Posted: 12:25 PM   by Anonymous
Agreed, man. It's not as if the entire rest of the league stands stoic when the whistle blows, bows respectfully, and says, "Thank you, sir, for the wise foul you have called on me." EVERYBODY complains, not just the hated Spurs.

The Mavs and Spurs played excellent basketball and, in the end, the Mavs just outplayed 'em and Avery outcoached Pop. In an era of arrogant self-promotion, it was pretty great seeing two excellent teams duke it out and come away classy and sportsmanlike without resorting to name-calling (Mark Cuban's cursing at Bruce Bowen notwithstanding). It's a shame more NBA fans don't follow suit.
Posted: 12:53 PM   by Anonymous
The Mavs would have won in five or six if the refs really called fair games. Those non-calls Spurs fans complain about are what have been traditionally called 'make-up calls or non-calls'.
The refs know the games should have been more decidely in the Mavs favor but they want to make sure the games and series are close so they try to tilt things in that direction. Anytime I hear an announcer talk about a 'momentum swing' I take it for code that the refs are going to give that team all the breaks for the next couple of minutes.
If the refs would just police Bowen like they did anyone within three feet of Duncan, Bowen would have fouled out in the first half of every game and Dirk would have put 40+.
Posted: 1:34 PM   by Anonymous
I think the refs missed/made calls that benefitted both teams. In the end, it all evens out.
Posted: 1:39 PM   by Anonymous
The Mavs ARE a better team than the spurs - simple as that! Forget about the fouls, the refs, the owner (s), the fans,the venues, etc. Player for player, the Mavs are better. Boy Toy parker is overrated, flopper boy Ginobli is out of control most of the time, and "who me??" timmy is past his prime. spurs on the way down while the mavs are on the way up.

Mavs will outrun and outgun the suns in 5, and win the NBA finals against the heat in 6. GO MAVS!!!!
Posted: 3:06 PM   by 2darack
Travelin' Timmy is always playing with two good feet -- two pivot feet, that is! The refs always give him free reign in the lane, yet he is constantly stunned if a call doesn't go his way. Spits out the pacifier starts one of his stomping, pouting fits. And then the star-struck refs cave and start blowing whistles to appease him.
Posted: 3:48 PM   by Anonymous
My answer to your Shaq/Duncan question has a couple answers.

First of all, Shaq brings that on himself. His attitude, his presence in the media, his horrible attempts to talk trash and brag about himself, not to mention his role in the hole L.A. story, whatever it might have been. It's easier to dislike Shaq because he honestly has no skills besides his natural size, and then he will tell you how great he is.

Duncan on the other hand, he is an easier guy to like. You never hear about him in the media, even in his moments of greatness. Shaq sneezes and it's a top 10 play on ESPN. Duncan flies under the radar, and even though he has had his struggles, especially at the charity stripe, he is fundamental, old school in a way, using the back board to bank shots in, simple post up moves, and can be a team player. True, Duncan is a little less exciting, where Shaq draws attention with his monster dunks, but he also draws some of the negative attention that Duncan slips right by.

As for the Olympics, who knows about that, it's hard to say if you can blame it on just one player, what did Melo do, and what has Melo done in the playoffs, he's a ghost. What about Starbury, that star has fallen, and Marion, the list goes on.

As for his playoff woes, did you not just see the last series with the Mavs, scoring 30, 40, 20+ consistently when his supporting cast were only supporting each other. Duncan deserves some cred for only missing two games all year, when most players will take off 4-6 weeks.

Nobody is cutting him any slack, Duncan deserves the praise, as well as the recognition of his injuries and his play. He has already won his share of championships and playoff series.

Shaq has his share, thanks to Kobe, but count the rings on Shaq's hand and Duncan's hand, not off by much, especially considering Duncan has a better chance of winning another ring before Shaq.

Dwayne Wade, and Steve Nash, and even Dirk respectable players, but have never won when it really counts, not yet.

Injuries did stop Shaq, who missed almost half of the season this year with minimal play, who has slowed himself down with his weight issues, why has Alonzo Mourning looked more impressive this year than Shaq?

Now compare the two.

Even though the Heat are still in the playoffs, Duncan has had a better season than Shaq this year, unless his team wins the title, then the arguement can change.
Posted: 10:05 AM   by Anonymous
Mark Cuban is the man, when is the last time that you saw an owner that into his organizations progress?
Posted: 2:13 AM   by Anonymous
Yes this series is an instant classic and yes congrats to the Mavs. Too bad their victory is being tainted by horrible Mav fans. GIVE IT A REST ALREADY. I'LL IM HEARING ARE NOTHING BUT MAV FANS WHINNING THAT THEY BELIEVE THE SPURS ARE WHINNERS. Yes i do believe in just these few RECENT games that Duncan did get more frustrated when no calls were going his way, but i dont blame him. Is it me or are all the Mav fans not noticing that their own big man Dirk looks like a toddler who just got his candy taken away whenever he doesnt get the call. Tim may look suprised when he gets a call but he doesnt go crazy stomping his feet and throwing his arms at the refs in frustration they way Dirk does. I also believe that the Spurs got away with more fouls in game 7, but i just see it as justice. All this started when the refs called ugly BS calls against the Spurs in games 2 & 3 that resulted in the Mavs gaining the upperhand. Yes the Spurs this year looked more fussed about calls but thats because they arent used to getting those calls. Their defense and skills are so good that they can defend anybody without fouling. This is not a characteristic of the "hit and shove" Mavs. The Mavs get more calls because they lack the skill to defend without fouling. The Mavs didnt win because they are the better team. They won because they have the better coach. Pop was simply outcoached by AJ. I mean seriously, i dont know why he decided to play AJ's game by trying to keep up with the Mavs and benching the Spurs big men. That is why the Spurs bench didnt look so deep; because Pop pretty much removed players from the roster (big men) and made other players play longer minutes than they are accustomed to. The series was really 3 Spurs Manu, Tony, and Tim against the entire Mavs and the Mavs still had to fight for victory. The last time the Spurs won a playoff series they didnt rub it in the other teams faces and their fans or insult their city. This is why the Mavs and their Cuban influenced fans will never be held as anything more than hooligans. They show no class even when they win. If they whine this much in victory, i'm going to hate to have to hear them when they bow out short of the trophy.
Posted: 4:12 AM   by Anonymous
Anyone who thinks the Mavs are a better team than the Spurs are a FOOL! It is always better to be lucky than good. And that is exactly what the Mavs were. Lucky!!! Oh they know it. They all know it. You don't give up a 3-1 lead and be 36 secs from losing if you are clearly the better team. That is call being the luckier team. The Mavs got so many lucky bailout calls in this series to last the rest of the franchise's life. Dallas is not going to win a Championship, because they will need a ton of calls to go their way for that to happen. Spurs fan should be upset because the NBA treated them like suckers, clearly the league wanted new blood for marketing purposes because the best defensive team on this planet doesn't foul a jump shooting team over 200 times. The only thing the Mavs can do better than the Spurs is shoot free throws. Don't think the NBA doesn't know that, that's why the game was played at the free throw line otherwise it would have been the same old grind it out Finals. The Spurs and the Pistons and lets face it, that product is just not selling these days.
Posted: 1:59 PM   by Anonymous
Yep! Dirk's the man. The scary thing is: he's improved greatly as a defender. I can't tell you the number of times this season when he's matched up with opposing guards (Tony Parker, Bobby Jackson, etc.) who, invaribly, have the quickness to get around Dirk only to have their shots blocked or altered by the big German. So what's next for Dirk? Defending the low block? Truly scary...
Posted: 2:53 PM   by Anonymous
yes, duncan should have been shooting freethrows for the win at the end of the game...
Posted: 6:17 AM   by Anonymous
I read all the comments and i have just some points to stress out.
I agree that the Mavs were just lucky this time, okey give this season to them. But luck does not compare to the greatness of a team. The Spurs were just great! they were inconsistent at times but they forced a game7 when they were down 3-1 didn't they? I'am sick of reading about unfair fouls given by the refs. I mean, it was not one sided, it was unfair in both teams. This is the playoffs and the refs does not evalute fouls like they did before this postseason.
The Mavs too were inconsistent in their rebounding, foul shooting and defense. Devin Harris has been a cold fish since game 3 until the deciding game. He was good in game 2 when he first joined the starting lineup. Even until now in the Conference finals, he has been invisible!
Duncan, showed the 3-time MVP that he is not going anywhere. He has been cold before the playoffs but as funny as it seems, this series he just played whenever its a big game. He is showing that he will always be ready whenever his team needs him the most.
Manu Ginobili wasn't quit himself, I admit, but he was good! Especially when Duncan gets into foul troubles or when Parker cant find his rhythm, Manu is there to save the day. He is just amazing and despite his injuries and bad palys, I still believe in him. Dagger in the heart!!
Now, Coach Popovich is as good as a coach as Johnson is. Maybe even better! Okey, he didn't use the best play in the end of regulation but the Spurs were that close into winning. You can get away with that and next year, the Spurs will be the hardest team to beat. Imagine if they can get their aggresiveness, quickness and good health back.
The Spurs are just too humble to comment on the allegations other people would throw to them. THey dont want to grab the limelight and be controversial. They just want to show a great game to their fans as what basketball is all about. Less interesting, i know, yet its easy for the fans and other people to respect them.

I have made my point and i want to say one last thing....
The best team doesn't always win!!!!