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Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Lessons Learned from Dallas' Quick Playoff Demise

The Dallas Mavericks not only avenged the Miami Heat's 2006 come from behind NBA Finals victory over Dallas with a come from behind NBA Finals victory over Miami in 2011 but the Mavericks also followed up their triumph exactly like the Heat did: by being swept in the first round the next season. The only other defending NBA champions that failed to win a single playoff game the next season are the 1957 Warriors, the 1970 Celtics and the 1999 Bulls (the latter two squads failed to qualify for the playoffs after the retirements of Bill Russell and Michael Jordan respectively).  

The Mavericks became the first team to exit the 2012 playoffs, falling 4-0 to an Oklahoma City Thunder team that the Mavericks defeated 4-1 in the 2011 Western Conference Finals. It is never easy to defend a championship; that is why the NBA went nearly two decades--from Russell's Celtics to Magic Johnson's Lakers--without any team claiming back to back crowns. Since that time, the Jordan-Pippen Bulls scored a pair of three-peats, Hakeem Olajuwon's Rockets won two championships in a row during Jordan's brief baseball hiatus and two separate Lakers' squads--both coached by Phil Jackson and featuring Kobe Bryant--won consecutive titles, with the Shaquille O'Neal-Kobe Bryant Lakers pulling off a three-peat and then Bryant claiming back to back championships sans the Big Diesel. Tim Duncan's San Antonio Spurs won four championships but never successfully defended a crown, while Boston's current Hall of Fame trio has thus farwon just one title (and made one other NBA Finals appearance).

It is very difficult to make back to back NBA Finals appearances, let alone win consecutive titles. After the Mavericks swept the Lakers in the second round of the 2011 playoffs, I put the Lakers' recent accomplishments in historical perspective:

The 2011 Lakers were trying to advance to the NBA Finals for the fourth straight season, a feat that has only been accomplished by three teams: the 1984-87 Celtics, the 1982-85 Lakers and the 1959-66 Celtics. If the Lakers had won the 2011 championship then they would have been the only team other than Bill Russell's Celtics to advance to at least four straight Finals and win at least three championships (the Jordan-Pippen Bulls "three-peated" twice, the O'Neal-Bryant Lakers "three-peated" once and the Mikan Lakers "three-peated" once but none of those teams also made it to four straight Finals).

Think for just a moment about the facts in the preceding paragraph: the Lakers were trying to do something that has only been achieved by the greatest dynasties in the history of the sport! Then think about this for a moment: Russell's Celtics were loaded with other Hall of Famers (including Top 50 players Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, Sam Jones and Bill Sharman), the 1980's Celtics had three Top 50 players (Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish) plus another Hall of Famer (Dennis Johnson) and the 1980's Lakers had three Top 50 players (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and James Worthy). Each of those dynasties brought current or former All-Stars off of the bench during at least some of those seasons.

Some people try to fool the public by saying that the current Lakers team is talented and/or deep but in 2009 I wrote a detailed refutation of both notions (the 2010 Lakers added some talent by essentially swapping Trevor Ariza for Ron Artest but that did not materially change the truth of what I asserted in 2009); the 2009 and 2010 Lakers were among the least talented and least deep champions of the past two decades and they were not even close to being as talented or deep as the Russell Celtics, Bird Celtics or Johnson Lakers: while the latter three teams had multiple Hall of Famers/Top 50 players, the current Lakers have one player of that caliber (Kobe Bryant), one All-Star who had not won a single playoff game prior to joining the Lakers (Pau Gasol), a solid sixth man who often had to start (Lamar Odom), a talented but raw young center with chronically bad knees (Andrew Bynum) and a collection of role players (Artest made his only All-Star appearance seven years and three teams ago and thus can hardly be compared to the perennial All-Stars who played alongside Russell, Bird and Johnson).


Dallas' ignominious title defense does not taint the accomplishments of the 2011 Mavericks but just underscores the true greatness of the teams that won back to back titles and the teams that made it to the NBA Finals in consecutive seasons. One of the ironic twists to Dallas' story is that the Lakers seemingly sabotaged the Mavericks' repeat chances by sending a Trojan Horse to Dallas, namely Lamar Odom; pro football Hall of Famer Bill Walsh consistently advocated getting rid of a player a year too early as opposed to a year too late and it certainly seems like the Lakers made a timely decision to part ways with Odom, a player who had a good 2011 regular season but did not contribute much to the Lakers' brief 2011 playoff run and who has been overrated by many commentators who act as if Odom--who has never been an All-Star, an All-NBA player or an All-Defensive Team selection--is an elite performer when he is actually just a good player who benefited tremendously from playing alongside Kobe Bryant (not only because Bryant draws double teams but also because the example that Bryant sets in terms of work ethic at least kept Odom relatively focused on the task at hand, something that clearly did not happen after Odom left L.A.).

Before the 2012 season, Dallas owner Mark Cuban parted ways with Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler, J.J. Barea and DeShawn Stevenson; Chandler and Barea in particular played key roles for the 2011 championship team. I predicted "Tyson Chandler's departure will likely hurt the Mavericks more than it will help the New York Knicks" and that turned out to be quite correct; with Chandler, the Knicks went from being a low seeded team that got swept in the first round to being a low seeded team that is currently trailing 3-1 in the first round. New York's lack of progress is not Chandler's fault but he hardly transformed the team's fortunes the way that many people foolishly expected that he would; he made a bigger impact for the Mavericks, a more well balanced team that could properly utilize Chandler's skills without being overly reliant on him.

Cuban fully understood how difficult it would be to win back to back titles and he feared that if he kept his squad together then he would be stuck with an aging roster and serious salary cap issues; he essentially abdicated the team's title defense with the idea of reloading for the 2012-13 season, hoping to acquire Dwight Howard and/or Deron Williams to provide help for Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki has had a great career and he is one of the most underrated playoff performers of all-time: he has averaged 25.9 ppg and 10.3 rpg in 128 career playoff games, joining Hall of Famers Elgin Baylor, Hakeem Olajuwon and Bob Pettit as the only players in ABA/NBA history to average at least 25/10 over the course of a postseason career. The 2012 season does not detract from Nowitzki's impressive resume but it hardly added much to it, either; Nowitzki admittedly started the season out of shape and never really completely found his rhythm, though he posted decent numbers down the stretch as the Mavericks secured the seventh seed in the West: just like it is difficult for teams to make multiple NBA Finals appearances, it is also difficult for individual players to maintain All-NBA status on a perennial basis--that is why five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant and four-time NBA champion Tim Duncan deserve the ultimate respect for leading winning teams while performing at the highest possible level individually. Bryant has made the All-NBA First Team for six consecutive seasons (and nine times overall), while Duncan made the All-NBA First Team in each of his first eight seasons (1998-2005) and added a ninth selection in 2007.

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posted by David Friedman @ 11:45 PM

20 comments

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20 Comments:

At Wednesday, May 09, 2012 1:10:00 AM, Blogger Awet M said...

Solid analysis, and I especially agree with the great Bill Walsh's succinct point.

Moreover, Kobe's knee troubles prevented him from practicing much of the year during 2010-2011, and that may have inadvertently contributed to the Lakers' sudden decline and playoff failures.

Also, I wonder if you will analyze the other teams currently in the playoffs, particularly that of the San Antonio Spurs. They just completed three 10+ (11, 11, currently 14) win streaks in a shortened season. Something I think only 3 other teams in history ever pulled off: 2007 Dallas (12, 13, 17), 71 Bucks (16, 10, 20) and the 00 Lakers (16, 19, 11).

 
At Wednesday, May 09, 2012 5:45:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Awet:

I've never quite understood why someone responds to an excellent article on one subject by saying "Why didn't you write about subject X?"

I analyzed each of the 16 playoff teams in my playoff preview article; I picked the Spurs to win the championship and will have more to say about them in my second round preview article.

A Dallas-themed article is timely now because the Mavericks were just eliminated from the playoffs and because they are one of a handful of defending champions that did not win a single playoff game.

 
At Wednesday, May 09, 2012 11:40:00 AM, Anonymous boyer said...

The thunder/mavs series this year seeems very similar to the lakers/mavs series last year, though the lakers were blown out in game 4, but the mavs were blown out in game 3. The first 2 games in each series were very close.

If Dirk was in better shape to start the season, then the mavs most likely would've had a better seed, reminds me of the start of the 03 season for the lakers when shaq took his sweet time to get healed. Dirk has certainly been a very good player and will be a future HOFer, but it's clear he's nowhere near Duncan or Kobe status.

I've still heard a lot of chandler praise this year, even though the knicks are marginally better than last year. Only looking at some of his advanced stats, one could say he's an elite player all around and many do say that unfortunately, but it's obvious he isn't, though he's a very good role player.

 
At Wednesday, May 09, 2012 4:50:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi David,

I think you’re right to point at the fact of how hard it is to constantly perform on a high level and also lead a team to multiple titles.
Many people don’t recognize this. That, by the way, is one of the things that I don’t like about the advanced statistics in sport. It’s the fact that excessive numbers crunching leads to a mindset where people think along the line of - his stats are great, which has to lead to winning, and when he wins, than it’s only logical, because of his stats. As if a player was created for a computer game and the stats are his attributes for which he is not responsible. Thereby people forget what it takes for each individual to become that good.

I just want to follow up on your remarks on Dirk Nowitzki. I know it wasn’t specifically the topic of this article, but I just wanted to say that regarding Dirks performance one has to consider one or two additional points.
I think, that you have to consider the possible psychological implications of winning the long sought first title at the end of your career. Kobe and Duncan got their first ring early in their careers. Sure, they were both driven by other goals after that first ring, especially Kobe, but I think it helped them that they already got the ultimate price(of course I see the difference for Kobe to have a championship with a team that was Shaqs team or with a team that was his. But I would argue, that having a ring in this case still means that a specific part of you can somewhat relax).
If you are chasing one specific goal for many years, bearing almost all the weight on your shoulders and you haven’t succeeded yet, then the pressure is getting really high to achieve this goal before age sets you a limit. When you finally reach this goal all the pressure and tension of 10 or more years is gone. That is good and bad at the same time, because the pressure is part of what keeps you performing on the highest level, where every detail can be crucial for being successful or not. I would argue that the same is true for Bostons big three. It seems to me, that they never played with quite the same over the top intensity after winning the championship (to be fair, age plays a role and they were still contenders after all. But it seemed almost impossible not to be a contender with three future Hall of Famers and a soon to be/current All-Star on the team). But maybe I have a false impression, because I had somewhat of a preconceived opinion on that.

That is not to say, that it is in fact a great accomplishment by Kobe and Duncan to lead their teams to multiple titles.

And it is also true as you mentioned, and Nowitzki admittet, that Nowitzkis preparation was not good this time. He didn’t give himself enough time directly after the title and immediately played for Germany.
And this is a point I want to raise, I admit, simply because I feel it is not mentioned at all in the media about Nowitzki and boyers comment sounds a little bit like the 1000th attempt to relativize Nowitzkis accomplishments (which is maybe an overinterpretation and I'm not saying Nowitzki is better than or as good as Bryant or Duncan) and I’m sorry to go a little bit off topic.
But, Dirk Nowitzki has played in 141 games for Germany to date in addition to his NBA career. He was the top scorer of three Euros and two world championship tournaments, the MVP of one Euro and one world championship tournament and most of all he led Germany to a bronze medal in the world championship tournament and to a silver medal in the Euros. And I don’t want to disrespect the other players, but he did that almost single-handedly. No other player on those teams, maybe with the exception of Ademola Okulaja, came even close to be a starter for a European top team and the German league is like a Division II League in Europe. His performances for Germany relative to the potential of the team was the closest I have ever seen of one man being the sole reason for the success of a team on that level.

Oliver

 
At Wednesday, May 09, 2012 4:51:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent article as always. Dallas really had the odds stacked against them this year when they were unable to retain the pieces you mentioned at the start of the season -- particularly Chandler and Barea, of course. Funny thing was getting rid of those guys a year too early, then picking up Odom a couple years too late. A trojan horse is certainly an apt description of him this year.

Do you think Cuban would have opted to keep the Mavs' championship roster together if not for the impending free agencies of Howard and Williams? And if so, would they have gotten as far as last year?

I know these are theoretical questions, but they are fun to speculate on. I thought that last year the Mavericks were able to capitalize on an amazing hot streak by not only Nowitzki (who outshined even his usual great play) but also Barea and Terry. I wonder if they would have been able to count on that again.

Thanks for another good read.

Happydaze

P.S. -- I really enjoyed the playoff preview and awards article. So, like Awet M up there, I'm really looking forward to the 2nd round preview :) Keep up the good work.

 
At Thursday, May 10, 2012 5:45:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Oliver:

I agree with you that there may have been a bit of a "sigh of relief" factor for Nowitzki after winning his long-sought NBA title. I suspect that something similar happened to the Philadelphia 76ers after winning the 1983 title.

Nowitzki's participation in FIBA events has undoubtedly added to the mileage on his body over the course of his career and may have played a role in his slow start this season. That is why Mark Cuban is opposed to the idea of NBA players taking part in FIBA play.

I agree with you that Nowitzki is underrated; I have been saying that for years. I would not put him on the same level as Bryant and Duncan but he is just below them, which is still very exclusive company.

 
At Thursday, May 10, 2012 5:47:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Happydaze:

If the possibility of quickly adding young talent to his roster were not realistic it is certainly possible that Cuban would have been more apt to keep his team together but there is no way to know for sure; after all, he got rid of Steve Nash because he worried about Nash's durability and Nash is still playing at a high level several years later. Cuban has proven both that he is willing to spend money to win a championship and that he will not spend money on players who he considers to be aging and/or overpaid.

 
At Thursday, May 10, 2012 9:39:00 AM, Anonymous DanielSong39 said...

I keep hearing rumors about Deron Williams coming to Dallas so this may be Cuban's next big move.

While Deron Williams is not an elite player, he is certainly one of the top 20 players in the league and would help make Dallas into a championship contender.

 
At Thursday, May 10, 2012 11:57:00 AM, Anonymous boyer said...

Dirk is certainly a great player, and probably in the top 30-40 range all time, but he's a huge step down from Kobe or Duncan. He's clearly not as good offensively as Kobe is, and nowhere near as good defensively as Kobe has been.

We could say similar things about Kobe having to wait 7 years between his 02 and 09 title about taking it easy the next year. But, that didn't happen. He led the lakers to the 10 title as well. This is just one difference between Dirk and Kobe. Kobe doesn't take time off. He won't let himself get out of shape. His mind is completely set on winning and being the best he can be. Not that I blame Dirk for partying so much, but he doesn't credit the Kobe which Kobe deserves for his work ethic.

In some ways Dirk is certainly underrated, and he's been bashed unfairly at times. However, he's overrated in some ways, too. He won an MVP he had no business winning for one. And whatever excuses people want to make for him, he still was part of possibly the biggest nba finals collapse in history, and against a team that certainly wasn't a great title team. And he lost in the first round to #8 seed GS, but so did Duncan last year to memphis. Every time Kobe's teams were #1 seeds, which has only happened 4x, they have reached the finals, winning 3 of them. Also, Dirk has played multiple AS and good teams pretty much his entire career, so he certainly has had many chances. And while he gets credit for gutting it out last year, it had to take one of the strangest occurrences from a supposed superstar ever in lebron just quitting on his team, again.

 
At Thursday, May 10, 2012 6:45:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Daniel Song 39:

It is no secret that Cuban is trying to acquire Williams and/or Dwight Howard. That is precisely why Cuban did not attempt to retain the services of Chandler, Barea et. al; this freed up the cap space to go after Williams and Howard, whether via free agency or trade.

 
At Thursday, May 10, 2012 6:49:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Boyer:

I clearly stated that Nowitzki is not on the same level historically as Bryant or Duncan but I think that your critiques of Nowitzki are a bit harsh; Nowitzki is a very skilled offensive player, a 50/40/90 guy at his peak (50% FG/40% 3FG/ 90% FT) who also developed into a good passer. Nowitzki has never been a great defender but he put forth the effort to become an adequate defender within the confines of Rick Carlisle's system. Nowitzki was also a first rate rebounder during his prime, though he has declined in that area as he has aged.

I don't think that Nowitzki "partied" during the offseason as much as he simply took time off from his usual training regimen--in part, as Oliver mentioned, because Nowitzki played for Germany during the summer. No one knew exactly when or if there would be an NBA season, so Nowitzki was hardly the only player who was not fully prepared for the season to start.

That said, you are right that Bryant's dedication to always being prepared and always being in shape sets him apart from all but a very few players in the history of the sport.

 
At Thursday, May 10, 2012 9:10:00 PM, Anonymous boyer said...

I hardly think I was unfair to Dirk, calling him a top 30-40 player all time, but he's just not in Duncan or Kobe's neighborhood of greatness. While many players were out of shape to start the season, I hardly think that's a good excuse, especially for a great player like Dirk. He was so out of shape, he had to take 4 games off, that's pathetic, and I think that had a lot to do with the mavs slow start and as poor of a seed that they received.

But, yes, Dirk has put in the time to improve his weaknesses. And I said partied because I thought that's what Dirk admittedly said, but maybe he didn't. Whatever we want to call it, he certainly took it easy.

 
At Thursday, May 10, 2012 9:21:00 PM, Blogger Awet M said...

Ah, I apologize for implying that you did not write about such.

Just that I was curious if you will write about those teams in an upcoming full-length article, not that you "should have talked about them" in the article. Just that the Spurs aren't as sexy as the just-dethroned champs or the glamorous Lakers or the villainous Heat or the earnest Thunder, and don't get much coverage.

Sorry for the implication.

I enjoy every one of your posts, for they are definitely the best ones about basketball, even if you do go to the well of narratives too often. :)

 
At Friday, May 11, 2012 4:00:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Boyer:

I did not "excuse" Nowitzki's lack of preparedness; I explained it. I agree with you that pros should always be ready but keep in mind that Nowitzki played in the NBA Finals, then played for Germany and he had no way of knowing when the season would begin. He took some time off to refresh his body, not to party, but then the season suddenly began and it took him some time to find his groove. This is why Cuban does not like the idea of NBA players participating in FIBA events.

 
At Friday, May 11, 2012 4:01:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Awet:

OK.

 
At Friday, May 11, 2012 5:29:00 PM, Anonymous boyer said...

And those are a few of the reasons that separates Dirk from players like Kobe, well, really anyone from Kobe, which is why Dirk is clearly not on Kobe's level. There was still hope of a season, so Dirk should've been in shape. Most players were ready to go by opening day. And Kobe played in qualifying events for the usa because lebron and company didn't get it done in previous tries. And then he played in the olympics in 08, and followed that up with 2 titles in 09 and 10. Kobe had at least, if not probably more, mileage on himself at that pt. than Dirk did. He certainly played a lot of basketball, but still no excuse for not being in shape. I don't know any other player in the nba that didn't time off during the season to get in better shape, do you, especially someone as good as Dirk?

 
At Friday, May 11, 2012 6:04:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

boyer:

I honestly don’t know what you mean by saying that Kobe didn’t get the credit he deserves and if you were referring to my comment.

I was only referring to what I think could be one of the reasons that the Mavs and especially Dirk didn’t make it out of the first round this year.
And I still believe that it is totally different to win a ring at the beginning of your career and at the end of your career. I don’t get what this has to do with how many years one has to wait between his first three rings and the next two.

Sorry, if I’m totally misinterpreting this, but everything you say about Dirk seems to be relativizing. You say that he is great, but then you follow that up with “but”. (I can argue about how good the Mavs teams through the years really were without Dirk, how great of a player Josh Howard, Devin Harris, DeSagana Diop, Erick Dampier or Devean George were/are, about the first round exit to the Warriors, that while Dirk didn’t play his best ball, Dirks father got serious health problems during that playoffs which led to him having a very risky surgery at that time and Avery Johnson, if only half of the stories about him which got out of Dallas were true, doing a horrible job of managing this team. I can argue about how it is possible that Miami wasn’t a great title team while on the other hand winning the championship when 29 other teams didn’t, that Dallas got to that finals through one of the best playoff competition in the Western Conference in years. Okay, I actually now did argue about that. But it remains a fact that Dirk didn’t play good enough in this series and part of the blame has to be laid on him. But then again, which Hall of Famer or which of their teams didn’t have bad playoff series?

So the Mavs only won, because LeBron quit? If the Lakers had faced the Heat in last years finals and would have beaten them, I wonder if you still had attributed this to LeBron quitting or to the Lakers being the better team. I personally think that it is totally unimportant if a team/player has the potential to win. It is important to actually win. And if there was no manipulation involved, the winning team is always the deserved winner.

To suggest that Dirk is or has ever been lazy and doesn't have a work ethic compareable to Kobes is ridiculous.
He made the wrong decisions that lead to him being not that good prepared as he himself wished to be. It surely wasn’t that he didn’t want to be prepared. The reason that led to his wrong decisions is/could be what I tried to explain. Winning his first championship after such a long period and winning his first ring and then not pausing but playing for Germany, factored with the lockout led to this.
I don’t hesitate to say that Dirk and Kobe have the same high level work ethic. That’s what you hear about both players from teammates and coaches they worked with. Both are equally tough in my opinion (yes I did say that).
The difference between Kobe and Dirk is that Kobe is more talented than Dirk and that Kobe has that little extra fire in him that no one else in this league seems to have.

I don’t want to start an unnecessary fight here and somehow leading this discussion even further away from Davids article. Of course I appreciate it, if you respond to my comment, if you feel that I have criticized your comment unjustified. I just won’t engage in this discussion in this section any further.

Thanks for sharing your opinion.

To state it one last time. I think that both, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan are/have been better players than Dirk Nowitzki. Now that Dirk is gone I actually root for Kobe and Tim to get another ring. Although it seems as if TD has clearly a better chance than Kobe.

Oliver

 
At Friday, May 11, 2012 6:56:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Boyer:

As I have mentioned throughout the season, field goal percentages and scoring are down while turnovers are up, which is also what happened during the previous lockout-shortened season. It is safe to say that many players came back in less than optimal condition and that the nature of this season made it difficult for them to get back into optimal condition.

I know that you highly respect Kobe Bryant; I highly respect Kobe Bryant, too. However, I do not take the point of view that it is necessary to denigrate other great players to somehow further prove Bryant's greatness. Nowitzki is a great player in his own right and his career should not be unfairly nitpicked any more than Bryant's career should be unfairly nitpicked.

 
At Friday, May 11, 2012 11:32:00 PM, Anonymous boyer said...

I've given Dirk the credit he deserves. I'm not denigrating him to some type of average player. Not sure how saying he's a top 30-40 player all-time is denigrating, but fine.

Just saying that there's no excuse for Dirk not being ready to play. Not sure how that's unfair. Shouldn't be too much to ask someone who's making around 20mil/year, is it? I would be unfairly nitpicking Dirk if I didn't feel the same way about any other player not being ready to play, and that's not the case. And being out of shape isn't minor, it is in fact a major obstacle, especially in Dirk's case having to miss 4 games and costing his team at least 2-3 spots in seedings. I don't buy it. If he was seriously hurt or ill, that's different, but that's not the case. And this goes for any other player that was out of shape, but Dirk's case was well publicized this year, and he actually had to miss 4 games, which I haven't heard any other player having to do, so he seems like an extreme case. But, he still managed an AS caliber season.

Oliver, wanting and actually doing are 2 entirely different things. Everyone wants to be ready to play, but not everyone will put in the time. This year lebron said he wanted to shoot 80% FT, but guess what, he doesn't want to put in the time to do this so far, so he hasn't shot this well from the line.

I don't really have to 'suggest' Dirk was lazy or always has a great work ethic, because Dirk confirmed what I 'suggested.' It's one thing to be slightly out of shape at certain pts. so that you can't play 40+ mpg, this happens to everyone because of injuries, illness, etc. But, it's an entirely other thing to lag around for 3-4 weeks playing very subpar for Dirk's standards, and then actually have to miss 4 games.

My pt. is that Dirk has been a great player, and a player I actually like, but he's just a significant step down from Kobe or Duncan.

And Avery Johnson is hardly an awful coach. Here's his records as mavs coach: 16-2, 60-22, 67-15, 51-31. Pretty stellar, if you ask me. I know David sometimes makes an excuse for GS having a gimmicky offense in 07, and it was a bad matchup for dallas, but dallas should've won fairly easily. They won 67 games during that reg. season. Dirk was just awful in that series, and Barnes was right that you could punk Dirk, and it worked, though Dirk has gotten tougher since then, but still not exactly a very tough guy.

I give Dirk credit for winning last year and loved it. But, I'm also aware that it took an extremely bizarre performance from Lebron and the worst nba finals performance by a player(lebron) relative to reg. season performance. He could've still played poorly, but all he had to do was give full effort, and the heat win, just very bizarre.

 
At Friday, May 11, 2012 11:39:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Boyer:

If Nowitzki had done his normal training regimen this summer after playing in the Finals and then going straight into FIBA play it is possible that he would have sustained some kind of injury. He probably needed some time off mentally and physically. Ideally should he have been in better condition by the time the season began? Yes but things did not work out that way.

I believe that Johnson is a good coach but his big mistake in the Dall-G.S. series was that he changed his lineup to adapt to the eighth seed as opposed to playing the same way that he had all season long. The Mavs posted the best record in the league playing a certain way but then he tried to play a different way against G.S.

The main point of this article was to use Dallas' failed repeat attempt as an example of how difficult it is to win multiple titles, not to directly compare Bryant's career with Nowitzki's.

 

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