Practically every piece of commentary on the Mavs exit from the playoffs and their season comes to the feel-good conclusion that the Mavs were "beaten by a better team," "should be proud of themselves," or "had a great season." Such an attitude is an insult to a team that won 67 games two years ago and whose core went to the NBA Finals. We're proud of a team that gave up 124 points in a must win game to Denver? To hell with that, I'm disgusted with them.
At least I have some good company. Dirk said in his exit interview: "It's only a successful season if you win a title." Exactly. This is an unsuccessful team. Bottom line. What are we, Hawks fans, who are happy just to have made it past the first round?
I'd feel differently if this team's gaping hole wasn't fixable. It's defense, and the fact is that this team had a top ten defense in the league last year, and it's now in the land of mediocrity. Heck, our defense is closer to the Oklahoma City Thunder than it is to the Denver Nuggets. How could such a thing happen? We upgraded our defense at the 2 spot for a good chunk of the minutes this year. Was Diop and Devin Harris the linchpin of our defense?Yikes.
I'd be willing to pin this on personnel changes or injuries if I hadn't seen embarassing game after embarassing game of little effort on the defensive end. It's like Carlisle took all year to make sure his offense was prepped for the post-season (which he did), but--oops--he forgot about the defense.
So, no, I'm not willing to admit we lost to a better team. I'm not happy about getting past the first round, and I'm definitely not on the "Let's just get some new names on the roster, and we'll be fine" bandwagon. The defensive issues this team has are core to everyone, from top to bottom, and that will not be fixed by simply trading a Barea for an Artest. It will help, but it won't get you where you need to be on the defensive end. That takes commitment and a total buy-in from the entire team. And I haven't seen that all year.
That is the story of these playoffs: A team unwilling (not unable, unwilling) to play defense, and that is not worth celebrating in any form or fashion.