Here is a pretty good and very long interview Dirk did with the German edition of NBA.com about his mindset going into the playoffs. I hope nobody has posted/translated this yet and of course it was done before the win in game 1 last night just after the last regular season game, but it is still a good series preview. Translation follows after the jump.
Recorded by David Digili
THE PLAYOFFS ARE LIKE A CHESS MATCH
Dirk: Another season is over - 13 seasons now, that is pretty crazy. There were a few ups and downs. I had to take my longest injury break this year, three weeks. But I feel good again now, we finished the season well and now of course we are looking forward to the playoffs. It will likely be a tough matchup, but let's see what happens.
Question: The Mavs have been overlooked a bit the last few weeks, there was more talk about the Spurs or the Lakers. How does that influence the mood of the team? Is a "now more than ever" defiant mentality building up there?
Dirk: I don't know. You can't really listen to all those journalists and so-called experts anyway. I think everything is possible. We have shown the whole season that we can win important games, also on the road. If we are healthy, we are a very deep team. When Jason Terry and Shawn Marion come off the bench, we are stacked very deep. I do think we can win a few games in the playoffs; and we'll see what the outcome will be in the end. Ten days ago we unfortunately lost three, four games, then the mood of course wasn't so great, but lately we have stood well again especially on defense which is very important for us and for the playoffs. Yesterday we ended the season on a high note, now I hope that we can take this momentum into our game on Saturday, and then we'll see what is possible in round one.
How do you think the matchup with Portland's Gerald Wallace will work out?
I think Portland is a very good team on defense, they have very physical guards that give us problems, and they also have a lot of size on the forward and center positions with Camby and Aldridge. Gerald Wallace was a very important trade for them just before the deadline, he fits them very well and also plays a great season until now. But: We've got our hands full, there are very difficult matchups on all positions.
For me personally: I think I've always been able to adapt well - when a taller player guards me I move out a bit further, when a smaller player like Gerald Wallace guards me I'll be closer to the edge of the zone. We will have to use my size advantages. Let's see how it works. In our last game two weeks ago they guarded me with a taller guy, that time Aldridge guarded me. We'll have to see what the playoffs are bringing game to game. That's the good thing about the playoffs: They are like a chess match, where you have to see from game to game, change things up to counter your opponent. It will definitely be a fun first round.
Do you have certain mannerisms, quirks or superstitions in the playoffs?
In principle I try to do exactly the same, I prepare the same way all the time no matter if it is a regular season game or a playoff game. I sleep for one, two hours before the game, and always eat my pasta. Also when it's a game for the national team. That will be my motto also for this year in the playoffs, always give it everything I got, always prepare the same way.
The European Championships are coming up in late summer. Will you be in Lithuania playing for Germany?
That's way down the road for me. At the moment only the NBA playoffs count for me, and hopefully I'll finally reach my goal this year. If not, we'll have to sit down together over the summer. Planned was that I'll be with the team at the European Championships, but now I first want to see how we get through the playoffs, hopefully we will play long, hopefully into June, hopefully I get through without injuries. Those are all factors, I will have to wait and see for one, two months. But yeah it was planned that I will play at the EC.
If there really is a lockout - do we see Dirk Nowitzki in the jersey of Bayern Munich [where his national team coach is the head coach], ALBA Berlin [club with arguably the most prestige and tradition in Germany] or Bamberg [basically his home town team also with a long tradition]?
That is also still much too far away for me. The lockout would only start in July, and there one has to wait and see. At the moment both sides are still far away from each other, but I think within one week or even within one meeting a lot can change there. We will have to see if regular season games really will be cancelled or if the season starts in November. Those are all questions that can't be answered up to now. What is certain is that I need an option if the season gets cancelled. I have always said I won't let a whole season go to waste and just sit around and wait until there is a game some time. You have to look around and search for options and opportunities. But this is all still too far away. Whether Germany becomes an option then, I can't confirm that right now. There was a lot of speculation about that already, even though that is all still too far away. Those are all just speculations, there is no favorite team at all and no plans to play in Europe. Like I said: I hope the NBA season starts in November, and then I would stay in Dallas.
Except for your rookie season you play the fewest minutes of your career. Is that noticeable regarding the playoffs?
I feel good! Of course I also had three weeks during the injury break, and then it took a while until I was fairly up to speed again. But now I feel good for the playoffs, and I think that we got our minutes down a bit was the plan to begin with. Also for Jason Kidd, who turned 38 this year, we wanted to get his minutes down; that's why he just got a week off before the playoffs so he can really be in top fitness. I think that I can spend a few more minutes on the bench is also just a credit to our bench. Then Shawn Marion plays the '4' for me, when I'm out. He did that very well in the last few weeks, almost got 20 and 10. I hope he can conserve this shape into the playoffs.
Is your family in Dallas to support you?
My father is there and just sitting at the pool. My mother stayed at home. And [personal development coach and mentor] Holger is there, as always before the playoffs.
How does the preparation change in the playoffs?
Everything is a little bit more intensive. When you prepare for a team during the season you have one day maximum, then you go through a couple of systems and that's it. But in the playoffs you prepare so intensively and focused on a team that sometimes when their point guard calls a play in the first game, your players already know exactly which system they'll now run. It's the same the other way around, when we call a system they know exactly what's coming. Then of course we try to take the opponent out of their system. Then it depends: Who has the better individual players? Who has the better defense? It's just always a fun time, because every game is so important. One game in the playoffs can change the whole momentum of the series. That's why I hope we immediately start well into the series. Last season unfortunately we lost one of our first two home court games and then lost the series. So because of that of course I hope we can win the first two games here at home. That would be the optimum. It starts on Saturday, everybody is fit and looking forward to the game. The people are happy, it's sold out and will be a great atmosphere.
Who are your favorites? How do you see the your team?
I think we are right up there. Among the best teams everything is open, so you'll have to see. I think the Lakers are still the top favorites if Bynum is healthy. Everything beyond that is wide open. The Spurs played a gigantic season, but stumbled a bit the last one, two weeks. Yet for sure you have to account for them once the playoff starts. Oklahoma to me is a bit like the dark horse, they moved Jeff Green for Kendrick Perkins before the trade deadline and he fits very well to them, makes them a bit tougher under the basket. And of course they have one of the best players in the league with Durant. They are just very dangerous. But also at the bottom - I mean Portland and Memphis, they are in the 8th spot this year, and they are a dangerous team for San Antonio in round one. I think the West is pretty strong. Let's see how it goes in the end. I think there are some very good matchups. The playoffs will be fun for the viewers.
Can Roddy Beaubois' speed be decisive against the pretty slow set play of the Trail Blazers?
Of course we would have liked to play him longer. Now I have seen that he was hurt and didn't finish the last game. We'll have to see, I think he has an appointment with the team doctor now. Of course we hope that it's nothing serious and that he can play in the playoffs [sprained ankle, missed game one]. I have always said that we can use his explosiveness and his speed, his athleticism. Because Kidd is a couple of years older and J.J. Barea sometimes a bit too small I have always said that Roddy can bring an additional factor to our game, that he gets us ahead. Now of course we all hope that the injury he sustained isn't so bad and that he is healthy in the playoffs for us. We have let him start a lot in the last two months, and I think he struggled a bit with his his role, but I think that in some games in the playoffs he can push the tempo for us and change the whole momentum a bit. That he is an important player even if he comes off the bench.
What role, what importance does Tyson Chandler have for the team?
When I was asked in November and December I already said that he is a bit like our MVP of the season, because he's just our anchor on defense. He is always in the right position, very athletic for a center, he is loud, he talks a lot, communicates a lot during the game and during the timeouts. Also in the locker room he is a guy who always tries to communicate, who tries to motivate everyone. He is just a very important player for us, and I hope that he - he was also a bit hurt in the last few weeks, twisted his ankle and was gone for a game or two, then he had something with the back and was gone for one, two more games - that he goes healthy into the playoffs. Just like I think Haywood will be very important in the series against Portland, because Aldridge is very good in the low post, so we can use both centers very well. In the last game both have performed very well, when they rotate and actively defend and shut down the zone for us, then we are a very good team on defense. Then you can build on that. If Chandler and Haywood play like that, then I look forward to the playoffs very positively.