Did you hear? The Mavericks clinched their playoff berth yesterday.
Twelve straight years, the Mavericks are competing for the Larry O'Brien trophy. Only this time, it's a little different: they're looking to defend it.
With that said, a game against the tanking Golden State Warriors doesn't really seem all that important. The Mavericks, through most of three quarters, seemed to agree.
When it came time, though, those players had no plans of losing. None at all. Delonte West ended the third quarter by burying a buzzer beating three after a crazy loose ball squirted out to him. A meager three point lead doubled, and momentum hung with them into the fourth. Vince Carter played 26 minutes, but Vinsanity showed up to begin that final frame. He scored eight straight points, turning the degree of difficulty way up, just the way he prefers it. An 18-footer by Dirk with five minutes left isn't what most people would call a dagger, but it was clear to everyone in the arena that nothing was going to happen to the eleven-point lead the Mavericks held onto.
And just like that, the final home game of the 2011-12 season is over. In a couple of games, the season will be too. For something that started in December, didn't it seem short? Yes, that's a trick question. It was obviously sixteen games shorter; thanks, lockout. Anyway, enough meandering, because there was actually some cool stuff that happened in the unshortened 48 minutes played tonight.
- The Wright/Mahinmi front court combination got some burn in the second quarter. This lineup will never be a big part of how Carlisle manages a game, simply because it's not compatible with Dirk. However, the two of them together were very active, very mobile. Constantly crashing the boards hard, and several offensive rebounds to show for it. Some solid finishes around the basket. Hard shows out top, quick rotations all around. I support the combination of them together, as meaningless as that is on team led by Dirk Nowitzki at power forward.
- The Kelenna Azubuike era began at the 8:45 mark of the second quarter.
- Can someone tell me who the hell Mickel Gladness is? Oh, you've never heard of him either? That's what I thought.
- Really glad to see Mahinmi hit all five free throws he attempted tonight. Ian has had some inconsistencies this year, but his play has improved in bounds from last year. The most disappointing thing to me is his free throw percentage falling as far as it did. Last year, he was confident 78% at the foul line, but that percentage has dropped all the way to 62% (before tonight, anyhow). A center whose a 78% foul shooter is just so valuable in this league, and it'd be lovely to see him get back to that.
- One thing to add to Carter's performance: he drew fouls. Sure, the driving, falling, fading one-footer will get on some highlight reels, but the four drives that resulted in a couple free throws are so much more appealing to me. It was mentioned in the telecast that the Mavericks are one of the few teams who have attempted more three pointers than free throws. Dirk is shooting fewer than ever, probably in an attempt to stay healthy and rested, so having a player able to drive and put points on the board with the clock stopped is even more important.
- Brandan Wright had 17 points on 8-9 shooting. Ho-hum, carry on.
- Bulls tomorrow night in a primetime game on ESPN. I love the Bulls because I love Derrick Rose, probably my favorite non-Maverick in the entire league. With that said, let's destroy them. Smash them like bubble wrap, if you'd prefer a simile. Don't care how we do it, who takes over, or what it takes...I want a game so viciously lop-sided the ESPN regrets deciding to air it. I don't think that's too much to ask.