Game 1 both did and didn't go exactly as we expected it to. The Mavericks lost by five, which is pretty much what we expected. The game was a defensive slugfest throughout, which we didn't expect.
The Mavericks completely crapped away a lead midway through the fourth quarter, which we expected. The Mavericks were ahead by nine at one point, and led for most of the game, which we didn't expect.
This was a weird game, but it shouldn't surprise anybody that the Mavs found the one way to play and lose this game so that the loss could still rip at the hearts of every Dallas fan who still expected the Mavericks to lose. That's what these Mavericks do: they're fun, and they're fun to watch, but they're also heartache and agony every damn game.
After such a weird game, and with the hangover setting in, we here at Mavs Moneyball come bearing some retrospective reactions.
This was probably not a "must win" game
I've seen a lot about how this game was a "must win," or, that being ahead by so much against the Spurs was the Mavericks' "only chance" to win a game, and to make an impact. That's just patently not true.
Sure, the Mavericks were stupid, and it's probably not ideal to lose a nine point lead to probably the best team in the league with no guarantee that you'll be able to build such a lead again, but these Mavericks are not ideal. They don't do ideal things. They make you pull out your hair and rage-eat brownies in the media room at halftime. It's how they get their jollies.
If the Mavericks win any other game in this series, that loss is totally forgiven. It was just too "Mavs" to seem exceptional or exceptionally bad. They lose leads. It's what they do. All we Mavs fans really want, I think, is to win a game. We just don't wanna be swept.
So we didn't win Game 1. That would have been too easy anyway. These Mavericks want to dangle us, make us wallow in our own discomfort and misery screaming "JESUS CHRIST JUST WIN A GAME SO I CAN FEEL BETTER PLEASE," or "VINCE PLEASE STOP NO MORE" or "NO NO NO NO NO MONTA, YESSS!!" No, these Mavericks have to wait til the last possible moment to get their win, if they get it at all. That's just what they do.
The Mavericks played defense?
The Mavericks' defensive scheme was far and away the weirdest part of this game. It was unlike anything we've seen all season, and it's the kind of scheme that typically gets teams ripped apart, but it kind of worked, in this game.
Basically, instead of what they've been doing -- run a more or less traditional defense with lots of switching down low to try and make up for Calderon and Monta, with, hopefully, a body ultimately by the basket at the end -- they decided to switch on everything.
They didn't even just switch assignments on picks: if two players ran at each other, and the Mavs couldn't keep up, they switched. If there was a mismatch because of all the switching and two players happened to be near each other, they switched. If Calderon was on the floor, he probably just switched accidentally. Switch happens.
And, as it happens, these Spurs never stop moving, so at times it was actually hard to keep up with what Maverick was guarding who, because they would be switching while in the process of switching. It was madness!
And yet, it was actually pretty well executed. Despite the pace, the Spurs only scored 90 points, with a scoring rate of 97.1 points per 100 possessions. That would be a bottom 5 offense over the regular season.
All the switching meant that, ultimately, there were always bodies on Spurs players at three-point line. Because of all the switching, the Spurs got whatever they wanted inside, but they kept getting run off of the three-point line, which is such a huge part of their game that they really struggled.
If you don't think Carlisle's a genius by now, then I don't know what to tell you. There's only so much you can do with this Mavs personnel, but somehow he keeps maximizing their utility defensively. We can't stop everything, but we can at least stop their three-point shooting, apparently. Carlisle is pretty incredible.
It'll be interesting, too, to see how Pop adjusts to that next game.
The next game will be nothing like this game
I can guarantee you that the next game will be nothing like Game 1. Pop will adjust to the defense, and Carlisle will have to come up with something else. As a result, someone like Kawhi or Danny Green might have a bigger game, and Tony Parker might have a worse one.
Devin Harris will not shoot 50% from three, and Dirk Nowitzki will not only score 11 points. Vince probably will continue his trend of playing horrifically in big-game situations, but he might also hit a few frustratingly big baskets, unlike last game. It's hard to say whether or not Monta will have another good game because who the hell even understands what Monta Ellis is about anyway? He's like the Mavs' own pre-pubescent teenage girl: as soon as you think you have a sense of what or who he is, he completely flips the script.
When different players play well, and the defense stops doing exactly what it's supposed to do, the game will look completely different. This series is as much about coaching as anything else, so of course the Mavericks have to play the only coach in the league better than theirs.
Still, Carlisle may have won round one, even if the Spurs won the game. Yay?
It would be cool if the Mavericks could make a shot
You know, because they ended the game shooting like -200% from the floor, or something like that. The shooting was so bad that it seemed to open up a portal into an alternate universe where there was a Dirk who never actually got better from his rookie season, and that alternate universe Dirk replaced our Dirk for like six minutes and it was terrible and I never want to see that again.
In this alternate universe, though, Devin Harris also shot 50% from the field, could successfully execute a dream shake, sprouted wings from his shoulders in front of my very eyes, and did this:
But Devin Harris aside, I didn't like this alternate universe, and I really hope that the Mavericks can shoot better next game and not open up that portal again.
The Jae Crowder game?
Did Jae actually play really well at a professional level, and in a playoff environment, and contribute meaningfully to the Mavericks' lead and success? I don't really know. I think he did, but it didn't make sense to me. Our own Josh Bowe talks about Crowder's game here.
Still, I'm partially convinced that I'd blacked out from excitement, and just imagined him playing well. Someone back me up, here.
For the first quarter of the game, in which the Mavs got completely trounced, Sam Dalembert actually looked like he had woken up on time, and was ready for a playoff basketball game! He was good!
Then, after that first quarter, he was not good. Pizza Hands were back. They always come back. They will not be contained.
Game 2 is on Wednesday