And just like that, it's over. From an outsiders view, it might seem silly to invest this much time, energy and emotion into something that ends just like this, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
Before the Mavericks move onto the next test, the postseason, MMB takes its look back at the season as a whole. Here's part two of the end of the year report. If you missed part one, it's a very worthy prequel.. Now, sit back, maybe grab a cold beverage if you happen to be at home, and enjoy reflecting bad over the highs and lows this season had to offer.
5. Do you feel as if the Mavericks should have made a move at the trade deadline?
Lisa Rotter: Nope. I know not everyone agrees with me on this one, but I'm a big believer in chemistry of a team. If you look at the teams who made blockbuster moves, it's easy to see how important it is to feel comfortable with your teammates. Look at the Nuggets and the Knicks. And even though the Heat have had their success, the three new guys are still trying to settle in. As far as the Mavericks go, just about every guy in the locker room has commented that this is the best team they've ever been a part of. Whether or not that translates into a championship obviously remains to be seen, but you can't deny that these guys appreciate the relative stability of the team.
Tim Cato: No, absolutely not. Gerald Wallace, Stephen Jackson, Tayshaun Prince, Andre Iguodala -- they are all good players, but even for those which were available, I don't feel as if any of them give the Mavericks a guaranteed (or pretty close, at least) championship team. With the expiring CBA, with another huge free agent market just around the corner, and with any of those deals requiring the top (and kind of the only) prospect on one's team, those deals were not worth it. The Mavericks would be swamped in financial depth, despite being just a year away from some cap space. I have a lot more to saw on this, so watch for a trade deadline article to be arriving in the coming weeks.
J0shi: In retrospect? Yes. At that time? No. Several teams were high on Roddy and I think it was absolutely no mistake to keep him. Plus you have virtually no guarantee that guys like Crash or Prince or Jax would perform on a high level for this team now. Worst case: You end up with another overpaid multi-year contract and Roddy is performing well at Detroit or Charlotte in a friendlier environment for his development. I said it earlier this year: It was a complete gamble because you couldn't get an extended look at the team with Roddy before the deadline. Who is to blame?
6. Which game was the best/your favorite of the year?
Lisa: Obviously the victory over the Heat in Miami. And not just because I was sitting front and center and could practically smell the players. Because the Mavericks came in to American Airlines Arena like somebody had just insulted their momma. They showed some of their best basketball, and played a complete game. They didn't let the intimidation factor or the supposed weight of the game hinder them at all, and they put the Heat away in convincing fashion. It was one of the most exciting things I've witnessed. Ha, see what I did there?
J0shi: I have to say at Salt Lake City, December, 3rd. It was arguably the best defensive game the Mavs have played all season. On the one hand: Because it was a great defensive performance. But on the other hand: Because it was in an arena where you normally just can't go out and dominate the home team the way we did in the second half and especially in that 4th quarter. For me, this game stands for the early season success the Mavs had.
Travis: @Oklahoma City on December 27th. This was the game where Dirk went down with a knee injury and the Mavs were behind in the 3rd quarter. That's a game you don't expect many teams to win--on the road against a great up-and-coming team, missing your star player, and losing late. But the Mavs showed incredible heart in coming back and really dominating the last 6-8 minutes of the game. Tyson Chandler and Jason Terry were phenomenal. It's so unfortunate that Caron Butler went out with his patella tendon injury just a few days later, because I think that win showed how insanely good the Mavs could have been this year with him healthy.
7. Give one word that best describes the season so far, and why you picked it.
We've seen it all before. The Mavericks have stretches of unbridled success intermittently marred by ugly losses. They go through bad swings, and still manage to get their 50 wins and a trip to the playoffs. They get broadsided by devastating injury, only to recover in impressive fashion and climb back up the standings. It's just typical.
This has been a terrific season at times. The Mavs have been one of the best teams in the league over the course of the year, and at several points were looking like THE best team. I say it's bittersweet, though, because I'm not sure this team will have enough in the playoffs without Caron Butler. It's unfortunate a fairly durable player like him suffered a season-ending injury in what was otherwise such a promising season. That's why it's been bittersweet for me.
Its been extremely hard to judge this team because their play has ranged from near-perfect to horrendous. They've blown out elite teams, they been blown out by bad teams, they've won the fourth game in five nights, they've lost with three days rest. There's no predicting what this team will do because they were so up and down.
8. Which injury hurt the Mavericks the most this year? How different would this team be if that player was healthy/had been healthy the entire year?
J0shi: Caron's and Dirk's injuries were huge blows. Remember 24-5? Me neither. But I think having Roddy for the whole season would have paid off more. Either way. Just to realize that he might not be the player everybody thought he was or having more time developing him into the player we all thought he would be.
DOH: Beaubois, because he has the most upside [of all Mavs] that needs to be realized, which can only happen through experience, game growth and practice. Young players don't get better by sitting on the bench. They get better by playing what they're learning. If he would've been healthy all year, he could've been a lot further in his development into wing superstar. Alas, time is essence.
Tim: I have to go Caron. I've seen and heard many people devalue his performance and insist that it was just a hot streak before falling back to Earth, but from what I saw of him, he was here to stay. I don't know why it was so ridiculous, either. This is a player with back to back years of 20+ points per game scoring on a bad team with two other scorers who took a lot of shots. In the final twenty games before his injury, he seemed to have found his groove. His three point percentage was going to fall, but he appeared to have a better stroke with arc. An old dog can learn new tricks, and Butler had much better in his half season with Dallas as well. Roddy, given a full season, might have made this team a contender, but it's not a guarantee. With Butler, this team was one.
9. Which minor thing was blown out of proportion the most?
Lisa: When Rick Carlisle called the Mavericks soft, he was being Rick Carlisle. The guy is a brilliant coach and also pretty damn funny when he wants to be. He knows what he's saying when he says it, so when he called the Mavericks soft, he wasn't trying to incite a riot or publicly call out the players to inspire them to play harder. He was just being a coach describing the not-so-impressive showing by his team. That's what I think, anyway. Maybe he really had a diabolical plan to subliminally communicate with the players and he's really controlling ALL of our minds... beep bop boop!
J0shi: I am sorry, but I definitely say Tyson Chandler's impact on the defensive end. Guys, I really like that dude, but statistically it's just not there. Take aside the overall defensive categories, but even in areas where he should have an impact ... nothing. Points in the Paint. Blocks per game. Points per Game, Rebounds per Game or Shooting Percentages of the opposing Center. I know his value goes beyond the stats, but numbers-wise I can't see it, at least not over the course of the whole season.
A second minor thing is Caron Butler to come back in a possible second round. He got all my respect for his tenacity and ambition but it won't happen. The second round starts in about four weeks from now and he is not doing anything beyond shooting set jumpers. Let's keep this honest: It's a long shot.
DOH: A deserving candidate is the "Zone Defense makes the Mavs D good", which was used most often by the Mavs of all NBA Teams, but only 12.5 Percent of the Time. That's half a quarter per game, folks. And it's been reduced after the turrible January. It may throw the unprepared opponent off, but the guards have to be very quick and alert in covering a lot of ground upfront to prevent the ball going inside to the five or the open Jumper, so it's not like Jose Barea, Jason Terry or Jason Kidd would actually deliver the necessary length and footspeed to stop western Playoff Foes consistently with it.