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The Thunder Strike Three Times, Season Dims

Jason Terry broke into Rick Carlisle’s press conference last night to declare that Game 3 was Game 7.

We left Game 3 wishing we were that lucky.

I don’t know what to say, you know, I felt like Dirk wasn’t getting enough touches, but I wasn't right because he didn’t shoot well. I wasn’t wrong either because everyone else shot so poorly, you’d want them against you if you were being executed in 19th century Spain. Guarantee you, you’d walk out alive.

The first half sucked. Then, the second half started okay, and then it sucked. The Mavericks scored 31 points in the 2nd and 3rd quarter, total.

Those of you who felt that letting Tyson Chandler go was a huge mistake might have watched his old team and new team play basically the same game tonight and might have felt that you were watching a colossal waste. Others, fortified by the offseason to come, might suppose this a necessary pain.

Either way, the season tips towards its end.

It was, honestly, always on the way. The Mavs didn’t lose those first two games because they were right there, but couldn’t get over the hump, they lost those first two because the Thunder have three reliable scorers and some complementary ones, the Mavs have one reliable scorer and some complementary ones, the Thunder are fast, athletic and quick and the Mavs are so slow, the Greek philosopher Xeno refused to race them against that hare.

And, moreover it was always coming. I don’t believe in fate. I don’t believe you can know who’s going to win a title. Nobody picked the Mavs last year either, and it just isn’t over till it’s over. Durant missing that shot in game one, couple fouls going the other way in game 2, maybe the Mavs are up 2-1 in this series after this one, even THOUGH the Thunder are clearly leagues more talented. You really don’t know. And NOW you still on some level won’t know until loss #4 happens, whether that’s next game or in three games.

But, you did know that the Mavs leadership deliberately chose to have a worse team this year and, as Steve Kerr pointed out, they’d have to go through the teams that have won basically all of the championships of the last ten years except themselves and the 2003 Pistons, and if you thought the "three-headed monsters" looked bad against Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins, imagine how they’d look against Gasol and Bynum.

I’m sorry this sounds like a requiem. I actually will write one, when (if) the Mavs finally do get knocked out. Hasn’t actually happened yet, believe it or not.

But look. Dirk was 6-15 for 17 points, very much not great, especially for a guy with his playoff averages. But hey, Kevin Durant was 5-17 last night. He gets foul calls for breathing and Dirk doesn’t for getting punched in the face, so he still got 26, but the fact that he goes 5-17—or 10-27, both worse shooting percentages than Dirk’s 6-15—and his team has no problem either winning the game or, say, scoring over 80 points, tells you all you need to know.

It doesn’t matter how it happened. It isn’t about spirit. You can have a bad shooting night while wishing, so hard it makes you squint, that you were shooting well. You can have a bad shooting night even in the playoffs. Even when you’re down 0-2 and need a big game. It doesn’t matter that any shot that was not a shot from Dirk was a bad shot tonight, and that from Dirk it was a half-bad shot.

It doesn’t matter that it’s not clear that the Mavericks have gotten a single defensive stop this postseason, only that the Thunder have occasionally missed shots.

The Mavericks are almost certainly going to lose this series and they are almost certainly going to be completely different next year. It is not clear that single draft pick (looking at you Roddy) or a single center (looking at you Hay-Mahimni-Wright) or a single SG (Vince-Delonte-Terry) have any part in their future.

I wish I could complain about the refs (who have seriously sucked this series). I wish I could point to one or two or three things that shouldn't have happened. But when a jump shooting team can't make jumpers, they lose by a million. That's what it looks like.

Tonight, cuddle your 2010-2011 Championship DVDs tight, and give ‘em one of these.