The Mavericks played the best game of the season tonight. It was a grand culmination of factors coming together in unison, and it was glorious. If the disappointment of this season had beaten you down at all, this game was a perfect reminder of why we are fans and why we are so concerned about something that's merely a game.
Now to the better question: what does this win mean? Well, that's a complex answer.
Let's first break down the factors that went into this win. Number one is simple: the Mavericks shot the ball very, very well. I mean, when you have Shawn Marion hitting two three pointers, it pretty much sums up how your night is going.
Second, it's completely fair to admit that Memphis was not their normal selves. They're a very good team, but coming off of a hard-fought overtime victory of the Spurs the previous night clearly wore on them. Had they lost, perhaps they would have come out with a vengeance to right the wrongs of the previous night, but they hadn't, and they didn't. Memphis doesn't get a mulligan, but it's safe to say the Mavericks had a one-shot handicap before they teed off.
The third factor, though, is what makes things interesting. The unselfish ball movement shown tonight was on a level similar to their 2011 Championship run. It was brilliant back and forth passes, resulting in a lot of touches and a lot of good looks. More importantly, it was smart. The Mavericks committed just 9 turnovers while still staying aggressive and keeping a quick-tempo the entire night.
Teams have on and off shooting days, and they played both fatigued and rested opponents. However, unselfish ball movement is not usually something that fluctuates quite like the first two. Before this game, I didn't know that these Mavericks were capable of this level of play. We now know it's possible.
If the Mavericks are going to improve, I feel like this is one of their last real shots to do so and actually make it count. Dirk's back and he's finally adjusted to the team, but even he can't dig the Mavericks out of a hole much bigger than the one they've already dug for themselves. Last game, they conquered their overtime problems, and tonight, they continued taking steps -- strides, even -- in the right direction.
So, let's see where the river takes us.
* The first quarter actually started off somewhat poorly, with yet another Kaman-jumper-palooza. Fearless is one word to describe his mentality. Unfortunately, Josh Howard-esque is another.
* Kaman turned it around, though, finishing with a line of 14 points on 13 shots, seven rebounds and just one turnover. Since I already brought up J-Ho, I don't feel bad pointing out that Kaman kinda plays a very similar role on this team. In his closing years with the Mavericks, when his defense had slowed and his cuts and drives to the rim had all but vanished, Josh Howard could still score the heck out of his mid-range jumper. It wasn't too efficient, but it the Mavericks rolling until Dirk & Friends could take over. Sound like anyone you know?
* Shawn Marion was huge. He's always had a knack for knowing where to go to find an opening, and tonight he was just showing off. Fast break, half court, and even hit those couple threes I mentioned. Season-high 20 points for him.
* 17 on just eight shots, and just like that, Dirk is back to his efficient self. I'm sure we're have a few more rough patches, but this was nice to see. The sexiest thing about his game has always been his ability to do more with less. That and his tongue face.
* Elton Brand. Play that man.
* No but serious, he grabbed 9 rebounds in 18 minutes, scored 10 points on 6 shots, and had a block. Finally, the Mavericks have a big man who actually plays on both ends. Provided he actually plays, of course.
* Good tempo from the point guards, Collison and Beaubois. Good shot making from Mayo, who could use a nice shot of confidence. Good killer instinct, which kept pouring it on a wounded Grizzlies, instead of pulling up and letting an opponent back in like previous games.
* There's nothing actually worth complaining about tonight, just enjoy a glorious game. It might be the last one for a while.