I remember where I was for Game 3, because everyone remembers where they were for Game 3. I was in the press box at American Airlines Center, inappropriately yelling along with most of the rest of the media. (Except for Tim, who kept a mostly straight face through the whole celebration.)
But more generally, the last two games of this series happened during the first trip I took out to see my now-husband at the beginning of our long-distance relationship, three years ago yesterday. So I watched Game 6 in a loud Los Angeles bar near the airport, and Game 7 over bottomless mimosas and brunch between trips to the beach and the theater. (That was a really fun weekend.)
Anyway, enough of my sappy memories. We asked the staff: other than Game 3 (because everyone remembers where they were for Game 3), what are your favorite memories of that 2014 Mavs-Spurs first round series?
Oh, and make sure you read through to the end, for Josh’s Game 6 story.
It was 2014. That's a long time ago. That's DeJuan Blair. And he had a very, very mean and nasty campaign. Because they said this was the meanest and the nastiest.
I mean, had DeJuan Blair been a little later, you wouldn't have had the Game 7. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart, and he was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to Game 7. He said, "There's no reason for this." People don't realize, you know, Game 7, you think about it, why?
People don't ask that question. But why was there a Game 7? Why could that one not have been worked out?
Other than constant reminders the Mavs could've won that series, I think back to Game 4. Dallas was down by 20-something, clearly zapped of emotion from Game 3. But in the second half, DeJuan Blair turned into Jesus and willed the team back. Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon made big baskets and, eventually, gave Dallas the lead. That dang head kick forever haunts me. Game 6 was fun, as well. Backs against the wall, the Mavs somehow braved through the San Antonio storm and won that game. Those Mavericks never died. Even in Game 7, down by a bajillion points, you had a feeling something was going to happen.
That team was so fun. Most importantly, I remember how loud the crowd was. That crowd, in that series, had to be the second best atmosphere I've ever seen in a Dallas postseason. And that's from watching it on my TV. I miss those times.
What I remember most is not so much a single moment as it is the magisterial display of lineup alchemy that Rick Carlisle put on during the entire series.
Look at this roster. Look at it.
That roster had no business taking the Spurs to seven games, but Rick was able to get them there, out-dueling Popovich along the way. He found a defensive solution inside with Dejuan Blair and on the offensive end the Mavs were able to move the ball and get great open looks from three. In fact, four Mavericks, Carter, Harris, Crowder, and Calderon, shot better 42 percente from three in that series and as a team the Mavs shot 45 percent from the field in the series. Against a defensive juggernaut like San Antonio, that is utter madness.
I say this all the time: average coaches can take great talent and win, but great coaches can take average talent and win. Rick Carlisle is a great coach by this definition, even if the Mavericks didn't win that series.
This series started about a day before I moved back from McAllen, a town right on the border of Mexico and Texas. I had just moved back to the DFW area after, basically, giving up on my dream of being a newspaper sports reporter. I was in a weird place -- elated to be back in a familiar area with family and friends, but dejected because I felt I wasn't good enough to do the thing I went to school for. There were other, more pressing reasons for the move back at the time unrelated to my career, but that's what stuck in my brain and I couldn't get it out.
Then Game 6 happened. I went to a bar with a very close friend and it was the first time I felt normal. I didn't feel the weight of my future on my shoulders, I didn't have to answer questions about what was next and I didn't have the pressure to figure it out right then and there. All I had was my friend, a bar full of Mavericks fans and a glorious Mavericks team with about a million flaws but played their asses off under Rick Carlisle. I drank a lot that night, so much so that I'm fairly certain I yelled out during a crucial timeout in the fourth quarter "IF THE MAVERICKS LOSE THIS GAME I AM MURDERING EVERYONE IN THIS BAR!"
The Mavericks won -- the bar patrons lived another day. I was home.