If you’re looking for stats, you won’t find them here. If nuance and proper context pique your interest, this is not the piece for you. Instead, I will try to parse through the feelings die hard fans feel leading up to a do-or-die game.
After Game 1 - “We’re not in Kansas (Utah) anymore”
After Game 2 - “On one hand this series should be rated R for Gore and Violence. On the other, this is a step forward for us. We can build on this. Success is never linear. If we can package that 1st on draft night for the right player, watch out”
After Game 3 - “A sweep would have been embarrassing. Sure, losing 4 games to 1 isn’t much different than a sweep, but to me it is. I’m proud of my guys. They fought and played with pride. Go Mavs.”
After Game 4 - “CP3 who? Devin Booker who? The Suns are a regular-season team. They aren’t built for the grind of the NBA playoffs. Can you believe DeAndre Ayton wants the max? He’ll be lucky to get the MLE. We GOT this”
After Game 5 -
After Game 6 - “I don’t know what to do with my hands”
To root for a team is to suffer. The reason the 2011 title run means so much to us is because of the pain that preceded it. As fans, we tie a bigger part of our identity than we’re comfortable admitting into a team and live and die with every shot. There’s a non-zero chance Game 7 shaves a few years off my life expectancy but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Sunday will be excruciating. Our stomachs will be in a knot for 2 and a half hours and those of us with kids will have to explain that they can never repeat the words they hear. In fact, I’ve been looking at renting a nuclear bunker for the day in order to shield my loved ones from the raw emotion that is sure to spill out of me. I can’t wait.
Emotions will undoubtedly be high but it’s also necessary to take a step back and contextualize how we SHOULD be feeling, if we were a more rational lot. On one hand, Kidd and the coaching staff deserve a standing ovation. Dallas is undermanned and at a talent disadvantage and yet here they are. His adjustments and their impact are clear as day. We wondered if he would be able to maximize his talent the way Rick Carlisle could. He has answered that question in a way even his biggest doubters (*puts hand up*) can’t deny.
No matter what happens on Sunday, this season has been a huge success. The Mavericks not only survived a tumultuous regular season in which our second-best player was unceremoniously traded, we thrived. Dallas lost their star player for the first three games of the postseason and managed to come together as a team and achieve a milestone the organization hasn’t experienced in over a decade.
The Mavericks have gone toe to toe with the best regular season team and pushed them to a seventh game. And yet, because we are psychotic, none of that will matter once the ball tips. Sunday will be a one-game sample size in which we have the best player. We have Luka and that alone makes us supremely confident. I don't care about X’s and O’s. I have no interest in how many Spain pick and rolls will be run. We have Luka effing Doncic and they don’t. And for one fateful day, we pray that’s enough.
Here’s our latest episode of Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you’re unable to see the embed below, click here to be taken to the podcast directly. Or go to your favorite podcast app and search Mavs Moneyball Podcast.