Friday, May 26, 2006


Could the Mavs have possibly been any higher? They just won Game 7 on the road against their arch-rival in overtime. They were the favorites to win the NBA title. And they were 100% healthy. Then Game 1 happened...

I re-read my Conference Finals preview after Game 1, and I think I overestimated how terrible Mike D'Antoni is. He's still bad, and he's still not a top 10 coach. In fact, he didn't do one thing right the entire game. There was no coaching move he made that made a difference in the game. The final play was even audibled by Tim Thomas. On the other hand, he did nothing wrong. He's no Red Auerbach, but he's not Jim Cleamons either. D'Antoni may not lose games for the Suns, but he certainly won't win games for them either.

So, let's delve into what happened in Game 1. To me, it's pretty simple. Steve Nash was one assist away from a career high. Boris Diaw scored a career high. Steve Nash scored 10 straight points. And Josh Howard was out for pretty much the entire game. The Suns won by 3. I don't blame games on referees, which is why I didn't bring up the turning the corner offensive foul 6'3 108 pound Devin Harris committed. So it took all those things for the Suns to steal one at AAC. Does it change the way we look at this series? Certainly. Is it cause for concern? Potentially. Will the Mavs still win? Probably.

Now, what do the Mavs need to do tonight? It's very simple. Slow it down. Devin Harris may have scored 30 points, but he was going balls to the wall the entire game. Good luck beating Phoenix in a track meet. Against the Spurs, the Mavs needed two quarters of 30 points to guarantee a win. Against the Suns, the Mavs need two quarters of holding the Suns to under 25 points.

As far as coaching goes, look for Griffin to get some serious playing time. His job may be to shut down Barbosa. That's just a guess. But Avery is the master of adjustments, and he'll do something. Griffin on Barbosa is just a guess.

If Dirk can get involved early (a very real possibility with Josh Howard's injury), then expect somewhere near 40 points for him. If not more. Dirk knows as much as anyone the importance of not going down 0-2.

Mavs should win in Dirk's game.

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