Monday, May 22, 2006

Lucky Number 7

I never grasped the concept of how important Game 7's were until the Stars got knocked out by the Oilers in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs (back when hockey existed). I woke up the next morning and realized "Oh, the Stars are done for the season? Damn, I didn't even realize."

Well, here it is folks. We're staring the end of the season right in the face. We could be two days away from a Rangers recap in the Morning News to catch up all the Mavs fans on what's going on in baseball, or we could be two days away from that paper space allocated to the in-depth Western Conference Finals preview by David Moore, Eddie Sefko, and all the rest of the Morning News basketball gurus.

And as fans, there is nothing we can do but watch and cross our fingers. We can only hope that Dirk fights the double teams, draws fouls, and makes shots. We can only wish that Terry comes out with a chip on his shoulder and starts draining threes like his name is Reggie. We can only pray that Diop and Damp play the type of interior defense we saw against Memphis.

Are those the only three keys to Game 7? Of course not. Those are only the things that will give us a chance to win. Let's look at the aspects of this game that can really make or break this team.

COACHING

Avery needs to do some serious motivating. I'm not knocking Avery; he's pushed buttons all season, but this is where he needs to reach down and give HIS pre-game speech. The kind that we see in the movies. People may say that the players should need a speech to get them psyched up for a Game 7, but that's what makes these speeches. You bring in an aspect that the players don't see. Go beyond being up 3-1 at one point, beyond being on the road, beyond even a title. It's one game, and it's the game that will determine how successful the season is. The Mavs need Avery to create some magic to get the call rolling.

STACK

I was in Vegas this past weekend, and I would have put some serious money on a prop bet with Stack's total points. No matter what the line was set at, I would have picked the over. I thought he would have a man's game. Well, he didn't. All he needs to do is camp out in the corner and take his 3's or drive to the basket. Even if he's not doing anything, his defender will eventually leave him to double at one point. And Stack should take advantage. I don't want to see him taking off balance mid-range jumpers. Stack is like Michael Finley in that he should only be taking open 3's or driving to the line. None of this stopping short of the basket crap. It's Game 7. Everyone should be going to their bread and butter, and the Mavs don't have a better finisher than Stack.

TEMPO

We'll know after the first quarter whether the Mavs have a chance to win. Game 7 must be an up tempo game. The Spurs get in foul trouble when the Mavs are pushing the ball, and the Mavs set the pace early. If the Mavs score over 25 points in the first quarter, smile but with caution. If the Mavs score less than 20 points in the first quarter, worry but don't panic. Reggie Miller was 100% correct in saying the Mavs need two 30 point quarters to win against the Spurs. And that's what it's going to take.

LUCK

You will never hear me blame an entire series on the referees, but in the six games, each team that has won has been getting the benefit of the doubt from the refs. While that hasn't been the deciding factor, it's been a factor nevertheless. There are also baskets that go in-and-out and some that go out-then-in. The Mavs need more friendly rolls and bounces than the Spurs. That's something that is out of the Mavs hands.


So we've broken down what the Mavs need to do. There are many aspects of the game, but I will leave you with something to think about before, during, and after tonight's games:

The Mavs were flying high at 3-1, but people forget that it could have been 3-1 the other way as well. It was inevitable that the Spurs would fight back and win one or two games. Luck has been on both teams' sides at different points in the season, so whoever wins tonight didn't get lucky, and the team that loses didn't get screwed. The Mavs had a chance to close it out and didn't, and the Spurs never should have been down as much as they were. The best team will win tonight. And the best players will shine.

Dirk: 30 pts. 15 rebs.
Josh Howard: 25 pts. 10 rebs.
Terry: 28 pts. (6 3's)

Mavs win.

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