Monday, May 15, 2006

The Most Painful Win I Have Ever Enjoyed

In January, my friend, Jim, and I agreed that we were going to see the Cavs play a home game because Cleveland is only a 4 hour drive. A few weeks later, we pinpointed April 1 as the game to see. It was a Saturday afternoon game against Dwyane Wade, Shaq, and the rest of the Heat. I Love Wade. Jim Loves King James. When we looked for tickets, it was 100 bucks for upper level seats. If we were going to shell out 100, we figured we may as well go all out. We nearly pulled the trigger on midcourt courtside tickets for $700. We just couldn't do it. Actually, I was all about it. I was getting money for my birthday, and I was more than happy to blow it all to see Wade and 'Bron 'Bron courtside. Jim backed out. No big deal, right? Wrong. Bill Simmons called it the best game of the year. Wade and 'Bron 'Bron each scored over 40 and nearly had triple doubles. It was close throughout. I was so pissed when I saw how the game turned out. I thought I missed out on the game of the year, and I could have been courtside.

Why is this story relevant?

My last exam was Saturday morning at 8:30. My uncle was in town for a conference and to see Rochester since he missed it (for reasons I will never understand). Earlier in the week, he had invited me to dinner, and I accpeted thinking that the Mavs were playing on Saturday afternoon. Oops. Dinner was at 8. I told my buddy, Ryan, to text me after every quarter with a score update. I called him at halftime to get an update. We hadn't even been served our meal yet. My Dad called me to tell me the Mavs sucked after they blew their lead. Ryan called to tell me Dirk went down before free throws. I was freaking out. When my phone rang a couple minutes later, it was my other Mavs friend, Brett. I was afraid to answer. Here's the conversation.

Me: Hey, I couldn't watch the game--
Brett: Holy &*#$! Holy &*#$! Holy &*#$! Holy &*#$!
Me: Did the Mavs win?
Brett: Holy &*#$! Holy &*#$! Holy &*#$! Holy &*#$!
Me: Yes or No?
Brett: Holy &*#$! Holy &*#$! Holy &*#$! Holy &*#$!
Me: I hate you and hope you choke on a cheesesteak.
Brett: Holy &*#$! Holy &*#$! Holy &*#$! Holy &*#$!

Ryan called me and told me about Ginobili's Brandt-like ballhandling at the end of the game, Stack's genius move to try to miss a free throw, and Horry's shot at the buzzer. Best Mavs game of the year, and I missed it. I thought nothing could top that Heat/Cavs game, but I would have rather missed that game courtside than missed this Mavs game on television. It hurt that bad.

My Mom recorded the replay on ESPN on our DVR, and I just got to watch it (while eating Chipotle!). And to be honest, I couldn't really notice much about the game. I knew the outcome and the minutia at the end of the game, so I couldn't get into it. But there were two things glaringly obvious about the game.

1. Devin Harris is the man of the series. His ability to drive and draw and a foul and his speed to keep up with Tony Parker has won the past two games for us. Personally, I didn't think he was ready to step up in a playoff series, especially one against the defending champs, but he has proven me wrong. The more Devin plays and draws guys toward the basket, the better the Mavs are.

2. The Mavs are in trouble on defense. Tim Duncan is owning the paint on offense. I have no problem with the D's going out to guard him and collectively getting 18 fouls, but they're getting their fouls on other guys too. I'm not knocking our center group; I'm pointing out the fact that Tim Duncan is doing whatever he wants. In the fourth quarter, the Mavs went away from what was working so well. Doubling Duncan when he puts the ball on the floor. Stick with that, and if he takes a basket and makes it, fine, he beat a double team and deserves it. If he misses, he should be in no position to get an offensive rebound since he has to fight with two Mavericks over the board. Too many times in the fourth quarter, Duncan would get the ball put it on the floor and make the basket without any help defense.

After Game 2, every analyst was saying that the Mavs can blow the Spurs out but questioned whether they could grind out a close win. The Mavs answered on Saturday night with a gimpy superstar for the most important part of the game. The Mavs clearly outplayed the Spurs for the third time in this series (out of three games for all you who are mathematically challenged). The problem is the Mavs are up 2-1. After outplaying a team 3 times, you should be up 3-0. Do you really think the Spurs are going to be outplayed in more games? It's hard to think that the Spurs, the defending champions, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Ginobili, Horry, Finley, and Popovich will lose 3 games in a row and be outplayed 4 times in a row.

Can it happen? Yes. Will it happen? I'll be watching to find out.

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