In the wake of Baron Davis making the Warriors’ first playoff game in 13 years his own personal showcase, I’d like to ask the SF Chronicle’s sneer-tastic Bruce Jenkins to keep it down. Some of us are trying to watch HDNet.
It may not get any better than this, although the possibility certainly exists. The Mavericks didn’t just go down, in front of a baffled home crowd, they looked positively ordinary. Dirk Nowitzki spent the entire evening not stepping up, and the stairs remained empty from then on. This regular-season juggernaut showed up without a hint of leadership.
Remember that a lot of crazy NBA things happened this weekend alone. Down the stretch in Phoenix, Kobe Bryant couldn’t hit a shot to save his life. Tim Duncan and the Spurs lost at home to Denver. Dwyane Wade hardly resembled the man who carried Miami to last year’s title. And now there’s Nowitzki, shooting 4-for-16 from the floor and generally appearing about as relevant as Adonal Foyle.
This almost has to change, for elite players never disappear for an entire series, but there’s something about this matchup that eternally bodes well for Golden State. Nelson called those three regular-season wins “flukes, all of them,” but they weren’t. They sent a message, one that was driven home with great flourish when the games started to matter.
At least now Nowitzki has a measuring stick, for both performance and character: the 33 points, 14 rebounds and 8 assists from Baron Davis. He has been in the playoffs before — quite often, in fact — but this was his career centerpiece. Unlike his days in Charlotte and New Orleans, a lot of people are watching this series. They want to see how far the 67-win Mavericks can go. They savor the Nelson-Cuban dynamic, and all that it entails. What they’re seeing right now, more than anything, is a very generous helping of Baron.
The Dallas writers like to tell a story from last year’ playoffs, during which Nelson was a frequent visitor to American Airlines Arena. Just a year removed from coaching the Mavericks, he became fond of showing up and watching the games from a tunnel behind the scorer’s table. He started getting some TV time, and this infuriated Cuban, who has engaged Nelson in an ever-simmering feud since they parted ways.
One night, a security guard timidly approached Nelson and told him he had to leave. On whose orders? “Must have been the fire marshal,” Nelson joked, but everyone knew it was Cuban, the spoiled little kid who pouted and screamed and whined throughout the final moments Sunday night, unable to do a thing.
Jenkins isn’t the only scribe with fond memories of Nellie’s stay in Big D. Writes You Go Live In Utah’s Amanda,
Don Nelson makes me sad now. It seems as if someone has replaced his scotch IV drip with Lithium or Zoloft or something and now all I see is the dead eyes of one of my heroes. True story: during Nelson’s last year as Mavs head coach when he was letting Avery slowly take the reigns, I saw the greatest piece of footage ever put to tape. On one of the Sunday night sports shows, a reporter bravely decided to turn up uninvited to Don Nelson’s house on a Saturday afternoon to get his thoughts on some trade or something. As the reporter and cameraman were walking up the driveway of Don Nelson’s house, through the open garage door emerged the ever-awesome Nelson. He was carrying a case of Miller Lite (partially consumed already) on his shoulder, his shirt had some wet spots and was buttoned crooked. He clearly had not really planned on doing an interview and proceeded to stare at the camera, microphone and reporter with the same expression my cat makes when he tries to watch TV. Also, I believe there was a lawn sprinkler in the background that was stuck and therefore just shooting water straight up into the air. I miss those days.
Who amongst us is not eagerly awaiting the very first time P.J. Carlesimo tells Ron Artest to “put a little mustard” on a pass in practice?