By Will Martin
Game 7! (And yes here’s the video recap).
Sure has a real nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Why, just the other night we had no less than THREE Game 7’s in the NHL on April 30th. The ultimate in do or die. A moment in time when the timid become the giants, and the over-anticipated can result in an absolute letdown.
Remember how upset we were in Dallas when Dwight Howard opted for Houston instead of Dallas? Also think back to what the thinking was when we brought on talent like Monta Ellis (whom my radio cohort Cedric Bailey absolutely gushed about since BEFORE Media Day 9/29/13). Jose Calderon and even a DeJuan Blair to add some beef and glass wipeage on the boards.
Dallas Texas-is it just me or does DeJuan Blair remind anyone else of that 2011 stud who helped get us into the NBA Finals-DeShawn Stevenson?
Mark Cuban and Rick Carlisle have proven me wrong. I am happy to admit this now. Indeed there is some substance within the trading tangents. To the point that a media person joked about this current Mavericks team now becoming Team Monta, to which Mr. Ellis quickly said, ‘This is still Dirk’s team!’ lest you think there is a quarterback controversy. The crack made the conference room laugh.
20,799 people packed the American Airlines Center Friday night and were treated to a heavyweight fight. San Antonio appearing at first like the knockout punch specialist while the Mavericks answered every eight count before hitting the final haymaker in a 113-111 thriller to even things up at 3-3.
And on that note, let us echo a comment Mark Cuban made last August 15th. Remember this? WHY NOT US? This from the Mavericks owner a pregnancy ago.
“I love the team we put together. Dirk has a lot more to give and we’ve put a lot of great players around him.”
“I love the fact that everyone is throwing us under the bus. I’ll be very disappointed if we don’t make some playoff noise.”
There goes a shrewd businessman and owner. Mark Cuban and Rick Carlisle knew what they were doing. Let’s start with a dominant performance by DeJuan Blair. He of the ejected status in Game 5. Simply a beast with a double-double. Ten points and 14 rebounds in 29 minutes of play as Dallas’ bench outscored the Spurs 37-25.
More from DeJuan Blair.
You could say that Blair played like a man possessed. The same must be said for Monta Ellis who matched his playoff season high with 29 points in a first half where his shooting was off, his aggression was high, and his desire to go back to Riverwalk country was equally strong.
“My teammates just told me, ‘We’ll keep it close and then the fourth quarter is yours,’ Ellis said. “Mark Cuban told me the same thing”.
“My teammates just told me to be aggressive. Throughout the game they told me we are going to keep it close and the fourth quarter is yours. I just had to be more aggressive. I wasn’t aggressive enough in the first half. I didn’t put any pressure on the defense. My teammates did a great job keeping me in spirit.”
More from Monta Ellis.
Rick Carlisle had some heavy heaps of praise for the above-mentioned and on the victory. Only the second time in 56 tries the Spurs lost a game when leading after three periods.
“Tons of activity, brings us a real physical presence. (Blair) clears out a lot of space in there. He made two great plays at the end of the game to come up with balls. One was a steal, one was a rebound I believe, and he hit some big free throws. We need all of our guys and we need all of them to be ready on Sunday.”
“(Monta) was great in the second half, especially. First half, it was hard for him to get a rhythm. He got a little frustrated. At halftime, I talked to him a little bit and just told him he just needs to stay in attack mode, just keep his attacking energy up. The second half didn’t start great, but then when he came back in, he made huge plays. He made a huge three, attacked the rim, had one or two three-point plays. Then defensively, he’s around the ball. I love the way he bounced back in the second half.”
“We had a lot of guys that played big for us: Carter had a big game, Marion at the end gave us some really good defensive stuff and Dirk was really, really terrific from start to finish at both ends.”
“We were into it. Our guys knew what was at stake today. We’re in a situation where we know what’s at stake Sunday. We’ve got a lot of veteran guys that have been in a lot of playoff games and a lot of big games. Our biggest thing is we’ve got to communicate well. We’ve got to really help each other out on the court at both ends of the floor. We’ve got to play at a break-neck level of intensity, without being frantic and without losing out poise. That’s what it’s about. They’ve got a great building, their fans are fantastic, but we’ve really just got to concentrate on us.
Dirk Nowitzki had his second consecutive game above the 20 point mark (22 to be precise) amongst six Mavericks in double figures. His history in Games 7’s are pretty solid. A perfect 4-0 and who can forget that epic game in San Antonio eight years ago? More from Dirk!
Tony Parker was one of six Spurs to score in double figures. His 22 led the team as he was quick to discuss how solid of a ballclub (as an 8 seed) the Dallas Mavericks currently are. To hear Tim Duncan speak about things the job is simple.
“We’re here to win four games, it doesn’t matter how many games it takes. We’re not worried about being disappointed. This is a very good ballclub over there. There’s eight, nine and 10 good teams in the West, so we’re here to win four games. We have one more at home to do that. We played great in the regular season so that we would be in this position to have homecourt. There’s no disappointment there.”
Game 6 featured 12 lead changes as the Mavs enjoyed leads of 34-26 and 58-52 at the half before San Antonio went on an 11-4 run while holding Dallas to a 29-18 deficit in the 3rd quadrant and a 81-76 lead. Period four was just nasty crazy as the Mavericks went on a 14-2 run . Enjoying a seven point lead with less than a minute to go with a finger snap Tony Parker and Danny Green hit threes to make for a 1 point game before DeJuan Blair went to the line and converted on free throws as Dallas held on for a 113-111 victory.
Turnovers were a big bugaboo for Team Carlisle in the 2nd and 3rd periods. Seven in the 2nd erased an 11 point lead to 2 41-39 and seven more in the third caused a six point Maverick lead become an 81-76 San Antonio lead. Monta Ellis and Tony Parker went back and forth with the layups as the clock neared the two minute mark.
Think Game 6 wasn’t taxing, albeit fun? Check it out!
In closing Dallas won the points in the paint battle 50-48, second chance points 13-10, while San Antonio won the fast break points total 22-15. DeJuan Blair’s playoff high for rebounds prior to this night was 11. Make that 14!
Many places will be having watching parties for Game 7 at 2:30pm CST May 4th. For the actual feeling of being at the game just go to the AAC as the building will be open and you can watch game for free. Expect Victory Park to be a packed arena inside and out.
Yes, we were all a little saddened that Dwight Howard chose not to come to Dallas ten months ago. I guess that’s why he gets to sit at home and watch what the Mavericks might very well do now on Sunday against the defending NBA Finals representative. Dallas would like to thank Damien Lillard for the dramatics in Portland for this.
Then again, unbeknownst to many of us (myself included) Rick Carlisle and Mark Cuban carried the kryptonite all along, picking the most opportune time to make Pops resemble the Joker, Parker as the Riddler, Duncan as the Penguin, Splitter as the Egg Man, and Monta as Robin to Dirk’s Batman.
See you in San Antonio! Regardless of what happens this Mavericks team and organization continues to amaze and make a city proud. In case you missed it.
#MFFL #MavsChant #MavsBoss