By Will Martin
We begin with the play that will be talked about for years to come in Dallas Texas.
Remember a time about ten years ago there was an infomercial with a woman who spoke with a wonderful, lilted Jamaican dialect who would predict everything and say ‘it’s in the cards!’ Psychic Miss Cleo could see into the future and tell you what’s coming. Then came the day we heard she got taken off the air. Thought to myself, ‘She didn’t see THIS coming????’ Which is precisely what I am muttering to myself after what transpired in Game 3 of the NBA Playoffs, Battle of I-35 flavor if you will. It’s either dyslexia or perhaps that phenomena of the second season. When talking about a sweep it appears I was taking about the wrong team. The Dallas Mavericks-save for a 4th quarter meltdown on Easter Sunday-could very easily be enjoying a 3-0 lead in this series with the San Antonio Spurs. In what can only be described as an instant classic a back and forth affair, sloppy at times, finished up in dramatic fashion as Vince Carter drained a three point play with no time on the clock to send 20,300 fans into the Dallas night happy, hoarse, and hopeful. Down five points with two minutes to go the rumblings could be heard inside the American Airlines Center. Fans were already treated to a free Royal Blue ‘MFFL Strong’ tee shirt, and a chant I had never heard until this game. #Mavschant is the social media trending thing which borrows from ‘The Wolves Of Wall Street’. I was even able to catch Mark Cuban in the act. Here’s Mark as this video could go viral as to what cool owners do with the fans.
As for the design of that final play and what was discussed during the timeout we’ll let Monta Ellis break it down. “Carlisle saw how they were playing and he expected them to play that way, and he told Vince Carter that when he came off he was going to be wide open in that corner,” Ellis said in the interview room after. “He told him that he was going to knock it down, and Vince did a great job of gathering himself and understanding the shot clock. He did a head fake, Ginobili went for it and he knocked the shot down as we came out with a win.” “Carlisle said, ‘You just be ready. It’s going to be there and you’re going to knock down this shot,’” Carter added. “We were just looking for options and it kept taking a lot of time. I was trying to figure out how they were going to guard Monta coming up, so we figured it might not be there and our second and third options we wanted to make sure we were ready. And that’s what he said. He said, ‘Hey, you’re going to get the ball and you’re going to knock it down.’ I said, ‘OK, no problem.’” More from Monta’s post game visit.
A career high 29 playoff points for Monta Ellis along with 18 for Dirk. Dallas began this game like a house afire with a 16-8 lead before Tony Parker would answer back with 12 1st quarter points and a 15-2 run to make things 34-27 in favor of the Spurs after one quarter. Period two would have the Mavericks draining threes and going on a 28-14 run to go into the break with a 59-54 halftime lead. Only five free throws in the first half which was kind of weird. Both sides were a little loose with the ball handling. In the second half Kawhi Leonard started to catch fire inside and from beyond the arc while Jose Calderon picked up from where he left off in the third period of Game 2 as he was connecting on the basket (finishing with 16 points). Perhaps the other big surprise of the night separate from Vinsanity was watching Samuel Dalembert record a double-double with 13 points and ten rebounds. That elicited this response from Rick Carlisle. (On the play of Samuel Dalembert) “Sam was real active and he’s just has got to keep doing what he is doing. When his activity is like this, he’s rebounding it and he’s got a presence at the rim it makes such a big difference for us. We need him to do that. Blair had a huge game last game and [Brandan] Wright had a big game the first game. Those guys are a tag team and between the three of them we have to get the job covered at the center position.”
(On Vince Carter doing the right things) “He’s such a pro and always early and just all that kind of stuff. He’s constantly preaching the message of what we are trying to be as a team and things like that. I don’t want to get to hokey with it but he’s been that good for us. And not just on the floor but in the locker room “You know, we survived it,” Carlisle said. “It was not looking good with two minutes to go, down five, but the guys hung in. We got the ball in the basket a couple of times and made a big play at the end.” More from Rick Carlisle.
A low scoring third period had Dallas only scoring 18 points to the Spurs 20. Turnovers aside Dallas led 77-74 after three. In the final period the threes, the steals, and the haymakers all came into play. Matching one another shot for shot you could hear a pin drop when Manu Ginobli had 24 seconds of clock left when running in a layup and leaving only 1.7 seconds left. Even that was too much as Vince Carter channeled his inner May 20th, 2001 Game 7 game-winning shot. In all you had 18 lead changes. Take away the nine point lead the Spurs had early in period two the margin the rest of the way was five points both ways. Dirk Nowitzki had 18 points to buffer Monta. Tim Duncan led Spurs scorers with 22 while Tony Parker was active with 19 and Kawhi Leonard with 17. Mark Cuban caught a lot of flak from the media and the ‘experts’ when acquiring Monta Ellis. One happy owner coming onto the court Saturday. Even happier when the team left the court after that exciting finish. Here’s Mark. “Monta has really made everybody look really smart. That was a dumb signing wasn’t it? He was just the worst signing of the summer. Just not efficient in the playoffs. Not efficient in the regular season. … Monta was great. They were taking a lot away from Dirk, and Monta stepped into a lot of open spaces. … He made huge shots. He had the drive to the bucket that ties it. He deserves a ton of credit.”
Game 4 will be Monday Night at 8:30 pm in Dallas. Maybe as late as 8:45 with TNT on the call. Expect nothing less than a physical bloodbath the rest of the way as the Mavericks will try to step on put the throat of the defending Western Conference Champions. If a picture paints a thousand words then how many words of happy does the following convey? A wild scene in the tunnel right as the game concluded and only two people with enough sense to keep his video camera in record mode. What a fun moment! Enjoy Blitznation.
Series to Date:
Game 1: Spurs 90 Mavericks 85 – Spurs Lead 1-0
Game 2: Mavericks 113 Spurs 92 – Series Tied 1-1
Game 3: Mavericks 109 Spurs 108 – Mavericks Lead 2-1
4/28 Spurs vs Mavericks 8:30pm
4/30 Mavericks vs Spurs TBD
5/2 Spurs vs Mavericks TBD *If Necessary
5/4 Mavericks vs Spurs TBD *If Necessary