Friday , Dec , 07 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

The Fall of the Dallas Mavericks and the Rise of Mark Cuban’s “Star”

I suppose there are two theories on the state of the team in Big D. The first is that they had a slow start last year and ended up okay. The second is that they just haven’t recovered – and never will – from their last two playoff runs. Given that Cuban is trying to stay in the limelight by embarrassing all Travolta-disco-wannabes, I’m guessing it is the latter and he’s getting bored. These guys say the Mavs try really hard to pass, but don’t seem to know how to do it properly. In the meantime, Avery is giving words of encouragement to his point-guard-of the future (or not) Devin Harris by saying Harris isn’t going to play until he “snaps out of” his funk.

First, they lost to the Timmeh-less Spurs and now the Nuggets. The Nuggets are a slightly more disciplined and more talented – if less inspired – version of the Warriors. On just about any given night they can run with anyone or implode. I’d venture to say, however, that the Warriors have higher highs and lower lows. That being said, I wouldn’t want to be a high playoff seed running into either one in April.

Tuning into the Spurs game, I wasn’t sure which team I should root against. Being a Suns homer, I am required to loathe both teams. Although I still hate the Mavs (mainly because I have to), I was rooting for them.  The Mavs don’t scare me anymore, and, as some of you may know, Tim Duncan haunts me.  I often wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat screaming, “Tim Duncan!” After last year’s playoffs and the MVP award "ceremony", I still have a large amount of pity for the team. So, I was rooting for the Mavs.

Against the Spurs, Jason Terry and Devin Harris took as many shots as Dirk Nowitzki. Josh Howard and Brandon Bass took more shots. On the final play of the game, Dirk was the second option. Perhaps this has something to do with Avery Johnson thinking Dirk is too soft and lacks leadership qualities. After all, Terry, Howard and Bass also made more shots than Dirk. And, Dirk did end up missing an open three from the corner. How often does that happen? Apparently only when the game’s on the line.

Against the Nuggets, Dirk went off for 32 and 12, but his team still lost 122 to 109. The Nuggets were leading 64 to 56, and the Mavs made a good run in the third to bring it close and going into the fourth trailing only 98 to 92, but no Mav seemed to take charge and they railed off in the fourth period losing that stanza 24 to 17. The funniest part of the night was when AI fouled Dirk on a lay-up, but the refs didn’t make the call. First, Dirk grabbed his right elbow and yelled that he was hacked. Then, he started to point at his left elbow. For the next three minutes, Dirk swung his left arm around wildly like someone trying to get rid of that tingly feeling from getting hit in the funny bone.

Bad passing, a faltering defense, no depth on the bench and a lack of confidence in the reigning MVP are not good signs. Perhaps Cuban should have blown up the roster after last year’s early exit; maybe he should have been working on the team instead of pretending to be a “star.”