The Dallas Mavericks have no more room for moral victories.
They have exhausted the maximum amount that are available in a 7-game playoff series. (Personally, I believe there is no such thing as moral victories once the playoffs begin, but I’ll give the defending champs a break.)
You know how many of the Mavs opponents in the playoffs last year collected moral victories during their run? Answer: every single one of them.
The teams on a mission to contend for a championship only have one type of victory in mind: the type that can win a series or NBA Finals for their franchise.
Even with the many silver linings to take away for Dallas, because of late game execution, costly turnovers and clutch shots being missed that simply went in last year (as in here and here), this team has put their organization in a 2-0 hole against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Thunder have passed the title of “Can’t Close” to their veteran opponents who couldn’t do just that during the regular season. With two of the best closers in the game with JET and Dirk, clutch play has been assumed to be a strength of this team for so many years, but the shots have not been falling in since the lockout came to an end.
The Mavs have held the lead with under a minute to go in each game and allowed that lead to vanish in each game. Even though many positives can be taken away from these showings, it doesn’t change the fact that the Thunder only need two more wins to dethrone the reigning champs.
This Dallas franchise has come back from an 0-2 deficit twice in the past 11 years. They did once against the Utah Jazz in 2001 and again against the Houston Rockets in 2005.
However, neither of those teams had an electrifying, budding star point guard and the NBA regular season scoring leader daring people to believe he will go an entire series shooting as poorly as he has in the first two games.
But you know who suited up for the Mavs during both of those series comebacks?
Dirk gives the Mavs a chance. He gives the Mavs a chance to turn this series around. If Jason Terry can become the JET that provided his power forward with the necessary support throughout last year’s championship run, this team can have a much easier time making a series out of this first round fight.
No matter how well Terry does, though, the fate of this season rests on the Big German’s big shoulders. Once Steve Nash and Michael Finley left the team, Nowitzki took on this burden and has never given it up to this day. He has had his opportunities to make plays so far that are Dirk-esque and he has come up short.
It all starts with Game 3. Disregarding the fact that no NBA team has come back from a 3-0 deficit in the playoffs, this third game gives Dirk and the Mavs a chance to finally forget about their trivial moral victories and pick up an honest-to-goodness victory.
Good luck Mr. Nowitzki. It’s that demanding time once again.
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