I feel we all could use a huge bucket of optimism. A win Tuesday night would be the best dose, but there’s been so much negativity the past four days it’s hard for some to even see that occurring. How’d we get to the point where we’re worried about a home game versus dallas? Yes, little “d” dallas, the guys that can shoot with the best but defend like a Sun. Do you really think the prideful group of champions on our team will allow this season to go down like that? I say no, and I BELIEVE we not only can come back to win this series but that we will. The guys need only win three consecutive with two of those at home. That can certainly be done. In searching for strategic reasons of optimism I am happy to say that it won’t take much to turn this around though a big piece of the answer is out of the Spurs’ control.
With two days off to reflect and regroup, what must happen is Parker and Duncan continuing to play as they have all series. That’s a given and quite likely. Looking back at Tony getting only 24 in gm 1 may be the biggest regret of this series, as it propelled the Mavs into the advantageous position they’ve yet to surrender and has kept them from ever being vulnerable. It also wouldn’t hurt if the Spurs slightly improved the FT shooting. The missed points early (padding a lead) as well as late is costing us and feeding into the fragile psyche of dallas. Why wouldn’t they start to believe this series is meant for them to win? We’ve done nothing to dent that belief despite many opportunities. This is also critical because in every game this series (minus gm 3) the Mavs are unable to consistently guard TD or TP without fouling.
It’s worth noting that our offense is the bigger culprit in this series, not the defense. It doesn’t always appear that way on the floor, but the Mavs have scored under 100 points in all but one game, Dirk has not scored more than 20 in any game, and they’re shooting 45% for the series. For perspective, they shot over 50% in three of our four regular season games. Yes, we’re actually now guarding them better. So what’s the problem? Rebounding and shooting, particularly the unguarded variety. You have to BELIEVE the former will improve somewhat through effort and the latter greatly through focus.
The last need requires a BELIEF in things evening out. After gm 1, many correctly worried about the Spurs 3pt shooting cooling off. It was not realistic to think 11/14 (78.5%) would continue all series. But the past three games we’ve shot 25.9%, below our 36% team average and the 36% the Mavs allow. We’ve also seen our role players go in the tank, from the beloved Mason to the currently reviled Bonner. If we are to win again, much less three straight, role players in the black and silver need to contribute as they have all season. Nothing massive or unrealistic, just do what they have done and are expected to do; or as the opponent is doing. That said, we have to believe the same about dallas, as they have received four games of solid 3-pt shooting. The Mavs are shooting 35.3% on 3’s, a statistical tie with the 35% they shot in the regular season, but it seems at times that Kidd and Howard will not miss. They’re even receiving contributions from Antoine Wright, a 30% 3-pt shooter, who has made at least one every game and 6/13 overall. It would help greatly if a few would drop in for Bonner and Mason, while rimming out for Wright and Howard. Yes, along with better rotations on defense and fewer second chance shots (remember game 2?), but role players do play better at home.
All of this requires that we suspend pessimism and BELIEVE that we have upcoming three hour commitments both Friday night and Sunday afternoon. Should our guys fall short at any point during this run, it will hurt like hell to have the season over before Cinco de Mayo. It should also hurt because we expect more and BELIEVE that wins await.
My advice to Pop? Start Parker, Mason, Bowen, Bonner & Duncan. As much as everyone hates Bonner, he’s doing something right while guarding Dirk and our only win so far saw him make 3/4 from distance. I also think that barring foul trouble, Hill should be the first player off the bench. Pop has been subbing out Mason first so he can come back in when Tony sits, so this would be perfect. It also places Finley on the 2nd team where Pop can run plays for him, he needn’t spend so much time guarding Howard and he helps to spread the floor.
Belief is the motto but I’m going with our PtR as the acronym for the next three games:
P= Pride under pressure. We will not be eliminated at home.
t= Take back home-court and all momentum.
R = Rest vs Reward? Off-season rest or reward self by advancing to Denver.