Look, I know it's only the second game of what could ostensibly be a seven game series, but barring an incredible playoff turn-around (the likes of which this team has not shown themselves capable of doing in two consecutive playoff performances) the contest between the Dallas Mavericks and the New Orleans Hornets is over. Lest you think I'm knee-jerking, I shall inform you that I am actually a fairly reasonable Mavs fan and that other similarly reasonable fans agree with me. Fans with more tender hearts or less patience are currently contemplating jumping off of a tall bridge over the Trinity River and taking Avery Johnson, Josh Howard, Jerry Stackhouse and assorted other players (Dirk or Kidd, depending on who they think is to blame for this mess) with them. If you add up the collective fan "wisdom" the only member of this organization qualified to return next year is Mavs Man.
I love this team but God help 'em, they somehow managed to get worse after the Kidd trade. It's beyond absurd to think that Harris and Diop were the only things holding this team together, but if there is an explanation for how this team has fallen so far in short a period of time the nobody knows what it is (least of all Avery Johnson or Mark Cuban.) This team is so bad they've somehow managed to make Jason Kidd, a future hall-of-famer, look only like one of the 15 best point guards in the league (and not near the top of that list.)
Of course, a lot of people want to pin this on Dirk or Avery. Of course, being as they are the superstar and the coach, they're the easiest pickings for the psychological and cliche-ridden explanations for this team's failings (see this blog's comments for what I'm talking about.) Also, those people don't know a damn thing about basketball and think that if a coach or a player fails it's entirely about the size of their balls. That's ridiculous of course. But something isn't working, and since the problem is so vast it's difficult to understand how anything but an incredible psychological meltdown is responsible for the recent turn of events. Of course, just as with Golden State, there are legitimate basketball explanations for why Dallas is struggling to deal with New Orleans, but even the experts who closely follow this game have questions for which there are simply no answers.
As I said there are fans who'd like to throw Dirk under the bus and then back it over him a few times, apparently for his inability to single-handedly win a championship ring while carrying a roster of under-performing veterans on his back. But even Kobe Bryant couldn't do that. One of Kobe's greatest performances, scoring 62 points in three quarters (against who else, the Mavericks) came in the midst of a disappointing and sub-par season. And Dirk has been nothing but a German God of Thunder since Kidd got here, raising his points and assist totals and coming back in two weeks from an injury that would've put most NBA ballers on the bench for six weeks. Dirk is not the problem.
So what's my recommendation? Nobody's asking, but it's the same as it was after the Golden State debacle. Blow the team up. Fire Avery, and get rid of as many players as possible who are not named Kidd, Dirk or Dampier. Avery appears to have been consistently out-coached, and despite all his harping appears to have lost his team. The team's other star players seem to no longer respond to their coach, and go inexplicably quiet when they're needed the most, and those are two pretty good reasons alone to get rid of them. Yes, I know Kidd is likely to be around for only another year and he's only getting older even if he does stick around, but is anybody interested in watching this team limp to another 50+ game season and another exit in the first round of the playoffs? I'm not. And it's not as if the Western Conferance is going to get any worse next season, or the Mavs would be in position to win the finals even if it did.
It is my sincerest hope that in another couple of months I'm eating these words as the Mavs are lifting the trophy over their heads and planning their parade. Also, I hope to win a million dollars, grow wings and learn to read minds. Frankly, the latter are far more likely than the former.