Several times in these playoffs, we've been pretty amazed to have been reminded that the only championship ring on the Dallas Mavericks roster belongs to head coach Rick Carlisle, who won one as a reserve with the Boston Celtics in 1986. We're all aware of guys like Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd falling short in the finals, but to have nobody on that bench even sneak his way into a championship parade? Kind of crazy. I mean, even the Timberwolves had Darko Milicic. Even the Nets had Jordan Farmar.
But nary a Mav, from top to bottom, has been amongst the toppermost of the poppermost. So I suppose it makes sense for Dallas, one win away from the NBA Finals, to be working with an "us against the world" mindset.
Or, more specifically, an "us against the world that has been so mean to us before" mindset. Whatever works.
"Peja Stojakovic, Sacramento versus L.A., he didn't get it done," guard Jason Terry said. "Myself and Dirk, Finals 2-0, didn't get it done. Coach Carlisle, two Eastern Conference finals, never made it to the championship. Jason Kidd, two Finals appearances, didn't hoist up the trophy. Shawn Marion has been to the Western Conference finals twice, hasn't got to the Finals.
"Those unique stories are what drive us and motivate us to get it done this year."
First off, Jason Terry, can you kindly let us be the ones that term these narratives as "unique stories"? It's not enough that you've mastered that jump shot we could never figure out, now you have to start hitting the journalistic nail on the head?
On top of that, you've apparently spent quite a bit of time on Basketball-Reference.com, Jason Terry. Because that's a pretty accurate representation of your teammates' best chances at a ring. Although Sasha Pavlovic is kind of bummed that he didn't make the playoff roster, because you'd totally be talking up his "near-miss" (that's the way he'd insist that you put it) in the 2007 finals.
The main thing is that these Mavericks have got a real rhythm going, something that we saw last winter before Dirk Nowitzki and Caron Butler (conference semis, '04) went down with injury. This team's spacing, shooting and help defense seems to improve with every game, especially with the advent of being able to take on a team several times in a week with preparation and days off in between. The Mavs, despite their age and experience, are getting better in late May, and that's a dangerous thing.
The other drive is something that JET had to remind us of. These guys, if not this team, has been too close, too many times before.
Possibly the reason that we saw Peja Stojakovic drive like the slow-footed mad man he is to the basket in Monday's Game 4. It might be the thing that has Shawn Marion and Jason Kidd flying all over the floor, despite their age, trying to keep up with (and eventually succeeding in keeping up with) two relative kids in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. It could be the impetus behind that extra shove, in comparison to last season, that Dirk Nowitzki gives his defender before spinning to the hoop.
So shine on, you step-removed champions. But understand that attitude alone might not be enough. Miami's got a few talented also-rans of its own.