DONUT 1: We joked in this space about the national media’s belief that LA might become the first team to ever come back from an 0-4 deficit. But that sort of tone really did resonate nationally … and inside the LA locker room, too, as epitomized by our buddy Ben Rogers’ exchange with Shannon Brown after Game 3:
Shannon Brown - 'Sweep Yourselves' Audio by Ben.Rogers
DONUT 2: So how did the Lakers allow themselves to sweep… themselves?
The first thing you need to know is that the Lakers didn’t really have very much to do with this series. Outside of Kobe Bryant’s back-to-back-to-back failures in the clutch to close Game 1, there are not reels and reels of film that demonstrate what we might call “turning points.’’
DeShawn Stevenson says the series turned when the Dallas Mavericks swept the two games in LA, and of course that is true. But that’s big-picture stuff. In a more micro way, the Mavericks controlled the pace and physicality of the series to a degree rarely seen and obviously, never seen from the butt-end in Phil JackZen’s career.
When we look back at our notes, through three games what we kept thinking and writing is that Dallas had yet to achieve its peak … and was still dominating the series.
And then came Game 4. A peak was reached.
There are four big reasons why Dallas swept the Lakers, and not the other way around.
DONUT 3: Defensive game-planning.
Coach Carlisle and staff did a tremendous job of putting the Lakers in a position to fail offensively. By forcing post players to catch the ball off of their normal spots (consider how rarely Andrew Bynum was allowed to own position0 and by always sagging off of LA’s perimeter players (turning Kobe into a jump-shooter) the Mavs were able to force the Lakers into contested mid-range or 3-point shots instead of layups and dunks.
Macro result: This is why the Mavs have yet to surrender 100 points through 10 playoff games.
DONUT 4: Rebounding.
Although Dallas was out-rebounded overall, the Mavs actually did a formidable job on the glass in terms of fighting for position. You can see it in our previous video segment. Look again: The Mavs have inside position on nearly every Lakers shot attempt.
The Mavs didn’t always come up with the rebound, but even if they didn’t LA still had to shoot over a Maverick defender. The “want-to’’ was very much in evidence … and “want-to’’ very much faded from the Lakers repertoire as the series wore on.
DONUT 5: Role-players.
Simply put, Dallas had some, LA didn’t.
Well, LA did have a couple role players, come to think of it … Kobe and Pau.
Seriously, When your role-players have impacful games (Corey Brewer in Game 1, Barea in Game 2, and everyone in Game 4) and your defense makes the other team’s best two or three players into also-rans, your advantage runs 10 men deep.
Carlisle, especially in Game 1, bucked tradition here. That was truly a 10-man rotation. Combine that with a short series, a week off and a possible tired foe in the WCF, and Carlisle’s role players have build Dallas an advantage going forward.
DONUT 6: Offensive game-planning.
We will concede that to some degree, this is chicken-or-egg. DeShawn made some 3’s. JJB made some layups. The ball is round but sometimes it still bounces funny.
Nevertheless, coach Carlisle and staff did a tremendous job of putting the Mavericks in a position to succeed offensively. … starting with The UberMan. Getting Dirk (someone who LA simply cannot guard) the ball in his spots and surrounding him with other offensive threats Dallas was able to generate good looks on so many of their possessions.
DONUT 7: Of course, Dirk is the easy part. Designing a gameplan with him as the centerpiece is a joy for a coach.
The gameplan against an LA team that is painfully slow (physically or emotionally) to rotate?
Spread the floor.
Dallas spread the floor to such a degree that when LA doubled there was simply no way to recover, leaving Phil JackZen with the unenviable choice of letting Dirk set scoring records or allowing Jet and Peja to engage in nightly 3-point shooting contests.
You will note that Jason Kidd didn’t much get into the act here. No need; he was the facilitator, the pivot man, swinging the ball from strong-side to weak-side and back, creating and creating until the LA defense cracked.
“Cracked itself,’’ the Lakers might say.
DONUT 8: Now comes the Western Conference Finals … and our invitation to you to get inside of it all!
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DONUT 9: One of the purposes of today’s Donuts is to examine, appreciate and enjoy what Dallas accomplished against the Lakers. It was momentous in every possible way that a Round 2 series can be … drama and domination and records set and JackZen sent into retirement and Kobe humbled and Dirk recognized … a sweep of the two-time defending champs that exorcises ghosts at so many levels.
DONUT 10: Now you gotta do it all over again.
As we’ve said before: The bar keeps getting raised on good teams that aspire to greatness. If before the season started we would’ve asked you to be fairly satisfied with a 57-win season (eight or 10 more wins than you might’ve predicted?) and an advancement to the second round and an outlasting of the Spurs and the Lakers and a drubbing of the Lakers and a berth in the WCF …
Would you have been fairly satisfied? Would you have taken it?
DONUT 11: But it’s different now. Dallas has moved the bar on itself … and now it’s almost time to ponder whether a similar gameplan will work again against the winner of Sunday's Memphis-at-OKC Game 7.
Does “spread-the-floor’’ promise to be as effective this round? Will the “want-to’’ result in some more favorable bounces? Can Dallas’ role players roll?
DONUT 12: How the WCF will go down, schedule-wise, with everything at 8 p.m.!:
G1 1: Tue, at Dallas, 8 p.m.
G2: Thu, at Dallas, 8 p.m.
G3: Sat, May 21, Dallas at OKC/Memphis, 8 p.m.
G4: Mon, May 23, Dallas at OKC/Memphis, 8 p.m.
G5*: Wed, May 25, at Dallas, 8 p.m.
G6*: Fri, May 27, Dallas at OKC/Memphis, 8 p.m.
7*: Sun, May 29, OKC/Memphis at Dallas, 8 p.m.
DONUT 13: LA didn’t “sweep itself.’’ … unless if by “swept itself’’ you mean got out-manned at every position, out-executed on every crunch-time possession, and overall outplayed for four straight games.
Now begins the discovery of whether the young Grizz or Thunder are capable of being better than the Lakers were. … and if the Mavs are prepared to issue four more losses to an opponent left with nothing but excuse-making.