DONUT 1: The breakdown of the defense...
When the story is written on this Dallas Mavericks season and on these playoffs -- and I'm not talking about the Tyson/Odom/Deron stories but rather the X-and-O part -- I believe we'll note a slippage in defense since the All-Star Break, a slippage that is continuing now.
In Game 3, the Thunder hit 12-of-28 3-pointers. And they weren't exactly "contested'' 3's, you know?
After the final game of the regular season, DB.com's Michael Dugat noted some troubling numbers after the A-S Break for Dallas: During that period to the end of the season, Dallas allowed opponents to shoot a 45.4 field-goal percentage and score 99.1 points per game.
Spread over the course of the year, that would have ranked 21st and 23rd in the NBA.
There's your X-and-O story of the regular season, I say.
DONUT 2: And the same story repeats itself ...
For this series, Dallas has allowed OKC to shoot 45 percent and score 98.7 per game. Sound familiar? Yup, the numbers Dallas is giving up in this series mirror almost exactly the numbers it sacrificed for the final 32 games of the regular season.
There's THE core problem, not in terms of personnel (where it's easy to yelp "Sign Somebody! Do Something!'') but rather in terms of how personnel is applying itself on the floor.
DONUT 3: Did Dallas already amnesty Haywood? ....
Big Wood played 19 minutes in Game 1. He played 9:54 in Game 2. And he played seven minutes in Game 3. Offense? He's 3-of-11 for nine points. Other stuff? He's got nine total rebounds and can't match Kendrick Perkins.
Carlisle stated repeatedly he wanted a physical presence from the center position. Once more in this series, Haywood did not provide that, leaving us to wonder if we'll catch more than a brief glimpse of him over the remainder of this series.
Right now? It appears Mavs management has found a loophole in the rules and that Big Wood has already been amnestied.
I'm joking, of course. It's still to early to forecast summer moves. But Big Wood could certainly help his case tonight by at least being as good as friggin' Kendrick Perkins.
DONUT 4: Tonight's zebras ...
Your officials for Game 4 are Scott Foster, Bill Spooner and Sean Wright. My man Coop notes that this year, the Mavs were 2-3 in games worked by Foster, 5-0 in games worked by Spooner and 1-2 in games worked by Wright.
So, Honorable Mr. William Spooner, please take charge of things tonight.
DONUT 5: Standing O ...
It's suggested to me by Mavs fans that tonight would be a good night to give this franchise a standing ovation, as it's the "end of an era.''
I think the last part of that sentence is an over-dramatization, but I completely support the first part. This may be the last time we see this particular group of people together, and if you believe that the last 13 years (and last four years) has been one continuously fun ride, then yeah, Dirk, Jet, Donnie, Kidd, Cuban, Shawn Marion amd other long-termers deserve to exchange with you a warm moment, I think.
DONUT 6: When "Flow'' doesn't ...
Well into the third quarter of G3 Jason Kidd led the Mavs in shot attempts. OKC's strategy was so obviously intent on making J-Kidd a shooter than he even attempted two layups in the same game.
This is "flow'' gone awry. Can't happen again. And I don't just mean tonight. I mean ... ever.
DONUT 7: At the risk of being obtuse ...
Have the Mavs ever experienced this feeling before?
"(Bleep) yeah,'' Jet said. "Golden State.''
At the risk of being obtuse ... Yes, the Mavs have experienced this feeling before. EVERY YEAR THEY DON'T WIN A TITLE. Every team experiences this feeling. It's called "losing.'' Fifty percent of every team does it daily and at season's end, 29 of every 30 do it.
That doesn't make it less painful. But it bugs me that we would be so spoiled as to think that our pain in the scoreboard is somehow unique.
Furthermore, the "I-told-you-so's'' also get under my skin. To everyone who KNEW Team X (the Mavs, the Cowboys, the Yankees, the Steelers, the Lakers, whomever) wouldn't win the title this year, everyone who KNEW the Mavs weren't gonna end up "All-In'':
You just won the smartest bet in sports! Congratulations!
But it's also the easiest bet in sports - "I bet Team X won't win the title.'' It's the easiest bet in sports. Which is why bookies don't offer it.
DONUT 8: The Incredible Lightness of Being 0-3 ...
You get down 0-3, you stay down. No team has ever rallied to win a series when down 0-3. That's an 85-outta-85 deal in NBA history.
Rallies DO happen. Three times in NBA history teams have climbed from the 0-3 hole to force Game 7's. And teams up 3-0 are only slightly better than .500 in Game 4's.
Like Dirk Nowitzki says, "We've got to win a game. You never focus on winning four straight. We've got to show some pride on Saturday and just play a better game, move the ball, make some shots ... If you think about 0-3, you’re just going to get more frustrated. That’s bad energy.''
DONUT 9: Jet's final flight? ...
Jason Terry stated prior to Game 3 that the Mavs were treating this as Game 7 ... implying they would fight as if their lives were on the line.
Terry finished G3 with 11 points, 3-of-10 field goals, six assists, one steal and four turnovers. The numbers say that he didn't win his fight. Jet had more turnovers (four) than made field goals (three) ... and we're left to hope that if Jet is going out ... that he doesn't go out quite like that.
DONUT 10: The crunch-time minutes ...
First two games, in the final two minutes of the eight quarters? Mavs outscored 52-29.
So Dallas fixed that in Game 3, outscoring OKC in the final two minutes of quarters in 19-11. And cripes, it still didnt matter. Kinda makes you throw your hands up, eh?
DONUT 11: Joining the Heat ...
Is there a special embarrassment reserved for a champion who in the following year gets swept 4-0? It's only happened once, to the 2007 Miami Heat.
I don't find it especially embarrassing, no. Don't Care. Won Championship.
DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
"We’ll circle the wagons, get the wheels back on the wagon and we’ll get ready for Saturday." -Coach Rick Carlisle