For any of you out there whose passions go beyond film and music and into the world of pro basketball, the past few weeks and first two rounds of the NBA playoffs have been nirvana. In fact, I think there’s only been two days since the start of the playoffs where there were no games scheduled. These matchups and series have been uncommonly good, and the best one of them all was the San Antonio/Dallas series won Monday night by Mark Cuban’s Mavericks in 7 games, in overtime, on the road in San Antonio (a rarity since the home team wins game 7 nearly 82% of the time).
By some quirk in the playoff seedings system (which the NBA has promised to fix next year), these two teams with the best records in the Western Conference ended up meeting in the second round of the playoffs rather than the finals like two 60+ game winners should do (only the third time in history this has happened). If this was the NBA Finals rather than a second round series, people would talk about it as one of the best ever played. With exception to one game, the whole rest of the series was incredibly competitive with two unbelievably great players (Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki) with wonderful supporting casts going at it. Forgetting the two overtimes, the Mavs outscored the Spurs by a total of 5 points over 7 games! And four of the seven games had the possible winning shot in the air at the buzzer at the end of regulation. To add even more drama, one of San Antonio’s key reserves was Michael Finley, an all-star with Dallas for many years, and the Mavericks’ coach is Avery Johnson, who spent nine years as a point guard for the Spurs.
When they talk about every possession counting and the spirit of competition, this series of contests exemplified that in the best (and most exciting!) way. Having been a huge sports fan my whole life, I can honestly say this was one of the truly great playoff series of all time. Congratulations to the Mavs for getting over the hump and finally beating the Spurs in a series, who once again could not defend their title and repeat despite winning three World Championships in the last six years. Now let’s see what Dallas can do against those MVP-led high-flying Phoenix Suns…it may not be a classic but it should be a lot of fun.