Quantcast 2011 Dallas Mavericks Basketball: Western Conference Finals Outlook

 

The Difference

 

Ever since losing the title in 2006 to the Miami Heat in embarrassing fashion, the talk about the Dallas Mavericks has been extremely negative. Soft and mentally fragile have become the common descriptions used by pundits locally and nationally. However, the recent sweep of the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers has given hope to fans that the tendency to choke in big games has finally shifted and for good reason. Each player on the roster, as well as the coach, has experience something in their career which allows them to understand the unique situation the team is in this year and that will be the difference in their quest for the Maverick’s first ever championship title.

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Unlike in 2006, when the team rushed parade preparations, they have been careful not to tempt fate this time around. Following their game 4 victory over Los Angeles, no confetti was released over the arena and Mark Cuban has been uncharacteristically quiet and reserved. This is the mark of a franchise that understands the difficulties that lie ahead and are ready to face them.

Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry are not only the only members of the 2005-2006 Maverick team still with the club, but also the team’s two leading scorers this season. After winning the first two games of the Finals in 2006, the Mavs became complacent and even arrogant, arranging the parade before the series was over. The result was four straight loses that led to bitter agony and the reputation that came with it. The following season the Mavericks rebounded with 67 wins as Dirk won the MVP, but the team lost in the first round to the 8 th seeded Golden State Warriors, showing their futility and breaking their fan’s hearts once again. In the past, this was viewed as a negative, but during this run it should be viewed as a positive. Dirk and Terry seemed to have learned from those painful losses and know that they do not have many more chances like the one they currently encounter. The Lakers win was huge for them, but both players have kept their eyes on the prize, the NBA championship.

 

 

Coach Rick Carlisle also knows a thing or two about not getting ahead of himself. He has taken two other teams to a Conference final, just to experience uncommon heartbreaks following losing the series. In Detroit, Rick did a spectacular job of taking his team within a round of the NBA Finals, only to be fired. The following season, the Pistons won the championship under the guidance of Larry Brown and with the added post presence of Rasheed Wallace. He should have been given another chance, but the angst he felt in that situation does not vaguely compare to what happened in Indianapolis. Coach Carlisle was immediately hired following his release from Detroit by the Pacers, and he responded by taking them to the Eastern Conference Finals, only to lose again. However, the following season his team was the favorite to come out of the East and compete for a title. It all went horribly wrong during one game in Detroit when Ron Artest and company started fighting fans that lead to suspensions that destroyed the team’s championship hopes. Those heartbreaking situations have only served to strengthen the coach’s resolve as well as show him how quickly things can change. That outlook makes him the ideal man to trust in this upcoming Western Conference Final.

The rest of the team has also experienced situations that will serve them well following the unlikely sweep of Los Angeles. Shawn Marion and Peja Stojakovic has both been on teams that have had their hearts broken in the Conference Finals and will not take anything for granted. Brendon Haywood and Deshawn Stevenson are Veteran players who lost some close playoff series in Washington and know how rare an opportunity like the one they have now is. Tyson Chandler has played many years in the league without reaching a Conference Final and seems to understand how rare the opportunity to play in one is. J.J. Barea does not seem to get flustered no matter the stage and 10 th man Corey Brewer won back to back NCAA championships while at Florida, showing he does not let up after success. From top to bottom, the Mavericks have faced adversity and heartbreak and that will be the difference for them this season.

 

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By: Jake Wertheim
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer


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