Dallas Mavericks

GAME 6: Spurs 97, Mavs 87. My Top 10 Observations.

10. The Mavericks are now the only NBA team to lose in the first round of the playoffs as a No. 1 and No. 2 seed. Granted the four-time champion Spurs aren't your pedestrian No. 7 seed, but it's still an ugly epitaph to have etched on your tombstone.

9. Only silver lining: Thursday night was Erick Dampier's final game as a Maverick. Last night he wasn't bad, but he was never good enough.

8. Lots of blame for head coach Rick Carlisle, so let's get the fingers a pointing. I - and you - could sense the Mavs were in trouble three possessions into the game. While Tim Duncan aggressively drove to the hoop, Caron Butler took two long jumpers for Dallas. Avery Johnson had his faults as coach, but he often called an early timeout - sometimes in the game's first minute - just to say "No, we're not going to do this!" Carlisle let the soft play mushroom, only doing that weird little quiet prayer-clap of his while watching the passive Mavs trip to a franchise-worst first quarter of 8 points.

7. Jason Kidd had a great season, but a horrible series. Seriously, how many times do you remember him leading a fast break or finishing at the rim? Let's face it, he was a liability. His ineffectiveness in the series reminded of 2007 when he was woeful set-shooter in the first-round loss to the New Orleans Hornets.

6. Make that both the Jasons. Kidd and Terry were a combined 2 of 13 in Game 6. I know a lot of you are going to say "Dirk will never win a championship", but I've seen enough of the Jasons.

5. Can't believe what I saw, but I saw it. Shawn Marion can't score on Matt Bonner. Marion was mostly invisible in the series. At both ends of the court.

4. Good Great as Dirk was, the frustration fouls were inexcusable. Two times he just reached out and whacked a Spur, including once in the backcourt after a horrible inbounds pass by Kidd. Critics who say Dirk needs to be more of a leader and help keep his team's composure, you've got more fuel for your fire.

3. Difference in the series was San Antonio's George Hill. His 29 points in Game 4 and 21 last night were killers. He made 3-pointers from the corners. He made awkward one-footed floaters from the baseline. He was better than every Maverick other than Dirk Nowitzki and Caron Butler. You see that coming? I didn't.

2. Truth is, Roddy Beaubois should have been this year's version of the 2006 Devin Harris. That team, coached by Avery, needed to push the pace against the Spurs and turned to the speedy second-year point guard. This '10 team needed the exact same up-tempo influence, but Carlisle refused to play Beaubois until it was too little too late. After only 10 minutes in the series' first 5 games, the rookie was uncorked last night. He befuddled the Spurs with his quickness and creativity. He scored. He created scoring opportunities for teammates. He was the answer. But after 16 points in 18 minutes helped Dallas erase a 22-point deficit, then back to the bench in the fourth quarter. I don't get it. Neither, obviously, does Carlisle.

1. Dirk was spectacular as usual. 33 points despite foul trouble and what appeared to be a bum left leg hip ankle something. At 31, he's now played 11 seasons without a championship. He can opt out of his contract in July and become a free agent, able to leave Dallas and sign with another team. Making $21 million on a perennial playoff team, he ain't leaving. Most of me hopes and prays he doesn't go. But some of me wouldn't blame him.

0. Yes, I admit. I was wrong about the Mavs in 7. Eff. Me.

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Richie Whitt
Contact: Richie Whitt