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Josh Howard Partying During Playoffs?

It was only two weeks ago that I wrote about Baron Davis reportedly being out partying the night before the Warriors’ last game of the season — a must-win they lost to Phoenix that eliminated them from the playoffs. And today it disappoints me to write about the report from the Dallas area that Josh Howard was partying in between important games as well.

After a loss in Game 4 on Sunday, Howard passed out fliers in the locker room inviting teammates to celebrate his 28th birthday at a Dallas nightclub, a source said. The Mavs were down, 3-1, in the best-of-7 series.

Only a few players attended, the source said. But Avery Johnson confronted the players about the party the next day and canceled practice. The players decided to practice without the coaching staff.

The birthday party situation came two days after Howard went on a local radio show and discussed his off-season marijuana use.

Dude, what is this guy’s deal? Why volunteer to the media that you smoke weed in the offseason? That only makes people question your dedication, it doesn’t give you cool points. And then partying in the middle of the playoffs? After a loss no less? Are you kidding me? Do these guys not have any discipline? Seems to me like you can’t blame Avery Johnson and Dirk for this (though Avery was pardoned from his role as head coach). It’s about Josh Howard shooting a horrendous 29% from the field as the team’s second scoring option, caring more about partying than preparing for these games. Clearly Avery wanted to win. Kind of hard to do so when some of your players care less about it than you do. I don’t think this means Avery lost his team, I just think it means Howard’s immature, and now some team is going to get a really good coach because of it. And maybe the Mavs need to think about getting a different number two scorer who has his priorities in order.

Watch the Dallas Mavericks Live in 3D

Even if Mark Cuban is doing his best to piss off bloggers and make it awkward for others, he still is on the cutting edge when it comes to product development. The man who started HDNet has arranged a screening of the Mavericks/Clippers game Tuesday in 3D at a movie theater. No surprise that Cuban’s idea is a form of synergy for the man who owns both the Mavericks and some Landmark theaters, but the concept in itself is quite creative. FSN Southwest will broadcast the game in 2-D and work with a special 3-D production crew to make the 3-D broadcast work. Cuban seems to think the idea is a real winner:

“I think 3-D will play a huge role in out-of-home entertainment for the next few years,” said Cuban, founder of HDNet. “It will be a unique experience for watching sports, concerts and special events that only theaters will be able to offer.”

I don’t know if I’d be running out of the house to go catch a basketball game in 3-D, but I do have to say that I’m quite intrigued. And by intrigued, I mean I’d like to watch it if I had the opportunity, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to do so. Man, never shy to express his opinion, Mark Cuban is always way ahead of the game when it comes to technological ideas. Is it any surprise he’s a billionaire?

Avery Questioning Dirk’s Leadership?

Something was clearly missing from Dirk in the playoffs this year. He was the rightful recipient of the regular season MVP, and the quick exit by the Mavs was probably attributed to a poor matchup against the Warriors. Still, I was expecting nothing less than a finals run, and quite simply, a championship from Dallas last year. So what’s the deal? Where did it go wrong with Dirk? Maybe it has something to do with his questionable leadership skills, as Marcel Mutoni at FanHouse tips me off. From a Q&A with Avery Johnson in the Dallas Morning News:

What does Dirk Nowitzki have to do this year to improve on an MVP season?

Dirk can get better, and there are some things that Dirk can improve in that may not be basketball-related. It may be leadership-related. Dirk can get better on and off the court. And that’s why I’ve been stretching him. He’s the reigning MVP, and if he’s not willing to be stretched by his coach, then he never would have improved. So he’s willing to be stretched. And his stretching may not be necessarily on the court, but it may be in the area of leadership, and we’re willing to help him get better in that area.

You know, if Avery wanted to protect his player while answering diplomatically, he could’ve just said that things didn’t end up the way the Mavericks had hoped, and that there’s always room for improvement, regardless of whether or not you won an MVP … yadda, yadda, yadda. But no, Avery went straight to the leadership card. I’ve always liked how confrontational Avery has been, but maybe he didn’t have to go there at this time. Then again, he could be dead on with Dirk.

Dirk Deserves the MVP

It seems pretty simple to me — Dirk was the best player on the best team in a year where no other individual had as good a year for a team that came close to performing as well as the Mavericks. That’s why the report from ESPN’s Marc Stein that Dirk won the MVP award does not shock me. The voting occurs before the playoffs begin meaning whatever happens after the regular season — the important stuff — is insignificant. This is something Shaq should know well, as he bitched about Steve Nash winning back-to-back MVPs instead of him. I’ve always felt that Shaq has the real prize — the rings — and he’ll have the last laugh. Given a choice to Nash and Dirk, I guarantee you they’d prefer an NBA Championship.

But will Dirk and the Mavericks’ choke job keep them from winning future awards? Have they become their own worst enemies? After posting such an excellent regular season mark, going 67-15 to lead the NBA, there’s nothing they can possibly do that will change the public and the media’s view of them. They could go 72-10 next year, and there still will be people questioning if Avery Johnson deserves coach of the year, Dirk MVP (assuming he plays just as well as last year), and whether or not they should have three All-Stars. I know one thing. I will not let the poor performance of the Mavs in the playoffs cloud my judgment; they had a fantastic regular season, and Dirk firmly established himself as the leader of the best regular season team in the NBA. And that’s what this award is based on — the regular season.

How Soft Are the Mavericks?

Apparently so soft they’re changing their team logo (shh, it’s going to be a surprise to Mark Cuban from the marketing department)

Those Sons of Steve Garvey SOBs never fail to make me laugh. Keep up the good photoshop work, gents.

Sportadox: Did the Warriors Steal the Series or did the Mavericks Blow it?

In case you are unfamiliar with the sportadox, check out the definition here before you proceed. Because in a great sporting event such as the six game series between the Mavericks and Warriors, surely just the sound of the Golden St. Warriors beating the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks holds a paradox. Therefore the question must be asked: did the Warriors steal the series, or did the Mavericks give it away?

In support of the Warriors winning the series, Golden St. had Dallas’ number all season long. They beat the Mavs three times during the regular season, and four more in the post-season. Baron Davis was a man-child in the series, averaging 25ppg while shooting an incredible 54% from the field. Stephen Jackson was unconscious nailing over 3 3ptrs per game, including 19 of 40 for the series, good for 48% beyond the arc — wow. Action Jackson also caused a raucous defensively, grabbing 12 steals in the 6 games, including three in game six, and four in game five. The Warriors put up 105ppg in the playoffs, which was second to the Phoenix Suns, and they shot 46.4% from the field. So did they just have a hot series, or are they that good? And did they force Dallas to play poorly, or were the Mavs just off?

Dallas had the second most rebounds per game of any playoff team — presumably because they were grabbing their own offensive misses, 14 of those per game. They didn’t turn the ball over at an alarming rate, shot a not-too-horrible 42% from the field as a team, and they were 77% from the line. Pointing the finger at Dirk is about the only way to go here. The MVP candidate went 38% from the field (compared to 50% during the regular season), and he shot a pathetics 21% from beyond the arc (compared to 42% during the regular season). I think it’s safe to say the Mavericks lost the series because their big horse failed to carry them farther.

So now that I’ve established that Dirk was the big time goat in the series, was it because of the Warriors play, or him having an off-series that the Mavs lost? I think it’s a combination of the Warriors small lineup that disturbed Dirk’s concentration and rhythm, along with Golden St.’s fast-paced, three-point run-and-gun style offense that allowed the Warriors to steal the series from Dallas. It’s highly plausible that the Mavericks would have won the NBA championship had their road to the finals not crossed the Golden St. path. As for Golden St., don’t get too excited, you won’t sustain this level of play too much longer.

Mavericks will Win the NBA Title

All day Tuesday ESPN was running a stat prior to the Mavericks/Nets game since Dallas was approaching one of the best records in NBA history through 60 games. Here was the graphic of best teams through 60 games:

’95-’96 Bulls 54-6 Won Championship

’96-’97 Bulls 53-7 Won Championship

’66-’67 Sixers 52-8 Won Championship

’82-’83 Sixers 51-9 Won Championship

’71-’72 Lakers 51-9 Won Championship

and now it includes

’06-’07 Mavericks 51-9 ?????????????

While the numbers speak for themselves, it’s safe to say that the Mavericks don’t come anywhere close to commanding the type of respect those other teams do.  Why is that I wonder?

Probably because after Dirk Nowitzki, the team’s owner, Mark Cuban, is the only other recognizable figure of the franchise. 

HOWEVA, despite the fact that Dallas may have to go through the juggernaut Suns, Duncan and the Spurs, Yao’s Rockets, or the Jazz, I will go on record now and say that the Mavericks will win the NBA title this year. How can I be so certain you ask (besides the fact that the graphic says so)?

The Mavericks play excellent defense, they have a passing point guard (who is also deadly from long-range), Dirk is a stellar scorer (and yes, a leader too), Dampier and Diop are nails inside, and Josh Howard, Jerry Stackhouse, and Devin Harris are underrated scorers.  Also, Avery Johnson has excellent control of the club, and let’s not forget, they were up 2-0 on the Heat in the finals last year.

As another note, the Mavs have won 16 straight and have already clinched a playoff spot (on March 6th!).  I think the clinching certainly is worthy of the Avery Bunch video being relaunched, no?