Last night, the Dirkus Circus put forth an offensive effort that should be talked about forever. Dirk Nowitzki has been one of the top guys in the NBA for a long time, and he's obviously been the top gun in Dallas for the Mavericks since getting there. But last night, in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, he did something special.
After Nowitzki and his Mavs swept the two-time defending champions, the Los Angeles Lakers, things were looking rosy for them. But against a young and enthusiastic Oklahoma City Thunder and the youngest scoring champ in NBA history, Kevin Durant, things were supposed to be tough.
Game 1 might have gotten as close as 5 points in the last 4 minutes, but it never felt that close. With Nowitzki nearly impossible to guard, the Thunder did the even worse thing - sending him to the free throw line, where he was 24-24.
Nowitzki, of course, has been long-regarded as one of the premier talents in the game, but the soft label chased him around the league like a persistent bloodhound. After going up 2-0 on the Miami Heat in 2006, the Mavs suffered a psyche-crushing loss in Game 3 and promptly lost the series.
The next year, in 2007, as the overall 1 seed, the Mavs were the first team to lose to an 8 seed in a 7 game series. The Golden State Warriors capitalized on several advantages and continued the Mavs' woes.
In 2008, the New Orleans Hornets got to play the spoiler to the Mavs, brushing them aside in the first round 1-4.. In 2009, they lost in the Conference Semifinals to the Denver Nuggets, again 1-4. In 2010, it was the San Antonio Spurs who got the best of the Mavs, again in the second round, 2-4.
When this season began, the Mavs had made a couple trades to beef up their team, but no matter how impressive they looked, they were dismissed. They were the cowards and the chokers who couldn't get it done in the post-season. Nowitzki was an all-time talent, but he'd never live up to the disappointment of his '06 Finals collapse against the Heat. It was smart money to bet against the Mavs.
Unitl, all of a sudden, last night, when Nowitzki decided to make all the pundits look like fools. He shot 12-15 from the line along with the aforementioned perfection from the free throw line, for 48 points. He also managed 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 blocks. He posted a ridiculous 93.89% on true shooting percentage and put on a clinic on how to shoot that should e part of any teaching highlights film.
The only question now is whether the fans of the Dallas Mavericks feel comfortable enough to start rooting for the Miami Heat to beat the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals so that they can exact their true revenge.