The sentiment among several Mavericks players was that this year's team was the most "playoff ready" they've had around here in years. The Spurs proving otherwise, though.
Veteran teams are supposed to be able to handle themselves in hostile territory. Instead this Maverick bunch admittedly suffered a loss of composure in the second half of their most crucial game of the season.
After having gagged away an eleven point lead, Dirk Nowitzki's frustration boiled over. He was slapped with a questionable technical foul when he tangled with the Spurs Dejaun Blair deep in the third quarter. A slew of flagrant fouls followed, but Eddie Najera's was the most uncalled for. Instead of simply taking a hard foul on a driving Manu Ginobili, Najera thumped and hog-tied him with a move that will no doubt be coming to a mixed martial arts fight near you.
I just shook my head and said, "Dumb."
A five point lead became 9 and it turned out to be insurmountable. With the season hanging in the balance, a veteran should have been more poised and subtle. But I'm not here to blame Najera for the loss because there were several Mavericks employing the same kind of flawed logic in the loss.
Like the bunch on the floor during the third quarter when the Spurs went on a 25-6 run. Instead of driving the ball to the basket when the Spurs played belly-to-belly defense, the Mavs passed it around the perimeter, took jump shots, then wondered where their lead went. "It just gets stagnant and we don't make plays," Mavericks guard Jason Terry said of the offense, "At home we push the ball a lot better so that's going to be a motto and a theme for the rest of the series."
Great idea, but probably one whose time is too late.
The biggest travesty in the Mavs "loss of composure" is their best defensive effort has gone wasted. Its not often you hold the Spurs "big three" of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker to 31 points combined. The Mavs doing just that, but still found a way to lose.
Again, not how veteran teams operate. And they'll be kicking themselves all off season thinking about what they could and should have done better.