There are a couple of overriding emotions that have arisen in the Mavs’ playoff series against the Thunder.
1. A surprising disgust at the once-likeable Thunder.
2. Eternal admiration (and sympathy) for Dirk Nowitzki.
None of us thought the Mavs would win this series. In the end, it’s amazing they were able to grab one game. Tonight will likely be the end of the season as Dallas travels to Oklahoma City for Game 5 as a undermanned, wounded team.
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We knew Nowitzki would play hard. And well. But what we’ve learned is that the Thunder are an annoyingly arrogant group that performs Glee before games, cusses out fans and sneaks in dirty, cheap elbows to opponents.
The Thunder are the better team. But they are by far the second-classiest team.
Kevin Durant has deteriorated into a punk in this series.
He called Charlie Villanueva and Justin Anderson “fake (stuff)”. He’s elbowed a couple of Mavs, and Saturday night at American Airlines Center he whacked Anderson right across the head in garbage time. He was fined $15,000 for the flagrant hit, while Russell Westbrook was hit with a $50,000 punishment for obscenities hurled toward a fan by the Thunder bench.
Serge Ibaka also got a technical foul in the waning minutes of a blowout for a hard elbow to Villanueva’s back.
Through it all, Dirk has been dynamic. Problem is, he’s been all alone.
Because of injuries to Chandler Parsons and J.J. Barea and Deron Williams and … Nowitzki’s been the Mavs’ best player. He’s 37 years old. Think about that absurdity. For the Mavs to compete for a title at this point, he needs to be the 2nd, or perhaps even 3rd-best player on the roster.
Instead, he’s carrying the weight of a wobbly franchise on his worn-out knees.
He played 40 minutes and scored 27 points in Game 4, and will likely give his all and play his best tonight.
You never know in sports. Nowtizki said he’ll play out his contract next year and then perhaps another season after that. But the Mavs are old and slow and broken down and don’t have a 1st-round draft pick. Who knows? Tonight could be the last playoff game of the future Hall of Famer’s career.
Dirk left maybe more than $10 million on the table so the Mavs could acquire winning pieces around him. But, alas, it hasn’t happened. It won’t happen. Since winning the title in 2011 Dallas hasn’t won a playoff series.
I’ll watch tonight with two staple thoughts: The Thunder’s immaturity will prevent it from winning the next round. And, yes, Dirk deserves better.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.