The Dallas Mavericks season has been long over. This year, the Mavs didn’t manage to make it into the playoffs and despite their efforts to keep their team as competitive as it was when it one the NBA National Championship just a couple of years ago, this year they just couldn’t make it happen. The team has been guided by the 34 four year old power forward has played his entire career with the Mavericks and all though he only has one NBA title back in 2011 where he also won the NBA Finals MVP, he is an 11 times NBA All Star and a referent for the game both nationally and abroad.
This season, Marc Cuban and the Mavericks were unable to keep Deron Williams and Steve Nash once their contracts expired. The Mavericks retooled their roster by letting go of Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and Brendan Haywood, and acquiring younger players such as O. J. Mayo, Darren Collison, as well as veteran big men Chris Kaman and Elton Brand. The mix didn’t work to well, and in general, the Mavericks went under the radar for the better part of the season.
Now, Nowitzki has come out to make a strong statement. He realizes that he is in the final stretch of his professional career and he wants to close his career with another championship. But he realizes that been one of the players with the top two salaries in the league leaves the organization little space to bring and secure backup. That’s why Nowitzki has come out to say that if the Mavericks manage to meet with Chris Paul and or Dwayne Wade and either or both players sign with Dallas, he will be extremely flexible with his contract and earnings to accommodate the acquisition of even more talent in the summer of 2014.
“At this point of my career, it’s all about competing and winning,” Nowitzki said Thursday in a corporate even where he was working along one of his sponsors. “It’s not about money. Obviously, (Mark) Cuban took care of me for a long, long time. I always tried to pay him back by hard playing and being here for this franchise, so I don’t think we’re going to fight over money. I want to compete over these last couple of years. That’s going to be the goal.”
The soon to be 35 year old Nowitzki will make $22.7 million in the final year of his contract next season, still has a higher salary than every NBA player except for Kobe Bryant. He knows quite well how to make and keep his money. The German has never hired and agent and has won more than $200 million throughout his career. So he knows that money isn’t a huge factor nor is it what keeps him motivated at this point of his career. After the very unsuccessful stop with the LA Lakers, it is unclear what the future holds for Dwight Howard. Perhaps the Mavericks could be a good fit. Now, in regards to Chris Paul, that’s a whole different story as he seems to be quite happy exactly where he is.
The round two of the NBA Playoffs kicked off this Sunday night as the Oklahoma City Thunder hosted the Memphis Grizzlies at home, and one more time, Kevin Durant had a chance to prove that despite not winning this years MVP, he sure enough is among the finest active players in the league. Sure the Most Valuable Player award when to LeBron James, who has been a dominant force with the NBA defending champions the Miami Heat, but despite that, Durant want’s to make it clear that he is par with James. And no other statement will do that, but to make his team make it into the NBA Finals, were most likely the Miami Heat is going to be waiting for them, and beat the LeBron James and the Heat and give the Thunder their first NBA title.
For now, however, Durant and the Thunder have to get pass the Memphis Grizzlies who have shown that they will not be an easy target for Scott Brooks’ men. Durant had to go into overdrive mode and score 35 points, 15 rebounds and 6 assists to lead Oklahoma City in a 93-91 win at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Sure, Durant was the best all around in the court, but it would be veteran Derek Fischer who would make the game-changing play and get the Thunder out of a very difficult situation. The Grizzlies were up by one point in the final minute of the game. And that’s where the old Fisher poked the ball away from Memphis’ Mike Conley. The ball went free and three-time NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant sprint into the open court. He swerved and pulled off a nice jumper with 11.1 seconds left. “I just wanted to get up the floor as quick as possible and find a shot,” said Durant, who was second in the MVP race. “That was the only shot I could find and, by the grace of God, it went in.”
Thabo Sefolosha got on his defensive prowess to keep the Grizzlies from going ahead in the final 11 seconds. Marc Gasol finished the night with 20 points, 10 rebounds to guide the visiting team effort, who certainly managed to give the Thunder a good fight despite playing on the road. Game two of the series will be played in Oklahoma City on Tuesday and it wouldn’t be so much of a surprise if they managed to pull off a win on the road. The thing here is that the Thunder’s bench has been phenomenal, and if they can keep it up, it’s very hard to break that winning streak.
Kevin Martin scored 25 for Oklahoma City. The Thunder trailed for much of the game but was to turn things around and avoid once again losing game 1 loss as they did when the two teams met in the West semifinals two years ago. The Thunder were able to rally and win that series in seven games. Now, for the sake of making it into the Playoffs with the best shape, they better solve this series in 5 or 6 games before going head to head with the Miami Heat, or whoever may come out of the East.
It’s been a long time coming. For nine years now, the Indiana Pacers have tried to repeat and win another division title. At 48-28 for the season, the Pacers are just a game shy of securing that feat, so it was no surprise that at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Pacers fans were eager and fairly ready to celebrate their team winning the division. The Pacers would get some good performances from a couple of their best players. Roy Hibbert guided the home team’s efforts with 22 points and eight rebounds, while David West added 17 points and George Hill finished with 10. Nobody else reached double figures.
Before them, however, they had the Oklahoma City Thunder, a squad that coming off from the Western Conference and at 56-20 for the season have now evened the San Antonio Spurs for the top spot in the Western Conference. There is no doubt so far that the Thunder is making some noise and that they are among the top three teams in the league.
The Thunder, however, had the motivation and even if we got a bit scare when we saw Kevin Durant, the three-straight-time scoring champion of the NBA go to the ground in the second quarter and hold his left calf, he was able to recover and return in the second half to dominate in the court. Despite his injury, Durant came out from the locker room in the third quarter to guide the Thunder and finished the night with 34 points and 9 rebounds. Russell Westbrook came around to chip in with 24 points, 7 rebounds and nine assists as the Thunder kept the Pacers from celebrating as the Oklahoma City Thunder schooled the Indiana Pacers giving them their worst home-loss so far this season. Truth is that the home team never had a chance and the 97-75 crushing was quite symbolic of the dominance the Thunder has had this second half of the season.
Let’s go ahead and consider for a moment that on Thursday night the Thunder took down the San Antonio Spurs 100-88 to prove their dominance over their conference rivals. They finished the game that night and flew straight to Indianapolis. Less than 16 hours after arriving at the team hotel, the Oklahoma was schooling the Pacers on their own court. They will now have to get some rest before facing another very though rival on Sunday. The two hottest scorers in the league, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant go head to head at Oklahoma City.
“It’s always tough playing back-to-backs no matter what, especially home and away,” said Durant, who leads the league in scoring for the third straight year. “We played a tough, tough team last night and then playing a team that plays so hard, plays so well in this building, you know it’s going to be tough. So we just wanted to come out and play hard for 48 minutes tonight and we’ll rest up tomorrow.” And they better rest as New York is coming off one heck of a run and promise to be a tough rival.
The Celtics are looking flawed, tired, and old. And that’s certainly not what this team is. But considering that the Detroit Piston were coming back from a long trip oversees and that they didn’t get enough sleep, let alone time to recover from the jet-lag and time adjustments from losing their game against the New York Knicks in London, the Celtics should have been better. The Pistons made it look too easy. The blew up an 18-point second quarter lead before opening the gap once again to finally crushing Boston 103-88 at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The Pistons moved the ball around quickly and just kept on firing easy wide-open shots from behind the three-point arch. It just wasn’t going to happen for Boston last night. Sure enough Kevin Garnett guided the pack with 16 points for Boston, while the talented Rajon Rondo had eight points, 15 assists and nine rebounds. But the Celtics starting point guard also had nine turnovers, which contributed to the Pistons building up the lead again in the second half.
This is the Celtics third straight loss in a row, and a mark that sets them up with a 20-20 record for the season. Certainly not what fans are expecting and quite clearly, not what Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo had in mind when they opted to stick together for yet another season. For the last 5 years the Celtics have been a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference, making it deep into the Playoffs but not been able to repeat their first title since the original big three came to be. Now with Ray Allen gone, in what many considered a bit of a betrayal, to their arch-enemy the Miami Heat, it seems as if the Celtics have not been able to stay consistent. They’ve won great games against very thought rivals, but they also lose against some of the weaker teams in the league. And quite clearly, there is something going on, there’s something that’s not working right, a piece that is missing in the puzzle and head coach Doc Rivers is starting to feel the pressure.
He knows that they can afford to have players performing in such an uneven level. They need to start working as a group, find a way to mix up the enormous experience with the speed and strength of it’s younger players and make this thing work. “We are playing awful and I am clearly not doing my job for this team and I am serious,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “I am not trying to take a bullet for the team and I told them that. I said we have to find something where all 12 guys play the same way.” Because quite frankly there is no reason why the Celtics couldn’t even managed to lead once in their game against the Detroit Pistons.
Rookie Andre Drummond had 16 points and seven rebounds for the Pistons. Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight and Will Bynum scored 15 points apiece for Detroit to round up a solid team effort. Sure enough, at 15-25 for the season, there’s plenty of room for improvement for the Pistons. But a win like these could help them built up the momentum and turn things around.