The Dallas Mavericks were swept out of the playoffs by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Not a surprise in a sense but I’m not sure how many saw a “broom job” coming from the Thunder, particularly after the first two games in Oklahoma City where the two wins came by a total of four points.
In fairness, the defending champions were not the same team that won the title last season. They lost key pieces in J.J. Barea, DeShawn Stevenson and Tyson Chandler that they were unable to replace. Chandler was the defensive anchor but don’t underestimate the disruption of championship chemistry that occurred with the loss of key role players Barea and Stevenson.
There were questions at the end of the season directed at owner Mark Cuban over some of the offseason decisions. Cuban pointed to the fact that his hand was forced somewhat by the new collective bargaining agreement that was hatched after the lockout. But Cuban was adamant that he had no regrets regarding any of the decisions moving forward into the season. Of course not, the decisions will give the Mavericks some financial flexibility moving forward.
Dallas was taken out by one of the teams that many see coming of age. After close losses to the Lakers two seasons ago and then the Mavericks in the conference final last year, many feel the Thunder have gained the necessary experience to take the jump this season. I still have my doubts but currently, Oklahoma City is winning me over. They were focused and made championship plays coming down the stretch in the closeout game on the road against a desperate squad.
So what happens to the Mavs now? Tyson Chandler isn’t walking back through that door. As a matter of fact, never mind players, the coaching situation in Dallas is up in the air as Rick Carlisle is a free agent and Cuban said he will address the situation at the proper time while another other front office type, Donnie Nelson, is confident Carlisle will return. Dallas will have some money to spend during the free agent period this summer and their cornerstone, Dirk Nowitzki, is already lobbying for another star or two to help him out next season.
With the nature of a basketball roster, a team can reload and have a successful makeover in a very short time period. Is Dallas native Deron Williams one of those that might arrive? Williams would certainly take some of the load off Nowitzki and would be a solid distributor if the Mavs are able to re-sign the likes of Jason Terry and Jason Kidd — who are also free agents. Of course Williams’ present team, the New Jersey — soon to be Brooklyn — Nets, and their general manager, Billy King think Williams will be back with them next season. Regardless, Williams or not, changes are coming in Dallas.
History is not on the side of the New York Knicks. Even though the Knicks were able to win Game 4 to extend the series, no team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series. In fact only three times in NBA history has a seventh game occurred after a team fell behind 3-0 and a comeback has never been completed. Historical significance also says it will be tough for the Chicago Bulls, Atlanta Hawks and Orlando Magic. A comeback from a 3-1 deficit has only taken place eight times in NBA history. But then again, with all that injuries and bizarre turns that playoff series sometimes take, one never knows. Just keep watching folks because sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.