2012 NBA Playoff Postmortem: Dallas Mavericks

Dirk Nowitzki can only scratch his head as the Mavericks
get eliminated from the 2012 NBA Playoffs.
(image by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

It’s amazing how irony strikes. The franchise that won the last-team-standing postseason in 2011 is the first team to be booted out of the 2012 edition.

Yes, the team that pretty much surprised everyone by sweeping LA, beating the youthful Thunder, and upsetting Miami last year got unceremoniously booted out after just four games.

Irony is amazing – amazingly painful.

But can anyone really be blamed except the Mavs themselves, or at least their management?

During the NBA TV postgame analysis after Game 4, Bill Laimbeer said this year’s Mavericks seemed like a different team and that they weren’t hungry enough.

I’m not sure I agree with the hungry part, but nobody can contest his first point about Dallas being a completely different team.

Three of their vital cogs from last season’s miracle run didn’t return this season – Tyson Chandler, JJ Barea, and DeShawn Stevenson. Yes, despite losing these guys, the Mavs were still a top-tier defensive team this season, but their absence clearly made a difference in the playoffs against a young, athletic, speedy, and fearless OKC five. BTW, those four adjectives, perhaps with the exception of fearless, are the exact opposites of this Dallas quintet.

Of course, it also didn’t help that the Dallas offense suffered when Dirk Nowitzki made only a shade under 46% of his FGs (lowest since his rookie season), and when the Lamar Odom experiment unexpectedly blew up in smoke.

So bad offseason moves, just plain old legs, and the Lamar Odom episode all conspired to hand Dallas the first exit stub in the 2012 Playoffs. Again, quite painful that Dallas fans didn’t even get to enjoy their title for a full 12 months. Too bad.

Lamar Odom's stint in Dallas was both short and forgettable.
(image by Vernon Bryant/Dallas Morning News)
The future, however, doesn’t look bleak.

Mark Cuban has a ton of capspace money on his lap. He could use all that to lure another big star – someone like Deron Williams or, and this is who I’m rooting for, Steve Nash. Other potential attractions are Ray Allen and KG, or maybe even Grant Hill. Of course, adding any or all of those names means the Mavs get older still. 

I see the Mavs reflecting long and hard about how they lost the title so quickly, and, hopefully, making better offseason moves to come back strong next year. With Dirk bound to turn 35 soon, Cuban better make some good moves, unless, of course, he’s content with just one ring. Somehow, I think he’s just not that type of guy.

Could Steve Nash make a welcome return to Dallas?
I surely hope so!
(image by the AP)
*Rick Carlisle’s contract ends, too. Dallas would do well to lure him back.

Game Recaps:

PHI over CHI, 89-82
The Philadelphia 76ers have the NBA's No. 1 overall seed on the brink of elimination. The only good news for the shorthanded Chicago Bulls? They get to go back home to try and turn it all around. Jrue Holiday scored six of his 20 points on back-to-back 3s late in the fourth quarter Sunday and the Sixers beat the Bulls, 89-82, in Game 4 to take a 3-1 lead in their first-round series. The Sixers have won three straight since Bulls star Derrick Rose went down for the rest of the season with an injury late in Game 1. Chicago played this one without another key starter, center Joakim Noah, who sprained his left ankle in Game 3. Game 5 is Tuesday in Chicago.

NYK over MIA, 89-87
With his team on the brink of elimination, Carmelo Anthony poured in 41 points and the Knicks defeated the Heat, 89-87, in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal matchup at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. Amare Stoudemire, who missed Game 3 with an injured left hand which he suffered when he punched a fire extinguisher after a loss in Game 2, returned to the lineup and scored 20 points and grabbed 10 boards to help the Knicks earn their first playoff victory in over a decade. The Knicks had lost an NBA-record 13 straight consecutive playoff games, dating back to April 29, 2001, but still have plenty of work to do as they trail Miami 3-1 in their best-of-seven series. The series returns to Miami for Game 5, which is slated for Wednesday. LeBron James scored 27 points, Dwyane Wade chipped in 22 and Chris Bosh added 17 but the Heat were unable to complete their first series sweep since the second round of the 2005 playoffs against the Washington Wizards.

BOS over ATL, 101-79
After needing overtime to take Game 3 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal against the Hawks, the Boston Celtics routed Atlanta, 101-79, in Game 4 on Sunday. Boston shot 60 percent from the floor in the first three quarters, building a lead as large as 37, and led by double-digits for the game's final 37 minutes. Paul Pierce netted 24 points and Rajon Rondo followed up his Game 3 triple-double with 20 points and 16 assists, two of six Celtics to score in double-figures as they took a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. The Celtics can punch their ticket to the semifinals in Game 5, slated for Tuesday in Atlanta. After missing Game 3 with a shoulder injury, Josh Smith returned to Atlanta's starting lineup and paced the Hawks with 15 points in defeat.

LAL over DEN, 92-88
Ramon Sessions hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 48.1 seconds to play and the Los Angeles Lakers took a 92-88 win over the Denver Nuggets in a closely contested Game 4 of this Western Conference quarterfinal series. Kobe Bryant posted 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists, Andrew Bynum added 19 points and seven boards while Pau Gasol donated 13 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the Lakers, who hold a 3-1 advantage in this best-of-seven series after splitting the two games in Denver. Los Angeles can now close out this series at home on Tuesday night in Game 5. Danilo Gallinari scored 20 points and pulled down six rebounds while Andre Miller added 15 points and seven boards off the bench for the Nuggets, who got 11 points and six assists from Ty Lawson.

*Game recaps were compiled and compressed from Reuters, the Associated Press and the Sports Network.

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