by Micah Hart
Each day until the end of the NBA Finals, we’ll be taking a look at the conventional wisdom of the moment — which team is currently the favorite to win it all, and which team should be ashamed to still be putting on its jerseys.
Here’s how it looks on the morning of Sunday, May 22.
Start planning the parade:
The Mavs have two things every championship team needs — the ability to win on the road (last night’s win in Game 3 was the team’s fourth in six games this postseason), and an unstoppable clutch-time scorer.
For most of the game last night, Dirk Nowitzki couldn’t hit a shot. But when the stakes were raised towards the end, with Dallas’ lead trimmed from 23 to six, there was the Diggler, hitting three big shots to stem the tide and carry his team to a 2-1 series lead over the Thunder.
Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade are amazing players, and I’d be happy to have either in late-game situations, but neither are what Nowitzki is — namely, a seven-footer who can get a clean look at the basket from anywhere on the offensive half of the court.
Add in the continued excellence of a rotating band of Mavs (last night it was Shawn Marion, Tyson Chandler, and Jason Kidd), and Dallas is back on track for their first NBA title.
Give it up already:
Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Durant is my boy. He is perhaps the most gifted offensive player in basketball, and by all accounts he is one of the nicest, most decent fellows in the game. And he is a few games from proving once again that old Leo Durocher axiom, that “nice guys finish last.”
When you are having as bad a shooting night as Durant was in Game 3, it’s understandable to not want to force things. But when your teammates are similarly struggling from the field (a frostbitten 1-17 from 3-point range), and you are KEVIN FREAKIN’ DURANT, you gotta keep hoisting.
One thing I think we can say with relative certainty about the Thunder right now is, they are not a very good half-court team. When Durant’s shots are falling, this fact can be masked. But when they aren’t, man, it gets ugly out there.
With Dallas back to playing the terrific defense that helped them sweep the Lakers in the conference semis, the Thunder’s lack of execution, and Durant’s inability so far to DEMAND the ball when his team needs points, OKC is not long for this postseason.
Seen something that belongs on All Ball? Let us know via email or Twitter.