Today we are beginning our attempt to check in around the league to see how other blogs of potential playoff teams are doing. We start with the Dallas Mavericks blog Mavs MoneyBall, which is run by the lovely Lisa Rotter. I'm hoping that we will be able to get some first hand insights to each of the teams that are in the playoffs, so let's hope this effort gets off to a good start.
I asked Miss Rotter a series of questions regarding her take on how the Mavs' season has gone, what she thinks is in their future when the playoffs begin, and what she would like to see out of the team during these last two weeks of the regular season.
In turn, I was presented with a series of questions regarding the Thunder, so if you're eager to see how that goes, be sure to stop by Mavs MoneyBall today, or simply follow this link:
Without further ado, here are the questions I posed:
1. I happen to be a 1st time blogger in writing about the Thunder, so I was not prepared for the length of the season. How have you been able to keep interest in the team high both for yourself and for your readers?
FIrst of all, thanks for having me. The Thunder are my favorite team other than the Mavericks, and I have LOVED watching them grow as a franchise. Kevin Durant is a prodigy and a pleasure to watch, and Russell Westbrook is adorable. That being said, let's get to the nitty gritty. The first question is kind of funny, only because you're assuming that I and my readers are still interested in the season :) Compared to the rest of the members of Mavs Moneyball, I haven't been a fan for all that long, but long enough to know that this team has developed a particularly specialized skill of getting us totally hyped at the beginning of the season, and then slowly beating us down until we can't bear to watch but we can't look away. I can't really take credit for keeping interest high on the site- the Mavericks themselves give us bursts of greatness throughout the season where we start to think THIS IS IT! This is our year! Only to have our hopes dashed in a premature, first-round exit. There is some sort of masochistic need to watch the downward spiral that is the Dallas Mavericks season.
As for the site content, we try to keep a mix of legit basketball analysis and fan-produced, comedic content. That way, if the basketball itself isn't particularly interesting, we have other, off-topic things we can discuss to distract ourselves. As for the length of the season, well that's another issue altogether. I actually mentioned during our frustrating loss to Portland last night that the season should probably be at least 20 games shorter. I came up with this number because Dallas has now made 11 straight seasons with 50 wins or more. But they very rarely get much higher, and they most certainly don't survive the post season (see how burnt out we fans are?!). If the season were only, say, 60 games, the Mavericks wouldn't have to worry about those 25 losses they rack up and they could be fresher for the post-season. But that's just wishful thinking.
2. Also in regards to length of the season, how do you deal with the inevitable highs and lows? How do you keep perspective on where the Mavs are headed?
The second question is oh so related to the first. As I said, there's something weird about us Mavericks fans that can't quite be defined, other than a bad case of self-loathing for getting our hopes up year after year. The Mavericks, back in the day, were a terrible team. Consistently below .500. And yet, they managed to build up a rabid fan base, known affectionately as MFFLs (Mavs Fans For Life). As I said, I'm a relative newcomer to the fold, but I am no less rabid, and I can assure you the fans on our site are their own breed of faithful. We deal with our highs and lows as any fanatic might- by screaming and pointing fingers and generally breaking down emotionally.
When the Mavs had their streak of something like 18 wins in 20 games this season, we were riding high. But being the realists that we are, we knew this wouldn't mean squat as the post-season approached. You know the saying, once bitten, twice shy? Well the Heat bit us hard, and after their disgraceful showing in the 2006 Finals, Mavs fans know that the regular season essentially means nothing if the team can't show up in the playoffs. I feel badly being such a negative Nancy, but when you've seen the collapse as regularly as Mavericks fans have, it's hard to feel any other way than apprehensive about the future of this team. But on the other hand, find me a Dallas fan that doesn't want a ring for Dirk Nowitzki, and I'll show you a sorry excuse for a human being. We have to hold out hope, because the alternative is just too depressing for words.
3. Given your pre-season expectations of the Mavs this season, how would you grade their season's performance and 3rd place finish?
We had ourselves quite the roller coaster season, thanks to some pretty devastating injuries. In our preview at the start of the season, we stated the main goal was to find a Robin to our German Batman. It was starting to look like Caron Butler could fill that role, so when he went down with his ruptured patellar tendon, it was pretty disheartening. To make matters worse, we lost Dirk to a knee injury for nine games, and had an abysmal record of 2-7 in that stretch. When he came back, the Mavericks got back on their feet a bit, and have made a valiant effort (until now) to retake their position near the top of the Southwest division.
Rodrigue Beaubois has gotten significantly more playing time this season, which is what the fans were begging for, and yet he hasn't really amazed us. Dominique Jones, our draft pick who was supposed to bring youth and toughness, didn't make a great showing despite success in the D-League, and then managed to hurt himself and hasn't played in months. Our two-headed center tandem of Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood turned out to be a regular old one-headed guy, since Haywood just decided not to show up this season. Despite all of this, we have somehow managed to remain perched among the elite in the Western Conference, and to come away with the three seed below the invincible Spurs and the returning Champion Lakers, I'd have to say we didn't do so badly. But I said it before and I'll say it again, the regular season and the three seed wont mean much at all if we make another early exit.
4. With the playoff seeds more or less locked into place, how do you think the Mavs will be treating the remaining two weeks of the season?
Ah, now THERE is the question of the hour. The Dallas Mavericks are old. Last time I checked, based on starters and minutes, we are the oldest team in the league. Hell, our point guard, the player who is supposed to be fast and quick and flashy, is 38 years old. So if they were smart and didn't care about the regular season record, the Mavericks would rest their starters. Everyone gives theCeltics and the Spurs a hard time for coasting through the end of the season, but watching our Mavericks playing on tired legs seems to make it look like a better idea. Knowing Coach Rick Carlisle, he will probably give his starters some more time on the bench, and he'll hopefully throw around different lineups as he's been doing all season to find ones that work in different situations.
But there's also the issue of pride, and the Mavericks players have that in buckets. They will go out, and they will try to win games, and they might exhaust or, heaven forbid, hurt themselves in the process. If it were up to me, I'd say hey. You've got your 50+ win season, you've got your three seed, which is respectable, and you've got a week before the regular season ends. Give the young guys some playing time. Also, keep in mind that the Dallas bench has been one of the best in the NBA this season. There's a good chance that we could do well despite our stars getting a breather. I'm of the belief that you can't take a player who has been riding the pine and throw him in at a crucial moment and expect greatness. If we want our whole team to be ready for the playoffs, they have to get some playing time in the regular season. But I'm just a lowly blogger, and Rick doesn't much care for me. So I doubt he'll take my opinion into consideration.
Much thanks to Lisa for her excellent contribution. Be sure to start checking out Mavs Moneyball to help get a full flavor for what this season's playoffs are going to offer.