Despite the disappointment we all feel after having watched the Thunder let slip away what is probably their last best chance to keep this series competitive, we still want to check in with the Mavs Moneyball folks to get their impression on things. I for one have been impressed by the respect, from the head coach on down, that the franchise has held out for the Thunder franchise. It is important to remember that the Mavericks too have been through the refinement by fire, and they too yearn to apply those painful lessons to their slow march forward. They know nothing is over until someone hoists the trophy. So let us check in once more with Lisa Rotter and get her impression on a few things.
Lisa also posed some questions for me, and you can find those questions and answers at Mavs Moneyball here.
You can find her previous Conference Finals Q&A here.
1. The Mavs were down 15 points with 5 minutes to play. What was the general feeling for you guys as well as the team's chances, and when did you start to believe the momentum had shifted?
Well if I go off of the game thread, I'd say a great number of us had thrown in the towel, metaphorically speaking. We were upset that we couldn't blame Danny Crawford and some of us were resigning ourselves to a tied series.When James Harden fouled out, and the Mavericks (led by the legendary Dirk Nowitzki) went on a 17-2 run to tie the game for overtime, there was a full 180 degree shift in mentality. This was one of those situations where I think veteran experience won out over youth, because the Mavericks didn't panic. Once we saw a fresh five minutes put on the clock, I think most of us believed the Mavericks had pulled off an incredible comeback. Of course, none of us would say it until the clock read zero, because we are very superstitious.
2. From a Dallas fan's point of view, what do you think was the difference between how the Mavs closed out Game Four and the Thunder failed to close out Game Three?
I think it's a combination of experience (I know, it's getting quite redundant, forgive me) and a team mentality. A lot of these Mavericks have been playing together for longer than most of the Thunder players have been in the league. The confidence that their teammates will be there if they don't have a shot enables plays like the three from Jason Kidd to happen. Dirk said he didn't have a shot, and he knew Kidd could hit that three if he needed to. From an outsider's perspective, it seems as though the two stars of the Thunder, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, still feel the need to switch into 'hero mode' when the game is on the line, and as a result, they can't orchestrate the comeback. Honestly, give the team a few seasons together, and the Thunder will be unstoppable. The talent (ridiculous talent) is there, and the eagerness to improve is there. All they need is time to mature, and OKC will dominate the West.
3. What are you most concerned about heading into the Game Five close-out?
I see one of two things happening in game five, and both of them involve swagger. Either the Mavericks let this comeback give them an ego boost and they come out confident, or they come out cocky. And yes, there is a big difference. If they come out confident, they will execute and play their style of basketball knowing that they can beat this Thunder team. If they are cocky, they will allow themselves to be sucked into Thunder basketball and get run off the court. We saw it time and time again during the regular season- Dallas pulls off a huge win over a top team, and then forgets to respect a lesser team and loses embarrassingly. OKC is by no means a lesser team. But if the Mavericks allow themselves to think that, even for a second, they can and will lose.
Thanks again to Ms. Rotter for her time and insights, and we hope that we will be able to check in with Mavs Moneyball once more after the series is over.