In one of the most shocking upsets in NBA playoff history, the Golden State Warriors defeated the Dallas Mavericks, four games to two, in the opening round of the Western Conference series. Dallas was the #1 seed, heralded all year as heirs to the throne amidst their franchise best 67 game win season. At the All-Star break, experts gave them an outside chance of winning 70 games, a feat held only by the 1997 Chicago Bulls, who finished 72-10 en route to their memorable championship year. The Warriors, by comparison, had to win their final regular season game to make the playoffs.
During the regular season, Golden State won all three games in convincing fashion against Dallas, although in their last victory many Maverick starters were benched in order to rest for the first round. I was thrilled to watch each game. Most of the Warriors starters are young, gifted & black. Vice President Chris Mullin brought in Don Nelson to coach this year. He also traded for Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson & Al Harrington over the last two years to solidify an athletic squad that needed toughness to match their confidence. From the tip off the opening game, it was on.
Golden State played with a fearlessnesss I found fascinating. They ran up & down the court like the Phoenix Suns, a team Nelson played against when his Boston Celtics defeated them in a legendary '76 NBA Finals matchup. The Warriors solid team defense against Dirk Nowtitzki - whom many believe will cop his first NBA MVP trophy this year - was masterful. Their outside shooting was incredible, as Jason Richardson, Matt Barnes & Stephen Jackson drained threes with impunity.
Throughout the six game series, it just seemed like Golden State wanted to win, whereas Dallas expected to win. The Warriors were clearly hungry, playing as if they had something to prove: diving for loose balls, helping out on defense, taking charges in the lane; the Mavericks were always a step slower. After losing the first game at home by a lopsided margin, Dallas coach Avery Johnson changed the starting lineup, a point not lost on Hall-of-Famer & current TNT analyst Charles Barkley who openly criticized Johnson for changing a lineup that led them to a season high 67 wins.
We've learned through the bad boy example of the Detroit Pistons during their '89 & '90 title runs that defense wins championships. Also, the playoffs are about making adjustments. Dallas was unable to slow down & stop the torrid pace of the Warriors during the series. Each time the Mavericks went on a run, the Warriors matched their intensity. Many people will blame Nowitzki's lack of leadership & poor shooting for his team's untimely departure. As Barkely said, "when you're a star, if you when, you get all the credit, if you lose, you get all the blame, it's not right or wrong, that's just the way it is."
During the press conference following their game six loss on the road, a disappointed coach Johnson said his team became "jump shot happy," yet he humbly credited the Warriors organization for playing better team ball. Johnson spoke highly of Warriors guard Baron Davis, who was visibly injured in game six, yet showed courage, determination & heart in leading his team to their most important win in a quarter of a century. Golden State will play the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference semifinals. Can they repeat their success in the first round? We shall see.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.