Blog Entry

NBA Playoffs: It's Dirk Nowitzki's Universe

Posted on: May 24, 2011 1:59 am
Edited on: May 24, 2011 5:59 am
Dirk Nowitzki owns everything as Mavs drop Thunder in comeback win in Game 4 of Western Conference Finals. 

Posted by Matt Moore

I swear, there was one shot where he wasn't even trying to hit it. He pump-faked, got Collison in the air for the zillionth time, and threw up a sideways shot. He was aiming, but it wasn't a shot you think about hitting, beyond pure instinct. The ball went up and forward. It went straight through the net. It was unbelievable. If it was anyone else, I would think it was luck. But I know better. At this point, we all know better, we all know Dirk.

It was only a shred of Dirk Nowitzki's incredible performance in Game 4 against the Thunder as the Mavericks kicked in the doors of the Thunderground Resistance who were celebrating victory up 15 with five minutes to go, and walked out with a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference finals. Nowitzki scored 12 of the Mavericks' 17-2 run in the fourth quarter, and took over in the way that they write about in books. It was the kind of performance you tell your kids about. That's cliche, right? But that's just how legendary it was. There was so much of a narrative in this game for Nowitzki, in fact, that mirrors his career arc.

In the first half, the Thunder could not miss, hitting their first nine shots. It looked every part a blowout. But Nowitzki balanced the Mavericks, provided the consistent, calming effect you need to weather a storm against a young emotional team like the Thunder. Nowitzki had 22 in the first half ... on just seven shots. The model of efficiency, and it helped the Mavericks cut a nine point deficit at the half to just four. In the third quarter, the Thunder defense stepped up on Nowitzki. Instead of going to work and committing to his shot, Nowitzki tried to get his teammates opportunities, constantly passing out of the double. He was trying to be the team player, not trying to force things. Honestly, his defensive and rebounding work was subpar Monday night, and the Thunder constantly grabbed offensive rebounds and found open dunks underneath. But, still, the Mavericks hung around.

Then with five minutes to go, down 15, Dirk went to work. It's the kind of thing you hope for your hero, your legend, to do if you're a fan. No "grab the ball at half court and try and cross him over." No, Nowitzki went to the post. When Collison denied, Nowitzki reposted. And when he got him to the elbow, there was no "NICK COLLISON: DIRK STOPPER" film playing at the Cineplex. It was just the German Shake And Bake show. 

Down 10 with 3:14 to go, it was a top of the key, pump-fake-drive-and-pull-up from the left elbow, forcing Collison to go full-speed then put on the brakes. How does a 7-foot lanky 32-year-old get to his pull-up so fast? At the 1:30 mark? Nowitzki went to the same move. Top of the key pump-fake-and-go, except when Collison anticipated it and jumped to the elbow, Nowitzki pivoted to the middle, then kicked back on a fadeaway. It's an impossible shot. It's an incredible shot. It should not have gone in any sane world. Swish.

You can say a player puts a team on his back, but with the Mavericks facing an insurmountable deficit, the Mavericks' franchise player was there. The man who has led them to so many wins, and yet been so often overlooked in his career, came up ... no, did not come up ... took over the game and put the Mavericks one home game away of winning the Western Conference.

It was supposed to be the Lakers' three-peat. It was supposed to be the rise of the young Thunder. Instead it's Nowitzki's universe. And we're all just watching Dirk work.

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: May 24, 2011 9:33 am

NBA Playoffs: It's Dirk Nowitzki's Universe

dirk just wants it more. he shoots several thousand shots a day, so it shouldn't be a surprise when he makes anything. i play pickup games once every couple of weeks, and i've hit some wild well-defensed shots. so when a guy that's dedicated his entire life to shooting the basketball makes these kind of shots, it doesn't surprise me at all. it should surprise no one.

and nevermind that three or four of those plays should have been accompanied with foul calls. the refs were holding their whistles outside of the collison grab in front of the bench. and how about the attempted icing of dirk at the line by spilling water on the court? dirk smirked, drilled the second free throw, and reminded everyone in the building that there is no defense for his shot.

i'd like ot give the okc crowd at the game a lot of credit. (their chants against the refs were a bit misguided at times) however, despite blowing a huge lead, with the game over in overtime, they still chanted 'okc'... it was pretty awesome.

Since: Oct 18, 2010
Posted on: May 24, 2011 2:18 am

NBA Playoffs: It's Dirk Nowitzki's Universe

I'm crying Mavs happy tears right now.  Ha!  Nothing in article untrue though.

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