After a record setting performance reaction has been Dirk centered from around the nation.
It's all true because Nowitzki, unguardable as he seems, knows better than anyone that he isn't going to win anything without sustained help, which he needs in this particular series to keep making OKC reluctant to double-team him. He has always been able to tune out the naysayers who've questioned his ability to carry a team to a championship because he knows the truth: NBA law may dictate that Nowitzki bears the brunt of the blame for the Mavs' postseason failures because he is the face of the franchise ... but the reality is that no contender has a bigger drop-off from its best player to the rest than this one.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said last week that Dirk was one of the ten best players of all-time. Most people disagree with this assessment, and I do to. However, had Carlisle instead said that Dirk is one of the ten most efficient offensive players of all-time, I don’t think anyone could argue.
Nowitzki has never wavered in his quest to crown his Hall of Fame career with a championship, to bring that elusive title to the Metroplex. There has always been something noble about Nowitzki’s chase. Over and over, he’s been dismissed. Too soft. Too lacking in grit. Too much of a front-runner. And each year he comes back hungrier and more determined.......All those struggles Nowitzki has endured will make a championship so much more fulfilling. He’s stayed in Dallas to see this quest to the end. James and Chris Bosh can’t be faulted for leaving their franchises for a better opportunity to hunt titles with Dwyane Wade, but this is also true: When the going got tough, they bailed. Nowitzki stayed to fight some more.
Nowitzki is a post player, and a good one. Ibaka is 6-foot-10 and 220 pounds of solid muscle; Nowitzki toyed with him like he was a guard caught in a mismatch. When Ibaka jumped, Dirk drove by him. When he gave an inch, Nowitzki shot over him or used a ball fake to draw a foul. With an assist from his longtime trainer, Holger Geschwinder, Nowitzki has rapidly expanded his game. On Tuesday, Brooks went big (Ibaka, Collison, Perkins), small (Thabo Sefolosha, James Harden) and unconventional (Durant) against Nowitzki. Nothing worked.
Throughout the majority of Nowitzki’s brilliant career, Cuban has chosen to be the face of the Mavericks franchise. He publicly spars with the commissioner. At most games, Cuban sits a camera-pan-away from the Dallas bench. He’s a T-shirt-wearing, "Dancing-With-The-Stars"-appearing rock star billionaire. He’s a character, a media darling, a fun Daniel Snyder.....What Dirk is doing is nothing new. It’s just too many of us couldn’t see it because too much attention was focused on Cuban’s latest controversy. These playoffs have brought Nowitzki into focus.
Obviously the Thunder have to make some changes in the way they approach Dirk. They had to do the same thing with Randolph after Game 1 against Memphis. Brooks and his staff did a nice job and figured out a better way to handle Z-Bo. Dirk’s a better player and a tougher cover, but it’s not impossible. OKC can survive Dirk being great, but probably not him scoring 48 on 15 shots. I don’t think Dirk will get near as many free throws in Game 2, but the Thunder have to do better. You can’t just gift points to Dirk and the Mavs. You’re not going to stop Dirk so much, but you can limit him and put it on the other four Mavs on the floor to beat you.
Or just hope he misses.