So I was lucky enough to be at the AAC for the Playoff Game last night. I say lucky because I had free tickets, not because I somehow made a difference in the outcome. It was a must-win game for my Spurs, and somehow they were outlasted by the Mavericks. Tough game to lose. It went back and forth and back and forth. In fack, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a better basketball game before. And I know it’s only a game, but there were life-lessons all over the place.
A :: The Little Things Are Important
Hear me out, but Brent Barry lost this game for us. The Spurs shot 53% from the field (58% from 3), had more steals, more fast break points, and only had 2 fewer rebounds and assists. The Spurs played almost flawlessly. The Mavs also played at an extremely high level. When there are two powerhouses playing top-notch ball, it’s only going to take an inch in either direction to decide the game. "It’s the small things," says Bruce Bowen in Marc Stein’s article.
Barry was that small thing. After a mysterious (you could also say incorrect) blocking foul on Duncan, Barry took the ball and started running around like an idiot. *BEEP* "Delay of Game!" Since it was our second, Dirk gets a technical foul shot. And there is the difference in a tie at the end of regulation and a Spurs win. While you can’t control how terrible Dick Bavetta is as a ref, any pro should know not to take the ball when it’s time to shoot free-throws. It might have been a split second decision, but I really feel that it is the play that cost San Antonio the game.
B :: You have to finish things
While exiting the arena, I heard all sorts of Mavericks fans screaming "Bring on Detroit!" First of all, Detroit is having it’s own problems vs. the Cava-Brons. But second, San Antonio is not dead just yet. (see Phoenix Round 1) I admit the Spurs will probably have to settle for second-best Texas team this year, but you never know what can happen. If the ball bounces differently the past two games, the Spurs leave Dallas up 3-1. I know it’s an exciting time in Mavs town, but you can’t look too far ahead. Finish strong.
C :: You have to take advantage of Opportunity
For two straight games, Dirk has made clutch free throws to either win or force overtime. Tony Parker, on the other hand, missed 2 crucial free-throws in OT. If you are going to be handed a chance to make a difference, you had better take the ball and run with it (unless you are Brent Barry, then please don’t literally take the ball and run with it).
I don’t know when I’ll get back to another playoff game, but last night’s was a game for the ages. I hope to see it on ESPN Classic one day, and everytime I watch Dick Bavetta struggle to make a call, and Jason Terry shooting over Duncan, and Finley losing the ball out of bounds, I’ll think back on how much truth about life is involved in basketball. Well, I’ll probably cry myself to sleep, but in the morning I’ll think about truth.