Posts Tagged ‘michael finley’

T-Mac Living Dream Beyond First Round

SAN ANTONIO – This is the way it was always supposed to be for Tracy McGrady — conference finals, clock running down in the fourth quarter, ball in his hands and the crowd buzzing at the thought of what he might do.

With T-Mac, anything always was possible, and nobody knows that better than the Spurs who were once on the receiving end of 13 points in the final 35 seconds on one mind-boggling night in Houston. Now though, with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili riding out the conclusion of a 20-point Game 1 blowout on the bench, McGrady is far outside the center ring under the big top. He’s more part of the cleanup crew that walks behind the elephants.

“It’s a great feeling,” he said. “It’s great to be part of this terrific organization and guys around here. I’m living the dream right now.”

Which says something about dreams or McGrady or both. For about a decade, T-Mac was a headlining NBA star whose name could be mentioned in the same breath with Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Dirk Nowitzki and the rest — except in the springtime when reputations are forged.

For all of the improbable 3-point shots he made, high-rising slam dunks he threw down, thread-the-needle passes that he delivered right on the money, what McGrady could never do was win a single playoff series.

He had the numbers, but never the pedigree of a winner as he went 0-for-every postseason situation he was ever in, his teams on which he was the leader blowing 3-1 leads in Orlando and Houston and another pair of 2-0 leads with the Rockets. What’s more, every stop along the way in a different NBA jersey always would up with much recrimination, little remorse and the microfracture knee that led to his trade out of Houston signaled the end of his relevance as a star or even starter.

Until he sat on the San Antonio bench, mostly in street clothes for the 4-0 sweep of the Lakers, McGrady was the only scoring champ in NBA history to never make it out of the first round of the playoffs. Now T-Mac is in the conference finals, albeit in a drastically different role — the equivalent of playing for spare change and nostalgia as part of a rock ‘n roll oldies tour.

He has appeared in four games of the playoffs for a total of 17 minutes, shot 0-for-4 and hasn’t scored a point. Yet the fans at the AT&T Center are loudly cheering on that bid for his first bucket as a Spur.

“It’s great; a great feeling to know you have 18,000 people supportive of me and wanting to see me do well,” he said.

“I didn’t notice it the first time I got in, but people were telling me about it — ‘Did you hear the reception you were getting every time you touched the ball?’ — but, no, because I’m so locked in when I got it.

“But I got in [Sunday] and really noticed. It was something special.”

It’s not lost on McGrady that he entered the NBA in the same 1997 Draft with his new teammate, Duncan, though their roles, of course, are now vastly different.

“I came to terms of my situation and I got it,” he said. “It wasn’t in the cards for me to continue the health like Kobe and some of my peers I competed against when I was playing at the highest level. It just wasn’t in the cards for me. I had to go through a lot of stuff to realize the opportunities that I had. Things happen for a reason. The man above takes us through things we sometimes can’t understand but, later on in life, we realize some of the stuff we had to go through.

“This is a promotion for me. For so many years I tried to compete and take a team out of the first round. It just didn’t happen. Then I had to go through some things with my injury that were frustrating but I’m sitting at home – and I live by faith, not by sight – and [coach Gregg Popovich] called me out of the blue and here I am.”

Popovich reached out just before the start of the playoffs, 1 1/2 months after McGrady finished a season with the Qindao Eagles of the Chinese Basketball Association, in what could be the latest chapter in Pop’s very own personal outreach program to unfulfilled NBA veterans:

– In 1999, ex-Blazers star Jerome Kersey hooked on with the Spurs and won the only championship of his 17 NBA seasons.

– In 2003, former Hawks All-Star Kevin Willis set down in San Antonio and claimed his only NBA title in 21 seasons.

– In 2005, it was Glenn Robinson, well past his “Big Dog” days as a No. 1 draft choice and superstar in Milwaukee, who came off the bench in the last of his 11 NBA seasons to win it all with the Spurs.

– In 2007, it was ex-Maverick All-Star Michael Finley’s turn as the 16-year pro won the only ring of his career.

It seems each championship season the Spurs have brought an old pro along for the ride. Now it’s McGrady in the ceremonial seat in his 17th season.

“It’s possible,” said T-Mac, “I can be a champion before I leave this game.”

When a guy gets out of the first round, he dreams bigger.

D-Will Uninterested in Rehashing Storyline With Mavs

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Fresh off platelet-rich plasma treatment in both of his nagging ankles and a round of cortisone shots to boot, Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams has looked as spry as he has all season and he’s easily playing his best basketball.

Just in time for a new pain to come to town: Mark Cuban.

Wherever the Dallas Mavericks owner goes, but especially in New York, he is the center of massive media attention. With tonight’s game marking the first time Williams will play the Mavs since the club tried to woo last summer’s top free agent to his home town, the topic will certainly be top of mind tonight.

Only Cuban, the man who recently suggested that the Lakers should think about using the amnesty clause on Kobe Bryant only to see him light up the Mavs for 38 points, and then tweaked Derek Fisher for signing with Oklahoma City, won’t be there to set off potential verbal fireworks. He was speaking Friday morning at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston, and the team’s media relations staff said he isn’t expected to make the short trip to say hello to the rejuvenated D-Will.

As for Williams — who is playing like an All-Star over the last five games, averaging 22.8 points, 8.4 assists and nailing 51.5 percent of his 3-point shots — he tried Thursday to head off discussion of his free-agent decision.

“There’s no reason to even go down that lane. That’s behind me. I’m part of the Brooklyn Nets,” Williams told ESPNNY.com “There’s no reason to even revisit that.”

The Mavs and Nets both met with Williams in New York at the start of the free-agency period last July. The Nets got first crack followed by a three-member contingent from Dallas that included coach Rick Carlisle, president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson and special consultant Michael Finley. Absent was Cuban, who was busy filming the TV show “Shark Tank” in Los Angeles.

Williams, who decided to stay with the Nets and sign a five-year, $98 million deal, would say later that not meeting with Cuban had an impact on his decision.

“A lot of the questions that me and my agent had for them really didn’t get answered that day — you know, pertaining to the future,” Williams said in October. “And I think if [Cuban] was there, he would have been able to answer those questions a little bit better. Maybe would have helped me.”

Cuban, to no surprise, scoffed at Williams’ assertion and shot back on a Dallas radio program.

“I’m a big D-Will fan, but I’m kind of surprised that he would throw his front office under the bus like that by saying that I would make a difference. I would have expected him to say — like I’d expect one of our guys to say — ‘Hey I’m so thrilled with the front office and the moves we made and our team that it wouldn’t have mattered what he did.’

“He’s a superstar point guard, but my goal is to build a team. … I’m flattered that he thought my presence would have made more of a difference than what the Nets’ management did.”

Cuban also suggested that his club, struggling at 25-32 and in jeopardy of not making the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons, is actually better off without Williams and the max contract that would have weighed down Dallas’ payroll.

“But in hindsight, I don’t know if I would have been happy [had Williams signed],” Cuban said on the same radio show. “I think we’re in better position now than we would have been if we had gotten him.”

There’s probably not many Mavs fans who would agree with that sentiment right about now. Williams on Thursday said he has not spoken to Cuban since the summer. But he does have the Nets at 34-24 and seeking at top four spot in the Eastern Conference.

“It wasn’t really a back-and-forth thing anyway,” Williams said.

Nash Set To Reach 10,000-Assist Mark

 

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Steve Nash is just five assists from being the fifth player in NBA history to reach the 10,000-assist mark. He’ll likely reach the milestone when his Lakers visit the Houston Rockets on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET, NBA TV).

Most assists, NBA history

Player GP AST AST/G
John Stockton 1,504 15,806 10.5
Jason Kidd 1,345 11,969 8.9
Mark Jackson 1,296 10,334 8.0
Magic Johnson 906 10,141 11.2
Steve Nash 1,161 9,995 8.6
Oscar Robertson 1,040 9,887 9.5
Isiah Thomas 979 9,061 9.3
Gary Payton 1,335 8,966 6.7
Rod Strickland 1,094 7,987 7.3
Andre Miller 1,080 7,683 7.1

In his 17-year career, Nash has assisted 123 different teammates, none more than Amar’e Stoudemire. And most of those assists to Stoudemire were on buckets in the paint. Most of his 797 assists to Dirk Nowitzki, however, were on buckets from outside the paint.

Most assists from Steve Nash, with shot location

Player AST Paint Mid-range 3PT
Amar’e Stoudemire 1,155 80% 19% 0%
Shawn Marion 823 69% 12% 18%
Dirk Nowitzki 797 30% 42% 28%
Michael Finley 626 37% 31% 33%
Grant Hill 593 56% 34% 10%

There are nine different players who have received exactly one assist from Nash. Among them: Avery Johnson, Sam Cassell and Dennis Rodman.

The two most efficient shots are shots from the restricted area (1.18 points per shot over the course of Nash’s career) and corner 3-pointers (1.15 points per shot). And over his career, 51 percent of Nash’s assists have come from those two areas. That’s a higher percentage than most other All-Star point guards…

Percentage of career assists to high-efficiency areas

Player Restricted Corner 3 Total
Andre Miller 49% 5% 54%
LeBron James 39% 14% 53%
Steve Nash 44% 8% 51%
Rajon Rondo 39% 9% 48%
Deron Williams 43% 5% 48%
Tony Parker 32% 16% 48%
Chris Paul 38% 9% 47%
Jason Kidd* 42% 5% 47%

* Does not include first two seasons of Kidd’s career

Having spent his entire career in the Western Conference, Nash has racked up at least 500 assists against four different teams in the West.

Steve Nash – Most assists by opponent

Opponent GP AST AST/G
Sacramento 57 541 9.5
Golden State 59 528 8.9
L.A. Clippers 60 522 8.7
Minnesota 53 500 9.4
Vancouver/Memphis 55 494 9.0

Nash tends to be more of a distributor early in the game. His highest assist ratio (percentage of his possessions in which he records an assist) is highest in the first quarter and lowest in the fourth.

Steve Nash – Assists by quarter

Period MIN AST ASTRatio
1st quarter 10,284 3,208 40.2
2nd quarter 7,914 2,171 36.9
3rd quarter 10,167 2,753 37.2
4th quarter 7,760 1,798 31.9
Overtime 340 65 25.0

Nash has recorded his most assists on Wednesdays, but tends to be more giving on Sundays…

Steve Nash – Assists by day of the week

Day GP AST ASTRatio AST/G
Monday 124 1,094 37.7 8.8
Tuesday 196 1,643 35.9 8.4
Wednesday 203 1,842 38.0 9.1
Thursday 137 1,140 36.4 8.3
Friday 190 1,592 36.8 8.4
Saturday 168 1,266 33.2 7.5
Sunday 143 1,418 39.8 9.9

 

Mavs’ 3-Point Streak Ends at 1,108 Games

 

HANGTIME SOUTHWEST – Robert Pack, Travis Best, Antoine Walker, Antoine Wright, Dan Dickau, Erick Dampier, Danny Manning.

Just a few of the names that contributed along the way to the Dallas Mavericks’ remarkable (but once not unrivaled) 3-point shooting streak. For 1,108 consecutive games entering Friday night’s chilly visit to Toronto, at least one Mavericks player has made at least one 3-point shot.

Back when gas cost a buck-seventeen, before George W. Bush became president, as Y2K threatened every last computer, even pre-dating Mark Cuban‘s first NBA fine, Michael Finley and Erick Strickland combined to make three 3-pointers in a 97-90 win over the Sacramento Kings at the now-demolished Reunion Arena.

The date was Feb. 27, 1999.

Keith Van Horn, Cedric Ceballos, Shawn Bradley, Trenton Hassell, Adam Harrington, Danny Manning, Rawle Marshall.

On Feb. 26, 1999, the season was just 13 games old because of the lockout. Dirk Nowitzki was a rookie. Don Nelson was in his second year as head coach. The Mavs were 4-9, but had won two in a row when they got to Salt Lake City. In the middle game of a back-to-back-to-back, the Mavs missed all eight 3-point attempts and lost to the Jazz 80-65.

Incredibly, it would still stand as the last game that the Mavs didn’t make at least one 3-pointer as they arrived Friday at Air Canada Centre.

Drew Gooden, Juwan Howard, Antoine Rigaudeau, Steve Novak, Matt Carroll, Jerry Stackhouse, Vernon Maxwell.

On this night, the Mavs would not have available the franchise’s top three active 3-point shooters. Nowitzki, the all-time leader, remains shelved after October knee surgery. Jason Terry, second, plays for the Boston Celtics. Jason Kidd, fourth, plays for the New York Knicks. Third on the list is Finley. He works in the Mavs’ front office.

As play entered the fourth quarter, the Raptors held a 69-55 lead. One reason was Dallas had yet to make a 3-pointer, missing all 12 attempts. Toronto had made seven of its 24, hardly a flattering percentage, yet a 21-point differential nonetheless.

Early in the fourth quarter, Derek Fisher looked to have extended the streak to 1,109. But after a replay review, Fisher’s foot was determined to be stepping on the arc. Two points.

Dallas would attempt one more and miss it: 0-for-13.

Brandon Bass, Steve Nash, J.J. Barea, James Singleton, Kelenna Azubuike, Alexis Ajinca, Lamar Odom.

Fifteen times during the streak, the Mavs skated by with a lone 3-pointer. Arguably the most famous streak-saver came on April 19, 2006, the final game of the season. With a playoff seed wrapped up, coach Avery Johnson sat out some starters, including Nowitzki getting his first rest of the season, and he greatly limited others.

With Dallas trailing 84-68 to the Seattle SuperSonics, Johnson drew up a play to get DeSagana Diop his first career 3-pointer with less than a minute to go in the 7-foot center’s fifth season.

By gosh, he hit it.

“You think I would’ve shot it if he [Johnson] didn’t draw it up?” Diop would say, smiling.

The streak lived on, 610 games strong, into another offseason.

Wang Zhizhi, Eduardo Najera, Josh Howard, Marquis Daniels, Antawn Jamison, Christian Laettner, Hubert Davis.

The second-longest consecutive 3-point streak in NBA history belongs, coincidentally, to the Raptors at 986 games.

And now for the truly bizarre part. Remember the date Feb. 26, 1999? The night the Mavs went 0-for-8 from behind the arc in Utah — the last game they would not make at least one 3-pointer for the next 13 years — the Raptors’ Vince Carter, Doug Christie and Dee Brown combined to make four 3-pointers in a 102-92 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Who knows how minuscule the odds, but one night before the Mavs embarked on their record streak, the Raptors had started their own, one that would span 986 games until Jan. 24, 2011.

On Dec. 14, 2012, the Raptors finally stopped Dallas’ at a potentially untouchable 1,108.

Two More Years For Dirk In Dallas?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Nothing makes the weekend more interesting than a surprise Twitter session from one of the NBA’s biggest stars.

Dallas Mavericks superstar Dirk Nowitzki provided exactly that over the weekend, covering an array of topics that will no doubt have folks in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex talking this morning. He covered just about every base in his Twitter Q&A — from his favorite movie (“Braveheart”) and television show (“Eastbound and Down”), his preference for “red wine over beer” to his love of Mavericks’ blue and green to his hate for cockroaches.

What Nowitzki had to say about his basketball future, though, trumps everything else he shared. Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News provides the details:

The 34-year-old Mavericks forward responded to one question asking how many more years he wanted to play with: “2 for sure and then see how I feel.” Nowitzki has two years remaining on the four-year, $80 million deal he signed in 2010.

When asked why he doesn’t just jump to a “Super Team” and try to win a championship elsewhere, Nowitzki replied: “I bleed blue.”

(more…)

Cast-offs make Mavs take off

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – It takes a village, they say.

Well, sometimes what it takes is experience and a junkyard collection of useful parts.

Every championship team needs one or more superstars to be the foundation and Dirk Nowitzki has proven to be that throughout his 13-year NBA career.

But the reason that Dirk has been able to battle his way to a 2-2 tie in The Finals and get to the threshold of his first title is because he finally has an assembled supporting cast that has come together to maybe be greater than the sum of the individual parts.

It takes talent to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy, but quite often it also takes years and plenty of battle scars.

In an excellent Q and A with Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News, Mavs GM and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson says it’s drive – not age – that matters and he’s quite happy with his team of so-called cast-offs:

Were you concerned when you were putting this team together that you have so many 30-somethings?

“I’ll tell you what, what people call 30-somethings or old, we call experienced. Just give me guys that have heart. I don’t care how tall they are, they could be 4-foot-1 like JJ, they could be 40-year-old like our point guard…give me a guy with heart, and you’ll win most games.”

What about (DeShawn) Stevenson’s performance so far?

“I joke about this a lot, but you look at our team and we’re like the movie, Castoffs. Our superstar is a “superstar…but.” Then you go right down the list. JJ (Barea) is too small, Jason Kidd is too old. Jason Terry in the Stevie Nash booby prize. Tyson Chandler and (Peja) Stojakovic are damaged goods, y’know. All of our guys are like this. D-Steve was a throw-in on the Caron Butler deal. They saw a long-term contract that they wanted to get that off of their books, and we saw a guy that was 6-5 and tough as nails and just needed to get dusted off a little bit. And I really think that’s the story. We don’t have a superman who is going to have from the free throw line and slam over people. We’ve got to do it the good old fashioned way with team defense. As they say, the sum of the parts, that’s what we’re all about.”

There was a time when the Mavs had their Big Three lineup of Nowitzki, Nash and Michael Finley and couldn’t ever make the long climb up. Now here they are with a glimpse of the mountaintop.

Sometimes what it takes is the hunger of empty bellies.

The New Look Celtics?

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Posted by Sekou Smith

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – A rematch is the easy box to place these NBA Finals in after the 2008 title chase won by the Celtics in six games.

Not exactly, warns the Prime Minister, who pointed out a major difference in the Celtics now compared to a two years ago.

Sure, that 2008 Celtics team was led by the Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. But the supporting cast was led by veterans Sam Cassell and P.J. Brown. They were the ones that provided the glue work that kept things together for the Celtics throughout the playoffs and particularly against the Lakers in the Finals.

Fast forward to Thursday night and ask yourself if you believed that Nate Robinson, Glen Davis and Tony Allen would play critical roles for a team trying to win a second NBA title in three years?

I know it sounds crazy. It sounded the same way when we started bouncing the idea around here at the hideout (prior to our Memorial Day grill-a-thon that will commence this afternoon or whenever the rain stops).

Viewed by most people (including most of us around here) as an elderly outfit that is swinging their sword for basically one last time, the Celtics have a decidedly different look when you strap on your BluBlockers and really study their moving parts.

They’ve certainly relied on their youngsters (Rajon Rondo is included in that group) during this Finals run. Robinson’s 13-point outburst in the first half of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals (below) was the difference in the Celtics leading at the half in a game that, had it gone any other way, might have cost them this opportunity to snag banner No. 18.

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The Celtics have two veterans (Rasheed Wallace and Michael Finley) I suspect will be called upon for major contributions in the Finals, so maybe we’ve seen the last of Robinson. And perhaps Tony Allen and Davis won’t need to perform any superhuman feats this time around.

But this idea that the Celtics are the Geritol Gang is pretty misguided.

They’ve had a steady flow of contributions from their youngsters this season. Whether that continues or not, remains to be seen. But you can be sure that Celtics coach Doc Rivers will push every button he can to get his team going.

Rivers was the one that promised Robinson when they traded for him that he’d help them win a playoff game at some point, a point he reiterated after that cosmic performance in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals:

“I told him I loved him, and I told him at some point it was going to happen for him,’’ Rivers said. “And it was all up to him to stay engaged. And he did. I get no credit out of this. Nate Robinson stayed focused in 30-straight-whatever games without playing, and stayed focused. And to me, that is more important than anything he’s done tonight.’’

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(Old) School Is In Session!

Posted by Sekou Smith

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Milwaukee Bucks guard Jerry Stackhouse thought he’d made the list.

A 15-year NBA veteran, the 35-year-old Stackhouse figured there couldn’t be more than a couple of players his age or older in the playoffs.

Silly youngster, Stackhouse didn’t even make the top eight.

“I didn’t make it?” he said, sounding surprised and relieved at the same time. “Wow, I thought I was up there.”

Nope!

Oddly enough, the eight oldest players in the league are all on playoff rosters. The elite eight: Shaquille O’Neal (38, Cleveland), Kurt Thomas (37,Milwaukee), Grant Hill (37, Phoenix), Kevin Ollie (37, Oklahoma City), Juwan Howard (37, Portland), Michael Finley (37, Boston), Jason Kidd (37, Dallas) and Theo Ratliff (36, Charlotte).

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And outside of Ollie, they all play crucial roles for their teams.

“If you’re still hanging around in the league, you’re obviously doing something right, basketball-wise and off the court,” said Finley, a 15-year veteran that played for both the Spurs and Celtics this season. “Nobody wants to put a knucklehead on their team, especially a championship-contending team.”

Thomas is holding down the middle for the Bucks in their first round series against the Hawks with Andrew Bogut out with an injury. He’s not shocked to see so many of the league’s old guard still at work.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all,” said Thomas, who is also in his 15th season. “When you’ve been playing as long as we have, you definitely learn your craft. You know what you have to do to be successful out there on the floor and you just try to hone in on those things and maintain that focus.”

Durability certainly isn’t an issue for this group at this late stage. Still, it’s a mystery how so many of them have remained viable this late in their careers.

“Maybe [it's luck] luck?” said Kidd, who is in his 16th season. “When you talk about Juwan, Grant and those guys, they really take care of their bodies. Mentally if you still feel you can compete that’s the biggest challenge as you get older. When you look at those guys, they feel they can contribute and are contributing in a big way.”

That doesn’t mean the old guys have escaped the comic scrutiny of their younger teammates or fans.

“My friends I grew up with can’t believe I’m still playing,” Thomas said. “And I even had one fan in [Washington D.C.] scream out that he had found my AARP card. But you just take it all in stride. I love doing what I’m doing. When I first made it into the league, my goal was to try to play 10 years. When I reached that point I wanted to play 15. And now I just want to keep going. When I was with San Antonio coach [Gregg] Popovich told me I should keep playing as long as I could and I’m taking that advice and running with it.”

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Kidd takes pride in being a part of the old guard.

“You look at this time of the year and you need veteran guys,” he said. “You look at Grant, Howard, these guys have been in battles and understand what it takes to win. Sometimes some wisdom comes in, but these guys are still playing at a high level and helping their teams win, so I think it makes it fun to come to work and have that challenge against younger guys.”

There is certainly a savvy that comes with age, even if there is an obvious decline in physical prowess.

“I think I’m just a lot smarter,” Thomas said. “I don’t make the mistakes I used to when I was younger. I know I’m not  as fast as I used to be and I don’t jump as high as I used to. I just try to focus on the things that I can do well out there and stick to those.”

– NBA.com’s Art Garcia and John Schuhmann contributed to this report.

Cuban: “I hate the Spurs”

Posted by Art Garcia

DALLAS – Mark Cuban loves stirring it up. Put him in front of a microphone, camera or keyboard and it’s an easy-money bet the billionaire says something that’s going to get someone’s attention.

Even if it’s well-trampled ground. Cuban did it again today, taking another familiar swipe at the clarity of the San Antonio River Walk and the rival Spurs.

“I hate the Spurs,” Dallas’ owner said on the second off day before Wednesday night’s Game 2. “I have a hard time being civil to Peter Holt at the Board of Governors meeting and he has a hard time being civil to me, even though we both like each other. It’s just what it represents.

“We can both be 0-80 and if those last two games are Spurs-Mavs, it’s going to be like a playoff game because we dislike each other that much. It’s crazy that in the nine years, 10 years of playoffs, five of them we’ve gone through each other.”

While Cuban acknowledged it’s a respectful hatred, he couldn’t resist taking a shot at how Spurs coach Gregg Popovich handled the last game of the regular season. Pop sat Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili at the last possible minute, essentially assuring this series.

“Both really have a lot of respect for the other side,” Cuban said. “The beauty of the first game and every game we play them is every possession counts. It’s not like, ‘Ok we’ll put in the second unit.’ I’ll take it back, unless Pop says he’s going for the best record and then rests everybody. I’m going to start calling him Alice in Wonderland.”

While he may hate the Spurs, Cuban sounds like he wouldn’t want to face anyone else.

“The uniqueness of a Spurs-Mavs series is both teams play basketball the right way,” he said. “There’s no woofing, there’s no screaming, there’s no yelling. Intimidation comes by playing better basketball. Both teams know they’re good. Both teams know they have the ability to execute at both sides of the court and that’s what makes it such an exciting series.”

The Spurs and their fans may remember a certain Jason Terry punch to the Michael Finley’s nether region as not playing basketball the “right way,” but why get bogged down in details when Cuban is on roll. And Cubes made sure to mention Bruce Bowen’s defense against Dirk Nowitzki. 

“He might have had fewer bruises and didn’t have to watch his feet when he landed today like he used to,” Cuban said. “It’s amazing how Bowen’s feet just were uncontrollable.”

Of those five previous postseason clashes, each side has won twice and the Mavs have the early 1-0 lead after Sunday’s opener. Meeting again in the first round just doesn’t seem right to Cuban.

“It feels like the conference finals and we’re playing to get to the Finals,” he said.