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What doomed the Mavs? A look into one of the worst NBA Finals performances in years

Gael Araiza

As the dust settles and we see Boston crowned as champions for the 18th time, one thing is for sure. The better team won.   

With that said, the team that won was arguably the only team that showed up for the finals. 

The Dallas Mavericks had a great and successful season by all accounts, winning 50 games as opposed to 32 losses. Around midseason, they looked like just another run of the mill bottom of the standing’s playoff “contender.” 

Yet, a trade for a DFW native in PJ Washington and a solid contending big, Daniel Gafford, turned this team’s fortunes around. By the end of the season, the only team that had a better record than the Mavs after the trade was the Celtics. 

If you had asked a Mavs fan before the season if they would be in the NBA Finals against the Celtics, they would have taken it.

So, what feels so bitter about this run? 

For starters, the Celtics to many NBA fans are the NBA’s “big bad guy.” They like to flaunt their long and proud history for those who are not fans of the Celtics and make sure everybody knows they are the team with the most championships. A simple Google search or two later will present that the Celtics proud history came at a time when the league was not as competitive, there were less teams and certainly less star players.

Then, there are the Celtics fans who have a notorious fan base with more than just one smudge on their record, but that will be a story for another time.

For Mavs fans being in the Western Conference, one of two NBA conferences and is regularly seen as the superior, the Mav’s road to the finals seemed like a gauntlet.  It was, considering the star power and sheer strength of the teams they had to face.  

Dallas rose above that challenge while the Celtics strolled through the East. It seemed like Dallas was poised and battle tested to seize the championship. However, that could have been one of the reasons the Mavs were so flat to start the series as one Mavs fan Joe Gomez put it.

“I just don’t think Boston was challenged on their road to the finals,” Gomez said. “When they met Dallas, it seemed like they had exhausted themselves in the previous series, beating the T Wolves, Thunder, and Clippers, they just felt like a no show for sure.”

The Mavs were just a no-show the entire series. Many fans complained about the “aura” of the finals being lost and that this series was one of the worst finals series in the history of the NBA. Those claims are valid. When only one team shows up to play, the series is bound to be boring. The thing is it didn’t have to be this way. 

The Celtics had a super team packed with all-stars, solid role-players, and young talent. The Mavericks had one of the deadliest offensive forces the NBA has ever seen in Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, who also happened to play for the Celtics before a bad break-up.

Over the season, the Mavericks averaged 15 three-pointers a game. In the finals, they averaged eight. Three-pointers in the NBA have become a huge source of offense for teams, so when their production from downtown is slashed in half the team is bound to have problems. To couple that with an average 46 percent field goal percentage, it’s no wonder the Mavericks struggled to win a game.

A deeper look into Dallas’ offensive struggles will show that Doncic couldn’t control the tempo and everybody outside of Doncic was a no-show, hesitant and seemingly beleaguered by the mere fact that they were on the biggest stage.

To highlight this, the Mavericks best player, Kyrie Irving, went from averaging almost 26 points on nearly 50 percent shooting from the field, to averaging 19.8 on 41 percent shooting, an abysmal no show. The rest of the team followed suit.

What’s more, the Mavs also contended with history. They finished as the Western Conference’s fifth seed, and no team in NBA history has ever won the NBA finals as a fifth seed.

To many, the Mavs run was astounding, yet unlikely to end in celebration. They had exceeded even their own expectations and found themselves up against a formidable team in Boston and simply waved the white flag. 

So as we near the NBA draft, the Mavericks, with a lone second-round pick, will face the difficult task of picking up the pieces and making the team a true contender in the battle against of the Celtics. 

Jorge Guajardo is the sports editor and may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Jorge Guajardo
Jorge Guajardo, Sports Editor
Jorge Ian Guajardo, is 30 years old and born and raised in El Paso. He is majoring in multimedia journalism and minoring in English rhetoric. He is the sports editor for The Prospector looking to lay the foundation for a long and successful career in journalism once he graduates.
Gael Araiza
Gael Araiza, Designer
Gael Araiza is the layout editor at The Prospector. Gael is a sophomore majoring in studio art with a concentration in graphic design and minoring in printmaking. Gael loves working with all things visual and plans to expand their creative capabilities through any and all mediums of design.
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