Once again, T-Mac failed to make it out of the first round, as his Houston Rockets lost the final two games of their seven game series with the Utah Jazz. As far as the series goes, I'll just say the Jazz played great, but I don't know if I can say "they wanted it more." Not only is that very cliche, but could anyone really "want it more" than McGrady?
At his postgame presser, he kept repeating the words, "I tried. I tried." Finally, after a long pause, he mumbled under his breath something to the effect of "I can't do this," and he got up and left. He couldn't face the fact that he once again will not be moving on to the second round.
And that's what makes me mad about the Mavericks. Where is that emotion? Where is that frustration? Where is that pain of being left out of the second round and becoming the first 1-seed to lose to an 8-seed in a seven-game series?
That may be the reason Dallas is in fact at home while the Golden State Warriors will face the Jazz in round two.
Now I don't mean to say the Mavericks and their players don't care. They do. And I think their long offseason and harsh scrutiny from every basketball expert and blogger will be punishment enough.
Here's what espn.com quoted Dirk Nowitzki about this offseason...
"I think I did a decent job in the regular season of taking over when I had to," he said. "For whatever reason, this playoff series I couldn't do it. I couldn't put my stamp on it the way I wanted to. It was definitely very disappointing. I still think I have pretty good leadership skills. I just didn't show it this playoff series."
Although Nowitzki said "you go down as a team," he knows it's not that simple, not for a perennial All-Star who is the face of the franchise. Thing is, his own expectations are just as high, which is why the six-game ousting by Golden State, and how little he did to stop it, will eat at him all summer -- just like Dallas' collapse against Miami in the finals bothered him all last summer.
"That's the kind of person I am. I always take things very, very hard on myself," he said. "I don't need media people to tell me that I did bad. I know I didn't play my best in the playoffs. ...
"I understand the business by now. If you play well and you win, you're the greatest. And if you lose, you're the worst player in the league. It's obviously not the position I want to be in, but it's nothing I can change now. I believe that everything happens for a reason. Hopefully I can learn from this experience."
Two straight offseasons left to wonder "how did we lose that series?"
Last year, they dropped four straight to the Heat in the finals. This year, they became the laughing stock of the league after winning 67 games in the regular season before their playoff meltdown.
So while a dynamic player like Tracy McGrady thinks about how he can't get out of the first round, Dirk and company must sadly think about the same thing. They must also consider the fact that they faced the wrong team at the wrong time. No one in these playoffs is hotter than Golden State. Check their regular season 3-point shooting percentages versus the playoffs. It's obvious. And good for Golden State. They got hot when they needed to.
But for Dallas, they already felt the Heat last year in the finals. Now they need to find the heart of a Warrior if they're ever going to win it all.