In the Cheap Seats: Hopefully it's just all talk

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

May 1, 2007 - I was ready to write that the Dallas-Golden State series was not over even though the Warriors are up 3-1. I was ready to declare that the Mavericks have more fight left in them than we've seen.

I was just waiting for someone to talk me out of writing that nonsense. Dirk Nowitzki did it.

Nowitzki, in what has to be absolutely disheartening to Dallas fans, said yesterday that the Warriors were taking him out of his comfort zone on offense and there basically wasn't anything he could do about it.

That is exactly NOT what you want to hear from the possible MVP of the league. Hopefully, Nowitzki didn't really feel that way. Hopefully, he was just talking, much like Don Nelson and the Warriors have been talking all week about how the Mavericks are the better team - all the while not believing it for a moment.

The question is, Do the Mavericks believe Golden State is the better team?

It sounded like it coming from Nowitzki, who is averaging the quietest 20-point, 10-rebound series you'll ever hear. It's so quiet probably because when the Mavericks have needed someone to take charge, Nowitzki has deferred - or failed.

The Mavericks took an eight point-lead in the fourth quarter on Sunday, but then went 1-for-12 from the field until Nowitzki buried a pair of 3-pointers in the waning seconds. It was great to see him finally hit some long-range jumpers (those were his first of the series), but where was he in the four-minute stretch leading up to those?

He threw up an airball on a 3-point attempt and passed up an open 10-footer on another possession.

Dirk isn't the only problem, though. Jason Terry has been bad, Jerry Stackhouse inconsistent, and Devean George and Greg Bucker - both of whom were brought in to help the Mavs win in the playoffs - have been so dreadful they should be wearing Golden State uniforms.

Not to mention that Avery Johnson has been out-coached at every turn by mentor Don Nelson. Johnson has changed his line-up and his substitution pattern to match up with Nellie and has failed to motivate his team. That's not the way a 67-win team goes about it.

The odds are against the Mavericks from coming back from a 3-1 deficit. It rarely happens. But, then the odds are against a No. 8 seed beating a No. 1 in a seven-game series. It's never happened.

Maybe that's why I still have optimism - surely, the Mavericks we saw for 82 games this season will return to form tonight.

Going against my better judgment, I'm predicting a Maverick comeback. I just hope Dirk doesn't prove me wrong.

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