I’d like to start off by giving a big congratulations to the Dallas Mavericks. They surprised just about everyone all throughout the playoffs. They showed a mental and defensive toughness that no one thought was possible. If there is going to be a prolonged strike I’m glad we had such a feel-good story to close this chapter in the NBA out on. From Jason Kidd winning on his 3rd trip to the finals, to Peja and Marion getting a ring after some questionable and controversial exits in the playoffs, to Terry getting the trophy tattooed on his arm, to Dirk beating the team that beat him in ’06 and moving up a few notches in the pantheon of all-time greats.

Since I might not be able to do this for a while, might as well give out some grades for the finals. I’ll start with the winners, the Dallas Mavericks:

Dirk Nowitzki – Played with a torn tendon in his finger, played with a 101 fever, played through constant double-teams and never once complained. Dominated the 4th quarter in every game, even when he had a terrible 1st three quarters in game 6 he scored the Mavs last 10 points in the series clincher. I can’t think of a more deserving finals MVP. GRADE – A+

Shawn Marion – Turned back the clock and had a number of huge games and shut down LeBron in the process. This was a guy who was supposed to give Butler some rest during games and instead played a huge part in the series. GRADE – A

Jason Terry – He’s a starter. I don’t care that he comes off the bench, Stevenson plays 14 minutes a game and Terry plays 35. Had a shaky beginning to the series, but ended it with 3 straight huge games to back up all his trash talking. He was a monster in the first half of game 6 while Dirk was struggling. Defense is a little suspect but offense more than made up for it. GRADE – A

Jason Kidd – Wasn’t much of a threat on offense…unless it was huge momentum changers. I felt like 80% of his shots were 3’s at the most important time. He facilitated the offense beautifully as well. His defense was sick, had to cover Wade and LeBron and did a great job the majority of the time. 2nd oldest starter on a finals team, but you wouldn’t know it from watching him on the court. GRADE – A

Tyson Chandler – He wasn’t brought in for his offense and that’s good because he usually doesn’t provide any. What he was brought in for was defense and rebounds and he brought a ton of that. LeBron looked scared to drive whenever Chandler was stalking the middle. He was also able to stay out of foul trouble. His presence changed the dymanic of the team. In a good way. If he could improve his free throw percentage he’d be a lot more dangerous. GRADE – A

Jose Juan Barea – Had a terrible 1st three games, like really terrible, but was instrumental in the games 5 and 6 victories. He was unstoppable in game 6 especially. He also wasn’t a liability on defense which is impressive for a 5’9” guy. GRADE – B

Brian Cardinal – Set tough screens, made hard fouls, hit a few shots. Not much was expected of him, especially after not playing much the first 3 rounds, but he played better than most expected. A good glue guy off the bench. GRADE – B-

DeShawn Stevenson – Was terrible early in the series, got benched, then decided to show up. Played some good defense and hit some big shots in the final game. Almost cost them a game earlier in the series with a dumb foul and bad shot on the very next play. His up and down play earns him a mediocre grade. GRADE – C
Ian Mahinmi – Looked lost most of the time he was out there. Got a few boards. Like ever single Mav in the final game he hit a big shot. Not too impressive the rest of the series though. GRADE – C-

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