It turns so quick
Last round I wrote something incomprehensible about momentum shifts in the playoffs. I don't quite remember it, and am loathe to read it again, but I think the gist was this: two games counts as a trend, unless it's contradicted. Then it goes right to being a self-exhausting fluke.
When it comes to matters of the heart, sometimes all it takes is a single game.
With Joey Johnson in street clothes and the Suns/Mavs series suddenly very, very interesting (as opposed to merely entertaining), we're seeing a shift in interpretational momentum unlike any other this post-season. The Suns aren't just a dominant team missing a key player. Instead, they've become an imperfect, inspired creation trying to mend itself on the fly, through something we can only consider heroism. As mighty as they are, the Suns also have enough personality, heart, and unlikeliness that they can easily assume the role of the dynamic underdog. The fearless, free-thinking floor general; man-child putting the world on notice; do-it-all meteorite; two well-rounded, tough, creative, very likable young guards finding their discipline and their game within what a game plan that could have let to utter chaos; and the coach, a drawling league outsider who went against conventional wisdom and had the last modest, knee-slapping laugh. Versus a team pretty much made of veterans assembled to win a title.
Is Jim Jackson the answer? Not Jim Jackson the malcontent, the journeyman, the NBA's equivalent of that useful piece of furniture that belongs to everyone and no one. This time, Jackson is not a luxury item--a bench player that would be starting anywhere else--but a semi-tarnished figure looking to redeem himself by proving that he can be the key to a late season shake-up that the Suns had to be praying to never see. Jim Jackson, the rebirth. The Suns, a crazy, bounding airplane who need the recovering alcoholic pilot, disgraced and reduced to flying for Jet Blue, to show he's still got it. Yes, I do believe we have a storyline on our hands.
But it's not about the Mavs challenging the formerly unstoppable Suns. Instead, it's the Suns proving their humanity, making us love them for more than their highlight potential. They might not win it all, maybe even not this series. But we won't call them a disappointment if they flop, like the Kings and Mavs (once) were. We'll be able to call it a ride that was its own, "I love this game" kind of thrill. The kind of thing that makes me want to type up on this blog in the first place.