So steep that it's still

Even before by now, we all had it down handily: the 2-3-2 is fucked beyond all mortal creation. The reasonable man stared at it and saw the following: "split the first two, win two of three at home, make it a two game series" hardly put the Heat at a disadvantage. Once this particular saga got underway, and the Mavs seemed so abidingly in control of things, the 2-3-2 looked like the ultimate, unjust pall. With their opponents hamstrung and yoked, suddenly the Mavs were to forfeit their momentum and spend three games as likely underdogs. Maybe the Heat weren't this bad, but they certainly were playing that way; sending it back to South Beach gave them every opportunity to regain their dignity and even claw their way back into a position of leverage. The momentum of the first two contests was being effectively dampened, punished for having so perfectly capitalized on all things that come with home court advantage and exploding out of the gate.

What's baffling, though, and what's nearly killed whatever dramatic unity is supposed to organize a Finals, is how wildly, and totally, things have swung. We haven't just seen the Heat return to form (after haven been every chance and all the room in the world within which to do so); they've basically turned this into three separate mini-epochs. The Mavs ruled, some indefinite amount of time passed and then Miami strode upon the throne's cushions, and now we enter a third. "Making it a two-game series" is more technically true than you might think—Miami taking one in Dallas is about as likely as the Mavs handling their business. Yet it remains conceptually misleading, for it presumes that the preceding events swung back and forth wildly, before equalizing in the perfect harmony of a near-draw.

Here, we've had none of the quirky, illusory drama generated through game-by-game shiftings of mass and gravity, no chances to colorfully depict the how and when the obvious might occur. The Mavs clamped down for two straight, and then the barely-gradated plunge into Wade country. First, the better team was the obvious strong suit; once in Miami, having the best player was the faultless key to all. Momentum builds; Dallas drowned Miami from the jump, while Wade's mastery faithfully rescued his team from the last-man-standing dissonance of the Heat's home games.

When Wade is on, the Mavs haven't been the Mavs. When the Mavs show and prove, Wade has been largely absent. The second statement has clear causal resonance; the first, maybe. What they do prove, though, is how little this has been the clash of civilizations we'd hoped it might be. Instead, we're seeing how one team's formula, if given the right components and made to click brightly, can override another's sense of identity, keep it from even being a instant-by-instant struggle for the strategic and ideological upper hand. What makes some other serieses so amazing is that these two identities modify each other, and force each other to adapt and step up, over the course of a game. A possession, even. Here, we've gotten unmitigated Mav-ness, and then a wilting blast of Wade's prowess. Someone remarked last month that the Suns were playing against the basket, not the other team. Here, I would argue that these teams have been going against themselves, with their success depending on how clearly they can come out manifesting their in-house style, identity, and coherence. Because so far, I haven't really seen anyone directly complicating anyone else on some nuts and bolts, pass the details shit; it's a contest of execution, concerned as much with the spiritual as the physical.

We've now got abundant proof that both squads are, in their own ways, viable championship teams. Here's hoping that these last two will finally let us see how these two squds match up, playing their respective games on the same night, on the same court, in a way that forces them to actually look each other in the eye and see a soul staring right back.


At 6/20/2006 10:19 AM, Blogger mutoni said...

i believe that short lived larry/nique-esque shootout between Dirk and Dwade last game is a sign of great things to come in games 6 and 7.

you'll have your soul-staring contest, shoals; fear not.

At 6/20/2006 10:32 AM, Blogger Sparkles*_* said...

That post read like a hybrid of Mark Stein and Aesop Rock, orated by an autistic kid.

At 6/20/2006 11:27 AM, Blogger GentleWhoadie9000 said...

Re: Mutoni:

Re: the post:
For the third time, all I gots to say is that it ain't a series until somebody loses at home. Noting that, the 2-3-2 is awful. I think that it provides undue counterweight to "homecourt advantage" which, except for the finals, is duly deserved. I remember the good old 2-2-1-1-1 with the cumbersome travel and such, but it was the scent of equity that made my box wet.

At 6/20/2006 11:45 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

This comment has been removed because it linked to malicious content. Learn more.

At 6/20/2006 12:34 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

re: sparkles

what do stein, aes-rizzle, and shoals all have in common? hmmmm....i've never seen any of them eat pork or drive a car on a saturday.

re: whatevs.org and EW

holy shit! good looking out, grambo!!

word verification: yecafmoj

surely, that's yiddish for something.

At 6/20/2006 12:38 PM, Anonymous WhitePeopleDon'tKnow said...

The most impressive thing about wade is that he can destroy you without looking particularly impressive. We all know his acrobatics, but now he's gotten to the point where even his bad games can be fatal. before this playoffs (before this finals, actually) i had only seen kobe and lebron exert pure will like that.

wv: vwguky - 1/2 jetta 1/2 duckboat

At 6/20/2006 1:28 PM, Blogger mutoni said...

good piece by simba today over at page2.
fucking long, too.

At 6/20/2006 1:35 PM, Anonymous Mr. Six said...

Strangely, the thing that has stuck with me about Game 5 is the infographic of highest scoring averages in the finals, produced to illustrate the high level at which Mr. Wade is playing ... AI AVERAGED OVER 35PPG IN THE 2001 FINALS!!!!

I'm ashamed to admit that the time has dulled my memory of the brilliance of his performances in those games. I can only hope that sometimes the Commish has trouble sleeping at night, haunted by the visions brought to him by the tattooed and cornrowed Ghost of Finals That Should Have Been.

At 6/20/2006 2:27 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

after the first two games, i thought that wade might've lacked that ability to destroy while still looking kind of shitty. turns out he has more of it than anyone.

At 6/20/2006 5:48 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

While wondering if AI has trouble sleeping at night, haunted by visions of Tyronne Lue, it occurred to me that a lot of players can destroy a team while playing badly if they get 25 free throw attempts.

At 6/23/2006 1:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thta pictures represent all the albos including darko


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