As you probably know, the Wolves have twice defeated the defending-champion Mavericks in this short season, each game by a decided margin of victory. Although I joined the excitement of other Wolves fans about last year’s worst dominating last year’s best, it was impossible not to notice two things about those games:
1) In the first game, Dirk wasn’t Dirk (as Bill Simmons explained yesterday, Dirk showed up for training camp way out of shape, not yet recovering from the championship hangover).
2) In the second game, Dirk wasn’t playing. (His legs were broken down from playing his way into shape, for the above reason.)
Last night’s game would include neither of those beneficial factors. After beginning the season 3-5, Dallas had won 12 of its last 18 games, returning to contender form. After his worst start to a season in over a decade, Dirk had finally caught fire. In the three games leading up to last night’s, Dirk was averaging over 26 points per game on 61.5 percent shooting. It appeared as though he’d be the matchup nightmare that fans have grown accustomed to watching.