With the NBA Finals in full swing, the Mavericks are watching two familiar foes -- the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat -- battle it out for the chance to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Both teams have key components that established them as championship contenders. Let's point out those components and how the Mavericks can learn from them.
Miami and San Antonio clearly have chemistry through continuity. Chemistry is something that is often discussed as an intangible, but it’s often difficult to quantify how much of an impact chemistry plays in success or failure. Some say it is the X-factor that separates two teams that are evenly matched. Some say it’s just a lame excuse to explain why a talented team just didn’t fulfill its potential.
If you're familiar with your environment, you will likely maneuver through it in an easier fashion. You gain familiarity over time. That familiarity and continuity allows you to feel confident in your abilities, even when you have to travel on the road into a hostile environment.
While San Antonio’s core has been together for much longer, Miami’s core has been together now for three years. They established their big three, and as the seasons moved by they have added parts to their rotation. On top of that, the Heat have kept most of those new parts together.
San Antonio has clearly had their big three together for a long time, with the earliest incarnation of it starting during the 2002-03 season. Through doubts of old age and improved competition, the Spurs kept their core together and have reaped the benefits of that decision.
The 2011 Mavs were a team that was built over time. They had established the two-man game between Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry over a span of just over half a decade. They also had a couple of years to incorporate Jason Kidd's basketball IQ and use it to create their flow offense. Shawn Marion had time within the organization before the championship year to establish himself as the defensive stopper on the perimeter. Over time, the Mavs created that continuity and chemistry that established the framework of their championship roster.
Looking back at this past season, they tried to build a makeshift roster, mainly on one-year deals, in the attempt to build chemistry on the fly. For multiple reasons, that attempt clearly didn’t work for them. The new CBA has worked against most teams, and the Mavs tried to work ahead of the learning curve as teams have to adapt to building a new form of cohesion and continuity.
Owner Mark Cuban certainly knows that his first major run with this new approach didn’t work and is willing to prepare with a new model if Dallas' grand attempts at acquiring a superstar fall short. “If we don’t get the big name (free agent), we want to start building that base of a team that can start having some continuity of playing together,” Cuban said earlier this month during a radio interview.
Based on the lack of information that’s being floated around, it seems like many of the current Mavs that are free agents are out of sight and out of mind in terms of coming back next year. Whether it’s a one-year or his noted two-year plan, Cuban is making it clear that the Mavs need to build continuity. That’s not a bad thing.
Bryan Gutierrez currently covers the Dallas Mavericks for The Two Man Game, an ESPN affiliate blog on the TrueHoop Network. Gutierrez, who has covered the Mavs since 2010, studied journalism and psychology at Texas Tech University.