I am a Dirk fan. He’s my MVP. He didn’t look like an MVP in Game 1. But that’s cool. A bad game is no indictment. What was reason for pause was how he sounded in Monday’s practice. I don’t talk to Dirk a lot, so I don’t know if he’s usually this way. But he sounded so defeated, so uncertain. He didn’t speak with the swagger of an MVP, didn’t exude the confidence of one of the best players in the league.
I was expecting him to say something like, “We’re not worried about it” and “It’s just one game” and “We know we’re the better team” and “It’s just a matter of playing our game.”
Instead, I heard words like hope. I heard a sense of panic and worry.
Here are some excerpts from Monday’s interview with Dirk. I included a paraphrase of the question so you can understand the context. Read between the lines. Do you hear an MVP?
Can you stop the Ws defense from shutting your team down?
“We’ve got to execute against their run-and-jump defense. They’ve basically got five smalls out there. They’re switching on everything, they’re active on defense, they’re reaching a lot, they’re all over the place.”
Since their crowding you, why not drive to the basket?
“I tried, but against a small lineup as soon as I put it on the floor they were really coming in from all angles. So I don’t know if this is going to be my series where I’m going to take them off the dribble. They’re really all over me as soon I put the ball down.”
So, you’re going to have to be a facilitator, huh?
“It looks like it a little bit. They’re really, really running at me hard. They’re fronting me in the post, front and back of me sometimes. If I have it, everybody’s on alert. As soon as I put it down, they’re coming. So, yeah, just find my teammates when they’re open, and move the ball, and just be active out there and be a threat. Hopefully we can win that way.”
Like I said, it could be just his natural demeanor. I guess we’ll see in Game 2.