But he woke up Wednesday to a more promising outcome. After their
The Mavs' turnaround was embodied by
It's easy to say that Butler was more aggressive while scoring 35 than he had been in the previous games, but it probably isn't true. After his benching, he would open Game 4 by looking to shoot, but he missed his first four attempts while committing two turnovers in the opening quarter. The truth is that
Will the Spurs restore their defense to a high level for Game 6? Will
"I can't tell you how many times Damp or Haywood was in his face and he made his hook shot. That's incredible and that's a credit to him: He knows what he has to do and he does it well."
Both Duncan and
"You're blessed when you can be good at the things you love, and he loves it," Cuban said of Nowitzki. "He loves the game, he wants to be good at it. That's who he is. They've happened to get a combination that works, whether it's Tim and Manu and
"Where Avery had problems that led to his dimsissal was he stopped listening to people,'' Cuban said. "Avery was such a hard worker -- he worked too hard. He thought he could figure it all out himself, which was kind of how his [playing] career was: I will work hard enough to get it done. But he stopped listening. Rick is not like that -- he has [assistants]
In hiring Casey and Stotts, Carlisle was not bringing in old friends to work with him -- these were merit hires viewed as the best candidates to help him. "He was looking for the best people he could find,'' Cuban said. "That's why there's so much turnover [among head coaches] -- everybody wants to have 'their guys' [as assistants] and that creates a lot of problems.''
Cuban wasn't surprised to find his No. 2 Mavs trailing the No. 7 seed.
"What you do over the first 75 games isn't necessarily reflective of what you're going to do over the playoffs," he said. "It gives you the best opportunities because of seeding and home-court advantage, but it's not necessarily how things are going to play out."
The irony of the seeding is that one of the league's best teams will be knocked out in the first round. But Cuban doesn't pretend that fans across the country will be saddened to lose his Mavs or the Spurs.
"In terms of the Mavs, it's up there as high as it can be," he said of their long-standing rivalry with San Antonio. "In terms of Texas, it's up there as high as it can be. In terms of reality, it's up there as high as it can be. But in terms of the ratings, it's nothing. That's because both teams are professional. We both have a lot of respect for each other."
But Cuban has tried, predictably, to create interest.
"I like to tweak them," he said. "I'm more vocal, obviously, but I try to look at the bigger picture and see what I can do for ratings on my own, even if it means everybody in this town [San Antonio] hates me."
For the record, he declared his hatred first.
"Actually, I said I hate the Spurs, but only because we respect them so much," Cuban said. "But that part didn't make the headline."