So much for the Dallas Mavericks being a bit rusty to start the Western Conference Finals. After sweeping the Lakers, Dallas had over a week off while they awaited the winner of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies series. Dirk Nowitzki led the charge with one of the most remarkable performances in playoff history. Dirk scored 48 points despite just taking 15 shots from the floor, none of them from three-point range. He made 12 of those 15 FG attempts, then added another two dozen points by going a perfect 24-for-24 from the charity stripe. As you’ll hear, teammate Tyson Chandler was in awe of what Dirk was doing during the Mavericks’ 121-112 win. Chandler himself had a less than memorable individual showing in Game 1. He played just 25 minutes thanks to early foul trouble, beginning with a quick double-technical that I believe may have been rescinded by the league on Wednesday afternoon. Anyway, Chandler finished with just three points on 1-of-2 shooting. He did chip in eight rebounds and two block shots however. Game 2 will be played at American Airlines Center in Dallas on Thursday night, with a tip time scheduled for CST.
Chandler joined ESPN Radio in Dallas to talk about the Mavericks’ Game 1 win over the Thunder on Tuesday night, the double-technical issued to him and Kendrick Perkins early on in the contest, the ticky-tack questionable fouls he picked up on defense, how getting into foul trouble like that hasn’t been an issue for him over the course of his career, how there’s a little bit of extra motivation to play well and beat the Thunder since they previously rescinded a trade to acquire him due to unfounded injury concerns, not knowing that there’s an active Twitter account that tweets under the guise of Tyson Chandler’s bobblehead, the important contributions of J.J. Barea, and last but certainly not least, the ridiculous performance turned in by Dirk Nowitzki in the Game 1 win.
On the double-technical foul issued to him and Kendrick Perkins early on in Game 1:
“I don’t know why I got the tech honestly, but me and Perkins kind of got tangled up. I was just trying to kick the ball out of bounds, and he did some extra stuff so the ref came up and called a tech. But I think I got a double tech because that’s just the way it is.”
On if his recent run of picking up ticky-tack questionable fouls on defense is something that’s plagued him his entire career or just a random, new development:
“Oh no, not at all. It’s probably happened as of late. I think the more and more we try to become a defensive team, the more and more people will recognize that. I think just right now, I don’t know if people are necessarily used to seeing the Mavericks play the type of defense that we’re playing. But all in all, I think it’s been pretty fair, I just have to make adjustments to the game and you have to do that sometimes as a player.”
If there’s any extra motivation for him personally to play against an Oklahoma City team that rescinded a trade for him in the past because of (unfounded) concerns about a toe injury:
“Oh you definitely want to knock a team out that told you you weren’t good enough to play on their team. But at this point in the season, you don’t need any added motivation. If you need extra motivation to play somebody now, then you shouldn’t be playing. Because right now we’re playing for the Western Conference Finals, and I don’t care who it was, I would be motivated to play against them.”
Is he aware that his bobblehead has a Twitter account that posts regularly:
“Really? Is he a funny guy? Hey, that’s like my Little Penny then. I’ve got my own little bootleg version without the Nike campaign and all the millions of dollars behind it. I’ve got my bobblehead.”
On the incredible play of another smallish figure, point guard J.J. Barea:
“He is, J.J. is playing unbelievable basketball right now. You’ve got to respect what the guy is doing. Night in and night out obviously he’s undersized as far as who he’s going against. But he’s not undersized in heart. He sticks his nose in there, he gets fouled, but he goes right back in there. But you’ve got to respect the energy that he’s bringing us right now. It’s made a huge impact on our wins as far our team just believing in what he can do out there.”
On Dirk Nowitzki scoring 48 points on just 15 field goals and 39 total shots including free throws:
“I’m just saying, when you actually think about that — this man threw up the ball 39 times and 36 times it went in. I’m sure that in your pick-up league, you guys couldn’t do a layup drill and make 36 out of 39.”
On what it’s like to be defending a guy like Dirk when he’s on like that:
“I think that whoever is guarding him feels like they’re on an island all by themselves and everybody in the arena is watching Dirk put on a show. I mean, last night I was on the bench and I don’t how many times I looked over at DeShawn Stevenson at one point when he was on the bench with me, Caron Butler and a couple other guys, and I was just in awe. The only thing I said is this dude’s a monster. He’s a monster. Like as a defender, it just baffles me what he’s able to do on the basketball court. As a defender, if I was coming out to guard him you think ‘okay, what’s his strength? You try to take his strength away and then try to make his second option tough. I mean, the guy’s repertoire, there’s no first, second, third, fourth, or fifth option. He can do everything on the court. So when you’re guarding a guy like that, you’re at his mercy. And last night guys were at his mercy and it was fun to watch.”