Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

May 24, 1:00 PM ET
Mavs with Jeff Caplan

Jeff Caplan
  (1:00 PM)

Welcome back everyone. Wow, what a night, huh? Incredible comeback and now the Mavericks can take care of the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night and become the first to claim a berth in the NBA Finals. Let's do this.

Craig (St. Louis)

How do you feel about the thunder players trying to ice dirk last night by throwing water on the court?

Jeff Caplan
  (1:02 PM)

Craig,Hmmm, well, veteran move by the young OKC Thunder? or bush league? If Dirk misses that FT, what a story we have on our hands. But, Dirk rarely misses, although he did miss one earlier in the fourth quarter. Hey, the Thunder were desperate at that point.

Bud (Plano)

I finally believe this team can (will?) win it all. Am I crazy???

Jeff Caplan
  (1:03 PM)

No, Bud, you are not crazy. If you don't believe in this team now, then you never will. They are slaying all of their postseason demons, from the refs to meltdowns...Dare I say the only demon left to slay is the Miami Heat.

Timbo (overseas)

will the Mavs bring Tyson Chandler back for next season? he'll request at least a Haywood-like contract and that's a lot of money. how will the new cba affect his resigning?

Jeff Caplan
  (1:04 PM)

Timbo,They will do everything they can to make sure that happens. Winning a title would certainly add incentive for Chandler to stay. At this point, I like their chances. A lot will depend on the new CBA whenever that gets hammered out and the salary cap structure. Chandler will be highly sought-after and there will be teams lining up for his services.

Chris (Warsaw, Poland)

If we already take a look forward (Repeat of a Mavs-Heat final) - who's going to guard Dirk the most: Haslem, Bosh, Anthony or somebody else?

Jeff Caplan
  (1:06 PM)

Well, Chris, all of them will take their shot on Dirk. The guy I like the most if I'm Miami is Haslem. He's tough, has the quickness and the disposition to do the job. He was pretty good on Dirk in the '06 Finals. To me, Haslem is the X-factor for Miami. I don't think the importance of his return can be overstated.

Kevin M (Jax, FL)

A bit premature, but can the Mavs beat the Heat in the Finals? And why?

Jeff Caplan
  (1:09 PM)

Kevin, they won't be the favorite, but yes they can beat the Heat because of two main areas. The Mavs have a big advantage at point guard and at the center position. The Heat aren't even dressing Ilgauskas or Dampier. Jamal Magloire has been playing if you can beleve that. Joel Anthony gives them decent minutes, but the edge goes to Haywood and Chandler. Jason Kidd has been playing tremendous basketball and if the Mavs wrap up the series on Wednesday, he'll have another week off to rest up.

Jeff Caplan
  (1:09 PM)

Sorry for any delays, having some connection problems. Believe it or not, Tim MacMahon is at the wheel while I chat truckin down I-35.

Patrick (York, PA)

Any updates on the Caron Butler situation?

Jeff Caplan
  (1:10 PM)

Patrick, stop worrying about Caron. At this point, it's probably too late anyway. Maybe Rick will make him ceremonially active at some point if he thinks he can afford to do that. But, Caron has not been cleared to practice and there's no reason to believe he will be. Having said that, Rick could announce that Caron will begin practicing tomorrow.

Jeff Caplan
  (1:10 PM)

Patrick, stop worrying about Caron. At this point, it's probably too late anyway. Maybe Rick will make him ceremonially active at some point if he thinks he can afford to do that. But, Caron has not been cleared to practice and there's no reason to believe he will be. Having said that, Rick could announce that Caron will begin practicing tomorrow.

Patrick (York, PA)

Would you classify Dirk as one of the top 5 greatest "playoff" performers in history? Not in NBA history but playoff history.

Jeff Caplan
  (1:12 PM)

Patrick, you ruined that with the all of playoffs comment. He hasn't won a ring yet. I mean Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Troy Aikman, just in the NFL are up there. Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Bill Russell? I mean, come on.Now, statistically, Dirk is one of only four players to average 25 points and 10 rebounds in the playoffs over an 11 year period. So talking NBA specifically, yes he is up there.

travis (columbus ohio)

What does RC do to clean up the boards?

Jeff Caplan
  (1:14 PM)

Not much he can do other than get his guys to pound the boards. They know they got beat badly and they'll look at that closely. Like Haywood said, you usually don't win when you get outboarded 55-33. The defensive boards were awful as OKC got 20 offensive rebounds for 24 second-half points.

Wilmer (Puerto Rico)

Hi, Jeff, wow, Dirk's brilliance does not surprise me at all, but you gotta give all the credit and praises in the world to jason kidd and Marion, they were huge. One thing special about this team is that each night, each series someone different can be a major contributor. Now, who should I root for in the Miami-Chicago Series?

Jeff Caplan
  (1:15 PM)

Wilmer, root for whomever you choose, but does the storyline get any better than for the Mavs to go back to Miami where it all fell about five years ago? This franchise has gone through hell ever since.

BrianW (Dallas)

What did you think of the Mavs being relatively calm after the huge win compared to OKC practically looking like they just won the championship with 5 mins left to play (all the bumping/acting like they were putting on WWE title belts, etc..) then completely collapsing?

Jeff Caplan
  (1:16 PM)

Brian, it's called experience vs inexperience. in the NBA very rarely does a newbie go all the way to the Finals. Durant and Co. will learn from this. I guarantee you won't see Durant strapping on a title belt ever again until he's crowned world champion.

Jarad (Fort Worth)

Hey Jeff, What a night! Ibaka played like an all star offensively and defensively for the better part of the game. How much do you buy into Harden being the difference maker? And what were your thoughts on the officiating?

Jeff Caplan
  (1:19 PM)

Jarad, first off officiating is what it is. It's never going to perfect. Every call is open to debate. But, any Mavs fan who wants to rail on officiating today really needs to get a life. Dirk got to the line -- a lot. Officiating, to me, is a non-story. Now, as far as Harden goes, yes, I think he is a major difference-maker. I think he handles the ball and makes better decisions than anyone else on that team. I'm not going to pin the Mavs 27-6 run on Harden fouling out specifically, but with him in, perhaps OKC makes one fewer turnover or makes one more shot which would have sent them back to Dallas tied 2-2.

pancho (dallas,tx)

Wow a demoralizing defeat. After giving the game away can OKC come back on Wed?

Jeff Caplan
  (1:20 PM)

Pancho, I really can't imagine OKC being able to win in Dallas with the Finals staring the Mavs in the face. Just can't see it happening. The Mavs are 9-1 since the Game 4 loss at Portland.

Jaime (Mexico)

Have you noticed tha Haywood has a become a vocal leader lately for the Mavs? Also, that flagrant foul was a turning point on the game to Durant didnt attacked the rim again. Your thought on Brendan? Plus 5-8 FT amazing!

Jeff Caplan
  (1:23 PM)

Jaime, Haywood has really come into his own and the Mavs desperately needed it. I think he's finally comfortable in his role and he's stepping up. As for the flagrant, you are right, it was a hard playoff foul and Haywood said he wasn't going to be dunked on again.

derrik (dallas)

What were the attitudes of the players after the game? did they say anything about the importance of coming home and ending it here?

Jeff Caplan
  (1:25 PM)

Derrik, sure they want to end it at home. No doubt. No one wants to play more games than necessary and it will give them a nice break after playing five games in nine days.

justin (VA)

who guards leBron, Dwade and Bosh if Dallas and Miami meet in the finals? Does U Haslem or Bosh guard Dirk ? thank you

Jeff Caplan
  (1:26 PM)

Shawn Marion is going to have to take LeBron most likely to start with DeShawn Stevenson starting on DWade. Tyson Chandler will start on Bosh with Dirk and Marion helping out there. Jason Kidd will get spot duty on LeBron and DWade and don't forget about the Mavs' zone.

Tyler (Dallas)

Here's what I know Dallas only had 16 assists, got out rebounded 33-55, and shot 43% from the field. How did they stage the comeback of what I might call the decade? How did they do it? Was it us or was it that OKC turned the ball over 25 times? I still have no words to describe what I watched last night. Go Mavs!!

Jeff Caplan
  (1:30 PM)

Tyler, to me it starts with OKC absolutely spitting the bit. They have done it time and time again down the stretch, poor execution, awful decision-making. Then, give the Mavs all the credit. Dirk hits a 3, they start to play tighter defense, get some turnovers and then a young team totally crumbled. It was insane to watch.

Jeff Caplan
  (1:33 PM)

OK everyone thanks for your patience. We're going to end it here. Remember Tim MacMahon will chat at 3 p.m. tomorrow right here.Check frequently for the most comprehensive and most updated Mavs content anywhere. Did I mention it's free.Have a good week everyone.