8:30 EST, Tuesday night
After feeling like a kid on Christmas Eve for most of the day, I finally sit down on my couch, cold frosty beverage in hand. It's about to begin. The Dallas Mavericks play the Washington Wizards, and since I live in D.C., I get it on real television, not my computer screen.
Shawn Marion is looking great, throwing down some nice hook shots, looking like the best low post player I have ever seen on the Mavericks.
I'm curled up in on my couch, sucking my thumb, tears streaming down my face. What happened? After everything the Mavericks did in the offseason, it's the same lackluster defense, the same anemic offense, the...same old story.
I woke up Wednesday feeling hungover the game was so bad, only I didn't even get the fun of a good night out.
The Mavericks were one of the most, if not the most, active teams in the offseason, and going from the game I saw, not a single thing has changed.
That game was so poorly played, that while I originally thought the Mavericks would battle the Spurs for the second seed, I'm ready to put them at five or six in the West.
The cock-eyed optimist in me thought a few lucky breaks and a trade-deadline acquisition might be able to get them into the Finals, but not anymore.
They'll be lucky to squeak out of the first round.
They talked all summer about being ready to run more, and with Marion on board, I thought they were ready.
Nope, they resorted back to the Avery Johnson days of the awkward half-court offense, the one that results in a contested jumper to beat the shot clock.
Marion, good as he was, clearly isn't in game shape yet, as he looked completely winded by the end of the first quarter.
Dirk, while he did great in getting to the line, wasn't hitting his jumper at all. He still managed to put up more than 30, but he can't do it by himself.
J.J. Barea, for all his brilliance on the offensive end in the second quarter, turned into a turnover machine late in the game, and resembled a screen door on defense.
Drew Gooden, who came into the year ready to compete with Erick Dampier for the starting center spot, showed exactly why he's been bounced out of so many teams. He made stupid plays on both ends of the floor, and took terrible baseline jumper after baseline jumper.
The Mavs continued their woes from behind the arc, shooting a dismal 22 percent. They shot 39.5 percent from the field too, so clearly they're not getting it.
Except for Marion early, the Mavs were just shooting their normal jumpers, and shooting them with people's hands in their face.
They made Fabricio Oberto look like Hakeem Olajuwon out there, as he got blocks, steals and everything else.
The rim was practically the Wizards' playground. Brendan Haywood looked like Stoudemire getting passes from Steve Nash the lane was so wide open. Gooden, Dampier, Kris Humphries—no one could stop them, and the Wizards aren't exactly low-post powerhouses.
I know it's only one game, and I know the Wizards are riding pretty high on emotion now with the return of a healthy Agent Zero, but the problems I saw last night were all too familiar.
They're exactly the same as last year, despite all the turnover, which suggests that there's something more fundamental wrong with this team, and that depresses me beyond belief.
In my season preview, I wrote that the Mavs seemed to address most of their shortcomings in the offseason, but none of the issues got fixed.
The one that lets scrubs like Kyrylo Fresenko and Beno Udrih have career days against them. It's disgusting.
Looks like we can expect a whole season of this garbage, if we're lucky. We know the Mavs can stink up the joint. We don't yet know if they can hang with an elite team.
The Mavs have weathered slow starts before, but it always comes back to bite them in the end, where one win can be the difference between a three or a six seed.
So get to know the folks at the liquor store people, and smoke 'em if you got 'em, because I have a feeling it's going to be a long, disappointing season from the Mavericks.