I used to be a big Michael Finley supporter. When the Mavs went to the Western Conference finals in the 2002-03 season, I thought the Mavs were Finley’s team. While Dirk and Nash were flashy and got all the attention, Finley was the sizzle that kept the team going.
The Mavs are no longer Finley’s team. Since 2000-01, his rebounds, free throws, assists, and points per game have all dropped every season. At the same time his three point attempts have gone up. I have vivid memories at Reunion Arena (the former home of the Mavs) of Finley taking the ball to the lane and throwing down a monster dunk. It was a commom occurence. Now, it’s very rare to see him take the ball to the hoop at all.
To see what I’m talking about you can look no further than the last three games (before the game against the Lakers in which Finley didn’t play since he was hurt). Finley scored 4, 11, and 13 points. During that stretch he took 1, 2, and 1 shots in the lane (he was 1-4). In the game against Phoenix he missed a 3-point attempt with 1:21 left in the game and 14 seconds left on the shot clock with the Mavs up 6. Bad decision. He should have drove the lane to try to draw a foul or kick out to someone else for an open mid-range jumper.
I don’t write this just to pick on Michael. I really wish he would play well. He used to be aggressive and drive the ball. Now he’s a long-range jump shooter who doesn’t draw any fouls. I think the Mavericks and Finley himself would benefit greatly if we would see the old Finley more often.
One last note. I read the first article ever saying that the Mavs are a legitimate contender. Check it out here.