The Dallas Mavericks and the Denver Nuggets will kick off their Western Conference semifinals match-up this Sunday. The Mavericks advanced to the semifinals after man handling the Ginobli-less Spurs four games to one. The Denver Nuggets gave the Hornets, and the NBA a surprise destroying the Hornets four games to one.
Now starts a new chapter in the Nuggets and Mavericks playoff books respectively.
The Dallas Mavericks are coming off a first round victory, something they have not done ever since reaching the NBA Finals in 2006 and eventually losing to the heat four game to two.
The Denver Nuggets are coming off their first ever first round victory in fifteen years! The last time they won a series (besides the Hornets one) was in 94 when the Mutumbo led Nuggets upset the number one seed Soncis three games to two.
That's all in the past now, both teams have advanced and looking to take home the crown.
Denver probably has their determination a little bit higher than the Mavs as they ended a 15 year draught and their season would not be satisfying unless they reached the WCF. Carmleo is trying to prove that he to can reach the NBA finals like his co-draftees Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
"Finally,'' said Nuggets' forward Carmelo Anthony, the only player to have been active throughout Denver's last half-decade of disappointments. "It took me five years to get that gorilla off my back. It's been a long time since the Nuggets got out of the first round,'' Anthony said.
"I'm just excited right now. I got a gorilla off my back. I can just focus on Dallas now.'' Focus on Dallas indeed, as the Nuggets margin of victory was only 4.3.
Denver is going to need to keep J.E.T. on the ground. He has put up 18.8 PPG against Denver, but on below 40 percent shooting. Keep Nowitzki in line as he is burned the Nuggets with 30 PPG and 11 RPG on 44 percent shooting from the field.
Josh Howard is going to be a threat if he gets going. He missed two out of the four meetings against Denver during the regular season.
Dallas is going to have to defend Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith but must do without letting Chauncey hitting those deadly silent threes. Carmelo is averaging 31.3 PPG and 9 RPG on 50 percent shooting and 66 percent from the behind the arc.
Josh Howard is the only legit defensive stopper that can try to slow down Carmelo. James Singleton and Antoine Wright are not really exceptional defenders.
Key match-ups to look out for are...
Kenyon Martin and Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk is undoubtedly the better player than Kenyon, but that doesn't mean Kenyon can't play. His offensive game is not as polished but his defense is shinning like a brand new Lexus with a paint job. Kenyon is going to have to play shutdown defense like he did to David West.
"He's a great player and I have to try to make him uncomfortable," K-Mart said Friday. "Hold him, grab him, push him, whatever I can do. He's a great player."
Martin understands it's impossible to stop Nowitzki completely. He's always going to get his points. The idea is to make him work really hard to get them. To do that Martin must be as physical as the referees will allow. But Nowitzki is a guy who gives as good as he gets.
"He's taller than me, but I think I can make up for that in other ways," K-Mart said with a wink and a smile.
Jones has really stepped his defense up in ways I did not see coming at all. If Jones can continue his aggressiveness and get under Jason Terry's skin, its going to be a long series for the "JET."
JR Smith can explode for 40 points any night and it is his shots selections that lead to that. Jr must use his head instead of his skill this series.
Chris Anderson will probably take turns along with Nene and K-Mart defending Dirk. I have a feeling Anderson will have a hard time with Dirk because of his pump fakes and whatnot but Anderson's defensive presence in the paint is going to alter Dirk's shots, JJ's runners, and anything else brought into the paint.
If Terry can get going and shut down Billups and/or Smith, it would significantly increase their chances of moving on into the next round.
This series is going to scare me as a Nugget fan as it can go any way. Teams are 25-0 when they beat a team they are facing in the playoffs 3-0 and better during the regular season.
Prediction: Nuggets in six.