Season Series: Dallas 3-1
(This is just a preview for one of the eight games, to see all, click here )
Come playoff time in the Western Conference, in recent years if you don't see Dirk Nowitzki and his Dallas Mavericks near the top of the standings and contending for the championship, then you've been watching the Japanese Basketball League.
Anyone who is a fan of the game knows year-in and year-out that the Mavericks will play a full 48 minutes of hard-nosed basketball in order to knock off their opponent, and this year should be no different.
It will be tougher considering that the Western Conference is stacked with all playoff teams having 50+ wins (Oklahoma is the eighth seed with 50 wins). Through the season the Mavericks have done everything they can to improve themselves by trading away Josh Howard and Drew Gooden for Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood.
Butler (who is currently battling a sore hip), has been sensational offensively since arriving, putting up more points than Josh Howard had averaged.
The addition of Haywood has added a young defensive minded presence to the Mavs' team. I'll take the younger big man who's averaging just under Gooden's point totals, but is ahead of him in rebounds, blocks, and assist-to-turnover ratio, and who does it all while committing less fouls per game. In my mind, it was an extremely smart pick up and will only help Dallas for years to come.
The starting line consists of Jason Kidd, who seems to have been in the league forever, Caron Butler/Jason Terry, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, and Erick Dampier, with Haywood coming off the bench.
Unfortunately for the Mavericks, they picked up Tim Thomas, who over nine seasons has played with seven teams, and his constant poor attitude and conditioning kept showing him the door. But this year was different. In early 2010, when Thomas vanished and was nowhere to be found on the Mavericks' starting roster, many suspected that something had happened that made the Mavs cut ties with Thomas. Not true.
In actuality, he was playing some of the best basketball of his career and not creating any fuss in the locker room, but it was his wife has fallen ill (illness unknown) and Thomas stated, "I have to give up what I love, to take care of someone I love." It's a stand-up decision, and whatever illness may your wife be battling Thomas, I wish the both of you the best of luck.
The Mavs, with or without Thomas, are going to be an extremely hard team to beat due to a vast amount of experience tied in with a vast amount of talent.
The San Antonio Spurs, along with the L.A. Lakers, have combined to win seven of the last 10 NBA Championships, and will be looking to keep the tradition alive. And to be quite honest, it is possible. Much like the Dallas Mavericks, the Spurs have a wide variety of talent that has played together for numerous years, and because of it they are very hard to beat come playoff time.
The trio of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobilli, and Tony Parker is quite possible the most well known three players on any team in basketball. More than Kobe, Gasol, and anyone else, more than Melo, Billups and an unknown. The only comparison is Garnett, Pierce and Allen, but they were all paired up near the end of their careers to win a championship. The Spurs already have three under their belt.
Along with the trio, San Antonio starts Richard Jefferson at small forward and Antonio McDyess at center and when either Ginobilli or Parker need a break, 2008 first-round draft pick George Hill comes in to relieve his teammates and give them some much needed rest.
The Spurs can also put young big man DeJuan Blair into the game when Duncan needs a break. Overall, the Spurs have a lot of talent, and it doesn't matter who they are playing, whether it be the Lakers, Mavericks, Suns, Jazz or anyone else, the Spurs know how to win.
Even MyDress is underrated and overshadowed in San Antonio due to the fact that everyone loves the big, fundamental Tim Duncan.
The biggest concern I have going into the 2010 NBA Playoffs is the following...Bruce Bowen retired. After last season Bowen, who has been selected to either the first or second All-NBA Defensive Team a total of eight times during his career, called it quits.
The Spurs lost not only one of the greatest defenders in the history of the game, but also a leader by voice and by example. He was there for their three titles in '03, '05, and '07. The Spurs can give any team a run for their money, but it will be extremely evident how much they miss Bowen come the end of this series.
The Coach's Pick: Mavericks in six