San Antonio is looking far from invincible, and when you look at the rosters, its not inconceivable that the Mavs could have given the Suns the very same fits.
Unfortunately, it looks as though it could have been much easier than we all thought. Goran Dragic provided the Suns a spark in the second half in game three for the Suns, which all but answers the definitive question of the Spurs-Mavs series: What if there had been more Rodrigue Beaubois?
Dragic shows what the end result could have been if Beaubois had been allowed to pick up where he left off in Game Six, or better yet, if he had been given significant minutes in the series.
The Mavs had two fatal flaws in the Spurs' series, and its becoming increasingly clear that the cure to both of them can be found wearing the No. 3 jersey.
Lack of scoring from the frontcourt
Jason Kidd, while not a scorer, developed a role for himself for the Mavs this season, and he was unable to contribute in that role. He couldn't hit the wide open three, and he really couldn't do anything to prove he was a scoring threat against the Spurs.
He had some pretty good passing games during the series, but the Mavs needed points from him, even just a few made threes would have made the difference.
Jason Terry did his usual playoff disappearing act in the playoffs, and as bad as he is defensively, the Mavericks basicaly got absolutely nothing from the shooting guard position when he was on the floor.
JJ Barea provided a bit of a spark, and scored close to the basket, but he couldn't make the three-pointers that Kidd could, and he's just as much of a defensive liability.
Here's the rub: Steve Nash is more of a defensive liability than both Terry and Kidd, and yet he sits with a 3-0 lead on the Spurs.
The difference? Scoring. Those three players put together gave the Mavericks 8.8 points per game.
Steve Nash is averaging 22.6. Quite a difference.
Beaubois in the limited minutes we saw him play, was a scoring machine. He took complete advantage of the banged up Tony Parker and George Hill, and almost brought the Mavs out of a huge hole while doing it.
Is it wrong to think he could have had the same impact in other games, the same impact that Steve Nash had in Game One and Goran Dragic had in game three?
Dragic and Beaubois are remarkably similar statistically. Dragic averaged 7.9 points in 18 minutes per game this season, while Beaubois averaged 7.1 points in 12.5 minutes.
It's not as if Beaubois was a sudden revelation during the playoffs. He produced in minutes he was given.
Now, the Mavericks lost two games by three and four points. Do you think that Rodrigue Beaubois could have made a difference in any one of those?
Yeah, me too.
Lack of first quarter scoring
The Mavericks opened up slow in every game they lost in the series. In games two, three, four, and six, they were outscored 24-20, 23-16, 17-20, and 22-8.
This means they spent most of early games trailing, and trying to come back. The gigantic deficit they faced in game six was an extreme example, but they fought back, but by the time the game was close, the Mavericks were absolutely wiped out.
Could Beaubois have helped that any?
Is his first start, against the Hornets, Beaubois scored the first 9 points for the Mavericks, on three-pointers, layups, and jumpers.
In his next start, he scored the Mavs' first seven points.
He started 16 games total, averaging 4.8 points in 7.8 first quarter minutes, which translates to 29 points per 48 minutes.
That's a pretty efficient rate, and for a team that struggled to get hot out of the gate, that's a damning number.
You're telling me that having Roddy attack Parker and Hill early on wouldn't have swung a few games to the Mavs?
Maybe Hill gets winded early on and has less energy to sink those corner threes. Maybe Parker gets tired chasing Roddy around and can't get the lift for those mid-range jumpers.
Hell, a few extra points put on the board would be just fine.
With the once-mighty Spurs, the "Best seventh seed in history" staggered under the weight of a 3-0 deficit, it's a little depressing for the Mavs fans to think how differently the series could have gone.
One player getting a few scant minutes could have the Mavericks facing the Suns in the second round.
Though, the way the Suns are playing, maybe it's irrelevant anyways.