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The Dallas Mavericks, led by Dirk Nowitzki, have won 50-plus games for 11 years in a row. But they’ve been as far as the Conference Finals only twice during this stretch. A lot of people will say that as hot as they sometimes look, the Mavericks always prove inferior when a more complete championship squad inevitably emerges.
But, as old as most of their regular contributors are, this might be the best of the 50-win units. A lot was made of Dallas’ acquisition of Tyson Chandler to complement Brendan Haywood.
Neither of these 7-footers offers a ton offensively, but it doesn’t matter. Everyone knows they were brought to Dallas to counter the bigs of the LA Lakers. Size is usually cited as one of the main reasons LA had won three straight Western Conference crowns.
The seeds of Dallas’ success were planted with these personnel moves, and now the Mavericks are enjoying the fruits of their strategy.
With great size comes great defense. The Mavs were able to clog up the lane and slow down Kobe Bryant’s attack, and Pau Gasol all but disappeared. Dallas is a strong defensive team in 2011, and that hasn’t really ever been true in the Dirk era.
If that interior pressure keeps up, Dallas could surprisingly be the latest example of the old wisdom, “Defense wins championships.”
Lights-out shooting has always been a part of Dallas’ formula, which makes sense given Dirk Nowitzki’s historic talents in that regard. But with Jason Kidd, and, since January, Peja Stojakovic, Dallas has a trio of all-time range shooters. Jason Terry can get hot too, in case you missed his playoff record-tying three-point performance in Game 4 against the Lakers.
This may or may not be the best shooting team Dirk has played with in Dallas. But they’re hot, and all four of the primary shooters have tons of playoff experience. They won’t be shying away, even when the word Finals is printed on the floor.