We all witnessed it and were shocked at how the Los Angeles Lakers decided to go down in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals. What the media has failed to focus on is the amazing show and talent the Dallas Mavericks bench contains. I’ve said it before: The Dallas Mavericks are the team to beat in the West.
But NOW, after they swept the two time champs, people might actually listen and hopefully realize that the Mavs might go all the way for once.
1. Consistency with Improvement Due to Youth
Most teams are consistent in losing and not performing to the best of their qualities, like the Lakers, who struggled all year. Some teams, like the Spurs, start off strong and start to diminish when it matters at the end.
The Mavs, on the other hand, were consistent. Their biggest setback was when Dirk Nowitzki was injured mid-season. They obtained more losses in a row than during the entire second half of the regular season.
As of right now, they are tied with the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics for the least amount of losses in the postseason—only two each. They were the only ones to sweep a team in the conference semifinals. The Mavs are on a roll and nothing is stopping them.
The main reason is because a lot of the top teams are simply getting old. It’s why they have gotten to where they are now. When their injury list is empty and everyone is on the court playing their hardest, they have the talent and energy to doing great things.
It’s one of the main reasons the Spurs were done so fast and why the Mavs beat the Lakers in the second round. Point blank: The Lakers and Spurs are old and beat up.
San Antonio has played in wars while the Lakers went to the finals for the last three years and played over 100 games each season. After a while it wears on you, as does any physically demanding job.
Things are looking up quickly for the Dallas Mavericks, especially since the only two member clubs—the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers—that have won the championship since Nowitzki and Cuban hooked up in January 2000 are already gone.
2. Strong Bench and Leader in Nowitzki
It was never a secret—the Dallas Mavericks have been known to have one of the best benches in the league. And in Sunday’s fourth game against the Lakers alone, the bench pitched in a nice chunk of points with a total of 86—led by Jason Terry (32), J.J. Barea (22) and Peja Stojakovic (21).
Terry was 11-for-14 for FG in the game, hitting 9-of-10 from three-point range. Extremely impressive, but when considering Stojakovic's 6-for-6 from beyond the arc and Barea's 9-for-14 aim, we’re seriously considering the catch phrase “good things come in threes.”
Dirk Nowitzki’s game has improved over the years, as do all great players. In the postseason alone, he is averaging 26.5 points per game (in the last two games against the Lakers, Kobe Bryant only managed 17 points per game).
He can not be stopped and is carrying this team to great things. The Lakers struggled in finding a guy to cover him, as it became so difficult for the Lakers, Lamar Odom tried to just take him out with cheap shots.
Yes, the regular season may not matter at this point, especially after watching the No. 1 seed San Antonio Spurs and the previous champs (the Los Angeles Lakers) fall so quickly.
One thing is evident of the regular season now: it gives teams experience. And with that, the Mavs have some pretty good experience with both teams that they might go against in the Western Conference finals.
Although the Mavericks are 2-3 against Memphis, it must be known that one loss came when Nowitzki was injured mid-season and one loss was by a mere one point. The Mavs are 2-1 against Oklahoma City.
IF the Mavs make it to the Finals, their chances are better than anyone’s at winning the title.
They have a 2-0 regular season record against the Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks and the Miami Heat. Yeah, they are 0-2 against Chicago, but both losses were by five points and the Bulls have been struggling in the postseason with closing.
The Mavs are coming off a huge high after defeating the reigning champs. They have the confidence and the talent—it’s all a matter of staying focused and staying away from intentional injuries.
…no pun intended.
Denise is a senior at The University of Texas at Austin, majoring in Broadcast Journalism and Sports Journalism. She’s been writing for B/R since September 2010 and is currently interning at Fox 7 Sports in Austin. Follow Denise on Twitter.