Dirk vs. Durant: Maverick's Sweep of Lakers Could Lead to a Thunder-Storm

Mark CrystelContributor IIIMay 17, 2011

Dirk and the Mavs shot 60% and hit 20/32 from 3-pt. range in game 4.  But that's not likely to happen in consecutive games.
Dirk and the Mavs shot 60% and hit 20/32 from 3-pt. range in game 4. But that's not likely to happen in consecutive games.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

It was raining threes in Dallas on May 8 when the Mavericks exploded for 60 points from beyond the arc in a 36-point win over the Lakers.

But if recent history is any indication, that "rainstorm" produced by the Mavericks in Game 4 could lead to a "Thunder" storm in Game 1 if the Mavericks become complacent.

Let's take a quick journey back in time to the past two seasons for a refresher of a pair of very similar situations.

Two years ago, the Cleveland Cavaliers were rolling the competition in the playoffs.  

With LeBron James leading the way, the Cavs made quick work of the Detroit Pistons and even quicker work of the Atlanta Hawks.

After sweeping the Pistons, the Cavs won all four games against the Hawks and came into the semifinals against Orlando having won their first eight playoff games by double digits.

They seemed unbeatable.

Not only was Cleveland undefeated in the playoffs, it also had covered the spread in all eight of its playoff games, which is difficult to do per oddsmaker probability.

With nine days of rest before playing the Orlando Magic and Dwight Howard, the Cavs opened up as an eight-point home favorite in Game 1.

Orlando was coming off a grueling series with the Celtics, taking Boston to seven games before getting the best of it.

With just three days of rest, the Magic surprised the Cavs and won the opening game outright. It went on to win the series.

Last season, it was the Orlando Magic picking up where Cleveland left off.

Orlando swept Charlotte in four games to open the playoffs before embarrassing the Atlanta Hawks in even worse fashion.

The Magic won each game over Atlanta by at least 14 points and came into the semifinals with a playoff record of 8-0, having covered the spread in seven of the eight games.

With six days of rest, it had plenty of time to prepare for the Boston Celtics, who survived a six-game fight with Cleveland and LeBron James.

As a seven-point favorite and having seemed virtually unbeatable in its first two series, the Magic not only lost Game 1, but lost the first three games of the series before succumbing to the Celtics in six games. 

This season, the Dallas Mavericks are coming off an impressive sweep of the Lakers and are now 9-0-1 ATS in the playoffs.   Like the Magic from 2010 and the Cavs from 2009, Dallas will have eight days of rest between these games.

Dallas shot an impressive 60 percent in its last game, and hit 20 of 32 shots from three-point range.

Jason Terry alone was an amazing 9-of-10 from long range, but that kind of high percentage shooting is usually not replicated in consecutive games by the players or the team as a whole.

Let's keep in mind what happened to the Spurs back in March after they hit 17 of 28 shots from three-point range in a 30-point destruction of the Miami Heat: they scored 83 points in their next game and hit just eight shots from three-point range in 23 attempts.

It's true the Thunder is coming off a challenging seven-game series over Memphis and will have little time to prepare for Dallas, but the perimeter defensive game plan will be simple:  Don't leave Terry open from long range!

The more complicated game plan will involve stopping Dirk Nowitzki, who is coming off one of his most impressive series ever.  It's possible he could replicate such a great performance in consecutive series, but perhaps the Thunder will learn from the failures of the Lakers and Blazers.

It's a long NBA season, and while games are typically two or three days apart, this short gap is nothing new for Kevin Durant and the Thunder, who will be riding some moving momentum into this game while the long rest could potentially take the Mavericks out of their rhythm.

Additionally, with the Mavs coming off a sweep of the defending NBA champions, one must wonder how high and overconfident the Mavericks could be at this point.

At 9-0-1 ATS, the Mavericks are bound to slip up sooner or later in the playoffs, and they will be opening up as about a six-point favorite in Game 1, their highest spread of the playoffs so far. 

This will be the Thunder's series to cover, and keeping in mind what happened to last season's Orlando Magic and the 2009 Cleveland Cavaliers, don't be surprised if it starts by covering the number in the very first game in Dallas.