NBA Beat Writers: Who Will Guard Dirk In Game 1 Of Nuggets-Mavs?

Sean StancillSenior Writer IApril 30, 2009

DENVER - NOVEMBER 07: Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks controls the ball as Kenyon Martin #4 of the Denver Nuggets defends at the Pepsi Center on November 7, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Heading into their second round matchup against the Dallas Mavericks, the Denver Nuggets will be looking at multiple options to defend the Mavs' best scoring threat, Dirk Nowitzki.

The 7-footer only averaged 19.2 points in the first round and made only one three-pointer in his five games against the Spurs, usually barometers of a Texas-sized failure rather than a success.

He was more assertive on the glass, tallying 8.6 boards per contest, up slightly from his regular season mark of 8.4, something the Nuggets' must be conscious of at all times considering second chance points can serve to be daggers as the game progresses.

The Nuggets will toss out multiple defenders at Dirk to frustrate him and effectively push him off his spots negating any hopes of gaining a favorable position or working himself into a rhythm. 

Here are the options the Nuggets' will be looking at when defending Dirk Nowitzki:

Option 1: Kenyon Martin

Martin is long, athletic, and quick on his toes and can change direction at the same rate as any power forward in the league. If you remember his foot-speed was sufficient enough that George Karl assigned him to guard Kobe Bryant last year in their opening postseason matchup.

In the first-round Martin was able to harass David West enough to the point where he began to grow uncomfortable with his back to the basket and began to rely too much on his fadeaway jumper from the left wing.

If Martin can convince Dirk to abandon his game from 23-feet and out (the three-point line) it will effectively only limit the Mavs' to only one three-point shooter in their starting line-up (Jason Kidd) and permit the quicker Nugget guards to give support to Martin when needed and scramble back to their own man without covering much ground.

Option 2: Chris Andersen

Andersen is a rangy shot-blocker with outstanding reaction and long limbs. That fact that he runs the floor is only a bonus and really helps the Nuggets excel in transition defense.

He finished second in the league in blocked shots despite playing only a shade more than 20 minutes per game and thus far is averaging just less than two blocks per game in the postseason.

However, at times he's extremely aggressive, and Nowitzki is far to skilled and will devour Birdman from the post to the paint.

Andersen is best when he is able to cheat over from his man and send away a shot or two in the paint when his fellow teammates allow their man to drive past them—i.e. the Marcus Camby effect.

Option 3: Nené

With the strength and mass to really create problems for Dirk, he's also deceptively graceful and can hurt Nowitzki on the offensive end as well, should Dirk be forced to guard Nené on a switch or just by simple design.

The fact that he can induce the German into foul trouble is a major advantage, as well as his agile movements around the basket.


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