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Out on a Limb: Dallas Over Cleveland in the 2010 NBA Finals

Ryan VirginCorrespondent IMarch 26, 2010

With an uncharacteristically loose Western Conference, relative to prior years, the urge to look ahead to the playoffs has greatened.

As it stands, and I believe will stand for the remainder of the season Houston, Memphis, and New Orleans are on the outside looking in.

Leaving the projected playoff picture as such with the Final Hopefuls Highlighted in Bold.

West                              East

1. Los Angeles                1. Cleveland

2. Denver                        2. Orlando

3. Dallas                          3. Boston

4. Utah                             4. Atlanta

5. Phoenix                        5. Milwaukee

6. Oklahoma City               6. Miami

7. San Antonio                  7. Charlotte

8. Portland                        8. Toronto

With the Los Angeles Lakers seemingly sputtering towards the finish and the Cleveland Cavaliers on fire as of late. The Western conference is going to need another team to step up to keep the Finals Trophy.

My money is on the Dallas Mavericks.

Let me explain.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have set themselves up for success in the Playoffs with their success in the regular season. They have the best player in the NBA, in LeBron James and a nice little role player in Antawn Jamison. But that is it. They have a team full of role players along side LeBron James. 

Which isn't always bad, but in this case, I believe it to be so.

The Dallas Mavericks don't have one single person that can stop LeBron James, but they do play very good team defense. They are fundamentally sound on defense and play a very efficient offensive game with the one of the best turnover ratio and effective field goal percentage in the league.

The Mavericks style of play translates very well into the playoffs. Like I said earlier, the Mavericks are an efficient team through and through.

And that is what you get when your leading scorer is a post presence and a seven footer. You get easy buckets in the half court sets.

When the playoffs start, the pace slows down and teams have to squeeze the pumpkin on each possession.

Teams are given time to prepare for one team and one guy, rather than having a quick briefing at a shoot around and film session.

In this scenario, the advantage goes to the Mavericks even though LeBron James is a nearly unstoppable offensive player. When you have four guys on the floor that can get their own shot on offense and can create plays by putting the ball on the floor and attacking the basket, you will have the advantage night in and night out.

With the Cavaliers, you have two, maybe three guys that have that kind of ability to be aggressive enough to force the defender to back off of you to cover the lane. LeBron James makes up far too much of the Cavaliers offense and that is a problem in the Playoffs, a time when teams have the ability to focus and game plan for an individual player.

While depth isn't necessarily vital to success in the playoffs, it always helps to have a game changing type of player that can come in off the bench and provide instant offense.

The Mavericks have that in Jason Terry.

The Cavaliers have the best player, but the Mavericks have several players that can change the game.

And I believe that NBA fans will see that this summer.

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