The San Antonio Spurs had a ridiculous 16-for-33 shooting from beyond the arc to earn them a 93-71 win over the reigning champs Dallas Mavericks.
Not only was San Antonio clicking from all cylinders, but Dallas was uncharacteristically lacking on both ends of the floor, as they allowed the Spurs 33 chances of shooting from long range, while they were also struggling with a dismal 1-for-19 shooting from the rainbow.
Matt Bonner led all scorers for both teams with 17 points, 15 coming from 3-point area. Richard Jefferson shot 3 treys, while Gary Neal scored 12 points all coming from beyond the arc.
The story on Dallas’ side was worse, as only Jason Terry and Delonte West were the only Dallas players in double digits. Dirk Nowitzki was not Dirk Nowitzki that night, as he only scored 6 points. The Mavs also lost Jason Kidd that night to a lower back injury and is slated as day-to-day.
Manu Ginobili is set to sit it out for San Antonio for the next six weeks. This is the second win of San Antonio since losing their all-star guard to a finger fracture incurred during their tiff against the Minnesotta Timberwolves.
San Antonio will take a breather Friday, before going back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday against the Denver Nuggets and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Spurs go up 5-2 in the standings, while Mavs are down to 3-5.
You’re probably right: it’s way too early to judge the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers for losing their first two assignments of the season.
But we’re not judging. We’re just saying… it’s too early for the Mavs and the Lakers to be losing this way.
Just when the Mavericks were fresh off the celebrations they had when they opened the season, the incurred their second straight loss in as many games. This time, the whipping got worse, as the Denver Nuggets beat them by 22, twice that of Miami’s win over them. Just when having Lamar Odom and Vince Carter was about to become the Mavs’ big jackpot, it is fast turning into a nightmarish decision of sorts for the defending champs.
As for the L.A. Lakers, the rumors about their decline are growing. And while Kobe Bryant’s swagger and skills have yet to be proven outdated, his shot at winning another championship ring is getting dimmer and dimmer, courtesy of guys like Derrick Rose, whose game-winning floater cost LA’s opening night win, or perhaps Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans, two of Sacramento’s young guns who helped propel the Kings over the Lakers with a 100-91 win. Not to mention the cannot-be-ignored aging of Derek Fisher, and the new-and-yet-to-prove-himself Mike Brown as the Lakers’new coach. How much tougher can you get?
But of course, as I said, it’s way too early.
What we’re just saying here is that this is no way to start your campaign for a return to the NBA’s mount Olympus. Maybe the losses of Dallas to Miami and LA to Chicago were bearable. But for the Lakers to lose to Sacramento? Dallas to Denver?
Has pigs started flying already?
But again, we’re not judging.
Getting that elusive championship even just once is good enough for any franchise in the NBA.
The Dallas Mavericks beg to disagree
As of this writing, I am watching an NBA TV interview with Vince Carter, who’s already wearing jersey no. 25 for the defending champion Dallas Mavericks. A couple of days back, we saw Lamar Odom donning the Mavericks’ uniform as well. All these movements tell you that the Mavs are not stopping at just one championship banner being holstered up their rafters. They want one more.
And if not them, for sure Mark Cuban wants one more.
While some see these movements as the Dallas owner’s uncanny way of clearing enough cap space for next year’s free agency, acquiring Carter and Odom, two veterans who’ve done their fair share in lifting their previous teams to higher levels of playing, was also a smart move as far as keeping their championship repeat hopes alive. Losing Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea was something that seemed inevitable, thus the imperative of plugging the holes they have left. For the Dallas squad to maneuver their way through the free agency traffic, landing these two players into their team, is something to give careful consideration, especially for those teams who are sketching their own paths to snatching the crown away from the Mavs.
And do not, even for a single second, be tempted to check Carter’s or Odom’s age. They maybe thirtysomethings, but they’ll just fit well into the system that Dallas coach Rick Carlisle has set up in the last four seasons. Just look at the reunion of Jason Kidd and Carter, whose duo was one among many highlighted tandems, especially during their run with the Nets. Kidd, after three trips to the Finals, finally got his championship last year. Hopefully, him getting together with VC will give Air Canada his first championship as well.
As for Odom, remember he’s the reigning sixth man. To have him along with Jason Terry as first options off the bench gives Dallas a formidable force. With Barea already out of the circulation, Terry will get more playing minutes in the guard spot, while Odom will most likely be the shooting end of the plays that either of the two Jasons will be setting up. Odom’s got two championship belts under him as well, giving him the experience leverage. If Odom were to teach a basketball class, his subject would be “How To Win Back-to-Back.”
But Vince Carter himself declared the ultimate disclaimer of them all, when he said “on paper, we’re a very capable team. But the ultimate goal is to win it all.” Carter hit the nail on the head. If Dallas wants to win another trophy, they’ll have to maximize whatever remaining days are left for them to gel and get along before tip off on Christmas Day. Everything on paper must be translated on the court when they play ball. If all goes well, you might find Dallas playing in June.
Otherwise, Dallas’ chase for the crown will be nothing more than a drawn play on the whiteboard.
The face-off between the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat take on a new meaning when you begin to break down their contrast, similarities and other pertinent statistics. Of course, all these figure are only as good as they are on paper. When they take on each other on Wednesday, none of these stats would matter anymore. Nonetheless, it helps to paint for us a picture of what to expect when the Finals officially tip off in Miami.
Let’s take a look first at their intangible factors coming into the Finals, after which we will tackle their statistical factors:
As far as tasting the championship is concerned, it has to be Dallas. They still have yet to exorcise the ghost of their epic meltdown in Game 3 of their 2006 match, which eventually opened up the door for the Heat to win the championship. Since then, the Mavs have not lost to Heat in any of their regular season match-ups in the last five years. That’s a considerable 10-0 streak for Dallas over Miami. But their square-off in the NBA’s grandest stage makes that figure insignificant, as far as their chances of winning in the series are concerned. Still, it tells a lot about Dallas’ hunger to finally win it all. Advantage: Dallas
Dallas’ system is built on a solid core of veteran starters. They’ve got one of the most serious offensive threats in Dirk Nowitzki, surrounded by a host of skilled offensive options in Jason Terry, Shawn Marion, JJ Barea and Peja Stojakovic. Jason Kidd, at 38, can still break ankles and drop dimes as if he was a decade younger. But whatever advantage they gain with experience, age takes away. This is where Miami’s younger, more athletic line-up overtakes them. Open court, Miami’s Big Three is virtually unstoppable. Their victories over Boston and Chicago in the playoffs have proven they can tackle any defensive ploy set up against them. Give them a small crack in the driving lanes and you’ll see either a slashing LeBron or a Wade crashing into the paint for an understab, lay-up or posterizing dunk. Bosh in the middle gives them a favorable option in the post. And on the defensive end, the return of Udonis Haslem provides Miami a stronger front line of stoppers. Advantage: Miami
Dallas has tried 22 starting line-ups this season. Their most potent first five was Rodrique Beaubois, Tyson Chandler, Kidd, Nowitzki and Stojakovic. With Caron Butler still out of the season, Dallas can go to Marion, Terry, Barea, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson as the first options off the bench. This second unit has proven to be one of the most potent offensive options in the league. Terry had just tied a three-point shooting record during the playoffs in their series against Dallas, while Marion helped Dirk put up scores during their series against OKC.
With Wade, LeBron and Bosh front lining for Miami, the task of subbing for their roles is a challenge indeed. The other two starters for their best first five are Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Mario Chalmers. This gives Miami options like Haslem, Mike Bibby, Erick Dampier, Joel Anthony, James Jones, and Mike Miller. This bench roster features a good offense-defense balance for the Heat, but observing Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s rotation habits, only Haslem and Bibby spend a considerable amount of time on the floor. However, Miller and Anthony are more efficient in points-to-minutes played ratio, making viable first options off the bench.
Since both teams’ bench roster cancels out each other in their defensive capabilities, we turn to their offensive firepower. Advantage: Dallas
Both Dallas and Miami prevailed over their opponents through their end-game playing efficiency. They’ve both managed out of big deficits coming into the final five minutes of the fourth quarter and emerged as winners. Dallas overcame a 15-point deficit against OKC during Game Four of their conference finals, while Miami caught up and overtook a 12-point lead by Chicago during their series-winning game. It will be interesting to watch the Finals right up to the very last millisecond. Advantage: Tie.
As always, Dallas has Dirk. And that’s seems to be all there is for Dallas when the game’s stakes go higher in the last five seconds of the game. Miami, on the other hand, has three guys to go to when the clock hits zero. Advantage: Miami.
Miami’s athleticism and talent will be their main weapon to winning this series. Dallas, on the other hand, will have to put up a clinical display of offensive firepower, much like what they showed in their series with LA, if they wish to finally win a championship. Let me go against majority of the predictions. Dallas in 6.
That the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat are back to face each other in the NBA Finals isn’t exactly you would call officially a “rivalry.” Not even “destiny” could be used to describe their arrival at the grandest stage of world basketball. Amidst their various similarities with, and stark contrasts against each other, hardly anyone would buy the idea of fate in bringing together these two franchises back in the last leg of their quests for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Let’s just simply call it an “interesting match-up.”
In my opinion, it will take more than just them facing each other in this season’s Finals to officially dub their match-up as a destined rivalry. They only faced twice in the regular season, and Dallas won both games. But like any other analyst, the outcome of their regular season match-ups hardly have anything to do with how they will be squaring off in the Finals. Truth is, Dallas wasn’t really the number one bet to take it all the way to the finals. When they entered the Playoffs, the dethroned Los Angeles Lakers were still expected to emerge out of the fray for a third shot at a championship just before Phil Jackson retires. But Dallas overcame their ghosts of playoffs past, and armed with their belief in their own selves, they vanquished the defending champs with a convincing sweep. Facing a younger team in Oklahoma City, Dallas proved that they have earned enough bruises in the past to finally advance again to the Finals for a second time.
On the eastern side of things, everybody was either rooting for Boston, the fitting rival of LA, or Chicago, owner of the best record, MVP in Derrick Rose, and Coach of the Year in Tom Thibodeau. Miami, unfortunately, was nursing hate sentiments against them, thanks to the formation of their own version of a Big Three. But the focus was strong and the will was firm for Miami. Their goal wasn’t to please everyone. They suited up to win a trophy. And that’s exactly what they did. They outclassed the top seeded Bulls, and proved that their time was also now. And even after earning the Finals spot, and still carry the title of “villains”, the Heat are confident that all that will end once they earn the championship.
There’s a lot more to say about this renewed square-off from five years. Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry knows more than anyone on their team what they’re playing for. So does Dwayne Wade and Udonis Haslem on the side of the Heat. LeBron James and Jason Kidd have had the same experience of being in the finals and losing (to the same team, actually, the San Antonio Spurs). This time, the chance to earn a championship ring has come for them. One will finally have it, the other will go on still hoping.
An interesting match-up indeed.
Both the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat are a game away from meeting in the NBA Finals. The last time these teams met were 5 years ago. That was the only year they’ve ever been into the Finals. A rematch, as some would put it. But some prefer another angle of looking at the current conference finals of both East and the West.
Experience prevailing over youthfulness.
The teams the Mavs and Heat are playing–the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Chicago Bulls–have the youngest roster among the up and coming teams from both sides of the NBA world. The Bulls have the second-year Derrick Rose, this year’s MVP, while the Thunder have the 22-year old Kevin Durant, the youngest ever to be hailed NBA scoring champion. They are both surrounded by the youngest line-up of starters, benchmen and other role players. They’re mentored by two of the newest coaches to break into the scene–Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks–who were also the last two recipients of the Coach of the Year Award.
All good on paper, a lot would say. But not good enough to challenge their more experienced opponents.
The disparity is most evident during crunch time, when the pressure is high and the stakes are higher. This is where the younger teams scramble for clues on how to solve the heat of the dying minutes of the game. On the other hand, the Mavs and Heat have the pains and stripes of defeats past to help them draw strength and wisdom down the line. That they have both prevailed three games to one against their youth-laden opponents have served proof for their ability to rise to the occasion.
But, in the words of Derrick Rose, the series is far from over.
Chicago and Oklahoma still has three more games to tackle straight if they want to win. Otherwise, they’re gone for the summer.
Youth vs. Experience.
Which one will it be?
As of this writing, the Chicago Bulls have drawn first blood with a 103-82 rout of the Miami Heat, while the OKC Thunder just barged into the Western Conference Finals for a duel against the Dallas Mavericks.
Interesting, to say the least.
The Mavs earned their way to the Western finals with a sweep of the defending champs LA Lakers, while the Thunder were pushed to the limit by the Grizzlies with a win-or-die Game 7. The match-up could go either way, actually. Either the long layoff hurts Dallas, or the fatigue Oklahoma. A win by Dallas can ultimately vindicate them after years of disappointment in the playoffs, or a loss will only frustrate them even more. As for Oklahoma, reaching this far is already a franchise achievement even if they eventually fall to Dallas, but nothing short of a ticket to the finals is all Kevin Durant and the rest of the gang are aiming for.
A totally different story plot has taken on a life of its own in the East. The Chicago franchise had a shot at landing Dwyane Wade before the season, but when Wade opted to stay, LeBron pulled off his decision to move to South Beach, and, with Chris Bosh joining the fray, a new big three was born. Fittingly, they dismantled the paradigm big three of the Boston Celtics in five games. The Heat are now a round away from going back to the finals after five years.
If OKC and Chicago prevails in the conference finals, we’re looking at a square-off between two teams with the youngest line-up. A Dallas-Miami rematch will also be an interesting square-off to look forward to.
Things are just beginning to heat up in the NBA.
The Dallas Mavericks are enjoying the momentum of their sixth straight win, thanks to the heart-driven performances of Dirk Nowitzki.
Chipping in 20 points and 10 rebounds, Nowitzki helped the Mavs dismantle a struggling Houston Rockets, 101-91, making them now one of the two the hottest streaking teams with six straight victories (the Utah Jazz is also in a six-game winning streak). It was just last week that they stopped the San Antonio Spurs from going any further than 12 straight wins with a 103-94 victory over their fellow Texas franchise. While the Spurs, after taking vengeance against the New Orleans Hornets, are still on spot number 1 in the standings, the Mavs, along with the LA Lakers are just two games away from sharing the top spot with San Antonio.
Caron Butler, the other hot-handed Mav on the floor that night, complemented Dirk’s output with his 19 points. Shawn Marion contributed 14 points while sharing the board job with 10 rebounds as well. The always dependable Jason Kidd dropped the dime 11 times, including a spectacular no-look pass to Butler.
Recently, the Mavs have been very aggressive going for a drive to the basket, as well as taking the high percentage jump shots. The presence of both Nowitzki and Marion gives the Mavs a strong inside game, and adding to that a smart orchestration of the ball in the outside by Kidd makes Dallas a serious threat to both San Antonio and the defending champs.
The Mavericks are indeed serious in making a run for the championship this season. But their domination in the past seasons didn’t bring them across the first or second rounds of the playoffs.
With time running out on them, this season should and must be different for the Mavericks.