Saturday, May 06, 2006

Inevitability

Here it is, folks. For months, fans have known this day would come. Mavs vs. Spurs in the second round of the NBA Playoffs. The only question about this series wasn't if it was going to happen, but where game 1 would be played when it started. Well, after the Mavs let off a stink bomb at the end of the season, San Antonio ran away with homecourt, and the Mavs looked beatable. But now...

Well, we'll get to that in a second. Let's point out all of the weaknesses in this Spurs team first.

Health Mavs fans have every right to complain about injuries, but the Spurs' three best players are all hurt in some way shape or form. Notice how I didn't mention injuries when talking about the Spurs. Their players are playing hurt, not injured. Sean Salisbury will explain you the difference about 293847 times throughout the course of next year's NFL season. The Spurs are hobbled, and Tony Parker's limp to the locker room in game 6 was the highlight of my weekend.

Fatigue The Spurs will start the series on 36 hours rest, jet lagged rest might I add. Meanwhile, after a 4 game sweep and a week of practice and preparation for the Spurs, the Mavs are primed and ready to go like a man who just got off a submarine. And yes, the Mavericks have been preparing for the Spurs. Avery isn't crazy enough to think Ron Artest and Bonzi Wells could beat the Spurs by themsevles, especially when Brad Miller was taking money from the NBA to throw the games. Is it enough to give the Mavs an edge in game? We'll see.

Center Position For all you Nazr Mohammed fans, go look up his stats. Yeah, they suck. And if you don't know how bad Rasho is, go ask Stephen A. Smith. I would rather have any of the three Mavs' centers than Rasho or Nazr. I won't go as far to say Pavel Podkolzin is better than them because that's just mean, but Rasho and Nazr can't match up with the Big D's (Diop, Damp, DJ).


That's 3 weaknesses. A big drop from last series' opponent, the Grizz. The Mavs had them beat in every facet of the game. Those are the only edges the Mavs have. And just to be fair, we should also look at what the Spurs have the Mavs beat in.

Tony Parker This guy can drive to the basket like none other. He scares me more than anyone else on the Spurs. And the fact that his mind is clear every game because he knows he's banging the hottest chick out there takes his game to a new level.

3 Point Shooting Brent Barry, Finmaster, Van Exel, Robert Horry, Bruce Bowen. All of them can threes like it's their job. Because it is! At least one of them will be feeling it from downtown, a luxury the Mavs don't have without Van Horn.

Swagger The Mavs may be flying high, but they are not the defending champs. It's hard to take down the champs. It took the Spurs 7 games last year to beat Detroit, and the year before that, the Lakers needed a miracle Derek Fisher jumper. This won't be easy.


So how do the Mavs use the Spurs' weaknesses to counter the Spurs' strengths? If it were easy, then anyone could be a coach, even someone like, say, Sam Mitchell. Oh, he is? So I guess it is easy. Oh, it's not? Well, let me take a crack at it anyway.

The Spurs' health issue will hurt Tony Parker a lot. That limp was genuine despite what Tim Duncan says. And Eva probably won't make matters better by being around. I could just see the Spurs trainers saying after the game last night, "Listen, I know she's hot, but she cannot touch your thigh. This thing could break. Give her a toy or something, but you are not allowed to have sex with her." Ha, fat chance.

The fatigue is going to be a problem for the Spurs' swagger. If the first two games are close, the Mavs will be at a great advantage because their legs will be better rested than the Spurs'. The will to win may give out to being flat out tired. I'm not saying this is something to bank on, but it's at least something to think about.

The final question is how wil the lack of Spurs' centers will help the Mavs defend the 3? Well, when Robert Horry starts at center, that leaves the Mavs to guard the perimeter, right? Wrong. By starting Horry at center, it will pull either Dirk or one of the D's out of the paint leaving Tony Parker available to drive to the basket. And if the Mavs play a zone to protect the paint, someone will be left open on the perimeter to hit an open three. So what could the Mavs do? My answer is much easier said than done. Play good help defense. Yeah, Dirk is going to be pulled away from the basket making it that much easier for Parker to drive or dish, so the Mavs must be aware of who's leaving to take the paint and subsequently guard the perimeter. I wish I had a more strategic answer to this problem, but the Spurs are just that damn good.

Of course the whole Tony Parker/3 Point Shooters problem could be alleviated if the Spurs keep Nazr or Rasho in the game for extended periods of time. But I doubt it.


When I found out my exam schedule this semester, I flipped out. I have exams on 4 straight days. You won't find anyone at my school with such a death wish. When I realized a few weeks ago that the Mavs/Spurs series would fall during exam time, I almost started crying. I was on a path to fail out of school because I couldn't possibly studying knowing the Mavs were playing arguably the most important series in its history. Last night was euphoric for me because I found out that the games are on Sunday, Tuesday, then Saturday. It couldn't have worked out more perfectly for me. I have an exam on Wednesday night, so a Tuesday night break was planned into my studying (Yes, I planned out my studying. I have a 10 day plan on the dry erase board in my room).

So tomorrow, I will be watching the game. I will be wearing a jersey. I will have followed all my Mavs routines for a playoff game. And I honestly think the Mavs can win game 1. The Spurs are already upset about playing on 36 hours rest, and while they may not be planning on losing game 1, they have lost game 1 to the Mavs before and gone on to win in 6. So game 1 won't give either team any advantage. In fact, there are going to be two key games to the series, games 3 and 5. If a team wins both 3 and 5 and hasn't won the series yet, it will win game 7. If they split 3 and 5, then the Spurs are at a serious advantage with homecourt.

What does all of the mean for the series? Well, it's obvious that these teams are closely matched. Anyone who has the Spurs in less than 6 games listens to Bill Walton too much. Anyone who has the Mavs winning in less than 6 games does not know the Mavs' history.

In fact, you have to be a moron to pick the Mavs to win this thing. They would have to win in 6, which means splitting the first two games, winning the next two at home, losing game 5 (Spurs aren't losing back against the wall game at home), and then closing out at home. That's the only halfway plausible way the Mavs could win. And what are the odds of the Mavs going up 3-1? Not that good. This thing could go 7 and the Spurs could take it then. The only reason why I wrote this whole thing is to get us Mavs fans psyched up, but it all means nothing if these guys don't play defense.

Having said all of that, I keep on going back to the new gatorade commercial. At the very end, the narrarator says "If it all went down like it's supposed to, then why would anybody play?"

Mavs in 6.

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