Fri Apr 17 11:10am EDT
After 1230 regular season games and whole lot of G, the 2009 NBA Playoffs are finally here. Now, you've already heard my crackpot predictions, and KD throws in his two cents below, but we also called on a few team bloggin' experts to help set the first round table. Starting us off in the West: "Aaronstampler" from Pounding The Rock and Wes Cox from Mavs Moneyball breakdown the highly anticipated San Antonio-Dallas series.
Pounding The Rock: This is going to be difficult, and even, some might even argue, treasonous of me. You see I hate the Mavericks. I hate every single thing about them. And I don't mean "hate" like the cliché sports fan version of hate where you merely root for one group of strangers over another group of strangers because of geographical attachments and preferable uniform colors. No, I literally hate the Mavericks.
Like, if their team plane were to crash, I'd probably shake my head sadly for a few seconds, because it's technically always bad when a plane crashes, but then I'd drink a Coke and go on with my day. I wouldn't, like, sit and there and ruminate on it, you know? I would just shrug my shoulders and life would go on.
I'm the guy rooting for that one-in-a-million chance that Mark Cuban will actually go serve hard time for insider trading. And that he'll have a frisky roommate all too eager to show him his idea of "hard time" and "insider trading."
I'm the guy who finds Dirk Nowitzki to be the most likable Maverick by far, and I wouldn't piss on Dirk if he were on fire. The guy's German after all and for all I know he'd enjoy it.
Have I painted a detailed, yet colorful enough picture for you? Is there anyone out there having difficulty understanding where I'm coming from? No? Good. Because you see my friends, despite hating the Mavs with every fabric of my being, I'm afraid I'm gonna have to pick those bastards to "upset" the Spurs in six games.
They're relatively healthy while my Spurs are without the services of one Emanuel David Ginóbili, our talisman, fourth quarter savior and resident force of nature. While Ginóbili has spent most of this season in a jacket, delighting crowds with his comic timing and romantic flair, he's generally been more valuable in the past as a postseason assassin. In losing him the Spurs are missing their only penetrator besides Parker, their peskiest defensive playmaker, their most clutch free throw shooter and just a guy who manages to make the momentum turning play more often than not. We at PtR would contemplate sacrificing a carnal evening with Mila Kunis for a healthy Manu Ginóbili (in the end we'd still probably opt for the former, but at least we'd have contemplated it).
If the Mavs can't even get by a Manuless Spurs with a gimpy Tim Duncan, then maybe my hatred of them is pointless after all and the rivalry's already a thing of the past.
Mavs in 6. Ugh.
Mavs Moneyball: There is so much going on here it's hard to know where to start. It's safe to say though, this is the first round series to watch. It won't always be pretty — the two teams played at a grind it out pace of just 86 possessions per game in their meetings this season, but god will it be entertaining. It's the best and most sincere rivalry in the NBA right now that isn't based off of ancient history, and they almost always play each other close. They split the season series 2-2, and in those four games combined San Antonio came out on top by a total of 409-407. Four games, two points.
And the best part is that this is the matchup BOTH teams wanted. San Antonio wants revenge for 2006. Dallas wants to twist the knife a little bit more. Each team, for various reasons, genuinely considers themselves to be the favorite.
Intriguing individual matchups and various unknowns are found everywhere you look, and the obvious one for Dallas is the health of Josh Howard. But do not sleep on the importance of Jason Terry. The Mavs are a notorious jump shooting team, and if Jason Terry goes cold it will seriously turn the series in the Spurs favor. Dallas is going to shoot their 20+ three's a game regardless of whether or not they are falling. In the Mavs two wins against San Antonio this season they shot 44.4% from beyond the arc, and in their two losses it fell to a gruesome 27.9%. It may be a sad and obvious fact, but it's often where Dallas wins or loses their games.
I'm not sure what the opposite of an x-factor is, but in this series it's called Tony Parker. "He's going to get his," as they say. Parker averaged 31.3 points on 51.% shooting, 7.3 assists, and 3.5 rebounds in the four regular season matchups. I don't expect that to be any different in the postseason. And that's okay, because if Dallas loses it will probably be because of two guys who it really hurts to have beat you. By the end of this series, I feel like Dallas will have either won, or Mavs fans everywhere will be cursing the names Roger Mason and Matt Bonner in the same way they were Steve Kerr's after the 2003 Western Conference Finals.
I don't see it happening though.
Mavs in 6. Because this is Dallas.
Kelly Dwyer: Dallas is rolling, and San Antonio isn’t healthy. A few days off likely aided in Tim Duncan’s recovery, but it didn’t bring Manu Ginobili back, and I don’t know how much better the Spurs were than the Mavericks even with Ginobili on board. Especially with the way Jason Kidd has shot the ball this year, Dirk Nowitzki’s sustained excellence, and Jason Terry coming off the bench the way he has.
The Spurs are a tough out. Paper doesn’t matter, you have to actually go out and out-score them (brilliant analysis, I know), so maybe I am a bit daft for expecting an early exit. I just think Dallas is too good. Providing Kidd’s shooting holds up, and Josh Howard shows up, I like the Mavs.
Dallas in 7.