Thursday, April 27, 2006

Playoff Notes

The Mavs have a 2-0 series lead over the Grizz. Game 1: 103-93. Game 2: 94-79. The hustle from all our players is incredible. In Game 1, that's the best I've ever seen Erick Dampier play. He was a beast! He chased every loose ball, every offensive rebound. I believe he ended up with 12 points, 12 boards, and 2 blocks. Dirk has been the best overall player on the floor in both games...NOT Pau Gasol. Every Maverick has been great so far. And Barkley ("Sponge-Chuck Fat Pants" as Mike Fisher calls him) has not a single thing to say about the Mavs. Typically, he and Kenny only talk about how horrible Memphis (or any of Dallas' opponents) played and how Pau Gasol needs to "step up!" Barkley also called the Mavs an "offensive-minded team," so as long as Memphis plays defense, then they can beat the Mavs. What an idiot! The rest of us know how good the Mavericks defense has become, so there's no need to get into that. It makes no sense that someone gets paid a seven-digit salary by TNT to NOT watch the games. Congratulations to Avery Johnson, Coach of the Year. This season tied the franchise high record of 60-22, and marked a franchise best in points-allowed per game: 93.1 ppg. Most importantly, he has changed the Mavericks mindset into a DEFENSIVE-MINDED TEAM. Fortunately the offense has not suffered.

I am really enjoying this Suns vs Lakers series. Kobe is actually sharing the ball and his teammates are involved. The Lakers got a win in Phoenix last night...this is getting interesting. I think they've got a good shot at beating the Suns.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Dallas vs Memphis

This is the most exciting time of year: the NBA Playoffs. All the top teams start a whole new season from scratch. They all have a shot at a championship. And the TNT clowns, Kenny and Charles, are at it again. All Barkley can talk about is Pau Gasol and how he's going to give the Mavericks hell. I don't disagree, but what about Dirk Nowitzki giving the Grizzlies hell? Most likely our centers will be guarding Gasol. Fouls will be distributed between them to prevent easy baskets. I am glad Memphis is the team we're playing. Not to take anything for granted, because I know they will be tough, but this is great preparation for the likely second-round matchup against the Spurs. Memphis is a great defensive team (they allow the fewest points in the NBA), they're extremely physical, and they play great half-court basketball. I would call them "Diet San Antonio," but they deserve a lot more credit than that, especially since they didn't back down from the fifth seed like the Clippers did. This will be a hard-fought series between Dallas and Memphis. It won't be pretty. But someone's got to come out on top. I know I have my pick.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Looks Like We're The 4th Seed

It kind of seems like no one even wanted to make a run. Last night in Phoenix Avery decided to rest Stackhouse and Diop. Our defense was awful. We couldn't seem to guard the perimeter at all. And last night the Spurs lost their third of their last five games, giving us a huge opportunity to take the #1 seed in the West. But no effort was made to take advantage of that. I agree with Avery that it is more important to be healthy and ready to go at the start of the playoffs than what seeding you get. But how does losing help you prepare for the playoffs?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Looking Good

This is why I now consider Dirk the MVP of the league. Everyone in the national sports media before the Mavs vs. Spurs game talked about how Bruce Bowen bothers Dirk and how he basically shuts him down. Dirk responded by scoring 30 points and grabbing 10 rebounds along with 2 assists and 2 blocks. He was outstanding and even the Spurs had no answer for him. Josh Howard was also incredible: 22 points, 10 rebounds. But here's something no one really talks about in the national sports media: the fact that our centers guard Tim Duncan. I watched Diop and Damp closely as they each took turns guarding Duncan. I thought they did a great job. Duncan ended up with 13 points, but nearly every shot was contested. The overall defense from not just our centers, but from the entire team was impressive. Everyone stayed committed to playing defense, and Dirk and Josh led the way offensively. Maybe this year everyone at ESPN and TNT will finally figure out who Josh Howard is. They usually confuse him with Marquis. And last night one of the commentators talked about how great Josh played for Georgia Tech. (Josh went to Wake Forest).
And the Mavs have just beaten the Hornets 101-77 the night after a physical game against the Spurs in S.A. Home court advantage in the playoffs is still possible...

Monday, April 03, 2006

Van Horn Is Done

Well, no more Keith Van Horn. He broke his hand going for a steal against Orlando. He wants to recover in time for the playoffs, but I don't see that happening. This guy just stays injured. I hate to see it happen. I think he could really help us in the post-season. Unfortunately I don't even see him playing another game as a Dallas Maverick. He will be a free agent this summer, and seeing how injury-prone he is and how his production has gone down the last couple of seasons, it's doubtful the Mavs will re-sign him. So what now? I'm intrigued by the names that are popping up to possibly replace Van Horn for the remainder of the season and post-season: Shawn Kemp, Christian Laettner, and...Karl Malone??? I'm interested to see what happens, but I wouldn't expect too much from whoever may get signed. With Van Horn out, that leaves Josh Powell as Dirk's backup at power forward. Granted, Powell is a rookie, and rookies are not always reliable in the playoffs. But if you think about it, Dirk will be playing 40 minutes a night in the post-season. That only leaves around 8 minutes in regulation with Dirk not on the floor. I'm okay with Powell picking up a few minutes, then giving the rest to Howard, who can move from the 3 to the 4 position. And when going small, guys like Daniels and Griffin move to a bigger position. DJ Mbenga might even play a few minutes at the 4 in a big line-up. Signing a new player would be good for insurance never know who else could get injured. But I'm not going to get too excited about it. Internally, I think we still have a very good team even without Van Horn.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Should We Be Concerned?

Any time you lose three games in a row, and you are a title contender, you need to show concern. You also need to get it together fast. Josh Howard is back now. Devin Harris is due back soon. Adrian Griffin tomorrow against Denver. These are our best perimeter defenders, so maybe teams will no longer be shooting lights-out from beyond the arc against us. These guys also help on the offensive end. One statistic I expect to go up is assists. The Mavs aren't a team that gets a lot of assists, but Howard, Griffin, and Harris share the ball well. Also, Josh averages 15 points a game, while Harris averages 10. So we've got an upgrade in there are no more excuses. No more being burned by other teams' point guards [Billups: 31 points, 11 assists; Nelson: 27 points, 4 assists; Arroyo: 12 points coming off the bench]. No more allowing over 100 points. This team should not be doing so poorly. Avery expects this team to run his system regardless of who's injured. The system works, at least I trust it does. But the players have to execute. Let's see how the guys respond at home tomorrow.