I have good news and bad news.
The good news is that after a one year hiatus, the Dallas Mavericks are back in the playoffs this year. Celebrate good times! The bad news is that they will be matched up with the team NO ONE wanted them to play, the San Antonio Spurs (cue horror music).
It’s crazy to think that three or four years ago this would’ve been exciting. The Mavs and Spurs had one of the most underrated rivalries in the NBA, but the Spurs have won the past nine meetings and that rivalry has fizzled out. This season, the four meetings haven’t been very competitive at all. In a couple of the games, the Mavs played a great first half and were right in it. And then bam. The Spurs come out like the killer robots they are and strike in the second half with killshot after killshot, exploiting every single one of the Mavs’ weakness in the process.
The Spurs won a league high 62 games and look like a team on a mission after last year’s heartbreak. With that being said, the chances the Mavs have of winning this series are slim to say the least, but I think they can make it competitive.
Everyone know what Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki are going to do in this series. This could be the last time these two warriors ever face each other in a playoff series and they’ll be laying it all out there. I love what Jose Calderon has done this season, but Tony Parker should have a big series against him. However, I’m expecting Monta Ellis to play great considering he’s only been to the postseason twice and has been hungry to get back.
One of the biggest keys for the Mavs will be for their bench to match the Spurs bench. That’s not an easy task considering the Spurs bench is led by the trio of Manu Ginobili, Patty Mills and Marco Belinelli, and Mills torched the Mavs for 26 points the last time these two teams met.
But, the Mavs have their own bench trio of Vince Carter, Devin Harris and Brandan Wright that have performed great this season. Carter probably won’t win the Sixth Man of the Year award, but now would be the perfect time for him to show that he was a worthy candidate.
The Spurs are among one of the best offensive teams in the league and are fun to watch on that end of the floor. The Mavs, well, are bad on defense. Everyone and their mother knows that the Spurs are going to hit a a bunch of three’s and score a bunch of points. For that reason, the Mavs can’t afford to let a player like Mills go off on them like he did last time. Not to mention Danny Green who has been a Mavs killer, mostly because the Mavs can’t figure out that the only thing he is capable of doing is shooting three’s. And we haven’t even discussed the problems Kawhi Leonard can cause for Dallas. It’ll take a team defense to slow down the well oiled machine that is the Spurs offense. I’m sure we’ll see a lot of Harris on Parker, and the Mavs will need the active and engaged version of Samuel Dalembert to show up.
I think the Mavs will play hard and could on occasion give the Spurs some headaches. The Mavs haven’t won a playoff game since game six of that glorious 2011 NBA Finals and I’m expecting (or at least i hope) that the Mavs can at least win one game and make it interesting. But San Antonio looks like a team on a mission to avenge a painful and heartbreaking loss to the Miami Heat that will haunt them for the rest of their lives, something which the Mavs can relate to. If the Mavs pull this off it will be one of the biggest upsets ever, but it simply won’t happen.
Prediction: Spurs in 5.