Sunday, May 29, 2011


Miami Heat vs. Dallas Mavericks

ANALYSIS: This is what Miami fans have dreamed about all season—the Heat having a chance to compete on the NBA’s grandest stage. The Heat have come a long way from their 9-8 start to the 2010-11 season to represent the Eastern Conference for the second time in team history. Miami is playing great basketball in the NBA Playoffs, winning each of their three series in five games.

It has been five frustrating years, but the Dallas Mavericks return to the NBA Finals facing an all too familiar franchise. However, this Dallas team is older, wiser, and hungrier to erase the nightmares of postseasons past. Since giving up a 23-point lead to the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, the Mavericks are 10-1 and have showed a resiliency to overcome collapses.
Mavericks won 2-0 (Dallas’ wins bookended a Miami 12-game winning streak)
LeBron James vs. Dirk Nowitzki (Both players have improved in the clutch and will be counted on to close out games during this series. Do not be surprised if any game comes down to the last shot.)


PG: Mike Bibby vs. Jason Kidd
-At 38, Jason Kidd continues to impress everyone with his point guard play. He may not be a top-five caliber point guard anymore, but the wily veteran still has a few tricks up his sleeves. Kidd averaged 9.6 points and 8.6 assists in the Western Conference Finals against Oklahoma City, while playing good defense and adding a few key steals. Bibby will split point guard duties with Mario Chalmers, but Kidd clearly has the edge in this battle.

SG: Dwyane Wade vs. DeShawn Stevenson
ADVANTAGE: Dwyane Wade
-Dwyane Wade struggled a bit in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Chicago Bulls, but he will enjoy the fact that he is in the NBA Finals for the second time. After a stretch of eight straight games with at least 20 points, Wade only averaged 18.8 points per game against Chicago. Expect Wade to bounce back as DeShawn Stevenson will be no match for him.

SF: LeBron James vs. Shawn Marion
-Shawn Marion is definitely turning back clock with his play in the playoffs this year. In Game 5 against Oklahoma City, Marion scored 26 points and added eight rebounds to help clinch the series. That performance came two days after his clutch steals helped Dallas come back from 15 points down to take Game 4 in overtime. He will provide good defense against LeBron James, but James has the matchup here. James is coming through in key moments for the Heat, hitting tough shots down the stretch and providing great all-around play. He has seven double-doubles in the playoffs this year and provided great defense.

PF: Chris Bosh vs. Dirk Nowitzki
ADVANTAGE: Dirk Nowitzki
-Chris Bosh had a good series against Chicago, but Dirk Nowitzki continues to have a phenomenal postseason. In Game 1 against the Thunder, Nowitzki turned in one of the greatest performances in NBA history by scoring 48 points, making all 24 of his free throws, and not attempting one 3-pointer. Throughout the playoffs, he is showing why he is an offensive force by making tough shots and shooting above everyone. Although, Bosh may lose this matchup, he is not a pushover and can definitely hold his own. He averaged 23.2 points and 7.6 rebounds in the Eastern Conference Finals and blocked four shots in Game 5. However, he may have his toughest test in guarding Nowitzki.

C: Joel Anthony vs. Tyson Chandler
Tyson Chandler
-Of a shaky center situation, Joel Anthony proved that he is Miami’s best option. Anthony blocked 15 shots in the Eastern Conference Finals and has 31 rejections in the playoffs. With that said, he will be up against a greater challenge in Tyson Chandler. Chandler continues to provide a good presence in the post for Dallas with his scoring and rebounding. Against the Thunder, Chandler averaged 8.0 points and 10.6 rebounds per game while grabbing key offensive rebounds. If he can take advantage against Miami’s big men, watch out.

BENCH: Miami Heat vs. Dallas Mavericks
ADVANTAGE: Dallas Mavericks
-Mario Chalmers continues to lead Miami’s second unit, but now he has help thanks to the reemergence of Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem. Miller had a horrific start to the playoffs, but he found his touch in Games 4 and 5 against Chicago—shooting over 40 percent in both games. Haslem missed most of the season, but scoring 13 points and his toughness in Game 2 against Chicago cemented his place in the rotation. However, the Heat do not have a solid backup center to counter Brendan Haywood, who can take advantage of Miami’s front line just as well as Chandler. If Miami’s bigs tire because of this, expect JJ Barea to go at them with a full head of steam and possibly leave Jason Terry and Peja Stojakovic open for shots.

PIVOTAL GAME: Game 5 (This series could be tied at 2-2 here and the winner of this game will have the best chance to win.)
Mavericks in 6 (It will be a joy to see three of the best players in the NBA—James, Nowitzki, and Wade—battle it out in the NBA Finals. Miami may have a terrific trio that has been dominant in this year’s playoffs, but this veteran Dallas team is playing with a purpose to win and rewrite its history. Miami will give everything they have, but Dallas will prevail in the end.)

Friday, May 27, 2011


Five long years later, the Dallas Mavericks are headed back to the NBA Finals.

The Mavericks’ 100-96 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday allowed them to be glad of winning the Western Conference Finals for the second time in team history. However, the team is not satisfied and knows the ultimate goal is just four wins away.

“There’s all the guys in this organization and on the court who believed in us and in coach [Rick Carlisle] and fought every game, every minute of the way,” Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban said. “And all I can tell everybody is, we ain’t done yet!”

Cuban has been in this situation before.

Five years ago, he owned the 2006 Dallas team that lost in that year’s NBA Finals to the Miami Heat.

The Mavericks were just six minutes away from a 3-0 lead until Dallas blew a 13-point lead to lose Game 3. They never recovered from this loss and ultimately lost the series 4-2.

Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry played key roles on that team and unfortunately endured a lot of heartbreak in the years to come.

A 67-win Dallas team the following season was upset by the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. The Mavericks would only win only one postseason series before this postseason and it added to the notion that Nowitzki and the Mavericks could not win when it mattered most.

This year’s team has many other veterans that share the same heartbreaks.

Peja Stojakovic played a big role for the 2001-02 Sacramento Kings that had the best record in the NBA, but lost in Western Conference Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games.

Jason Kidd guided the New Jersey Nets to two straight NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003, but the Nets fell to the Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs in consecutive years.

Shawn Marion was closest to a title for three consecutive seasons with the Phoenix Suns from 2005 to 2007, but their fast paced offense never led to any postseason success as they failed to reach the Finals.

Carlisle even experienced heartbreak as a coach during stints with the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers. He guided Detroit to two straight 50-win seasons and a trip to the 2003 Eastern Conference Finals, but he was fired in favor for Larry Brown. Hired by Indiana, he nearly got revenge over the Pistons in 2004 and 2005, but the Pacers lost both years.

The Mavericks have nine players in their postseason roster that are 30 or older, and they all know that they may never get this opportunity ever again.

As a collective whole, Dallas knows that the only way to ease the pain and rewrite the past is to win now before it is too late.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Dallas Mavericks vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

ANALYSIS: Following a win in the first round over the Portland Trail Blazers and a surprising sweep over the Los Angeles Lakers, the Dallas Mavericks are only eight wins away from winning the NBA title. Dallas has a deep, veteran team led by Dirk Nowitzki that is hungry to win now. Although recent playoff failures have doomed this team, the Mavericks know that a championship will erase those nightmares.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are realizing their potential and have made it to the Western Conference Finals in just their third year since leaving Seattle. The Thunder have two of the game’s brightest young stars in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and both recently came off of huge performances in Game 7 against the Memphis Grizzlies. Regardless of the final playoff outcome, Oklahoma City is showing that it can be a threat for years to come.
Mavericks won, 2-1 (road team won all three games)
Dirk Nowitzki vs. Kevin Durant (Two of the NBA’s top closers do battle in what should be a high-powered matchup.)


PG: Jason Kidd vs. Russell Westbrook
-Old School vs. New School. Two of the top point guards in the NBA square off against each other to lead their respective teams into the NBA Finals, however they both have different styles. Kidd is more traditional and more of a facilitator, while Westbrook is more aggressive and a combo guard. Both styles are effective, and there is no right or wrong choice in this matchup.

SG: DeShawn Stevenson vs. Thabo Sefolosha
ADVANTAGE: Thabo Sefolosha
-Both players are only in the starting lineup primarily for their defense and will split time with backups. Stevenson can shoot an occasional 3-pointer to jumpstart a half along with his defense, but Sefolosha can get key steals and plays more minutes in Oklahoma City’s rotation. The nod here slightly goes to Sefolosha.

SF: Shawn Marion vs. Kevin Durant
ADVANTAGE: Kevin Durant
-Kevin Durant will face possibly his toughest defender of the playoffs in Shawn Marion, but he still has the edge in this battle. Durant is averaging 28.9 points per game this postseason, an NBA high, including a 39-point performance in Game 7 against the Memphis Grizzlies. Marion’s 9.7 points and 6.4 rebounds cannot be ignored, however. They will need his defense to try to shut down one of the game’s best players.

PF: Dirk Nowitzki vs. Serge Ibaka
ADVANTAGE: Dirk Nowitzki
-Another good offense vs. defense matchup is the one here at the power forward position. Ibaka swatted 43 shots this postseason, but an ankle injury limited his effectiveness in the series against the Grizzlies. However, Nowitzki is performing consistently and only failed to score 20 points once in the playoffs. Nowitzki’s ability to shoot mid-range and outside jumpers wins out.

C: Tyson Chandler vs. Kendrick Perkins
Tyson Chandler
-It has only been a year, but the pickup of Chandler is giving the Mavericks a stability not seen at the center position in quite some time. Of his 87 rebounds in the playoffs, 36 of those have come on the offensive side of the ball and allowed Dallas to extend their possessions. Perkins does so many things that do not count on the stat sheet with his heart and intensity, but Chandler will win the battle.

BENCH: Dallas Mavericks vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
ADVANTAGE: Dallas Mavericks
-Oklahoma City has a good bench with James Harden and Nick Collison leading the way, but the Mavericks take the bench battle based on versatility and experience. Dallas can either use Brendan Haywood to score inside, JJ Barea to weave through traffic, or let Jason Terry and Peja Stojakovic drain threes. The Thunder can count on Harden’s instant offense and Collison’s toughness in the paint, but they will need another person to step up.

PIVOTAL GAME: Game 5 (The series will likely be tied here and whoever takes this game will have a great chance to win this series.)
Mavericks in 6 (Led by veterans, Dallas is focused to win it all this year. This series will be enjoyable to watch, but the Thunder are a year away from actually winning the championship.)

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat

ANALYSIS: How big is this step for the Chicago Bulls? Well, it is the first time the Bulls have made the Eastern Conference Finals since 1998—Michael Jordan’s last year in Chicago. Derrick Rose showed why he was the Most Valuable Player this season in Game 3 against the Atlanta Hawks with a 44-point, seven-assist performance. Although the Bulls looked timid under the spotlight this postseason, Chicago closed out the Indiana Pacers and Atlanta extremely well, winning by at least 20 points on both occasions.

The Miami Heat might have eliminated their biggest hurdle in the Boston Celtics, but they know that trophies are not given to teams that win the conference semifinals. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have had their troubles during the season, but both have weathered the storm quite well. They are halfway there, but if they can keep up this determination, an NBA title is theirs.
Bulls won, 3-0 (all three games decided by four points or less)
Dwyane Wade vs. Derrick Rose (The two Chicagoans square off in a battle to who can make their home city proud.)


PG: Derrick Rose vs. Mike Bibby
ADVANTAGE: Derrick Rose
-Mike Bibby will have his work cut out for him in guarding the 2010-11 NBA Most Valuable Player, Derrick Rose. Rose is averaging 28.8 points per game during the playoffs and has led the Bulls to their first trip to the Eastern Conference Finals since 1998. Bibby will get the start, but expect Mario Chalmers to get most of the time running the point.

SG: Keith Bogans vs. Dwyane Wade
ADVANTAGE: Dwyane Wade
-This is another matchup where an NBA superstar will see a platoon of players guarding him. Wade has the advantage here based on the ability to take over a game on both sides of the ball. His 7.6 rebounds per game this postseason are the most he has had in any playoffs and he can get that steal or block to shift momentum. Bogans will share time with Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer to hopefully try to stop Wade from going off.

SF: Luol Deng vs. LeBron James
-If there is a great matchup based solely on positions, this is it. Deng has emerged as the Bulls’ secondary scoring option with 16.7 points per game, but James wins here based on his ability to tally double-doubles or even triple-doubles. His assists are down from the regular season, but LeBron is still averaging 26.1 points and 9.4 rebounds per game in the playoffs. Nevertheless, this will be a good battle.

PF: Carlos Boozer vs. Chris Bosh
ADVANTAGE: Carlos Boozer
-Can either of these 2008 goal medal Olympians shake off recent bad games? Boozer finally woke up with 23 points and 10 rebounds in Game 6 against the Atlanta Hawks, while Bosh posted back-to-back double-doubles in Games 4 and 5 against the Boston Celtics. If Boozer can shake his cold shooting, the matchup is his.

C: Joakim Noah vs. Joel Anthony
Joakim Noah
-Between him and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Anthony has really stepped up to be Heat’s premier center. His breakout performance of 12 points and 11 rebounds in Game 3 against the Celtics earned him the start in the series’ final two games. With that said, Anthony will face a different test in Noah. Noah is making his presence felt on the glass and the paint, averaging 10.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks this postseason.

BENCH: Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat
ADVANTAGE: Chicago Bulls
-Chicago’s “Bench Mob” played great in the playoffs thus far as Taj Gibson provided great defense and Kyle Korver knocked down critical 3-pointers to keep Chicago in games during the playoffs. One cannot count out the hot shooting of James Jones and the backup leadership of Mario Chalmers for the Heat’s second stringers. The Bulls have a slight advantage due to more players that can do damage, but Miami does have some experienced bench players in Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Juwan Howard.

PIVOTAL GAME: Game 5 (This series will likely be tied here.)
Heat in 6. (The Bulls are a very good squad that plays defense extremely well, but the duo of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are determined to give Miami its second NBA title. Expect a good series that will go six or seven games.)

Monday, May 9, 2011


To the other 29 NBA teams, be careful what you wish for.

The Dallas Mavericks are halfway in their quest to win their first NBA title ever after defeating the Portland Trail Blazers and the Los Angeles Lakers en route to the Western Conference Finals.

What makes this Maverick playoff run surprising to most people is that many NBA analysts, players and coaches said that Dallas is the team that other teams hoped to meet in the playoffs.

Before the playoffs began, Maverick guard Jason Terry talked about hearing those comments and said, “A lot of teams want to play us and they are going to get their chance, one by one.”

And that is exactly what has happened so far.

Dallas earned the No. 3 seed in the West and drew the Trail Blazers in the first round.

This series was significant because while Dallas was the team everyone wanted to face, the Trail Blazers were the team no one wanted to face. This led to many people calling an upset in this series because Portland had many tough, underrated players such as LaMarcus Aldridge, Gerald Wallace, and Brandon Roy.

After taking a 2-1 lead in the series, the Mavericks led the Trail Blazers by 23 points early in the fourth quarter of Game 4 until Roy took the game over and Portland won, 84-82.

Memories of past playoff failures were still fresh in most minds, but Dallas turned a negative into a positive by winning the last two games and the series, 4-2.

Despite surviving Portland, few gave the Mavericks a chance against the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. However, Dallas took the first two games in the Staples Center, including battling from 16 points down in Game 1 to a 96-94 victory.

Heading home with a 2-0 lead, the Mavericks withstood the Lakers’ best effort in Game 3, but won late 98-92 to take a commanding 3-0 lead. Dallas would complete the sweep with a 122-86 blowout in Game 4. The Mavericks victory was so impressive that they actually had more assists (32) than the Lakers made field goals (31).

After these two rounds, it is safe to say that Dallas is indeed a contender to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy this June, thanks to the construction of this team.

Center Tyson Chandler is proving to be the Mavericks’ best big man in recent history with his ability to score and rebound in the paint. The bench is also performing consistently with JJ Barea, Peja Stojakovic and Jason Terry all making big plays to help Dallas. Last, but not least, Dirk Nowitzki stepped up in the clutch this postseason, averaging 26.5 points per game and making key fourth quarter shots.

Amazingly, Dallas has done all of this without forward Caron Butler, who injured his right knee on Jan. 1 against Milwaukee. However, many have picked up the slack—especially Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion.

Brimming with confidence, the Mavericks will be well refreshed to take on the winner of the Thunder/Grizzlies series en route to its first trip to the NBA Finals since 2006.

Before Game 3 of the Lakers series, fans wore t-shirts saying, “The time is now”. After the first two rounds, it is safe to say that that slogan stands true.