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.)

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