82 games have been played. Just eight teams from each conference survived. In the wild, wild West, the Dallas Mavericks placed third, despite tying the defending champion Lakers with 57 wins, by virtue of a tie-breaker. They battled through injuries, slumps, and intense competition. They have home court advantage for the first round. Now the real season begins.
Opinions abound as to what will happen next. The Portland Trail blazers are the first team standing in the way of the Mavericks as they seek to capture that elusive title. There is no doubt that the Blazers are a worthy opponent, capable of coming into Big D and win a game or two. They are a talented team, led by an improving LaMarcus Aldridge, an injured but dangerous Brandon Roy, the veteran point guard Andre Miller, and the newly acquired and versatile Gerald Wallace.
This team has experience, depth, and versatility. They have a good mix of youth and veterans. While they, like the Mavs, lack a real presence in the middle, it is their size in the backcourt that could make the difference in this series. Rudy Fernandez and Brandon Roy are both 6′ 6″. Wesley Matthews is 6′ 4″. Andre Miller is the shorty of the group at 6′ 2″. These guys are not only long, but they are athletic.
The Mavs backcourt, outside of 6′ 9″ Corey Brewer are: Jason Kidd at 6′ 4″, Jason Terry and Roddy Beaubois at 6′ 2″, J.J. Barea at 6′, and DeShawn Stevenson at 6′ 5″. May this factor help determine minutes for these guys in the series? May this be one of the reasons that led coach Rick Carlisle to bench Beaubois and start Stevenson? Keep an eye on these matchups as the play of the guards, and the scoring or lack thereof, of the Mavs backcourt could go a long way towards determining the winner.
Tyson Chandler is probably going to be the man charged with containing LaMarcus Aldridge. Alridge has killed the Mavs this season but was contained after a fast start the last time these two teams met. Brendan Haywood will also play a key role in neutralizing the native Texan.
Dirk Notwitzki figures to be the focal point of the Mavs offense, as he has been for many years. The Blazers will likely send Wallace, veteran Marcus Camby, and Aldridge at the All Star in the hopes of containing him. Good luck men. You will need it. Dirty is hungry. Shawn Marion and Jason Terry will knock down some big buckets. This team wants a title. They are battled-tested. They have heard all the naysayers. They know people are calling them out. And they will win this series. It will be tough but they will stand victorious when this series is over. Why?
I believe that there are two big reasons why the Mavs will win. First, they have home court advantage. Normally I don’t put a lot of stock in this but the Blazers are 18-23 on the road this season. Not good for a playoff team. Not only that but I saw on Sportsnation yesterday that the biggest indicator of who will win a series is the point differential. This season the Mavs are a +4.2 while the Blazers are only +1.5. These two factors combined tell me that Dallas will win.
I also do not believe that the past several seasons mean anything this year. This is not the same team. Tyson Chandler has brought some toughness and rebounding to the team. I think, rather than being afraid because of their past, this team is fired up to prove people wrong. Having another coach publically announce that he would rather face Dallas in the playoffs is just more fuel to their fire. The Mavs will win in 6.
That is my opinion. What do you think? Let me hear you!