Finally, the Mavs know who they will be facing for the right to represent the Western Conference in the Finals. Oklahoma City beat the Grizzlies and they will now come to Dallas for Game 1 on Tuesday. It has been one week since the Mavericks have played in a real, live game. For those of you Mavericks fans who are nervous because of this, see why there is no reason to fear after the jump!
For one thing, this team is still just as focused as ever. Rick Carlisle has done an excellent job working the boys in practice. They have been working on execution, ball security, hustling back on transition, and keeping their shooting sharp.
For another, this is a veteran team. They know what they are playing for. They realize that this may just be their last chance to get a ring. This rest allows that hunger to grow. The players are like caged tigers, pacing back and forth, eager to pounce on their next prey. Plus they needed a chance to rest their legs.
Some interesting notes and stats that should bolster confidence in the Mavs chances of beating the Thunder. One, the Mavs won 2 of 3 games against the Thunder this season. Granted this was before the Perkins trade and teams had injuries but still, it is better than having lost 2 of 3.
Second, in playoff history, teams that swept a series are 9-3 in the next round against teams that had to go a full 7 games. This stat is HUGE. It says that rest helps. The team is physically and mentally ready for their opponent. And in this series, with the veteran Mavs and the very young Thunder, this will be important. Can the Thunder recover from a physical, grueling series and be ready for a hostile environment? Will their young stars be overwhelmed by the moment?
Third, since the team moved to Oklahoma City in 2008, Dirk Nowitzki is averaging 31.4 ppg, hitting a scorching 54% of his shots. Nowitzki owns the Thunder! This team is not as physical as the Grizz, a perfect matchup for the Mavs. With rest, Jason Kidd has responded well all season. If Jason Terry, Peja Stoyakovic, and J.J. Barea continue to be productive coming off the bench, this series looks good for the Mavs. And as always, we will have all the action and analysis right here at the Smoking Cuban!