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Why The Dallas Mavericks Should and Shouldn’t Fear Dwight Howard

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Apr 2, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward

Al-Farouq Aminu

(7) blocks a shot by Houston Rockets center

Dwight Howard

(12) during the second quarter at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dwight Howard has always been THE man, excluding his first two years in Orlando. Swooping three Defensive Player of the Year trophies and earning himself five All-Defensive selections during his mighty Kraken-like career protecting the rim with ease.

After deciding to take his talents through the trade to the Los Angeles Lakers, spurning the Mavs a year later and preferring Houston above all, Howard sacrificed (and he knew that) himself to not be the guy anymore.

Hold on.

I took a too melancholic lead to start this piece. It’s not like Howard is 39 or 40 this year. But some of the points above will surely paint Howard’s career picture as coming to an end.

Playing with the ball-dominant players, namely Kobe Bryant and James Harden, won’t give you many chances to score buckets. It shows. Howard never scores more than 19 points per game anymore in his 3 year stint outside of Orlando. This year proved there are limitations of his offensive prowess and it was close to a ‘disaster’ season for player of his  caliber. He scored a career low since his rookie season, just 15 points per game, and played a career low of 41 games through a troublesome knee injury riddled campaign.

“Hey, Howard’s strongest aspect of the game is his defense not offense!”

That’s true. But apparently the Houston Rockets will need every available body not named James Harden to score points. And if Howard can’t help do that, the Rockets are bound to another failure of not making through the first round yet again.

Our own Rami Michail, stated it quite clearly that Howard’s poor free throw-shooting is about all that holds him back. And this is where Mavs’ beat writer, Dwain Price had an idea.

Smart. Simple, but smart.

Rick Carlisle could always throw Bernard ‘Sarge’ James or Greg Smith to hack-a-Dwight any time of the day without worrying about Tyson Chandler getting into foul troubles. Easier said than done. But with 50 percent shooting free throw this year, it’s always worth to try.

What we should worry most is Dwight Howard repeats last year outburst in postseason. He torched the Trail Blazers by scoring 27, 32, 24, 25, 22 and 26 points in six games. He was just nasty in that series.

While Tyson Chandler, obviously, is on another whole level than Robin Lopez, the last year playoff version of Dwight Howard should give Mavs plenty of problems. Being forced to double him wouldn’t become an issue if the guy named James Harden didn’t exist, but unfortunately he does.

And if that issue comes to surface, making sure of avoiding harsh reality, we have another go-to option.

Force turnovers on Dwight Howard.

The Rockets as a team allowed third highest on opponent points off turnover in regular season and Dwight’s 3.4 turnovers per 36 minutes doesn’t help. What’s more interesting is that Dallas Mavericks are almost the best in the league, trailing only the Golden State Warriors as the best scoring team off turnovers. And this will ultimately give us a hint of Carlisle’s approach ahead of this series.

Dwight Howard is in his prime at 28, and when healthy, he is a monster. He still has plenty left in the tank. And you might need to hope the tank doesn’t leak much against the Mavs in this opening round.

But against Tyson, a disciplined championship proven center guarding him, he will not stand a chance. Look upon Tyson to shut that contagious smile of his down in 6 games.

Go Mavs.

Note: All stats, unless otherwise noted, come from Basketball-Reference.com and Stats.NBA.com.

Next: Power ranking the Mavericks Roster Heading into the Playoffs

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