What would happen if the 2010-2011 Dallas Mavericks faced off against this year’s NBA champion Golden State Warriors? Here is a hypothetical matchup to decide the outcome.
This year’s Golden State Warriors won 67 games, and absolutely demolished the playoff competition en route to a 16-1 playoff record and an NBA title. Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green form what many are calling the best NBA team of all time and it took superhuman performances from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving to even hand Golden State a single loss.
In 2011, the Dallas Mavericks won 57 games, and posted a 16-5 postseason record on the way to winning their first NBA championship. The Mavs upset the favorite Miami Heat in six games, and shut down the infamous big three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. Both the ’17 Warriors and ’11 Mavs were stellar three-point shooting teams, and efficient defensive units. The following is a hypothetical matchup between the two Western Conference rivals.
One thing is for sure in this game: The Mavs will struggle to play at the kind of pace the Warriors want to play with. Steph Curry may prove to be too quick and elusive for the aging Jason Kidd. Rick Carlisle will then be forced to put the elite defender on Klay Thompson to keep his effectiveness on the defensive end up. This is where DeShawn Stevenson becomes useful for Rick Carlisle.
In that improbable Mavs playoff run, Shawn Marion and Jason Kidd were known as the primary defenders on the opposing team’s best scorers. But when DeShawn Stevenson was on the floor, he often handled that duty. Stevenson checked Brandon Roy in the first round, Kobe Bryant in the second round, Russell Westbrook in the conference final, and Dwayne Wade in the finals.
This of course creates the matchup of Shawn Marion vs. Kevin Durant. Marion may be able to stand his ground defensively, but there is no question he will be complete offensively liability in this game. Never the greatest offensive threat, he will be exposed by the lanky, wide Durant who will force the ball out of his hands repeatedly.
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What the Mavs have in this game that the Cavaliers didn’t in this past year’s finals is an elite rim protector. Tyson Chandler proved to be the difference for the Mavs that season. Blocking shots, snaring countless rebounds and forcing penetrating guards to second guess their attacks of the basket turned Dallas’s previously suspect defense into a force. This time around, Chandler can take the pressure off of Kidd, Stevenson and Marion.
Golden State’s advantage in this game is obviously their shooting ability. The year Dallas won the title, their four opponents were all weak shooting teams. Portland did not boast all that much shooting power outside of Roy and Gerald Wallace. The Lakers could not buy a basket the entire series, as Derek Fisher and Ron Artest’s shooting woes were exposed.
Oklahoma City struggled to shoot the three the entire series, as Kevin Durant and DaQuan Cook were their only source of outside shooting throughout. The Heat’s only main shooters from the finals series were Mike Bibby, Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers.
This is where the Mavs are ill-prepared. The shooting combined with the ineffectiveness of Shawn Marion will make life difficult for Dallas, but Rick Carlisle has some ideas. The biggest concern for the Mavericks is surviving the initial surge from Golden State. But if this is achieved, Dallas can then use its biggest advantage in this matchup other than rim protection.
Without question, Dallas’s bench is superior to Golden State’s. Jason Terry will simply tear up Ian Clark at Patrick McCaw. If Steve Kerr attempts to switch the larger, rangier Andre Iguodala onto JET, then Carlisle can use his unbeatable pick-and-roll offense to loosen up the Warrior defense and get a favorable matchup for Terry.
This is where J.J. Barea comes in. Barea was the best pick-and-roll point guard in the playoffs that season. While Shaun Livingston literally has an entire foot on Barea, the Mavs can once again force switches and make life easier for Barea. If the only switching that occurs is between Iguodala and Livingston, then it will be up to the other second unit players to hit their open looks. Luckily for Dallas, they have snipers all over the place.
Peja Stojakovic, DeShawn Stevenson, Jason Terry, and Jason Kidd were all massive contributors for a terrific shooting team from that season. This is not even counting Dirk Nowitzki, J.J. Barea, or Brian Cardinal who were solid shooters from the perimeter all year. Can Golden State’s perimeter defense match up against Dallas’s shooting and skillful penetration?
One thing to take into account in this matchup, is Dallas’s experience dethroning “super-teams”. The Mavs somehow took down LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh despite not having home court advantage, being without Caron Butler and losing Brendan Haywood for the last two games of the series.
One should not overlook Dallas’s exceptional coaching staff from that year. Not only was Rick Carlisle leading the way, but future head coaches Terry Stotts and Dwayne Casey led the charge from the bench and proved to be thoroughly better than Erik Spoelstra and his team.
While Dallas has experience taking down two of the top five players in the game in a seven game series, this Golden State team is a different animal. Not only are Durant and Curry among the NBA’s all-time great duos, but Klay Thompson and Draymond Green is just better than Mario Chalmers and Mike Miller.
Dallas is equipped to beat this team. With numerous scorers, staunch defenders and two good rim protectors, Dallas can combine their on-court talent with their strong coaching talent to make the Warriors sweat. But this is simply too much for the Mavs. Dallas may struggle to find their offensive rhythm against a tough Warriors defense and will be putting extreme amounts of pressure on their defense to meet the challenge.
After a bruising, contentious fight, Golden State pulls this game out. While the Mavs keep themselves connected throughout the contest with consistent shooting, rebounding and coaching-smarts, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry will take over, and Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and Andre Iguodala will close things out defensively. The 2016-2017 Warriors take down the 2010-2011 Mavs, 115-105.