Saturday, May 28, 2011

Finals Matchup: Mavs vs Heat

Finally, an NBA Finals without the same select few teams who battle it out for the trophy every year.

Some like to call it a 2006 Finals Rematch as well as an opportunity for revenge for the Dallas Mavericks, but I believe its a fight between the two players in the NBA who deserve the Larry O'Brien Trophy right now more than anyone else: Dirk Nowitzki and Lebron James.

While Lebron is trying to get his first ring and prove himself worthy of being the league's best player while constantly being overshadowed by Kobe and his 5 rings, Dirk is just trying to win his first championship-in what some believe to be his last shot-to prevent going down in the history books ringless.

This is hardly a "2006 Finals Rematch" considering the fact that both teams have drastically changed since then.

The Miami Heat have acquired the beyond helpful addition of Lebron from the Cavs this season, as well as Chris Bosh from Toronto. Since 06', they've also added Mike Bibby and Joel Anthony to their starting line-up which leaves Dwayne Wade as their only starter who played for the Heat in the 2006 Finals; Udonis Haslem is the only other player on their roster who shares the 06' Finals Trophy with Wade.

As for Dallas, they've stacked up their bench with great players-such as JJ Barea, Peja Stojakovic, and Brendan Haywood just to name a few-to give them the title of one of the league's best benches. Since 2006, they've also acquired Tyson Chandler, Shawn Marion, DeShawn Stevenson, and Jason Kidd to their starting line-up. Aside from Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry is the only other Mav who was on the team in the 2006 Finals.

All of these additions have helped out both teams tremendously.

Lebron and Bosh are obviously a huge help to the Heat as they're both on the list of the best players in the league today. Bibby plays a great role at being a consistent performer at PG as well as going down in the books as being top 20 in 3-pointers made. Chalmers is a great back-up who brings youth to their team as well as gaining another great shooter in Mike Miller.

Tyson Chandler remains one of the most helpful additions to the Mavs as he brought their defense to another level while back-up center Haywood gets the job done as well. Jason Kidd was an outstanding acquirement to the PG position as he runs the floor in a smart manner while being 2nd in all-time 3-pointers made, 2nd in all-time assists, and 3rd in all-time steals, as he'll go down in the hall of fame as one of the best players at his position. Peja brings a spark offensively as he is another player who is all-time in 3-pointers made. Shawn Marion helps out Dallas on the offensive end as well with his awkward hook shots that fall in almost every time. And lastly, JJ Barea brings speed to this older team with his small size and ability to cruise by opponents to the basket, just to name a few.

With both teams improved since their last Finals meeting, this shall be an interesting series to watch. Will the great Lebron James be able to be contained? As well as the un-guardable Dirk Nowitzki be able to be guarded? Will the Miami Heat's suffocating defense be able to stop one of the league's top benches? All of these questions are in the air as the two best road-teams battle it out for the 2011 Trophy.

Lets look at the teams' regular season match-ups:
11/27/10- Mavs win 106-95
12/20/10- Mavs win 98-96

Caron Butler, who won't be playing in this Finals matchup due to his season-ending injury, played a vital role in both of these games as he scored 30+ points in each.

Although Dallas won both regular season meetings with Miami, most say it wasn't such a feat as it was during the Heat's slump when they were still "getting used to each other" as a new team.

Many analysts think that it will be the Heat in 6 or 7 while others think the same for the Mavericks. Either way, it would be a surprise if this series ended in 4 or 5 games.

The fight for the ring will begin Tuesday, May 31st at 9pm on ABC as the Heat will continuously be trying to prove themselves to be the best team in the league that they promised they'd be when Lebron and Bosh decided to bring their talents to South Beach, while the Mavericks will be trying to prove that they're a different team this year then they've been every other post-season as they've lost in the first and second round every year.

The 2011 Finals schedule is as follows:
Game 1- Tuesday, May 31st at 9pm ET on ABC
Game 2- Thursday, June 2nd at 9pm ET on ABC
Game 3- Sunday, June 5th at 8pm ET on ABC
Game 4- Tuesday, June 7th at 9pm ET on ABC
*Game 5- Thursday, June 9th at 9pm ET on ABC
*Game 6- Sunday, June 12th at 8pm ET on ABC
*Game 7- Tuesday, June 14th at 9pm ET on ABC
*If Necessary

Thursday, May 26, 2011

WCF- Mavs vs OKC: Game 5

With one win, the Mavericks would have the opportunity that their franchise has only seen once before in 2006. With one win, the Mavericks would bring an end to Oklahoma City Thunder's dreams of a championship.

The Mavericks hoped to achieve one more victory over OKC in their 3-1 series lead to be crowned Western Conference Champs and move on to the NBA Finals. Dallas was successful as they made another late comeback to defeat the Thunder.

The Mavericks came out in the first quarter with a quick start, gaining a fast 8-2 lead. Chandler scored the first 13 points of the night for Dallas while the Thunder was led by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook who brought their team to a 27-26 lead at the end of the first quarter.

In the first quarter, the Mavs hit just 9 of 24 from the floor while OKC hit 10 of 23.

The youth of OKC's bench gave them a spark led by Harden to go on an 11-2 run to push their lead to 38-30. Chandler picked up his third personal foul while the Thunder held onto the lead. Dallas climbed within 2, after Jason Terry swished in a 3-pointer with a minute to go, before receiving his third foul. The Thunder took a 55-52 lead heading into halftime.

In the first half, Dirk's 13 points and Barea and Marion's combined 21 were not enough to take the lead. Durant and Westbrook combined for 26 points while Harden added 16 off the bench to help outshoot the Mavs, 47.7% to 45.2%.

The Thunder's offense became stagnant as they continued their slump from the end of the second of 11 straight misses. This gave the Mavs an opportunity to fight back as they did just that and tied the game at 59. Peja swished in a 3-pointer to give the Mavs their first lead since a few minutes into the second quarter. Westbrook pushed Terry after a whistle which led him to receive a technical foul. But despite their frustration, the Thunder went on a 9-0 run to regain the lead back to 72-66, and end the third quarter up 76-72.

A bucket by Westbrook and a Durant 3-pointer started off the fourth quarter for the Thunder as they opened up an 85-77 lead with 9 minutes left in the game. OKC continued to lead with a couple baskets until Marion took a 2 for 2 trip to the line with 4 minutes left to cut Dallas' deficit to 92-90 as well as going on a 7-2 run until Durant finally scored to conclude it. Marion continued to keep the Mavs in the game while the rest of the team was able to inch their way back with trips to the foul line. Nowitzki swished in a 3-pointer followed by a Terry steal, leading to another 3-pointer by Dirk to put the Mavs up 95-94 with a minute to go. Marion then had an and-1 dunk to put Dallas up by 4 with 48 ticks left. But OKC wasn't done; Westbrook fouled Chandler out and cut Dallas' lead to two with 39 seconds to go. Dirk took a trip to the line to extend the lead back to 4 with 13 seconds on the clock. The Thunder had a chance to come back but both Durant and Harden missed from long range in the final seconds, sending the Mavs to the Finals as they ended the game on a 17-6 run.

Dirk and Marion both finished with a team-high 26 points, with Dirk grabbing 9 rebounds and Marion grabbing 8 of his own as well as 3 blocks. Off the bench, Barea had 14 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists while Terry added 12 points of his own to make it four Mavs in double figures. Kidd also had a game-high 10 assists.

For the Thunder, Westbrook finished wit ha game-high 31 points to lead four OKC players in double figures as well. Durant and Harden both had 23 points.

The Mavs took this victory despite being outshot, 42.7% to 41.0% as well as being out-rebounded, 49-44. The Thunder also had a 50-44 edge in points in the pain. Dallas managed to turn 13 OKC turnovers into 21 points while OKC turned 12 turnovers into just 8 points.

The Mavericks will now await the winner of the Heat Bulls series to see who they will face in the Finals.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

WCF- Mavs vs OKC: Game 4

After grabbing a victory in Oklahoma City Arena in Game 3, the Mavs entered their opposing team's arena again looking for another win to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. Dallas did just that after making a historic comeback, overcoming a 15-point deficit in the final minutes of the fourth to send it into OT and eventually win it, 112-105.

Much like the Mavs in Game 3, the Thunder were off to a quick start, quickly sparking a 10-2 run leading to an 18-8 advantage. OKC made their first 9 baskets as their lead capped off at 12 points before Dallas came back to within 9 to end the quarter down 31-22.

In the second quarter, the Mavs desperately turned to Nowitzki and Terry as they slowly brought their team back into the game, while Durant and Westbrook continued to score basket after basket. Dallas managed to climb to within 3 points before ending the second down 59-54.

In the first half, Durant and Westbrook combined to scored 26 points while Nowitzki led the Mavs after hitting 6 of 7 from the field as well as going 9 for 9 from the line. The Mavs committed 11 turnovers which converted to 15 points for OKC. The thunder had a 19-11 rebounding edge including 9 offensive rebounds. The thunder outshot the Mavs as well, 58.3% to 54.8%.

Nowitzki continued to put the ball in the basket early in the third quarter until Durant took a trip to the foul line, followed by a 3-pointer and a technical on Chandler for an elbow to Perkin's face. Dallas then trailed by double digits again but continued to fight back. They took advantage of the Thunder's 8 turnovers while Terry took charge of their offense, scoring 9 in the quarter to bring Dallas within 2 before ending the quarter down 81-77.

Dallas' effective offense seemed to come to a halt in the fourth quarter as the Thunder opened up an 88-79 lead. The Mavs attempted a comeback until Haywood received a flagrant foul after giving Durant a hard hit as he tried to score. OKC continued to get offensive rebounds while Dallas was desperately looking for stops. Durant hit a 3-pointer to put his team up 99-84 with just 5:04 remaining, for what was thought to be a clinch on the victory. Nowitzki then made it an 8-point game, 99-91 with just 3:14 remaining, and continued to lead the Mavs on a 17-2 run as he scored 12 points to tie the game at 101 with 6.4 seconds left. Durant had one last shot at winning the game as he threw up a long 3-point shot but was blocked by Marion. The Mavs failed to tip in the ball with .7 seconds on the clock, sending it into overtime.

Both teams battled it out throughout OT as they tied it up at 105 until Kidd hit a 3-pointer to put the Mavs up by 3 with just 40.3 seconds to go. Westbrook missed a crucial shot followed by trips to the free throw line from Kidd and Terry to finish the game off with a historic comeback.

Dirk finished the night after an outstanding performance with 40 points. Kidd had 17 points on 3 of 6 from 3-point range as well as 7 assists. Terry added 20 points off the bench to make it three Mavs in double figures.

For the Thunder, Durant led with a double-double with 29 points and 15 rebounds. Ibaka also had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Westbrook had 19 points and Sefolosha and Collison both had 12 a piece to make it five players in double figures.

The Thunder had a 55-33 rebounding edge with 20 offensive rebounds which led to a 24-12 edge in second-chance points. The Thunder had 26 turnovers which led to 26 Dallas points, while the Mavs had 13 turnovers which led to just 13 Thunder points. OKC also outshot the Mavs, 46.7% to 43.2% and outscored them in the paint, 54-36.

The teams will now travel to Dallas for Game 5 Wednesday night where the Mavs have a chance to finish the series up, 4-1, and advance to the NBA Finals.

**Game 5 will air on ESPN, Wednesday May 25th at 9pm ET.

Monday, May 23, 2011

WCF- Mavs vs OKC: Game 3

The Dallas Mavericks, one of the leagues' best road teams, stepped foot in the Oklahoma City Arena to try and regain the lead of the series and reclaim home-court advantage. After a 20+ Dallas lead and a nail-biting Thunder comeback, the Mavericks went home with the 93-87 victory to go up in the series, 2-1.

Dallas had a great start to the first quarter as they quickly went on a 13-4 run led by Stevenson before it eventually cruised to double figures behind the long-range shooting of Kidd and Peja. The Mavs' zone defense held the Thunder to shooting just 4 of 17 in the first as well as committing 6 turnovers. Dallas had a lead as large as 17 before ending the first quarter up, 27-12.

In the second quarter, Dallas' lead capped off at 23 points when their 20-4 run finally came to an end. The Thunder fought back and started to gain momentum before the half, as they cut their deficit to 52-36 at the end of the second.

Both teams' best player wasn't playing up to par at the half-Nowitzki was just 2 for 5 with 5 points while Durant was 2 for 10 despite his 10 points-so Marion and Westbrook came to help their team out, getting 12 points a piece in the first half. With OKC 0 for 8 from beyond the arc and Dallas 5 for 9, the Mavs outshot them, 52.5% to 29.4%.

Jason Kidd started off the third quarter with a personal 4-0 run as he sparked the Mavs' offense, while Nowitzki was still cold from the floor. Tension built up for OKC leading to a technical foul on Westbrook when he pushed Nowitzki after a dead ball. Chandler also received a technical in the third after an accidental elbow to James Harden's face. With physicality issues brewing, the Thunder used this as encouragement as they fought back with an 8-0 run to come within 13, when Dirk came out of his shooting slump to hit a 3-pointer to put the Mavs up 70-56 to end the third quarter.

Despite the deficit, the Thunder continued to battle throughout the fourth quarter cutting Dallas' lead to 76-64 with just under 9 minutes to go. Westbrook managed to cut it to a 10-point game until Dirk made another shot to keep the Thunder down. Again, Westbrook cut the deficit to just 8 this time with 6:30 to go followed by another score by Nowitzki with 4 minutes left, putting the Thunder back into an 84-75 hold. OKC would continue to have a disadvantage with their troubled shooting from deep, disallowing them to come back any closer than 4 before Terry hit a jumper to put Dallas up 86-78 with under 2 minutes on the clock. Nowitzki continued to awaken from his shooting slump as he swished in a 16-footer with 42 seconds left to put the Mavs back up by 8. Westbrook then finally ended a 0 for 16 drought from 3-point range. A couple of trips to the free throw line put the game away for the Mavs as they grabbed the 93-87 victory to regain home-court advantage and gain a 2-1 series lead.

Despite shooting 7 of 21 from the floor, Nowitzki equaled Marion with 18 points, although Marion outdid him with his 9 of 13 shooting. Kidd and Terry also matched each other's 13 points as well as 8 assists for the veteran PG.

Durant was right along with Dirk shooting 7 of 22 but finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Westbrook led all scorers with 30 points, but had 7 personal turnovers thanks to Kidd's key defense.

Dallas outshot OKC, 43.9% to 36.5%. Despite Chandler's game-high 15 rebounds, the Thunder had a 45-37 rebounding edge. And like usual, the Mavs bench outscored the Thunder's 28-16.

The Mavs will head into Game 4 Monday night with a chance to get another victory in OKC Arena and take a 3-1 series lead

**Game 4 will air on ESPN, Monday, May 23rd at 9pm ET.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

WCF- Mavs vs OKC: Game 2

With a franchise record 7-game postseason winning streak and 6-0 mark at home, the Mavs went into Game 2 vs the Thunder hoping to maintain the momentum and prevent what the Bulls experienced the night before. But the hungry Thunder were too much for the Mavs, getting the 106-100 victory and tying up the series at 1 a piece.

Scores by Marion and a couple 3-pointers from Kidd led the Mavs to an early 17-11 lead midway through the first. Dirk continued to take advantage of his matchup with Ibaka, scoring easy buckets. Chandler then had a handful of dunks assisted by Kidd to push their lead to double digits. At this time, Durant started to lead his team back into the game after scoring 14 points in the first and ending the quarter with a memorable dunk over Haywood to take a 31-26 lead over Dallas at the end of the first quarter.

The Thunder bench played a major role in the second with Harden and Maynor continuing a 20-7 run from the end of the first quarter to take a 37-35 lead in the start of the second. Then the attention turned to the Mavs' bench as Barea and Stojakovic sparked a 13-3 run of their own. But Durant and Westbrook wouldn't let their team fall behind as they took their team to a 59-57 lead to end the second quarter.

Durant and Westbrook combined for 28 points in the first half while Dirk and Chandler combined for 24 and Kidd added 8 points and 5 assists. Despite Dallas' effort, the Thunder outshot the Mavs, 55.6% to 50%.

The Thunder exploded with energy to start the third quarter, continuing an 11-0 run that began in the end of the first half to take an 8-point lead. But the Mavs fought back with 3-pointers from Kidd and Stevenson to spark an 11-2 run. Their run came to an end when Terry fouled Harden on a made 3-pointer, giving him a four-point play to end the third and a Thunder lead of 77-76.

In the start of the fourth quarter, Dirk and Durant exchanged buckets on each end while Harden continued to attack the Mavs' defense next to Maynor in the backcourt. Harden swished in shot after shot, showing to be unstoppable, as the Thunder took a 102-92 lead with 3:15 left to go. Dallas fought back however, cutting it to 102-98 with a minute to go as Dirk swished in back to back shots and Stevenson hit a pair of free throws. Collison then answered with one of his own before fouling Nowitzki on a 3-pointer to foul out of the game. Dirk's 39 consecutive free throw streak came to an end on the 2nd of 3 free throws, after passing Ray Allen and Ben Gordon at 33 for the longest stretch of its kind in the last 5 years. He hit the third free throw to make it a 4-point game. The Mavs forced a 24-second violation, getting the ball back, but Peja missed a 3 as it found its way to Sefolosha as he got fouled. Thabo hit both free throws to put the game away for the Thunder.

OKC outshot Dallas, 55.7% to 43.8%, and had 3 more turnovers, 15-12, as they both had 17 points off the giveaways. The most unbelievable stat is that OKC's bench outscored Dallas' 50-29 after they got demolished in Game 1 by Dallas', 53-22.

Despite the loss, Dirk finished wit ha game-high 29 points, including 16 just in the fourth quarter. Chandler finished with a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds while Kidd had 13 points and 7 assists. Barea added 11 points to make it four Mavs in double figures.

For the Thunder, Durant led with 24 points while Harden was right behind him with 23 points off the bench, including four 3-pointers. Despite a horrible Game 1 and sitting out the entire fourth quarter of Game 2, Westbrook finished with 18 points. Maynor also added 13 points off the bench to make it four players in double figures.

The Thunder tied up the series at 1-1 before heading back home for Games 3 and 4 in Oklahoma City, where the Mavs took two wins during the regular season.

Now OKC has all the momentum with the advantage of playing on their home court next, but Dallas tied Miami with the best road record in the regular season, so it should be interesting. Dallas has to execute and make stops like they've done in the first two series if they want to take control of the series again.

**Game 3 will air on ESPN, Saturday, May 21st at 9pm ET.

Dirk making a strong post move

Haywood getting back on defense

Harden going in for a layup over Mahinmi

Kidd with the ball

Westbrook going up over Dallas' defense

Marion with the easy dunk

Chandler hauling in an alley-oop from Kidd

Durant with a thunderous jam over Haywood

Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images-
Ronald Martinez
Tom Pennington
Danny Bollinger
Glenn James
Andrew D. Bernstein

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

WCF- Mavs vs OKC: Game 1

After resting for 8 full days after sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers, the Mavericks finally returned to the AAC to battle the Oklahoma City Thunder in what would be a historic night for Dirk Nowitzki in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.

Both teams opened the first quarter constantly passing the ball to their best players as Nowitzki and Durant went shot for shot without missing. Dirk gave the Mavs an early lead until OKC answered with a 10-2 run halfway through the quarter to take a 13-12 lead despite Perkins' two quick fouls. Durant then continued to make bucket after bucket to end the quarter on a 12-4 run to put the Thunder up 27-10.

In the first quarter, the Mavs were 0 for 6 from 3-point range, and Durant outscored Nowitzki 13-10 although both were shooting phenomenally.

The second quarter was different for the Mavs as their defense picked up and they began to make stops while Terry and Barea came off the bench to add an offensive spark. Dallas went on a 9-0 run to start the quarter tying it up at 32. Marion then took an accidental elbow to the face from Perkins and went down in pain, lying there as the game continued. Carlisle then received a technical foul for arguing with officials in an attempt to stop the play. Despite Marion's bleeding nose, he continued to play which brought the Mavericks encouragement to play even harder. Dallas finished the second quarter on a 16-3 run to gain a 55-48 lead into halftime.

The Mavericks outshot the Thunder in the first half, 52.5% to 44.7%, after Thunder hit just 6 of 20 in the second quarter including missing their final 6 shots. Dirk also outscored Durant, 21-17 in the first half after missing just one basket from the floor. Dallas held Westbrook to 1 of 8 from the floor.

Nowitzki worked his magic to start the second half as Ibaka got his fourth personal foul. But the Thunder continued to fight back, trying not to let the Mavs pull away. Dirk continued to show how un-guardable he was as he mismatched every player that Scott Brooks put on him, and forced them all into foul trouble. Coach brooks then got a technical for voicing his displeasure. Dirk took another trip to the line, hitting his 13th consecutive free throw in the quarter to set a new franchise high as well as lifting Dallas to a 90-79 lead to end the third.

In the fourth quarter, Dirk continued to swish in baskets and make constant trips to the free throw line. With his next trip there, he reached the franchise record for free throws made in a half at 15. Barea used his advantage of quickness along with his small size to get through Thunder's defense straight to the basket as he scored 12 straight points to help the Mavs pull away. But just as the Mavs thought they had the game on lock, Thunder came rolling back with a 10-0 run to cut the deficit to within five, 104-99, with less than 5 minutes to go. Marion then fouled out of the game with just under 3 minutes left on the clock. But Dirk pushed the Mavs back up by double digits after hitting his 22nd consecutive made free throw surpassing Paul Pierce's 21, setting a new NBA playoff record. OKC came to within 6 before Terry hit a 3-pointer to put Dallas up by 9 with 28 ticks on the clock. Dirk then took another trip to the charity strip, hitting free throws number 23 and 24 to secure the lead until the final buzzer sounded. The final score was 121-112.

Dirk was 100% from the free throw line as he went 24-24 as well as 12 of 15 from the floor. He finished with 48 points, two points shy of his career playoff-high against phoenix in the 2006 playoffs. He also had 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 blocks.

Marion was the only other Dallas starter in double figures with 11 points, while Kidd had a game-high 11 assists. Off the bench, Terry had 24 points and Barea added 21 of his own.

Before the game, Terry mentioned that his goal was to personally outscore the whole Thunder bench. His goal was exceeded as the Dallas bench outscored OKC's 53-22.

Durant led the Thunder with 40 points and 8 rebounds while Ibaka had 17 points and 6 rebounds. Despite scoring 20 points, Westbrook finished just 3 of 15 from the floor. Harden added 12 points off the bench to give the Thunder four players in double figures.

The Mavs outshot the Thunder, 53.4% to 47.2% and despite the Thunder's 35-33 edge in rebounding and 40-36 edge in points in the paint, it wasn't enough to beat the Mavs.

The Mavs will now head into Game 2 Thursday night hoping to gain a 2-0 series lead before leaving the AAC to travel to OKC for Games 3 and 4.

**Game 2 will air on ESPN on Thursday, May 19th at 9:00pm ET.

Dirk attacks the basket as Perkins contests

Westbrook drives around Kidd

Terry sweeps around Collison

Barea drive through Thunder's defense to the basket

Harden driving up to the basket

Dirk shooting a jumper

Stevenson making a quick pass

Durant going up for a layup

Tyson blocking Ibaka's shot

Photo Credits:
Ronald Martinez/NBAE/Getty Images
Glenn James/NBAE/Getty Images
Danny Bollinger/NBAE/Getty Images
Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images

Monday, May 16, 2011

Western Conference Finals Matchup: Mavs vs OKC

After beating Memphis in Game 7, 105-90, the Oklahoma City Thunder will advance to the Western Conference Finals to play the Dallas Mavericks. Dallas holds home-court advantage so Game 1 will be at the AAC Tuesday night.

After getting 8 days of rest, many people are concerned that this will affect the Mavericks performance. According to coach Carlisle and the team, in account to their older age, rest is definitely a good thing.

While resting, Carlisle had them play mini scrimmages to work on transition defense, rebounding, and efficiency with the ball.

Although the Mavs won 2 out of the 3 meetings against OKC in the regular season, they haven't met with them since their trade. Both teams have drastically changed for the better; the Thunder brought in Perkins from a mid-season trade to join Durant and Westbrook in offense production and added Ibaka to the starting line-up, while the Mavericks have featured scoring around Nowitzki since Butler's injury. The Mavs obviously won't have Butler, who played a major role in their regular season victories over OKC, but the Thunder also haven't faced Dallas with Peja yet.

It is obvious that the Thunder have a much younger team than Dallas; their average age is 24.3 while the Mavs average is 29.5. But one advantage that the Mavs have over Thunder is experience. Last year was the Thunder's first playoff appearance as they fought in the first round and lost to the Lakers in 6 games. 38 year old Jason Kidd, with two Finals appearances, will have an advantage of experience while likely matching up with first-time All-star, 22 year old, Russell Westbrook.

Oklahoma City is outscoring opponents 103-99 in the playoffs. They lead all playoff teams in scoring, and are holding opponents to 41% shooting from the field which also leads all playoff teams. They are out-rebounding opponents 46.6-41.3 and have a rebounding margin of +5.3.

Dallas is outscoring opponents 97-88 in the playoffs. Dallas is out-rebounding playoff opponents 39.6-39. Dallas is shooting 47% from the field and holding opponents to 44% shooting. They are shooting 42% from 3-point range in the playoffs.

Mavs vs OKC Previous Regular Season Matchups:
Game 1: November 24th, 2010- Mavs won 113-103
Game 2: December 27th, 2010- Mavs won 103-93
Game 3: January 6th, 2011- OKC won 99-95
Mavs took the series 2-1, with their only loss coming with the absence of Dirk and Butler; Dirk was out with his foot injury and Butler injured his patellar tendon 5 days before.

This series won't be easy for either team, as they're both hungry for a run at a championship, so it should be a great one to watch.

(Serge Ibaka hurt his ankle in Game 7 vs the Grizzlies, but he's probable to play in Game 1 vs Dallas.)

The Western Conference Finals Series Matchup Schedule is as Follows:
Game 1: Tues, May 17th, OKC@DAL, 9:00pm ET on ESPN
Game 2: Thur, May 19th, OKC@DAL, 9:00pm ET on ESPN
Game 3: Sat, May 21st, DAL@OKC, 9:00pm ET on ESPN
Game 4: Mon, May 23rd, DAL@OKC, 9:00pm ET on ESPN
*Game 5: Wed, May 25th, OKC@DAL, 9:00pm ET on ESPN
*Game 6: Fri, May 27th, DAL@OKC, 9:00pm ET on ESPN
*Game 7: Sun, May 29th, OKC@DAL, 9:00pm ET on ESPN
*If Necessary

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Second Round- Mavs vs Lakers: Game 4

Before this second-round series started, I don't think anyone-not even Dallas fans-expected it to turn out the way it did. A sweep for either team sounded like an almost impossible feat; that is until the Mavericks had the opportunity coming into Game 4 as they held onto a 3-0 series lead. Dallas played a game that will go down in the history books after tying the NBA playoff record with 20 made 3-pointers and sending the two time defending champs home after a blowout 122-86 win and LA sweep.

In the first quarter, the Mavs took a 14-11 lead midway and proceeded to go on an 8-2 run led by Marion. Terry and Peja hit back to back 3-pointers but Dallas lead by just four, 27-23, at the end of the first quarter. Kobe scored 13 points in just the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, the Mavs built up a double digit lead thanks to Terry and Peja. Terry swished in his third 3-pointer to give the Mavs a 37-27 lead with less than 10 minutes to go in the second quarter. Terry continued to swish in 3-pointers while Peja hit another one to put the Mavs up 50-32 midway through the quarter. Terry hit his sixth 3-pointer as well as third from Peja to put the Mavs up by as much as 25 points before taking a 63-39 lead at the half.

Thanks to Terry's 20 points in the first half, including six 3-pointers, the Mavs hit 11 total 3-pointers, which tied the NBA playoff record for 3-point makes in a half. Terry also set a new franchise mark for a half of a playoff game and matched his personal career playoff-high. With all of this being said, Dallas outshot the Lakers, 59.5% to 36.8%.

In the third quarter, Ron Artest led the Lakers in an attempt to inch their way back until Terry hit his seventh and eighth 3-pointer to set a new postseason franchise record. With just less than 3 minutes left in the third quarter, Terry tied an NBA playoff record with his ninth 3-pointer. Dallas took a lead as large as 29 before ending the third quarter up 86-62.

In the fourth quarter, the Lakers' frustration would then get the best of them when Odom pushed Nowitzki after a whistle and Bynum hit Barea in the ribs, ejecting both Lakers out of the game. Despite the madness, the Mavs stayed focused and took the lead by as much as 36 before Brian Cardinal swished in Dallas' 20th 3-pointer to tie the NBA record.

Terry finished with a game-high 32 points, while Barea had 22 points and Peja added 21 points of his own, all off the bench. Dallas' reserves outscored LA's, 86-37, and Dallas' bench alone score the same amount of points that the Laker team scored in total. Dirk was the only Mavs' starter in double figures with 17 points.

Kobe led five Lakers in double figures with 17 points, scoring just two in the second half. Brown had 15 points, Artest had 11, and Odom and Gasol both had 10 a piece.

The Mavericks outshot the Lakers, 60.3% to 37.8, after going 20 of 32 from beyond the arc, as well as out-rebounded them 40-39.

The Mavs successfully swept the Los Angeles Lakers, and handed Phil Jackson the first of his career.

The Mavericks will now get some rest as they await the winning of the Memphis Oklahoma City series. In the regular season, Dallas won the season series with the Thunder, 2-1, but lost 3 of 4 meetings with Memphis.

Dirk shoots a jumper

Kobe driving around Stevenson

Marion goes high for a shot

Terry hitting one of his nine 3-pointers

... and celebrating

Phil Jackson leaving the court for what could be his last time

Photo Credit:
Ronald Martinez/NBAE/Getty Images
Glenn James/NBAE/Getty Images

Friday, May 6, 2011

Second Round- Mavs vs Lakers: Game 3

The Mavs returned to Friday night's game in Dallas after winning 2 straight on the two-time defending champs' home floor, looking for their 3rd win-5th straight in the playoffs-and move 1 game away from the Western Conference Finals. Dirk Nowitzki took matters into his own hands down the stretch in the fourth quarter and helped his team gain a 98-92 victory and move to 3-0 in the series.

Lamar Odom started in place of Ron Artest who was suspended after slapping Barea hard in the face in the last 22 seconds of Game 2.

The Lakers started the first quarter with a quick start with the help of Bynum inside but the Mavericks answered with back to back 3-pointers from Nowitzki to spark a 12-4 Dallas run. Kobe and Bynum picked up two quick fouls each as well as Haywood and Chandler; but despite the Mavs' two centers' quick fouls, they took an early lead after the first quarter, 29-27.

In the second quarter, Terry joined Dirk on the floor to help the Mavs offensively and keep them in the game while Bryant did the same down the other end. The Lakers then went on a 13-3 due to Dallas' multiple turnovers and empty possessions, followed by two consecutive Bynum dunks to give the Lakers a 51-47 lead to end the first half.

In the first half, Dirk had 18 points and Terry added 12 of his own. Bynum and Odom had 24 combined points to help outshoot the Mavs, 52.5% to 45.9% and outscore them in the paint, 34-12.

The Lakers opened up a 7-point lead in the start of the third quarter but Kidd and Dirk hit back to back 3-pointers to keep the Mavs close. Despite Dallas' efforts to tie the game at 64, the Lakers proceeded to go on an 8-2 run to end the quarter up 72-66.

Stojakovic swish in a 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter but the Lakers continued to score and had a 79-71 lead with just under 10 minutes to go; but the Mavericks wouldn't give up just yet. A basket by JJ followed by another 3-pointer by Peja helped the Mavs climb back. Just when LA tried to pull away with the lead once again, Dirk and Peja each hit a 3-pointer to lead the Mavs on a 10-2 run to give the Mavs an 88-87 lead, their first since 3 minutes left in the first half. Dirk continued to score as Terry hit a 3-pointer and took a 2 for 2 trip to the free throw line to give Dallas a 95-91 lead with 18 seconds left to go. Then just 2 seconds later, the Lakers turned the ball over which led to another pair of points at the foul line from Terry. Gasol then took a trip to the line with 9 ticks remaining and hit just 1 of 2. Kidd hit another shot to continue the 20-7 Dallas run during the final 5 minutes of play. The Mavs held onto the lead until the final buzzer and got the Game 3 victory, 98-92, to take a 3-0 series lead.

Dirk finished with a game-high 32 points to go along with 9 rebounds. Off the bench, Terry had 23 points and Peja added 15 after hitting three 3-pointers. Kidd made it four Mavs in double figures with 11 points and 9 assists.

Bynum led five Lakers in double figures with a double double of 21 points and 10 rebounds. Odom had 18 points and Kobe was held to just 17 points of his own.

Once again, the Mavs had an advantage in bench scoring, 42-15. Dallas also had a 39-37 advantage in rebounding as well as hitting 24 of 29 free throws, taking 15 more than LA. Despite the loss, the Lakers outshot the Mavs, 47.6% to 46.3% as well as outscored them in the paint, 56-20; but the Mavs dominated from the outside, hitting 12 of 29 3-pointers as opposed to LA's 3 for 13.

The Mavericks now have a 3-0 lead in the series which means they are just 1 game away from a Lakers sweep as well as the Western Conference Finals. But even with the 3-0 advantage, the Mavs aren't celebrating until its over.

“Just taking it one game at a time,” center Tyson Chandler added. “We’ve been fortunate to get this 3-0 lead. Until it’s 4-0, I’m not going to count them out. I don’t want to put any words in their mouths. I’m not sure how they’re feeling right now. I just know how we’re feeling. We feel like we’ve got to seize the moment. We’ve got a great opportunity, and we’ve got to close it.”

“We’re not thinking that we’ve won three games and can walk over these guys,” Terry added. “They’re the champions. You’ve got to knock the champ out in boxing and in basketball.”

Dallas will try to close out the series in Game 4 Sunday evening at the AAC.

**Game 4 will air on ABC, Sunday, May 8th, at 3:30pm ET.

Bynum puts up a jumper

Dirk's left open for a jumper

Terry puts up a floater over Gasol

Kobe looks to make a move

Terry pumping up the crowd after he hit a 3-pointer

Gasol trying to get a shot off over Dirk

Photo Credit:
Glenn James/NBAE/Getty Images
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Danny Bollinger/NBAE/Getty Images
Ronald Martinez/NBAE/Getty Images

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Second Round- Mavs vs Lakers: Game 2

After coming back from a 16-point deficit in Game 1, the Mavericks were well aware that the Lakers would look for revenge in Game 2; but the Mavs stayed focused and were able to get a big victory, 93-81, going back to Dallas with a 2-0 advantage.

The Lakers hit their first four shots of the first quarter before Dallas' defense stepped up. DeShawn Stevenson swished in two 3-pointers followed by a Tyson Chandler alley-oop pass from Terry and another 3-pointer from Dirk to end the first quarter with Dallas up 26-20.

The Mavericks lead continued into the second quarter until Kobe sparked a 12-2 Laker run to take the lead. Ron Artest received a technical foul after a hard foul on Chandler, while Dirk put matters into his own hands to gain a 51-49 lead to end the second.

At the half, Bryant and Bynum each had 14 points while Dirk had 15 points of his own. Throughout the first two quarters, Dallas outshot the Lakers, 50% to 47.7%, and were 4 for 10 from 3-point range as opposed to the Lakers 0 for 7.

The Mavericks started off the third quarter with four turnovers (matching the number for the entire first half) but managed to keep the lead. Dallas handled the ball great as well as dominated in defense while Dirk swished in shot after shot to hold the Lakers to a 13-point period. The Mavericks ended the third quarter with a 68-62 lead over LA.

The Lakers' trouble from beyond the arc continued into the fourth while Barea ran the floor and helped the Mavs gain a 79-69 lead with 6 minutes left to go. Their lead would continue to grow to as large as 15  as they took an 87-73 lead with less than 3 minutes on the clock. Bryant finally hit a 3-pointer to end their 0 for 15 drought from the outside, but it was too late as the Mavs continued to score. With 24.4 seconds left in the game, Ron Artest smacked Barea hard in the face, acquiring his second technical leading to an ejection from the game. The Mavs held onto their big lead until the final buzzer sounded and got the 93-81 victory.

Dirk finished with a game-high 24 points and 7 rebounds while Marion added 14 points. Barea had 12 points off the bench while Kidd racked up 10 of his own.

For the Lakers, Bryant led the team with 23 points and 5 steals while Bynum had a double double with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Gasol also had a double double with 13 points and 10 rebounds while Artest added 10 points of his own.

The Mavs outshot the Lakers, 42% to 41% while hitting 8 for 25 from 3-point range while the Lakers hit just 2 for 20. The Mavs' bench also outscored the Lakers', 30-12.

This is the first time since the 08 finals that LA has lost the first 2 games. When losing the first 2 games, the Lakers are 2-16 all time. In NBA history, the teams that win the first two games on the road have won the series 15 of 18 times. The Mavericks, were the last team to fall 0-2 at home and still manage to win the series (vs the Rockets in 05').

The two teams travel to Dallas to face each other in Game 3 where the Lakers hope to avoid a 0-3 disadvantage, a deficit no team has overcome.

**Game 3 will air on ESPN, Friday, May 6th at 9:30pm ET.

Dirk loses the ball while Artest and Gasol defend
Kevork Djansezian/NBAE/Getty Images

Dirk slaps the ball away from Gasol

Tyson rises up for the dunk
Stephen Dunn/NBAE/Getty Images

Artest dives into the crowd while blocking Peja's shot
Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images

Monday, May 2, 2011

Second Round- Mavs vs Lakers: Game 1

The Mavericks stepped on the Lakers' court Monday night with all the confidence in the world to get at least one victory on the road. After constantly battling throughout the game and making a huge comeback, the Mavs got the win they wanted (96-94), and took the 1-0 advantage heading into game 2.

The Mavs had somewhat of a sluggish start due to Kobe's seven points to help the Lakers to a quick start, but Kidd and Terry hit back to back 3-pointers and sparked an 11-1 run to take the 25-23 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The ending to the quarter wasn't as bad as the start was for the Mavs as they wound up hitting 11 of 23 shots while the Lakers were just 9 of 23.

The second quarter is when LA's bench sparked the team with Odom and Brown working together to give their team the lead. Just as Dirk and Terry helped their team stay within just a few points towards the end of the second, Dallas made a few mistakes that sent the Lakers to the locker-room with a 53-44 lead. Odom threw up at shot from the way out in the final seconds of the quarter but had the opportunity to take a trip to the line after Terry fouled him, resulting in three points added to the Lakers score. Immediately following, Dirk and Artest got caught up in eachother's arms and Dirk got a technical foul for elbowing him as time expired to add onto the Lakers' 14-2 run to end the half.

Kobe had 15 points in the first half while Dirk and Terry combined for 25 points. The Lakers outshot the Mavs, 47.6% to 42.9% as well as out-rebounding Dallas, 26-17, and gaining a 30-14 edge in the paint.

Things didn't get any better for the Mavs in the third quarter as they turned the ball over three times in their first possessions of the half. This led to a 7-0 Laker run as they gradually built up a 16 point lead over Dallas. Corey Brewer then headed onto the court to lead the Mavs to a 17-4 run to cut the deficit to just 3 points. The Mavs continued to inch their way back to as little as 2 points down until Kobe took matters upon himself and pushed back the Lakers' lead up to 78-71 to end the third quarter.

In the final quarter of the game, the Mavs continued to fight hard and with the help of Peja and Dirk's 3-pointers, Dallas was able to climb within one, 80-79 with less than 9 minutes to go in the fourth. The Lakers tried to pull away but were unsuccessful as the Mavs continued to stay right behind them in the final minutes of the game. Within the final minute of the game, Terry intercepted a pass to Fisher as he proceeded to quickly get fouled by Fisher giving the Mavs an opportunity for another play with just 20 ticks left on the clock. Kidd inbounded the ball to Dirk as Gasol committed a risky foul that led to two free throws for the Mavs with just 19 seconds left to play to give Dallas a one point lead. After the Mavericks committed their foul to give, Kidd forced a bad pass between Gasol and Bryant which led to a Laker turnover and a trip to the line for Kidd after getting fouled. Kidd hit just 1 of his 2 free throws with 3 seconds left, giving the Lakers an opportunity to either tie the game or win it with a 3-pointer. Knowing Kobe, we all knew that he was going to go for the 3-pointer for the win; but after doing it all night long, he failed when it mattered most, missing the game winner at the buzzer.

Dirk led five Mavericks in double figures with 28 points and 14 rebounds. Chandler finished with 11 points and 9 rebounds, just one short of a double double. Marion and Peja both added 10 points each while Kidd had 7 points to go along with 11 assists and Terry had 15 points off the bench.

Kobe led just three Lakers in double figures with 36 points. Odom and Gasol both had double doubles with 15 points a piece and 12 rebounds for Odom, just one more than Gasol.

The Mavs outshot the Lakers, 49.4% to 42.9% but were out-rebounded 44-40 and had a 46-36 disadvantage in points in the paint. Both teams were even in fast-break points and turnovers, each scoring 15 points and committing 11 TO's.

The Mavericks for sure didn't play their best game but they found a way to win and all that matters is the tally at the end. But the Lakers have been in this position before and have still managed to pull through with a series victory, so the Mavs aren't off the hook just yet.

The Mavs have the opportunity to gain a 2-0 lead in the series by winning game 2 at the Staples Center. Lets see if they can give these two-time defending champs all they've got. 

In the words of Tyson Chandler, "If you want to be a champion, you've got to go through the champs."

**Game 2 will air on TNT, Wednesday, May 4th at 10:30pm ET.

Kidd looks to pass while Artest tries to defend

Chandler and Gasol get tangled up

Kidd reaches around Kobe while Pau looks to set a pick
Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images

Odom tries to fake Marion off his feet

Barea gets around Blake for a shot
Kevork Djansezian/NBAE/Getty Images

Dirk rises up over Odom for a shot
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

Western Conference 2nd Round Matchup: Mavs vs. Lakers

After securing a 4-2 first-round series victory over the Blazers, the Mavs advance to the second round to face the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in the post-season for the first time since 1988.

It seems that the odds are against the Mavericks in this match-up based on stats of the past. A game 1 victory is crucial for Dallas; when Phil Jackson wins game 1 in any playoff series, his teams are 48-0 (24-0 with Chicago and 24-0 with the Lakers). When his team has any kind of lead in the series, they are 55-1 all-time.

With this being said, stepping onto the Lakers' court for game 1 is nerve-wrecking for any team, but the Mavs have an advantage; they are tied with Miami for the league's best road-record of 28-13, so the Mavs have an opportunity to use their strength on the road to get the early lead in the series.

As far as match-up's go, the Lakers have great length and size inside, so Dirk and centers Chandler and Haywood will have to try to keep Gasol and Bynum from dominating on the inside.

Bynum has had his highest averaged points verse any team, 16.7, against the Mavs in the regular season, so stopping him will be the ultimate test for Dallas' centers.

Shawn Marion has averaged 18.7 points against the Lakers in the regular season which is his third highest average against any team this season. If he carries this high average into the post-season along with the help from Stevenson and Kidd, the Mavs shouldn't have too much difficulty in containing Kobe.

In contrast, over the last two seasons, Kobe as averaged 18.6 points against the Mavs which is his lowest against any team.

We all know who the star player on each team is;
now lets compare them in their previous post-seasons:

Kobe has made it to the playoffs 14 times out of his 15 seasons.
These are his post-season stats:
PPG= 25.4
FG%= 44.8
3-point%= 33.8
FT%= 81.6
Player Efficiency Rating= 24.7

This is Dirk's 11th consecutive trip to the playoffs in his 13 years of playing.
These are his post-season averages:
PPG= 25.7
FG%= 45.9
3-point%= 37.4
FT%= 88.3
Player Efficiency Rating= 24.7

Dirk and Kobe are clearly both solid leaders of their teams, and as you can see, they have very similar averages in the post-season-in not just one field but in all of them. It will be interesting to watch these two battle it out in a 7-game series.

Lets take a look at their previous regular season match-ups:
Game One: January 19th- Mavs won 109-100
Game Two: March 12th- Lakers won 96-91
Game Three: March 31st- Lakers won 110-82

The Mavericks have lost 10 of the last 13 meetings with the Lakers. They have also lost 35 of the last 39 games on LA's home court. The Mavs are also 6-4 in the last 10 meetings with the Lakers at home.

Despite losing 2 of the 3 match-up's with the Lakers during the regular season, the Mavs head into this series with a confident attitude, hoping to get at least one win at the Staples Center.

The second-round series schedule for the Mavs and Lakers are as followed:
Game 1: Dallas at LA, May 2nd, 10:30pm ET on TNT
Game 2: Dallas at LA, May 4th, 10:30pm ET on TNT
Game 3: LA at Dallas, May 6th, 9:30pm ET on ESPN
Game 4: LA at Dallas, May 8th, 3:30pm ET on ABC
Game 5*: Dallas at LA, TBD on TNT
Game 6*: LA at Dallas, TBD on ESPN
Game 7*: Dallas at LA, May 15th, 3:30pm ET on ABC
*If Necessary

Sunday, May 1, 2011

First Round- Mavs vs Portland: Game 6

The Lakers wrapped up their first round series verse the hornets in their game 6 victory and would be awaiting whoever won this series. The Mavs and Lakers haven't met in the post-season since 1988 so this is a matchup that would be most anticipated but in order for this to happen, the Mavs had to close out their series verse Portland. Game 6 happened to be at the Rose Garden, a place where the Mavs have failed to win at during the regular season as well as the post season thus far. But despite that statistic, the Mavs stepped foot onto the court of the Rose Garden with confidence of advancing to the second round.

The Mavericks had a sluggish start to the game as they fell behind early 19-7, after Wallace scored the Blazers' first nine points. Dirk then scored six straight during an 8-0 run by the Mavs, but the Blazers hung on to the 29-19 lead to end the first quarter. In the first, Dallas shot just 8 of 23 from the field as opposed to 11 of 20 for Portland.

Early in the second, Wallace left for the bench with lower back tightness while Dirk scored nine straight points along with the rest of his team's help to spark a 13-2 run and eventually tie it at 35. Dallas took their first lead of the night after Peja and Terry hit back to back 3-pointers. Terry went on to hit another 3-pointer at the buzzer, ending the second with the 52-43 lead.

The Mavs outscored the Blazers, 33-16, in the second quarter, but the Blazers still managed to outshoot the Mavs in the first half, 45.2% to 42.2%. Dirk had 19 points in the first half while Terry added 10 points off the bench.

In the third quarter, Wallace returned to the floor and with his help the Blazers continued to fight after trailing by 13. Despite a scoreless quarter from Dirk after getting into foul trouble, Marion, Chandler, and Terry stepped up to help Dallas gain a lead of as much as 17 before heading into the fourth quarter.

In the fourth quarter, the Blazers came back to within three points with less than 6 minutes remaining. Mavs' fans everywhere began to get a sense of deja vu of the fourth quarter of the 23-point lead that Dallas blew earlier in the season. A steal followed by a dunk by Wallace cut Dallas' lead to just one before Kidd answered with a 3-pointer and Terry with a jumper to extend their lead to 5 points with 4 minutes left on the clock. Dirk acquired his fifth foul with under 3 minutes to go. Terry hit another jumper followed by a miss by Wallace with just 32 seconds to go. Dirk headed to the charity stripe to put Dallas up 97-89. Despite a Blazers 3-pointer, the Mavs held onto the lead till the end and won it 103-96.

Dirk finished with a game-high 33 points and 11 rebounds. Terry had 22 points off the bench while Marion added 16 points to make 3 Mavs' players in double figures.

Wallace led the Blazers with 32 points and 12 rebounds while Aldridge also had a double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Matthews was the only other Blazer in double figures with 19 points.

Despite the loss, the Blazers out-rebounded Dallas 41-39 and took the 22-11 advantage in second chance points. The Mavericks still outshot Portland, 50% to 44%.

This was the Mavericks first win on the Rose Garden floor all year as they wrapped up the series 4-2. They will now go on to face the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round starting their first pair of games at the Staples Center.

**Game 1 will air on TNT, Monday night at 10:30pm ET.

Marion and Camby fighting for the rebound

Marion with the floater

Tyson with a dunk
Steve Dykes/NBAE/Getty Images

Dirk boxing out Camby

Dirk going up for the layup
Sam Forencich/NBAE/Getty Images

MyDallasMavs: May 2011

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