2011 NBA WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS -- Mavericks vs. Thunder: My Top 10 Observer-ations

Mavs-Thunder.jpg
​10.
I'll have my position-by-position breakdown complete with, yes, the highly (smirk) coveted prediction tomorrow, but let's get this party started pronto. Back in 1994 I covered the Mavericks for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and a team that featured point guards Jason Kidd and J.J. Barea. Well, not exactly. But funny how sports works. Kidd was 21 then, the NBA's co-Rookie of the Year with Grant Hill, and he looked up to the oldest player on the team -- his 29-year-old backup with an undersized body and oversized heart and the savvy to be a productive NBA player at under 6 feet. Yep, before Barea in a Mavericks' uniform there was Scotty Brooks, these days better known as the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Said Brooks to me one day at the team's old Home Furnishings practice gym on Welch Road in Addison, "Jason's a once-in-a-lifetime player. If he keeps his head on straight, he can be one of the best of all time." Bingo.

9. What a couple of weeks for Mavs coach Rick Carlisle. At 2-2 in the Portland series, I truly believe he was two losses from losing his job. Now he's joined Larry Brown, George Karl, Pat Riley, Alex Hannum and Bill Fitch as the only coaches to lead three different teams to the conference finals. Carlisle's teams in Detroit '03 and Indianapolis '04 both lost in the East Finals. Coincidentally, Carlisle and Brooks played on the same pro team -- the old Continental Basketball Association's Albany Patroons back in '87.

8. Was thinking about all the teams in the playoffs and there's no doubt the most dominant team has been your Mavericks. They are 8-2 in the postseason, and in one of the losses they blew a 23-point lead. Dallas is 5-0 at AAC by an average of 14.6 points, with no game closer than six.

7. Not sure about Kevin Durant's post-game backpack look, but he was a beast yesterday in OKC's clincher. After missing seven of his first nine shots he still managed 39 points. And the much-maligned Russell Westbrook produced a rarity -- the Game 7 triple-double. In Durant's time on the court in the playoffs, OKC is +66; Westbrook +58. The NBA leaders in plus/minus: the Bulls' Luol Deng (+126), Derrick Rose (+117) and then Dirk Nowitzki (+108).

6. Texas-OU, here we come. In the final minutes of yesterday's 105-90 Game 7 victory over the Grizzlies, Thunder fans started "We want Dallas!" The Mavs were 2-1 against OKC in the regular season, but they haven't met since January 6. Dirk was hurt early in one game and all the meetings came before OKC's facelift trade for Kendrick Perkins.

Texas-OU2.jpg
​5.
Rest vs. Rust? The Thunder played Sunday; the Mavs last played May 8. Since 1964, 18 teams have had eight-plus days off between a playoff series. In Game 1 of the next series they are only 9-9, but have won 11 of the 18 series.

4. I'm not suggesting taking the Thunder lightly, but if you're one of those Mavs fans who dares to peek ahead, Dallas was 2-0 against the Heat this season and 0-2 against the Bulls. Because of better regular-season records, Chicago (62 wins) or Miami (58) would have the NBA Finals homecourt advantage over the Mavs (57).

3. Fear the beard, part 2? In the World Series it was the Giants' Brian Wilson and his flagrant facial bush who slammed the door on the Rangers. Don't think OKC's James Harden is as dominant of a closer but, just the same, I wouldn't be upset if he shaved before the series.

2. For those -- like owner Mark Cuban -- who keep telling me I'm crazy when I say there is indeed a psychological connection, even scars, from 2006 lingering on the Mavs' 2011 squad, allow me to defer to Dirk. Interviewed on ESPN's "Sunday Conversation," he said: "It's going to stick with us the rest of our lives until we make the moment go away. Thinking about how we were up 2-0 and lost is still a sour note. Hopefully we can do something about that." I know only Dirk and Jason Terry are around from that team, but aren't they also the leaders of this squad?

1. Like all NBA playoff series, this one is about matchups and, in particular, pace. For the Mavs, the slower the better. They will lose a track meet to the twentysomething Thunder. Simple: If the Mavs keep their turnovers reasonable -- I'm talking 12 or fewer per game -- they win this series. If not..."They bring major athletes at you," Carlisle said. "Great speed and quickness at four positions. Our focus has to be on transition defense and taking care of the basketball. If we turn the ball over consistently we can lose to this team."


Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
19 comments
Tad Banyon
Tad Banyon

I hate to be Debbie Downer, but unfortunately, in a series this short, the weaker team can be expected to win the series roughly 1/5 of the time. I liked this series a lot better before I started reading books about randomness.

Gixxer
Gixxer

Read half of this article before I started to realize how negative it sounded, looked up and what ya know its mr witt.  How is it that you still have a job?  You and Jasmine are the reason why I quit listening to your station..  Amatuer hour. 

harriskiddtradewasgood
harriskiddtradewasgood

 I hate and I'm confused that I'm thinking we got this.  On paper, my paper anyway, this Mavs team should teach the kiddos how to step up and not lose their cool. Westbrook has tendencies to look like Clarence "Coffee" Brown, in which there won't be a contest. Harden and Collison are underated. Durant is a Future Hall of Famer. Ibaka closes off lobs layups.  All that said, I still don't see it. I know not to look forward, but Chi-town is the watchout for team this playoff.

Robert
Robert

Home Furnishings

Home Interiors.

It was or is called Home Interiors & Gifts.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Richie, serious question here. Can you do a comment where you don't sound like a dick?

It's a solid post. But spare us the Matt Barnes stuff and let the work shine through, not the unnecessary jawing. You've upped your game on the writing front and I appreciate it.

And let's all try to avoid any of the stupid, silly, and pointless UT/OU rivalry comparisons that are sure to crop up. The Mavs are facing the Sonics as far as I'm concerned. And plenty of people in Dallas hate UT. Let Oklahoma get all worked up about the beathing the people south of them, but we should be a little more focused than that here. This team swept the Lakers, after all. OKC is just in the way of the Finals and the trophy.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

Mavs in 5 for me too.  This is an intriguing matchup, but give me maturity and experience in best of 7 sereis over youth and speed.  Who is going to make the right decision or the tough shots with the game on the line, the Mavs know who and how, the Thunder, notsomuch, as evident in the 3 OT game where they couldnt even draw up a play to get the ball inside 18 ft or get a decent set for a 3. 

Wifebeeter
Wifebeeter

Going into a championship series with Kidd at guard is like going to a gunfight with a knife.

Storm_71
Storm_71

Please RW don't pick the Mav's to win this thing. Face it your not exactly nostradamus when it comes to predictions. Dont jinx the Mav's with your stupid pick.............please. 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

how is this series short? Im confused, its 7 games like every other series.  these are the old 5 game 1st round sereis from years past 

Storm_71
Storm_71

Thanks for the correction RW. I'm not a high end multi talanted journalist such as yourself. I'm just a simple sales person who is counted on to make his numbers every single month. I don't have a job where I can suck and still get paid.   

Richie Whitt
Richie Whitt

And, for what it's worth, there's no apostrophe in "Mavs." Not that you've ever cared about accuracy in anything you've posted before. But just in case.

Storm_71
Storm_71

Come on Mark you know good ol RW he comes over to your house and knocks shit around with a whiffle ball bat.Or so he says. Be careful around him because according to him he really knows how to "please" his bosses.Everyone knows on air ratings don't matter it's about "pleasing" those bosses.  Put it this way don't bend over too much.  

Tad Banyon
Tad Banyon

Seven games is very short as far as being sure the genuinely superior team wins the series. If you wanted to make sure the series went to the better team within a statistically meaningful 95% or greater probability, assuming the Mavs are better than OKC enough to beat them 55% of the time, the series would have to be Best of 269. There's quite a bit of randomness in a 7 game sample. Obviuosly no one is going to want a 269 game series, I'm just sayin. If the Mavs are so superior that they could beat OKC 2 out of every 3 games, you'd still need a Best of 23 series to definitively rule out the 20% possibility Oklahoma City can nevertheless win the series in 7 games. I hope the Mavs are better than them by more than 55%-45%, but I doubt they are better by as much as 2 out of every 3 games. But this is all academic bullshit. Go Mavs!

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

 Aww. I'll even tune in to RAGE on my way home now.

Billy Mays
Billy Mays

the same midget douche who criticized colby lewis for missing a start for the birth of his 2nd kid has now missed 3 days of work for a PAINLESS neograft procedure.

dr malouf is available on weekends.

 

Richie Whitt
Richie Whitt

Good, insightful sports points. Of all you.Sorry I don't have time for more of this enlightening exchange of thoughts on an exciting sports series in our town. I have to get back to two jobs where Mark Cuban supposedly doesn't know me and where apparently failing ratings are gonna have me fired by Friday. Peace be with you.

Loading...