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Game 76 Preview: Blazers vs. Mavericks

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A Look at the Mavericks

At the beginning of the year I wondered aloud whether the Mavericks would have an emotional letdown from losing in the Finals, especially in such infuriating/discouraging fashion.  Of course the playoffs haven't started yet, but if the regular season is any indication they shot that theory down with a bazooka.  Dallas isn't just good, they're downright scary.  They're not just beating opponents in most statistical categories, they're obliterating them.  Their point differential is an eye-popping +7.6.  Only the Spurs own better.  They DESTROY opponents in rebounds, assists, blocks, field goal attempts, field goal percentage, three-point percentage, and  throw percentage.  Opponents get slightly more steals and a couple more free throw attempts than the Mavericks do, but that's about it.  They're machine-like in the way San Antonio has been, except they add a little emotion that always seemed to elude the Spurs.  Whether that's a strength or a weakness is up to your taste.  The Spurs sometimes went flat when they needed fire but Dallas also sometimes gets taken out of games they should otherwise win.  (They lost last night in Denver, only scoring 71 points.)  The long and short of it is that both teams are great and you'd better not mess with either.  If this is a schoolyard fight we should probably ask to go to the lavatory three minutes before the final bell, sneak out the side door, hop on the back seat of the school bus, and duck, hoping nobody rats us out before the driver takes off.

Don't even get started on the who's who of their roster.  Nowitzki, Howard, Terry, and Stackhouse need no introduction.  They don't all score 20 a game right now but they have and they can.  Devin Harris and Devean George aren't bad wingmen.  Dampier and Diop make a decent center battery.  But the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, thanks at least in part to Avery Johnson who is still a "glue guy" even from the bench.

This team is on the short list of "teams everybody wants to be" and looks likely to contend for the title again.  Do you really need to say any more?

What I'd Like To See:

There is no logical reason to say we could beat the Mavericks that I can discern.  This is why I'm not a coach.  If we even come close it will be one of those wacky NBA tide-turns that happens once a season or so, where gravity shifts and up is down...like the Oregon Vortex or...well...Scio.  All we can do is play with every bit of heart and toughness we can, help make this yet another stop on the Brandon Roy R.O.Y. campaign tour, and hope a couple of our players light up.  You can score a little on their guards which may be a good sign.  But all we really have are LaFrentz and Outlaw to watch Nowitzki.  They're going to watch him alright.  They'll watch him score 40.  I wish Lamarcus were here...

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)