Can You Dig It?

May 4, 2007

Warriors: you guys are the big dudes, huh?

Richardson Dunk

One of the many positives to come out of Golden State’s postseason success is that it inspired TrueHoop to post a link the other day to the original trailer for The Warriors.

Much like the Coney Island street gang that faced long odds, the basketball team of the same name prevailed tonight, defeating the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

I initially pegged this as a competitive series, but I still expected Dallas to prevail in six games (and eventually win the championship — so much for that prognostication). Rather than being the “Road Warriors” I thought they might have to be, it proved to be enough for Golden State to steal game one on the road and then rely on their raucous home crowd to get the three additional victories.

There were so many subplots that have already been pretty well discussed everywhere during the course of the six games: a 67-win Dallas team losing in round one, the first time a #1 has ever dropped a best-of-seven to a #8 and only the third such loss ever; Golden State thrilling its fans by advancing in its first playoff appearance since 1994; the bitterness between Mark Cuban and Don Nelson; Dirk Nowitzki’s disappearing act; and on and on.

This is one of those playoff series I’ll remember watching ten years from now.

We Believe


Will They Be Road Warriors in the Playoffs?

April 19, 2007

The NBA Playoffs are set, and we’ll get to see an intriguing Dallas-Golden State first-round series. Much is being made about the Warriors going 3-0 against the Mavs in the regular season. Granted, the third one was Tuesday night, with none of the Dallas stars participating, but the first two games were for real, and Golden State won anyway.

Dirk and Warriors

The teams first met back on November 6, with Golden State notching a 107-104 victory. It was the first Dallas home game of the year, before which they unveiled their 2006 Western Conference Champions banner, and then they proceeded to drop to to 0-4 on the season (they recovered to have a 67-15 year). The recap I linked mentions that Don Nelson returned to Dallas without any formal recognition for the Mavs’ former coach, likely because Nelson and Mark Cuban had been fighting over $6 million he may or may not have been owed. Let’s just say that Nelson and Cuban didn’t break up on good terms. It was a strange game, admittedly, with Avery Johnson and Jason Terry getting ejected, Josh Howard spraining his ankle, and the Mavs screwing up a late-game scenario. But the Warriors did win.

Nelson and Johnson

The second meeting was on March 12, a game notable for the fact that Golden State ended a 17-game Dallas win streak, 117-100. The final score isn’t indicative of how much of a blowout the game was, with the Warriors building a 29-point lead after three quarters.

It’s worth noting that the Warriors also played well against Dallas last year. Here’s Jason Richardson’s game-winning shot from March 2006.

I’m really interested to see Golden State on TV because they play an up-and-down crazy Nellieball style. Hell, they started Al Harrington at center on Wednesday night in Portland, with Stephen Jackson and Jason Richardson at forward and Baron Davis and Monta Ellis at guard. That’s a rather small lineup that’s designed to outscore people. I hope they can impose that style in the Mavs’ series and we get to see some 1980s-type scores. There’s also the Cuban-Nelson grudge match, which should be fun.

Nelson and Mullin

It’s also the Golden State Warriors’ first trip to the playoffs since way back in 1994. They broke the longest playoff drought in the league, so the fans should be pumped out in Oakland. Back in the 1993-94 campaign, the Warriors were led in scoring by Latrell Sprewell, Chris Webber, Billy Owens, and current team GM Chris Mullin. One of the guards on the roster was Avery Johnson, and the head coach was none other than Don Nelson.

I’ll be writing much more on the NBA Playoffs in the next two months.


Threats to the Mavs

March 14, 2007

Everyone is NBA circles is discussing the Spurs current 13-game winning streak and how that might now make them the biggest threat to Dallas in the Western Conference. Dallas faces the other major potential threat, Phoenix, in a game at 9pm tonight on ESPN.

ESPN took up the question of whether San Antonio or Phoenix poses a bigger threat to the Mavs in a “Fact or Fiction” segment on the late SportsCenter last night. I think Greg Anthony and Tim Legler disagreed on this, and I don’t think it really matters because the question is irrelevant. The one thing the Spurs streak is accomplishing is that it is cementing them into the #3 seed for the playoffs whereas they were previously at risk of finishing behind Utah or even Houston (recall all the “What’s wrong with the Spurs?” stories from a while ago). That means that San Antonio and Phoenix will almost certainly meet in the second round, with the winner getting Dallas in the Conference Finals. Thus, the team that poses the bigger threat to the Mavs is the team that will actually get to face the Mavs. Whether one or the other matches up better with Dirk Diggler and crew is not the issue. It’s more important how the Suns and Spurs match up with each other.

At present I’ll predict that San Antonio beats Phoenix because I don’t think all that much has changed from two years ago, when the Spurs beat the Suns in five games. But I’ll be watching tonight and maybe the Suns will impress me that they’re back on track and ready to make a run.

LATE UPDATE: Wow, that was quite a game, with Phoenix winning in 2OT. Both teams dominated in stretches, and Dallas really blew it late to allow Phoenix to force overtime, then the Mavs were lucky to get it into double overtime. With so many big plays each way, it was really a classic.

A few quick observations:

  • How can Amare Stoudemire be so dominant in the paint offensively yet unable to control the defensive backboard against Erick Dampier?
  • ¬†The Mavs lost Devin Harris to injury in the first half and had to play some unknown guy off the bench in the second half for a while. Trading Anthony Johnson for a draft pick wasn’t a smart thing to do.
  • Why call a technical on Dirk in the second OT when the refs are letting all sorts of other fouls go uncalled? Shouldn’t eating the whistle for personals also apply toward techs?
  • The NBA served notice, on the eve of the NCAA Tournament, that they can put on a pretty good show too.