This Dallas Mavericks team has surprised all season, so who am I to count them out now? After the DeAndre Jordan fiasco, they weren’t supposed to make the playoffs, let alone as the six seed. Dirk Nowitzki certainly wasn’t supposed to be playing at this high of a level at this age. But when it comes to beating the speed and firepower of the Thunder? Things may not be pretty.
When all is said and done, this should be a tough matchup. There’s going to be some hard fought games, even if they ultimately don’t fall the Mavericks’ way. The Thunder just have too much talent at the top, and too much youth throughout.
As much as the game is on the players, this will be a big test for first-year coach Billy Donovan, the only first year coach to work the entire season and get his team to the playoffs this year. He’s shown he can coach on the big stage when he was at Florida, but gameplanning for a seven game series is much different than a one game championship.
Keys to the Series
- Stay healthy. “Hey, we’re the Masking Tape Mavs,” is what Carlisle said about this team over the last couple weeks. While that may be true, masking tape isn’t going to win you a series. They’re already without Chandler Parsons. If anyone else in that wing rotation goes down, they may be doomed.
- Give Dirk a proper sendoff. Who knows how many more times we’re going to get to see Dirk play. If the series gets out of hand early, let him have a Kobe-like farewell game? Maybe?
- Get the role players involved. As I said, it’s not hard to argue Westbrook and Durant are the best 1-2 punch in the league, and that should be enough to get by Dallas, but if they want to compete with the Spurs and ultimately the Warriors, they’ve got to get everyone playing at a high level.
Barea is going to have long stretches where he’s tasked with trying to contain Westbrook. While he won’t be able to shut him down, if he’s able to at least slow him down, and more importantly, frustrate him, that will bode well for the Mavericks.
Thunder in 5
They should be a fun, tough five games, but I don’t see it going any more than that.