Dirk and co. Obliterated the Lakers, winning the game by a staggering 40 points yesterday, with a record-breaking 20 3-pointers (including 9 from Jason Terry). All the Lakers could do was look on in amazement, unable to put up a fight and counter. All they could do is take their frustrations out on poor JJ Barea.
The Lakers, with their formidable front line of Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, had no answer for the Dallas Mavericks. The main reason: the form of Dirk Nowitzki. None of the Lakers big men could guard Dirk and it showed, as the Mavs dominated the series. Throw in Tyson Chandler’s presence in the paint and you have an excellent frontcourt for the Mavs.
And that’s the thing with the Mavs – it’s their incredible strength in depth. As well as Dirk, you’ve got the age-defying Jason Kidd setting everyone up, the firepower of JJ Barea and Jason Terry off the bench, the defence of Shawn Marion and the shooting of Peja.
That’s why I think the Mavs can finally win a title, which they deserve after a decade of 50-win seasons with Dirk. Think about it, the Lakers and the Spurs are out, and the Mavs will have to face the Thunder or the Grizzlies in the final, which I think they can win. Yes, the Grizzlies have surprised everyone with the amazing play of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, but I don’t think they have an answer for Dirk.
And that’s the X Factor: Dirk. His detractors moan that he’s soft and isn’t clutch, but Dirk is one of the most clutch players in the league and if he and his supporting cast show up, they can beat anyone on their day.
I’m predicting a rematch of the 2006 Finals and can see Miami coming out of the East. Lebron and Wade will get their points, but if Dirk, Chandler and Brendan Haywood can boss and bully Chris Bosh and render him ineffective, then Dallas have a chance to avenge the loss five years ago.
Obviously this is speculating a bit, as the Mavs have to progress in the next round, but they have shown their true colours and that they have what it takes to beat the best.
What do you think? What are the Mavs chances of winning an NBA title?
The New Jersey Nets, fresh from seeing their rivals steal Carmelo Anthony from under their noses this week, pulled something out the bag this week when they traded for All-Star Deron Williams this week, which gives them the franchise centrepiece they have coveted ever since Mikhail Prokhorov took over as owner of the Nets last year.
How good does Deron Williams’ arrival make the Nets though? Are they set for a huge playoff push this season, or should they prepare for the lottery and build for next year?
Deron Williams was traded to the New Jersey Nets yesterday from the Utah Jazz, with rookie Derrick Favors and Devin Harris going in the opposite direction. Williams’ rumoured fall-out with Jerry Sloan, which saw the veteran coach resign last week, is cited as Williams’ main reason why he left the Jazz.
The Nets are currently at 17-40, 12th in the Eastern Conference and about nine games behind the Indiana Pacers, who occupy the eighth spot in the East, with a record of 26-30.
The Nets have the sixth worst record in the NBA, which means they could potentially get a top-5 pick in the NBA Draft in June, and land a good prospect (only Cleveland, Minnesota, Sacramento, Washington and Toronto have worse records), and then acquire a few free agents and a good lottery pick in the summer.
The Nets have definitely got better with the arrival of Deron Williams, who is a top 5 point guard in the league (alongside Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo and Steve Nash, in my opinion). Deron is an upgrade over Devin Harris, there is no doubt about that, and gives New Jersey a franchise superstar that they can use to attract prized free agents.
But the problem is, with the current roster, the Nets are not going anywhere. Brook Lopez is in at center and you have Williams at the point. After that, you have a collection of role players and backups in Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar and Travis Outlaw, as well as the likes of Kris Humphries and Sasha Vujacic, which will not win you a championship, or get you past the first round of the playoffs (or even get you into the playoffs.)
What the Nets do have though is cap space and the lure of a big city, when they move to Brooklyn. New Jersey need a rebounding power forward to make up for Brook Lopez’s new-found allergy to rebounding, as well as a good two-guard, and then hopefully get a high pick in the draft (seeing as they just traded away last year’s #3 pick in Favors).
The problem is though, the lack of free agents this summer, and the impending lockout and CBA. Melo is gone to the Knicks, the likes of Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Tony Parker signed extensions with their clubs, and no superstar-calibre players are available.
Zach Randolph would be a nice addition to the Nets. He’s a career 20-10 power forward who would fit in well next to Lopez. Z-Bo will want to get paid in the summer, but the Nets have the cap space to afford him.
Failing that the Nets could trade Lopez away for a good two-guard or small forward and take a risk on oft-injured centers like Portland’s Greg Oden or Houston’s Yao Ming. Now I know Oden and Yao are always injured, but if they can somehow stay healthy and you can get them on the cheap, then they could be valuable pieces for the Nets.
The All-Star reserves are not set to be announced until tonight, but Yahoo! sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski and Mark J. Spears have revealed who will be making the trip to Dallas for the ASG in February. According to them, the West and East reserves are:
Rajon Rondo (Celtics)
Derrick Rose (Bulls)
Paul Pierce (Celtics)
Chris Bosh (Raptors)
Gerald Wallace (Bobcats)
Joe Johnson (Hawks)
Al Horford (Hawks)
Deron Williams (Jazz)
Chris Paul (Hornets)
Pau Gasol (Lakers)
Kevin Durant (Thunder)
Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks)
Zach Randolph (Grizzlies)
Brandon Roy (Blazers)
If you remember when the ASG ballots where announced a few months ago, I made my predictions on who would make this year’s All-Star team. I didn’t bank on Allen Iverson securing a starting spot on the East, mainly because of the trouble Iverson had in Memphis and the fact that A.I isn’t exactly putting up All-Star numbers (14.2 ppg, 4.4 apg). A.I’s place as a starter has recieved intense criticsm from the media, but the All Star game is for the fans and if the fans want to see Iverson play then you can’t complain. Obviously no one could have forseen the circumstances in Washingon with Gilbert Arenas (who today was banned for the season along with Javaris Crittendon after both were indicted on felony charges). Shaq’s production in Cleveland (11.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg) is what let him down, and Danny Granger’s affection towards the treatment table are what excluded them from places on the East’s roster.
So who are notable snubs from this year’s teams? Mo Williams, Danny Granger, Devin Harris, Jameer Nelson, Ray Allen and David West do not return after making last year’s team, although none of them actually deserved a place on this year’s roster. Gerald Wallace’s impressive form for the Bobcats guarantees him a place, as does Zach Randolph, who is working wonders in Memphis this year, averaging 21 points and over 11 boards a game. Z-Bo has always been a 20-10 guy, but has managed to actually help the Grizzlies instead of hindering them this season.
I thought Chauncey Billups should have had a place on the West. Averaging 19 points and 6 assists this season, he is deserving of a spot and is as, if not more, important than ‘Melo for the Nuggets. But Billups omission does give a well-deserved place to Deron Williams, who makes his first All- Star appearance in what has been a couple of years overdue.
David Lee is another player who should be in Dallas. Averaging 19 points and 11 rebounds, Lee is excelling for a woeful Knicks team and should have been picked over Al Horford as the reserve center. The Hawks are doing well, and Horford is one for the future, along with Nets’ center Brook Lopez, but Lee is deserving of a spot on the East team.