Once one of the best playoff series in the NBA is now a one sided fading rivalry. The San Antonio Spurs with the best record in the league swept the season series with the Dallas Mavericks, so facing off against them in the playoffs isn’t such a bad way to start another hunt for the NBA title.
The Spurs are a team on a mission – winning a fifth title ring and doing more than just being very good and consistent at like they have for pretty much the last 24 years, excluding one season that turned into what gave them Tim Duncan. The Mavs just wanted to get back into the playoffs, and although there is a two-year plan for Mark Cuban, hoping to win a championship or at least contend for one next season, it ain’t happening this year.
Dirk Nowitzki played for the entire season and led the team in scoring with 21.7 points per game. Jose Calderon gave him a point guard who is a trigger happy one, great at hitting open 3’s which Nowitzki and Ellis are happy to create for him while being a pass-first kind of player. Ellis himself has turned himself into something a bit more efficient than he has been for most of his career, averaging 19 points while shooting 45% from the field, taking a lot of pressure off of Nowitzki.
And with all that, it’s not enough. The Mavs don’t have an inside scoring threat, and guys like Jae Crowder and Brandan Wright are efficient in small doses. The Spurs seem to have the total package for teams without a superstar. No one go to player, but an ability to beat you in a number of ways – from going inside to Duncan and Splitter to shooting 3’s with Leonard and Green and the magical moments Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili provide, right now not looking like two players mortified and shell shocked by the finals debacle almost a year ago.
Although the regular season isn’t always the best indication, too many signs are on the wall. The Mavs barely made it into the playoffs despite not having an injury to hold them back. In the West that’s so deep and tough, being good simply isn’t enough. The Spurs won all four games between the teams, scoring over 109 points in all four games. They are better at almost every position and aspect of the game, which doesn’t bode well for the proud Mavs.
Prediction – We usually see a sweep or two in the first round, and there’s a very good chance this might be it.