Quantcast 2011 NBA Western Conference Playoffs: Semifinals - Dallas vs LA Lakers

 

Maverick Day

 

Talk about Mom has not been the most discussed topic on this Mother’s Day in Dallas, Texas. With the Dallas Mavericks up 3-0 on the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers coming into game 4, fans around the city started the day conversing non-stop about a possible sweep, which at the start of the series was unthinkable. Due to remarkable and steady performances from their best players, spectacular bench play, consistent defensive grit and lackluster as well as seemingly unmotivated play by the Lakers, the Dallas Mavericks completed the sweep of the back to back champions and moved on to the Western Conference Finals.

Dirk Nowitski and Jason Kidd dominated the series by overwhelming Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant. Dirk seems to be playing as good if not better than at any time in his career, while Kidd has turned the clock back to his younger days when he led the New Jersey Nets to back to back Finals. Offensively and defensively, both players have set the tone for their teammates and played each game like it was their last. Dirk has been able to be the closer Dallas has trusted and needed him to be. Kidd was the surprise answer to Kobe defensively and has controlled the offense with a calm and cool resolve as well as shooting brilliantly from beyond the three point line. He has been sensational throughout the playoffs.

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While the Maverick’s two future hall of famers have played remarkably well, the bench has been the main reason for the unlikely sweep. Jason Terry, a former sixth man of the year, has led the charge by shooting lights out and playing better than he has all season. The JET has shown confidence and quickness while giving the team reason to believe in him. J.J. Barea, the unlikely star of this series, has shredded Los Angeles’s pitiful defense by slashing around defenders with a motor than simply will not quit. His layups and assists were crucial to the success of his teammates. Peja Stojakovic looks like the star he was years ago in Sacramento, displaying the shooting touch that helped those Kings routinely dominate the Mavericks in the playoffs. A midseason acquisition, Peja, has filled the void created when Caron Butler was injured. Each game at least one of these three has stepped up as the difference maker, but in Game 4 each one brought their A game and drove the nail into the Lakers’ coffin. Brendon Haywood and Corey Brewer have also given the Mavericks a needed lift during the series, completing a bench that is unquestionable the best in the league.

All season the Mavericks have been talking about how this team was different due to improved defense, but until this series no one seemed to believe them. Tyson Chandler, acquired in an off-season deal from the Charlotte Bobcats, has given the team a defensive presence and all-star caliber Center that they have never had. His non-stop drive, work ethic and athleticism have rubbed off on teammates, leading the team to pester the champs like no other squad in the past three years. Shawn Marion returned to the form that made him an all star in Phoenix and was a significant weapon defensively, giving Rick Carlisle the versatility desired to confuse and wreck havoc on their opponent.

 

 

The bottom line is that, perhaps, as well as Dallas has played, the Lakers have been just as bad. With the exception of up and coming star Andrew Bynam, the team looked sluggish, unconcerned, and weak throughout the series. Kobe Bryant, while still a force to be reckoned with, does not look like the MVP candidate of old. His defense was suspect and offensively he could not match Dirk and close out a game, missing shots when they mattered most. Pau Gasol seems timid on both ends of the court, giving Nowitski the room to dominate and coming up short on shots he has routinely made over the past three seasons. Ron Artest was a total non-factor who only showed effort when close lining J.J. Barea at the end of game two, a cheap shot that resulted in a one game suspension. Derek Fisher looks like his career is over and the main bench players, Lamar Odom, Steve Blake and Matt Barnes were momentously outmatched.

The blowout victory in game four was a fitting win to put an exclamation on the Dallas Maverick’s sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers, on Mother’s Day no doubt. However with respect to each mother in Dallas, including my own, this Sunday May 8 th, 2011 will be know in Dallas as Maverick day.

 

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By: Jake Wertheim
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer


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