Friday, May 4, 2007

Stars align for biggest upset in NBA history

The Baron of Davis!

It's the biggest upset in NBA playoff history - yet some people saw it coming. (Personally, in my playoff preview I predicted that the Warriors could pull off an upset - but that the Mavs would most likely get through.)

There is a reason people saw this coming. A 3-0 record against the defending Western Conference champs is a good start. While the first win in the regular season came during Dallas' horrid 0-4 start, and the third win came against the Dallas Reserve Team, it was the second win which should have acted as a hint of a possible upset. Let's take a look at that game:

It came in mid-March, a few months after a risky deal bringing Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington to the Warriors for Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy and Ike Diogu. The trade only increased the smallness factor (or should that be decreased (?!?!)) for Don Nelson's team. Since the trade, the Pacers and Warriors had both been patchy. More recently the Warriors had been playing a pathetic brand of Basketball through the end of February and early March, losing six straight games while seemingly not bothering to play defense at all. And we all know how poor the Pacers were playing at that time too (11 straight losses). In other words, the big trade seemed to have helped neither team.

However, the Warriors were finally getting out of their rut and had just gone 3-1 in the last 4 games and traveled to Dallas (51-10) to see what they could do.

They won 117-100. Dirk shot 3/11 (sound familiar?). In fact no one in the Dallas team scored more than 5 Field Goals. By contrast, the Warriors had 4 players score over 5 field goals. The one starter who didn't score in double digits? Baron Davis (9 points). So the Warriors beat a full strength Mavs away without their best player even playing that well...and convincingly. Something interesting from the game was that the Mavericks grabbed 50 rebounds compared to 28 for the Warriors. That is a huge difference. Indeed, the Mavericks scored 100 points. However, the Warriors were too quick. They turned 28 boards into 117 points...thats great efficiency. Get people down the court, and if your "bigs" get the board feed it to the streaming smalls immediately. If the Mavs big men end up getting the Offensive board (they ended up with 20) then so be it...let them. They might score a few 2nd chance buckets - but in the end we'll outscore them with many easy baskets on the fast break.

If I was Avery Johnson after this loss, I would have started planning for a possible rematch in the playoffs immediately. Because it was obvious this team could pose the Mavericks problems.

This win was Golden State's 4th win on the way to a finishing run of 16-5. They finished that run very strongly going 9-1 And then ran into...the Mavericks in the 1st round. By contrast, the Mavericks proceeded to play some poor basketball. They were like rabbits caught in headlights. They had been so used to winning that they didn't handle the first loss at home and a different style of basketball well at all. Dirk shot too many jumpers - GET TO THE HOOP! It's gonna be embarrassing as hell when David Stern hands him that MVP trophy next week. It'll be like "Here you go.........[silence] the way, you suck." But they didn't play that poorly. It was a mismatch of style. And B-Diddy playing at that level is so tough to beat, even
Josh Howard couldn't save them (he scored 20+ points in each game).

Mavericks ran into a hot team that had recent previous experience in beating them. It wasn't such a huge upset after all, was it? Make up your own mind...but no matter what, it has been a great series for Basketball, providing plenty of drama and adding much interest to the play-offs. The Baron of Davis and Stephen Jackson have really stepped up now and earned much respect. And the Warriors home crowd? Crazy!

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