As long as I can remember there's always been some contention between Dallas and San Antonio, and despite Dallas's penchant for fading during the Playoffs (see 2006 and 2007 seasons) they are a legitimately good team. There's no question about it. I may be a little biased, but I personally still think that the trend (since 1996) no team from the Western Conference not called the Lakers or Spurs will win a championship. I frankly don't think any of the Western Conference teams have what it takes. Certainly OKC Thunder are up there, but that's another post for another time. Dallas, while a good team, especially in the regular season, has failed to prove its mettle in the postseason. That being said, it was Dallas that ousted us from the playoffs in 2009, in the first round no less. Unprecedented!
Anyways, the Dallas roster looks something like this:
PG: Jason Kidd, Jose Juan Barea, Rodrigue Beaubois
SG: Caron Butler, Jason Terry, DeShawn Stevenson
SF: Shawn Marion
PF: Dirk Nowitzki
C: Brendan Haywood, Tyson Chandler, Alexis Ajinca, Ian Mahinmi
Matched up against our own little roster of:
PG: Tony Parker, George Hill, Curtis Jerrells
SG: Manu Ginobili, Alonzo Gee, Garrett Temple, James Anderson
SF: Richard Jefferson
PF: Tim Duncan, Antonio McDyess, DeJuan Blair, Matt Bonner
C: Tiago Splitter
Since Tim Thomas decided to care for his ailing wife rather than play another season for the Mavericks, the Mavericks effectively are thin in the PF department. Granted Dirk is going to sop up most of the minutes anyways, it'll be interesting to see how Rick Carlisle will work around that. I personally see a platoon of Marion, Chandler, and maybe even Mahinmi/Ajinca behind Dirk depending on the matchups, but Dallas has the unique dilemma of being overly backcourt-heavy. What do I mean by this? Dallas has 5 starting caliber players at the PG, SG, and SF slots (if you recall DeShawn Stevenson was a starter, so yes I am counting him), plus the young emerging talents of J.J. Barea and Rodruige Beaubois and there definitely aren't enough minutes to go around for all the players that want to. The addition of Brendan Haywood and Tyson Chandler definitely give Dallas the interior presence that Erick Dampier and DeSagana Diop didn't in previous years.
Overall, the main issue with this matchup is containing Dirk and exploiting mismatches due to Dallas's awkward rotations. Basically, my strategy remains essentially the same, attack Jason Kidd on the defensive end. When Kidd is on the floor, he has to guard somebody, be it Jefferson, Parker, or Ginobili, whoever has Kidd guarding him on defense, he just has to keep attacking. We all know that Kidd isn't stopping anyone anytime soon, so that's the kink in the armor. Of course with the likes of Brandon Haywood and Tyson Chandler patrolling the paint, there is a more legitimate shot blocking presence than Erick Dampier, so that's something. That being said, Caron Butler isn't really comfortable as an SG and Shawn Marion is just not comfortable on the court much anymore, still, we shouldn't be comfortable, the Mavericks are still a legitimate threat and good team, good enough to knock us out of the playoffs again if we're not at our top game. Here's to hoping Dirk sees a bit of time at center, especially since I don't relish the fact that we have to contain so many offensive weapons (Dirk, Butler, Terry, at the very least), while I like the matchup overall, it's not one I particularly look forward to immensely. Still all-in-all, I think we have a good shot.