As the Mavericks prepare to try and quiet a few doubters that think they can't handle the Golden State Warriors, let's take a look at a few reasons why they could get a little payback:
- Their most intimidating player, Stephen Jackson, is in the middle of a suspension.
Jackson may not be their best player, but it was obvious during the playoffs last year that some of the Mavericks (namely Dirk Nowitzki) were a bit scared of him. With as crazy as Jackson is, you can't really blame them. But with him gone, the Warriors lose a little bit of their I'll-beat-you-with-a-sledgehammer-if-you-look-at-me-cross attitude. There's a reason Nellie named him a team captain, he knows his team has to be kind of crazy to succeed.
- Dirk is angry.
He spent all last summer stewing over what was likely the most disheartening series in his entire career. He grew a beard, he shaved it off, he stewed over the loss. A lot. Rest assured when he plays tonight, you'll see more than one fist pump and a healthy helping of his trademark sneer.
- Baron Davis isn't the same guy in the regular season.
Some guys just know how to show up in the postseason. Baron Davis was that man last year. His production went up a staggering 20% once April 22 came around. So far this year, he has played well, but shouldn't be the unmanageable beast he was in the playoffs. Davis averaged 25 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 54 percent from the floor in the first round against the Mavericks. All that from a career 41-percent shooter who has averaged a little over 16 points per games for his career adds up to him having a great postseason and the Mavs catching the wrong team at the wrong time.
- Golden State has been absolutely putrid this season.
The Warriors were on a tear entering the playoffs last season winning nine of their final 10 regular season games. They obviously used that momentum to carry them into the playoffs and ultimately dismantle the Mavericks. This season, they will come in 0-4 and, by the numbers, are playing the worst basketball in the league. The Warriors tended to be a streaky team last year, and their current streak bodes well for Dallas.
- The Mavs have legitimate post players.
Post play is the one thing that kills the Warriors. It's a big reason why the Jazz dispatched them easily in the Conference Semifinals last season. Carlos Boozer made the game look very easy, and Jerry Sloan picked-and-rolled the Warriors right out of the playoffs in five games. Even Paul Millsap had some good games despite not getting very minutes as the Warriors had fits trying to control the inside threat. Post play is one of the most consistent offensive weapons out there (see Tim Duncan) and the additions of Juwan Howard and Brandon Bass should prove to be a troublesome force inside for the Warriors.
-Scooter Hendon, Hoops Nerd