The Dallas Mavericks have introduced the franchise’s spoils from the free agency period in a press conference. OJ Mayo, Elton Brand, Chris Kaman, Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones were all presented to the media as a group for the first time. An always exuberant Mark Cuban expressed his delight in signing to the group.
“With Chris and OJ available, we took a calculated risk….these players want to win…Our plan is to have these guys in a Mavericks uniform for a long, long time.”
– Mark Cuban, Owner of the Dallas Mavericks
With the introduction, the Mavericks have set their roster for the 2012 season. The additions come after a somewhat tumultuous off season, where they lost floor leader and point guard Jason Kidd to the New York Knicks. This was preceded by an early exit from the playoffs from the then defending NBA champions. However, Rick Carlise says that the team has rebuilt, added new pieces and will be back on the way up
“We’re excited about this group of guys…we’ve got a little bit of everything here”
-Rick Carlise, Mavericks coach
As Carlise said, the Dallas Mavericks are most certainly welcoming these new additions with open arms.
An efficient 31 points from Dirk Nowitzki was not enough to prevent the Thunder from taking a 2-0 series lead as the Oklahoma City Thunder won their second game at home. Russell Westbrook had 29 points while Kevin Durant had 26 but struggled with his handle as he turned the ball over 7 times. But he made up for it as he pulled down 10 rebounds. Kendrick Perkins also had a nice offensive night, with 13 points and 6 rebounds. James Harden had 15 off the bench.
“This was a physical, intense, hard-fought basketball game. I’m proud of our guys for hanging in there. Dirk is the most amazing player I’ve ever seen but we stayed with it and we did a little better job on him in the second half. Both teams made runs in the first half and that second half was just a fight.”
— Thunder head coach Scott Brooks
Barring Nowitzki’s 31, there was not a great deal of offensive punch from any other Mavericks. Shawn Marion had 15 while Jason Terry had 13 off the bench but missed two shots to win the game.
Final score: 98-99 OKC win (OKC leads 1-0)
Despite a strong performance from Dirk Nowitzki down the stretch, Kevin Durant stole the headlines as he bounced home the difficult jumpshot to steal the game from the Mavericks. The Mavs looked set to win it after two free throws which put them up by one but Durant was able to make the winner despite the defence of Shawn Marion draped all over him. With no time outs remaining, Jason Kidd inbounded the ball to Marion, but he was unable to get a shot off before time expired.
Jason Terry kept the Mavericks in the game during the first half and finished with 20 points for the game. Jason Kidd also quitely have ae good game with 8 points, 7 steals, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. James Harden peformed well in his return to the lineup after the hit from Metta World Peace and recieved a warm welcome from the OKC crowd.
Despite a poor shooting performance, Durant still ended up being the difference in the end as he scored 25 points. Westbrook had 28 to lead all comers in a terrific performance.
San Antonio (1) vs. Utah (8)
Game 1 – Sun. April 29, Utah at San Antonio, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN
Game 2 – Wed. May 2, Utah at San Antonio, 7 p.m., TNT
Game 3 – Sat. May 5, San Antonio at Utah, 10 p.m., TNT
Game 4 – Mon. May 7, San Antonio at Utah, TBD
Game 5 * Wed. May 9, Utah at San Antonio, TBD
Game 6 * Fri. May 11, San Antonio at Utah, TBD
Game 7 * Sun. May 13, Utah at San Antonio, TBD
Things are much different this time around for the San Antonio Spurs. This time they’re not limping into the playoff but instead have all their superstars healthy and raring to go. Tony Parker is playing MVP basketball, Manu Ginobli has embraced his new role off the bench with vigor and Tim Duncan is doing the same he has for years, if only slower. The Jazz have the tall timber that could bother the Spurs in Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap brusing their way through the lane. With no true defensive center left in San Antonion, this is where the Jazz can win the series. But the electric offense of the Spurs should be too much for the Jazz. Expect a reasobably easy series win here.
Oklahoma City (2) vs. Dallas (7)
Game 1 – Sat. April 28, Dallas at Oklahoma City, 9:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 2 – Mon. April 30, Dallas at Oklahoma City, 9:30 p.m., TNT
Game 3 – Thu. May 3, Oklahoma City at Dallas, 9:30 p.m., TNT
Game 4 – Sat. May 5, Oklahoma City at Dallas, 7:30 p.m., TNT/R
Game 5 * Mon. May 7, Dallas at Oklahoma City, TBD
Game 6 * Thu. May 10, Oklahoma City at Dallas, TBD
Game 7 * Sat. May 12, Dallas at Oklahoma City ,TBD, TNT
Surely the Thunder were hoping for an easier first round matchup than with the reigning champs. Championship experience runs deep in the roster and the Mavericks pose a real threat to the Thunders potential championship run. But the absence of defensive anchor Tyson Chandler, who now makes port in the Knicks key, will seriously effect the Mavs chances. Whether ageing center Brendan Haywood can stand in the way of the likes of Russel Westrook and Kevin Durant will hold one of the main keys to the series. Also, Serge Ibaka will have to stay with Dirk Nowitzki. Same thing with Shaun Marion on Kevin Durant. It’s there for the Mavs to win, but the Thunder will probably go on to the second round out of this one.
L.A. Lakers (3) vs. Denver (6)
Game 1 – Sun. April 29, Denver at L.A. Lakers, 3:30 p.m., ABC/R
Game 2 – Tue. May 1, Denver at L.A. Lakers, 10:30 p.m., TNT
Game 3 – Fri May 4, L.A. Lakers at Denver, 10:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 4 – Sun. May 6, L.A. Lakers at Denver, 9:30 p.m., TNT
Game 5 * Tue. May 8, Denver at L.A. Lakers, TBD
Game 6 * Thu. May 10, L.A. Lakers at Denver, TBD
Game 7 * Sat. May 12, Denver at L.A. Lakers, TBD, TNT
Well the Lakers got here. And if it wasnt for Ron Artest’s flailing elbows, they would of arrived in one piece. Playoffs seem to turn this team into another creature. It’s said so often, but the Lakers are built for the playoffs. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol give them unmatched size and now with Ramon Sessions running the point, there’s even an element of speed in Lakerland. However, Sessions’ number one task will be to slow down rocket point guard Ty Lawson, who could very well claim to be one of the All Stars of the second half of the season. But Bynum’s improved low post play and rebounding will be the key here. There’s simply noone who can match up with him in the league, let alone on the Nugget’s roster. Look to him to have a big series and possibly an opinion changing playoffs as the Lakers get the win here.
Memphis (4) vs. L.A. Clippers (5)
Game 1 – Sun. April 29, L.A. Clippers at Memphis, 9:30 p.m., TNT
Game 2 – Wed. May 2, L.A. Clippers at Memphis, 9:30 p.m., TNT
Game 3 – Sat. May 5, Memphis at L.A. Clippers, 4:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 4 – Mon. May 7, Memphis at L.A. Clippers, TBD
Game 5 * Wed. May 9, L.A. Clippers at Memphis, TBD
Game 6 * Fri. May 11, Memphis at L.A. Clippers, TBD
Game 7 * Sun. May 13, L.A. Clippers at Memphis, TBD
The Clippers gave up homecourt advantage in the dying stages of the regular season and that could very well make all the difference as the Grizzlies building is one of the more hostile environments around the league. It’s a difficult building to win in, as the Spurs showed last time around. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin form a dangerous duo and one that could very well win the series for the Clippers. However, if the bustling Zach Randolph can get Blake into foul trouble early, then the Clippers could be in a bit of trouble. Paul is one of the better clutch performers in the league and the matchup between him and Tony Allen during crunch time is something to look forward too. The Clippers don’t really have anyone to match up with Rudy Gay, the hard running and slashing guard likely to cause some headaches for the Clippers. This one is almost too close to call, but the edge goes to Lob City in this one.
Carmelo Anthony’s 42 points 9 rebounds and 5 assists were not enough for the Knicks to defeat the Miami Heat in a potential first round preview. While Carmelo was huge, there was little help to be had from the rest of his team, with only J.R Smith reaching double figures. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade carried the Heat, scoring 29 and 28 points respectively. Chris Bosh also finished with 16, but more importantly out rebound Tyson Chandler as he played the center position, pulling down 14 boards.
Three players scored 20 points or more and Pau Gasol knocked down two clutch back to back threes in overtime as the Lakers swept the series between themselves and Dallas. With Kobe Bryant still ancient, the Lakers’ offense hardly struggled without him, albeit it did require big games from unusual sources. Dirk Nowitzki had 24 points but shot just 9-28 from the field. Jason Terry also had 21 points off the bench.
Rajon Rondo had 20 points and handed out 16 assists as the Boston Celtics cruised to a win against the Charlotte Bobcats. With the Big Three staying home for the game, it was left to the younger brigade to take care of business. They did not disappoint, with Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo all scoring 20 points. Greg Stiemsma swatted 6 shots for the Celtics. Gerald Henderson also had 22 for the Cats.
After taking down the Boston Celtics, the Toronto Raptors claimed another top Eastern scalp as they defeated the Atlanta Hawks by 18 points. Demar DeRozan had 23 points but the Hawks shot themselves in the foot, only hitting one three for the entire game. Josh Smith lead all scorers with 26 points on 11-20 scoring.
The Detroit Pistons pushed the Bulls to overtime but could not finish the game off as they lost by six. Rodney Stuckey lead all with 32 point. Derrick Rose continued to struggle in his retun, scoring 24 points on 9-22 shooting. Joakim Noah also had 20 points and 17 rebounds including a phenomenal 13 offensive rebounds. 4 starters played 20 minutes plus for the Bulls.
The Orlando Magic got the win butlost another bigman as Glen Davis went down with a big knee. The injury leaves the Magic with only one slight tall player left in Ryan Anderson. Jameer Nelson had 21 and 9 assists as well as 9 rebounds to lead both teams.
Antawn Jamison had 21 for the Cavs.
Marcus Thornton Knocked down the elbow jumper to win the game with 3.4 seconds left. Thornton had 20 points to go along with the game winner. Wesley Matthews was the highlight for the injury torn Trailblazers, scoring 31 points on 8-10 shooting from downtown.
The New Orleans Hornets had a hige upset as they beat the Memphis. Rudy Gay had 24 points in the loss while Eric Gordon lead the Hornets with 18. Carl Landry had a double double off the bench registering 16 points and 11 boards.
Afflalo and Ty Lawson both dropped twenty points and Andrew Miller hadned out 11 assists off the bench as well as 7 boards as the Denver Nuggets defeated the Houston Rockets by a comfortable 15 points. Chase Budinger had 19 off the bench for the Rockets.
The Toronto Raptors got a giant upset as they beat the Boston Celtics, ending the Celt’s 4 game winning streak. DeMar DeRozan had 22 to lead the way for the Raptors, on 13-13 shooting from the free throw stripe, while Rajon Rondo’s assist streak continued as he handed out 12 of them.
Marshon Brooks had 22 points and Gerald Green had 23 off the bench as they handed a loss to the seriously slumping Sixers. The 76ers were outscored 32-23 in the last quarter as the were overwhelmed by a determined Nets team. Jrue Holiday had 19 for Philadelphia.
Tracy McGrady had 11 points on 5-7 shooting and was a +31 on points differential as TMac and the Hawks went to Orlando and came out with the win. Filling in for the sizable absence of Dwight Howard, Glen Davis had 16 points and 9 rebounds to lead the Magic.
12 of the Pacer’s players came onto the court and all but 2 scored as the Pacers took down the Cleveland Cavaliers by 19 points. Danny Granger had 18 to lead all scorers while Omri Casspi had 14 for the Cavaliers.
The Washington Wizards found a solid brick wall awaiting them in Madison Square Garden as the left New York with their tail between their legs, losing by 38 points. JR Smith had 23 points in the huge Knick’s win, as Steven Novak, Carmel Anthony and Baron Davis all had 18 points apiece. Jordan Crawford had 17 to lead the Wizards, by shot appallingly, as did most of the Knicks team as they shot 28 percent from the field.
Dexter Pittman had 16 points off the bench and 11 players scored for the Heat as they beat the Charlotte Bobcats. LeBron James also had 18 points to lead the Heat. 2nd year forward Derrick Brown had 21 points to lead the Cats.
Brandon Jennings’ 20 points and 10 assists as well as Drew Gooden’s 26 points led the playoff chasing Bucks to a victory over the Detroit Pistons. Rookie point guard Ben Knight had 25points to lead the Pistons.
Paul Millsap had 17 and Al Jefferson had 19 but it wasnt enough as the Jazz lost to the New Orleans Hornets. Eric Gordon had 25 to lead the Hornets.
The Phoenix Suns stayed hot in the race for the playoffs as they took down fellow competitor Houston by7 points. Marcin Gortat had 20 points in a captivating, and at times fiery, duel with fellow international Luis Scola. Scola had 21 for the Rockets while Goran Dragic had 22 points and 7 assists.
Kevin Durant had 29 points and pulled down 9 rebounds while Serge Ibaka blocked 7 shots as the Thunder cruised to a routine victory over the Sacramento Kings.
Andrew Bynum matched his rebounding numbers with scoring as he poured in 20 points and 8 rebounds as the Lakers solidified their place in the playoffs. Still without Kobe, Matt Barnes had 24 and 10 to help fill the void. Andre Miller had 20 to lead the Nuggets.
Delonte West and Dirk Nowitzki had 21 and 24 points respectively as the Dallas Mavericks beat the Portland Trailblazers by 3. Nicolas Batum had 20 points for the Blazers in the loss.
Both Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings flirted with triple doubles as the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Washington Wizards by 14. Jennings had 19 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds while Monta had 17, 6 and 5. The Wizards proved once again unable to hold up over the stretch. Jordan Crawford led the Wiz with a game high 23 points.
Goran Dragic had 21 points and Marcus Camby had 12 points and 11 rebounds as the Houston Rockets upset the Chicago Bulls 99-93, despite Luol Deng’s 24 points. The Rockets shot 78 percent from downtown as they beat the Bulls in a big win for their playoff hopes.
The Memphis Grizzlies halted the Oklahoma City Thunders winning streak at 6 games as 6 players scored in double figures. O.J Mayo had 22 points off the bench to lead both teams as the Grizzlies continue their push for a top four seed.
Randy Foye’s 8 three pointers and 28 points along with Blake Griffins 15 points and 16 rebounds led the Clippers to a 19 point win over the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs didn’t offer too much resistance, Nowitzki scoring 19 points to lead the Maverick team.
Tyreke Evans had a near triple double with 24 points 10 rebounds and 7 assists as the Sacramento Kings dealt a big blow to the Wolves playoff hopes, winning by 8 in Sacramento. Kevin Love surprisingly failed to post a double double but still had 23 points for the TWolves.
Paul Millsap’s efficient 31 point game on 14-20 points led the Utah Jazz over the Portland Trailblazers and Wes Matthews 33 points. LaMarcus Aldridge had 27 points in the loss, while Gordon Hayward had 20 points for the winners.
Who would you rather coming off your bench? Jason Terry or James Harden? Probably a year or less ago, a certain Lamar Odom and possibly even Jamal Crawford, but trades to different teams and different teams have seemed to knock them off the list. These two great players are prime examples of how a player can’t play out of a certain system, that often that can be the reason for their success.
Jason Terry would probably have the edge here on a pure filling up the bucket. He can come off the bench and knock down 5 shots on end, and on a team that struggles for offensive diversity, this can be absolutely vital as shown by his phenomenal series against the Lakers. Hardens outside shot is certainly improving, but Terry gets the points here.
Both have great prowess in this area, especially on the pick and roll. Terry to Nowitzki on the pick and pop is something that has been heard more then a few times. But lets see Terry get Kendrick Perkins a basket (as much as I love Perk for his work at the C’s, he’s far from an offensive force) the way that Harden can. Harden has a distinct advantage here, and with two superstars in Westbrook and Durant, it’s a common site to see Harden making the plays towards the end of a game. Fear the Beard, Harden gets the points here.
Terry is an undersized defender but works hard to get into the passing lanes. But one on one, he cannot really match up with the likes of Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade. That said, he went through both of them to win a NBA championship, so maybe he’s a much better defender then I give him credit. James Harden is quite a competent defender and he gets the advantage here, if only because of his size.
This cliché of an ‘x-factor’ is something that is thrown around quite a bit, but truly is something needed when coming off the bench, especially as early as some of these guys do. There’s no chance to warm up, no chance to put up a couple of shots before it counts, and you’re usually thrust into the breach to try and stop a run, or build a lead. Far from an easy task. For this pure ability to come off the bench and change a game, Terry has to have the advantage.
It’s a difficult decision to make. Terry is probably a more explosive scorer, and yet Harden is more consistent and gives up less on the defensive end. It almost depends on what the team needs, and in this case they fill a role for both their teams. When the Mavs need scoring other then Dirk, they look to Terry. When the Thunder want someone at the point who is a bit more level headed than the likes of Russell Westbrook, Scott Brooks turns down his bench and points at Harden. However, on my team, I cant go past the scoring of Jason Terry, so he is my pick.
Will the Suns make the playoffs? Their recent run has some believing that led by a Fountain of Youth drinking Steve Nash and a double-double big man in Marcin Gortat that this is a possibility. And the Suns have got the second best record after the break, falling short of only the East leading Chicago Bulls. However, do the Suns really have the depth to keep this up? Jared Dudley was only last year a solid bench player at that, and now he’s a starting shooting guard? Can he keep up a 12+ point contribution? Perhaps the key here is the play of veterans Grant Hill and Michael Redd. Of course here we’re assuming that Nash keeps up his ridiculous play, but if Hill can continue to match it on the defensive end with the best offensive players and Redd can make a solid contribution of the bench, then maybe the Suns will be getting somewhere. They’re half a game off Houston for 8th seed, and are above .500, but the teams that they have beaten during this streak are hardly top echelon, barring the Clippers and the Mavericks. Their mettle will truly be tested this week though, with games against both the Miami Heat and the still Dwight lead Orlando Magic. After that their path calms down until a big test in San Antonio. If the Suns can come out of the next 6 games having beaten one or two of these powerhouses, perhaps we will be seeing them in the post season.