I sort of made my bed this past week and now I have to lay in it. I picked the Mavs to beat the Thunder in seven games in the first round of the playoffs and it looks like I might’ve been completely out of my mind after the Mavs got embarrassed on Saturday in the worst playoff loss in franchise history.
The Mavericks hold a special place in my heart. Call me crazy, but every year I feel like they have a chance to do the impossible and win it all.
Coming into the playoffs I wouldn’t have given Dallas a chance against anyone. Especially against any of the top four teams in the West.
But, after that six-game winning streak to secure a playoff spot, I saw something in these Mavericks that I hadn’t seen all year… Heart.
The key component to finding that “heart”… was rookie forward Justin Anderson.
Justin Anderson aka Simba showed us all why he should be on the floor for long stretches of every game. His tenacity on the boards, his unmatched energy, and his passion for doing the little things is what helped these older guys find their heart.
But he was not allowed to do that last game as he didn’t receive any meaningful minutes in that disgusting game until it was too late.
When Chandler Parsons went out with his season-ending injury it was a blessing in disguise for Dallas. This allowed Justin Anderson to get minutes and allowed Dallas to see if they’d found something with their 1st round pick.
Parson’s injury has also allowed there to be more ball movement and better match-ups defensively because Parson’s was a ball-stopper on offense and Anderson is a much better defender. He just seemed to be a better fit for this Dallas team and I thought Rick Carlisle realized that.
But I was wrong.
Last game Dallas rolled out this starting lineup.
PG – D. Williams (Hurt)
G – J.J. Barea (hurt)
F – W. Matthews
F – D. Nowitzki
C – S. Mejri
How did Dallas expect to keep up with two of the top five players in the game today (Westbrook and Durant) with this lineup?
The Mavs zone was picked apart very early on and Oklahoma City won the game pretty much in the first quarter.
How The Mavs Can Shock The World:
For starters, here’s who should be the starters:
PG – R. Felton
SG – W. Matthews
SF – J. Anderson
PF – D. Nowitzki
C – Z. Pachulia
Deron Williams looks like he’ll be out with a sports hernia so Raymond Felton who has done a great job for the Mavs this year should be the obvious choice to start in his place.
J.J. Barea is out as well so instead of staying small the Mavs should get bigger. Start with Felton on Westbrook but in a couple of minutes put Matthews on Westbrook. Throwing different defenders at him may not stop him but with Westbrook you can only hope to slow him down.
Now on to the matchup of the game:
Justin Anderson vs. Kevin Durant
Obviously Durant is the superior player versus Anderson, but Anderson’s lack of court time is actually an advantage in this situation. He understands that Durant is one of the best players in the league but he’s so young and athletic that he will go all out on the defensive end and solely focus on slowing down Durant and he doesn’t have the mileage on his body to where he would tire out. He could hound Durant up and down the court the entire game. Now I don’t think he will neutralize Durant in any way but he is the Mavericks best bet at keeping Durant out of the paint.
Another big matchup to look out for is:
Zaza Pachulia vs. Enes Kanter
I have Zaza in my starting lineup tonight for the Mavs but I still think he will match-up with Kanter at some point in this game. Look for Dallas to try to keep Oklahoma City out of the paint this game as Dallas was out-rebounded 56-33 last game and they will look to make those numbers not so far apart. If Pachulia and the rest of the Mavs “big-men” can keep Oklahoma City off the glass then Dallas has a chance.
It’s a tough task but if the Mavs can somehow come out here and even up the series 1-1, then this may just be the formula to do it.
1.) Play Anderson
2.) Keep Oklahoma City off the glass
3.) Play with some heart.
Tip-off is @ 7:00 p.m. CT on TNT.
Thanks for reading.