Tuesday, April 6, 2010
The Come Up: Playoff positioning
By Jeff "Skin" Wade
Five games to go in the regular season, and The Come Up is all about playoff positioning. Because focusing on the actual play would kind of be a drag, would it not? It goes without saying that if the last 11 games in which the Mavs have played sub-.500 ball is the norm, than it doesn’t really matter who they play, does it? But I don’t suspect that’s the case.
And it go a 'lil summin' like this:
Youth gone getcha
The OKC game Saturday night was bad for a lot of reasons. And from checking the temperature of anyone walking by me, it seems like the No. 1 thing people felt leaving that game was, “Man, I want no part of those kids.”
But you can count me in the seemingly dwindling group of folks who prefers a first-round matchup against the Thunder as opposed to a Spurs team with a rejuvenated, borderline messianic Manu Ginobili or a Portland team playing D like they’re trying to appease a god known as Daly. I’ll be called a homer for this, something Timmy Mac likes to do on the regular, but I feel like Saturday’s game revealed the hole in OKC’s rise -- youth. You’d have a hard time convincing me that Dallas doesn’t win that game if it wasn’t for the J-Kidd anomaly.
You see, in the last eight seasons (609 games), Kidd has picked up three fouls in the first half only 11 times. On Saturday night, he picked up three fouls in less than 11 minutes of floor time. That spun this game out into the outer realms. Kidd is the difference. There’s no comeback without the veteran lurking around the backcourt robbing kids not that far removed from March Madness of their ability to advance the ball in the fourth quarter. And how does 90 percent free throw shooter Kevin Durant step up and miss two when it mattered if he wasn’t rattled? It’s certainly ironic that Dallas followed up that youthful blunder with a turnover from their own kid, Roddy B, that squelched the comeback with 19 seconds to go.
The Thunder has an unbelievably bright future -- much like last year’s Portland team that didn’t see the second round. This team won’t either. Dallas could only be so lucky to get that draw. The best thing the Mavs have going for them is been-there-done-that veteran expertise, and it will go a long way in a first round where experience matters more than fresh legs because TV obligations means it will be an eternity to advance. An eternity that enables older legs to fake fresh.
The Mavs' veteran presence will emerge -- which is why they’ll get back on track in these final five games. And it starts on Wednesday against the Grizz. And if it doesn’t, than I move a inch closer to the camp saying it doesn’t matter who they play. But I don’t suspect that’s the case, now do I?