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The Titans of the West

4/2/2007

I know, I know, it was a big sports weekend and all that. But through the fog of NCAA, baseball, and everything else, there was really one must-see game for me this weekend and that was, of course, yesterday's Dallas vs. Phoenix.

This was the rematch of one of the greatest regular season games of recent memory.

As it turned out, this time Dallas was missing interior defender Erick Dampier, Dirk Nowitzki was hobbled for a key chunk, Josh Howard needed stitches, the Mavericks still lack a solution for Amare Stoudemire, the Suns barely missed any shots at all, and this one wasn't even all that close.

The Phoenix, win, though, set up some fantastic symmetry among this season's three best teams:

  • The Suns and Mavericks are 2-2 against each other.

  • The Suns and Spurs are 1-1 against each other, with their final meeting of the season (and a possible preview of a second-round matchup) coming up on Thursday.

  • The Mavericks have won two out of three against the Spurs, with their final matchup coming up on April 15.

I'm a believer that the most entertaining team in basketball is the Phoenix Suns. Consider that in the event they are to win the title this year, the most likely path for the Suns will be about as dreamily exciting as you could possibly imagine. First it's the NBA's other super high-scoring team, the Denver Nuggets, for a good ol' barnburner. Then it's almost certainly the San Antonio Spurs, who are entirely adult, have won the title before, and may well end the season as the favorites among bettors. If Phoenix can get through San Antonio, NBA fans would get the series they need more than oxygen: Phoenix vs. Dallas for seven games of magic.

And all that is just a warm-up for the NBA Finals.

But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

The bigger point is: There are a lot of basketball experts out there and I don't think anyone really has the foggiest what will happen in the West playoffs this year. My only conviction at this point is that no one will beat one of those big three teams except one of those big three teams.

Kelly Dwyer said it best: "Each of these teams would probably split a 10-game series against any one of the other ones."

The playoffs are only a few weeks away.