Here Come the Western Conference Finals

In what could be one of the best series in NBA playoffs history, the Mavericks edged out the Spurs 119-111 in overtime. There were a lot of chances for both teams to put the other away. Spurs fans will argue that Duncan was fouled at the end of regulation. Maybe he was, but like I’ve said before, you can’t blame officials for losses. If you let the refs decide the game for you, you deserve to lose.

Looking ahead, I see three keys defensively for the Mavericks.

1. Don’t let the Suns attempt more than 20 three point shots or shoot better than 35% from behind the line.

In the four games that Dallas and Phoenix played this year, Phoenix was 10-22 (45.5%) and 16-24 (66.7%) on their three pointers in the games they won. When the Mavericks won, the Suns shot 7-21 (33.3%) and 6-21 (28.6%) in games they lost. Phoenix loves to drive to the basket then kick the ball out to an open player for an easy three pointer. If the Mavericks are able slow them down from the perimeter, it will be much easier to win.

2. Don’t let Steve Nash score 20 points and/or have 10 assists.

You have to pick your poison with Nash. He will torch you one way or another. If you let him score, you’ve got to limit his passes. If you’re going to double team him, don’t let him find the open man.

Looking back to the regular season matchups, Nash’s numbers in the two Phoenix wins were 25 pts, 11 assists on March 5, and 6 pts, 13 assists on April 13. In the Dallas wins, he had 30 pts, 9 assists on November 1, and 20 pts, 5 assists on December 14.

3. Outrebound the Suns

This one is plain and simple. The Mavericks won two of the three regular season games against Phoenix when they outrebounded them (55-51 and 54-44). In the one game the Suns pulled down more boards the Mavs lost. With Phoenix being one of the best shooting teams we’ve seen in a long time, you can’t let them get 2nd chances. They will burn you almost every time you let that happen.

There are some offensive keys for Dallas. I’ll talk more about that before tipoff Wednesday night.

Series prediction: Mavs in 6.

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