Sunday, May 15, 2011

As The Second Round Wraps Up

I thought I'd look at the NBA Playoffs again.

I wouldn't have expected the Hawks to put up more of a fight than the Lakers. I was going to say "the Lakers and the Celtics", but looking at how the Hawks had their doors blown off by Chicago those last two games, I'm not sure Atlanta really did show more fight than Boston did, even if the Hawks won more games in the series.

I've been thinking about who the Mavericks might rather face between the Thunder and the Grizzlies. My feeling is Memphis. I know they won the season series against Dallas, and they have Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol down low, which is the kind of imposing size the Lakers were supposed to use to crush Dallas. Unlike L.A., the Grizzlies seem more committed to keeping those guys involved, possibly because Memphis doesn't have a wing scorer of Kobe's pedigree. If Kobe starts shooting too much, it's hard to reign him in, with the rings and past success and all. Memphis' perimeter guys tend to be more spot-up shooters, or guys who are less resistant to making sure the big guys get their touches.

The thing I think might help Dallas is Memphis' defense seems based on forcing turnovers, leaping into the passing lanes, taking chances. Which is great when it works, but when they gamble and lose, it leaves their defense momentarily short-handed. The Mavericks' offense is a lot about motion and quick passing, Nowitzki driving and either shooting or finding the open guy. All the passing could leave the Mavs especially vulnerable, but I have this sense that Dirk and Jason Kidd are such good passers that they'll exploit that aggressive, get Memphis defenders out position, then find the open guy. Then it's just a matter of hitting the shots. I don't expect the Mavs to shoot the way they did in the closeout game of the Lakers series, but if they can get those open shots, they'll hit them eventually. If the Grizzlies aren't forcing turnovers, I think that's going to dull them a little, because they feed off forcing those turnovers and getting easy buckets, or the frustration it generates among the opponents.