Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 4/28/12

Well, it’s over and the Dallas Mavericks survived another season and are ready to defend their title. Or I hope so anyway. Here we are at the playoff podium and a lot of people are questioning the tenacity that Dallas will have to fend off the foes that are after their trophy.

Last season, a lot of people had written off the Mavericks as another “one and done” team in the playoffs, but they fooled everyone and got the upper hand when the defeated the Portland Trailblazers in the first round; then took on the formidable foe, Los Angeles Lakers who some thought would take the Western Conference and not only did Dallas beat them, they swept them and in good fashion. So much so that in the final game of the series, two players were ejected for stupid plays and I stress stupid, because it was and they went home, but Dallas moved on.

The next round of play found Dallas going up against another opponent who was a heavy favorite to win the West as well, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Now not to take anything away from OKC, but Dallas wanted it more and they took the title of Western Conference Champion and now they just had to take on the Eastern Conference Champion and try to win the almighty Larry O’Brien Trophy to be declared the World Champs.

Well everyone really felt that Chicago would win the East and face the best of the West, but that was not so; as it turned out Dallas was the best of the West and Miami took the East and it was a re-match of the 2006 Finals all over again and that’s all everyone talked about, could Dallas overcome the embarrassment from the 2006 Finals to win it this time around.

The Mavericks answered that question without a doubt, even with Dirk sick, hurt and having to bandage his finger in a splint type contraption, nothing was going to hold this team down. They had worked all season long for this moment in the sun and they were going to bask in it and they did. Granted, it took them six games to do it in, but they did it and won on Miami’s home court which is kind of fitting if you ask me. But that was then and this is now.

Again, the naysayers are questioning even Dallas being in the playoffs since they let Tyson Chandler, JJ Barea, DeShawn Stevenson, Caron Butler and Corey Brewer go and this team didn’t have the defensive mind that last seasons team had, well I beg to differ.

A lot of things have to be factored into this season,  to start with only playing 66 games instead of 82, the cramming of games into the weeks, more back to back games and then throw in back to back to back series as well, that takes a toll on any team no matter what age that team is and Dallas was no different than any other team out there this season, but you have to look at the numbers to make a good determination as to the story that this team is and was not as defensive as last season’s team.

Granted, Chandler gave the team a defensive mood and the rest of the team followed his lead because that’s the type of player he is and that it and was the biggest thing that we lost when he was let go, but the team as a whole has stepped up in other areas on the defensive end. As a matter of fact, out of 30 teams in the league, Dallas is at #9 in defensive numbers in the league.

They averages 42.8 rebounds per game and allowed their opponent 44 rebounds per game; they averaged over 5 blocks per game when they allowed their opponent to have 4 blocks per game. Dallas averaged 8.55 steals per game and their opponents averages 8.51 steals per game, which when you compare it to other teams this season, Dallas is right there with the best of them and not much off the team from last season.

Now on the offensive end, Dallas ranks 19 out of 30 due to the low scoring this season. Dallas averaged almost 96 points per game and allowed almost 95 points per game. They shot 44.3% from the field where their opponents shot 43.4% from the field. As far as the three point shooting, Dallas and their opponents averaged around 34% and Dallas got the edge from the free throw line by converting a little over 77% of their attempts into points, where as their opponents averages 75%. Dallas and their opponents averaged almost 21 assists per game, so the numbers are good for the type of season they had.

One of the main keys in winning, well besides scoring and stopping the other team from scoring, is protecting the ball and Dallas was #6 in turnover ratio by committing an average of 14 turnovers per game, but forcing almost 15 turnovers per game on their opponent, not bad.

So now the season is over and even though Dallas did good for their last two home games against Houston and Golden State, they faltered on the road against Chicago and Atlanta, but to only lose to Chicago by 10 points and not have either Jason Kidd or JET on the court, even though it was a loss, it was not that bad of a loss. When Dallas stepped on the court last night to face Atlanta, they were 1 game behind Denver and if they wanted to move from #7 to #6, they had to beat the Hawks and hope that Denver lost; well neither of those things happened, so Dallas is at #7 and will face Oklahoma City in the first round.

It doesn’t matter who you play, it’s how you play; and if you have the right mindset, you can beat anyone, anywhere, any time of the day and that’s the way that Dallas has to look at it. There are no more excuses, the regular season is over with, they got rid of a distraction, everyone there wants to be there and they are ready to take on the world, and that’s what is going to happen.

Dirk and company are ready, Dirk has had plenty of rest and even though Charles Barkley wrote him off earlier in the season, his numbers don’t lie either and when you compare his season numbers to his career numbers, there is not that much of a  difference and in some categories, his season numbers are better than his career numbers. But the main thing is, he is ready and that’s all that matters.

And with that, I will bid you a good night and say good luck and let’s go Mavs, beat the Thunder!

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