Saturday, May 7, 2011


If you followed the postgame from last night's Game 3 of the Mavericks/Lakers series, one thing definitely stands team has ever come back from a 0-3 series deficit. 98-0. That's what the Lakers will have to ignore coming into Game 4 of the 2nd round in Dallas tomorrow. But like with all things in life, there's always a first with everything.

Granted, I've been a Dallas fanboy since the days of Jason Kidd (1st time around), Jim Jackson, Jamal Mashburn, and the once very lowly Mavericks. I want the Mavericks to win it all each and every year. I've been through the banter of the '06 Finals, the jokes of Ericka Dampier, the "I hate this and that" about Dirk and Cuban and Dallas, etc etc etc etc. It's old news to me. Even the latest knock from a friend via Facebook..."if any team's gonna squander a 3-0 lead in the NBA playoffs, it would be the mavs." I'm sure many people are nodding to that statement, but let's just make the obvious even more obvious. We're talking about Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. Who couldn't see them coming back from 0-3 deficit against any team?

Jalen Rose (ESPN analyst) said it was a done deal and gave the Mavericks a premature congratulations last night. I may be a Dallas fanboy, but I'm a realist too. I'll just go ahead and name one player from each team that I think will dictate Game 4 (and even rest of the series barring a Mavericks sweep).

Lakers: Shannon Brown.

If there was a 7th Man of the Year Award in the NBA this guy would have won it the last two years. He's a high-energy and high-flying guy off the bench that has yet to really establish a presence with the Laker's second unit. But he's no slouch. We saw in Game 3 that he's capable of creating havoc for the Mavericks (4-8 for 10 pts 3 rebs in 19 mins). He attacked the glass well, took it strong in the offensively paint, and played sound defense against Game 2's hero JJ Barea. Everyone's been ripping on the Laker's big men this series, but the Lakers need their guards desperately to step up and Brown is the key. He needs to be the catalyst and an instant sparkplug on the offensive end. Too many times have I seen him passively try to facilitate an offense that is dying for a true scorer. He's shooting just fine (44% FG% in postseason) but scoring just 6 points/game won't cut it. If the Lakers want any chance of winning, Brown needs at least 12 points and a few steals. A dunk here or there would greatly help his confidence too.

Dallas Mavericks: Peja Stojakovic.

Peja, aka the Serbian Sniper, has been everything and than some for $402,065 that the Mavericks invested in him in January. Mark Cuban might be super rich, but that doesn't mean he's a dumb times (a la Ericka Dampier's 7 year/ $73 million). But unlike Dampier, Stojakovic has produced in the playoffs and was easily Game 3's unsung hero (11 pts 3-4 3pt in the 4th quarter). However, in order for the Mavs to move onto the Western Conference Finals, the Mavs will be relying not only on Peja's impact on the offensive end, but even more importantly on the defensive end. I saw in the First Round (against Portland) some of the troubles that Peja had on the defensive end in guarding the likes of Gerald Wallace, Brandon Roy, and even LaMarcus Aldridge. He seemed to be out-worked, out-hustled, and always a step behind. Even during the first two games in LA, I would cringe whenever Kobe found a mismatch with Peja in an isolation situation. But to my surprise in Game 3, he stepped up and stepped up big when the Mavericks needed him the most. That 4th quarter was all about how Peja was able to handle Lamar Odom off the drive (and well...yes his barrage of 3 pointers). So while even his sweet jumper is a vital component to a deep playoff run, Stojakovic will need to step up his defensive prowess to keep his minutes on the floor. Even with rumors of Caron Butler coming back if the Mavs make a deep run, I don't see that happening if Peja is playing lights out on both ends of the floor. Plus, Caron looks good in his suit. Remember, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Though I don't see a sweep this series, 99-0 is easily attainable for the Dallas Mavericks. If the Lakers do end up coming back, I'll make sure to delete this post and pretend like I never jinxed the Mavericks.


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