Stephen Shepperd- This San Antonio team reminds me of one those "heist" movies where each member of the gang was specifically chosen because they excelled at one area. As a group they're professionals that can manage a little bit of everything, but the whole mission depends on each one of them being the best at what they were brought onto the team to do. For the series against Dallas, Boris Diaw will be the first member of the "heist" whose talents will be called upon. While it's no secret that it's only through Dirk Nowitzki that Dallas has a shot of moving on to the next round, it should also be no secret that Diaw has been the "German Silencer" for San Antonio this season. In the regular season, Dirk shot an efficient 49.7% from the field; against the Spurs he only dropped off a little, shooting 48.4%. The difference for the Spurs is that when Boris was on the court guarding him, Nowitzki's shooting percentage dropped to 41.7%. When Diaw wasn't on the court, Dirk shot 57.7%. Nowitzki will undoubtedly get his points, but I foresee Diaw being the guy Pop calls on to halt the Mavs from ever getting close to stealing the series.
Mark Barrington (Badpierre): Unexpected happenings: The Coyote will use newly developed rotating eyes to hypnotize Travis Hale and Hale will come to believe that he is a dog, and will start barking at the Mavericks mascot every time he sees him. this malady will take several years of therapy to solve. Pop will average 26.5 words on TV interviews between the 1st and 2nd quarters, but only 8.33 words for interviews between the 3rd and 4th quarters. Carlisle will say fewer words when he's interviewed on the first break, and more when he gets the second half interview. Carlisle will attempt to look as tough as Pop, but will fail miserably. At least once in the series, Dirk will finish a drive with a floater that bangs in off the glass and Sean Elliot will call it a Streusel.
Spurs lose the first game because they lay an egg on Easter, and will sweep the next 4. Spurs in 5. Dirk will be named MVP, despite being on the losing team.
Cameron Adamczyk- Zach Lowe pointed out on a playoff preview podcast that the Spurs got a fantastic draw. The Mavericks possess nothing that is a real threat to the Spurs in terms of the way they play. The biggest--and only-- threat to the Spurs in the first round is Dirk Nowitzki, who has been spectacular this season. Dirk averages 21.7 points per game which is 1.7 points more than their second highest scorer (Monta Ellis) and 9.8 points more than their third highest scorer (Vince Carter). The Mavericks most-played lineup without Dirk averages only 7.6 points and 1.7 assists. If the Spurs play anyone-but-Dirkm they will be in a great position to take this series with little effort. I'll take the Spurs in five games.
Chris Itz - I live with a Mavericks fan and I've probably watched 15 of the last 25 games the Mavs have played with him. I enjoy watching Nowitzki play, have softened on the Mavs over the past couple of years, and without Terry there just isn't really anything left to rile me up. So, through the last quarter of the season I've been rooting for the Mavs which my roommate found strange. He hasn't come to appreciate Tim Duncan over the years the way I have Dirk, calls Tim a "confused turtle," and thinks Jason Terry is awesome. He asked me why I was rooting for the Mavs one night and I told him, "Because I want the Mavs to make the playoffs and draw the Spurs in the first round. It will be a quick and easy four game series."
I've got the Spurs sweeping he Mavs.
J. Gomez (Edg5)- Gomez wrote a great, complete preview of the series, Here is an except:
Defensively, there's just no comparison. Not only are the Spurs a better team in pretty much every area but they also seem perfectly built to stop the Mavs. Green can take Ellis while Leonard guards Marion and roams the court providing help defense. Splitter or Diaw will handle Dirk one-an-one while Duncan provides the last line of defense. The pieces don't fit nearly as seamlessly for the Mavs on the other end, which will probably force Carlisle to get creative.
Dirk will get his and one of Ellis or Calderon could cause trouble when matched against a bench guard. But unless their role players can make an unprecedented jump in production, the Spurs' defense should be able to slow down their attack and there's not much else than offense to this Dallas team.