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Friday, May 01, 2009

Denver Versus Dallas Preview

Western Conference Second Round

#2 Denver (54-28) vs. #6 Dallas (50-32)

Season series: Denver, 4-0

Dallas can win if…Jason Kidd cuts off the head of the snake by containing Chauncey Billups, Josh Howard harasses Carmelo Anthony into shooting a poor percentage and Dirk Nowitzki understands that he is taller and more skilled than Kenyon Martin, so he can get whatever shot he wants to get if he is patient. The Mavericks did a good job defensively versus the Spurs in the first round but right now the Nuggets are a much deeper and healthier team than the Spurs; it is imperative for the Mavericks to play good defense, because the Nuggets still have a tendency to take bad shots when they are forced to set up in the half court, particularly J.R. Smith. I still find it hard to believe that all of Denver's knuckleheads (Anthony, Smith, Martin in particular) have simultaneously and permanently matured, so it will be very interesting to see what happens if Dallas can win game one in Denver but that will be a tall task for a Mavericks team that does not play well on the road and lost all four regular season games versus Denver.

Denver will win because…the Nuggets are finally playing defense. Their frontcourt, anchored by Nene and Kenyon Martin plus Chris Andersen coming off of the bench, does a good job of controlling the paint. Chauncey Billups played almost flawless basketball in the first round (22.6 ppg, 7.4 apg, 1.2 tpg, .655 3FG%). Carmelo Anthony got off to a slow start but finished with good averages (24.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 5.2 apg, .469 FG%); I almost fell out of my chair when I saw him actually trying to play defense and diving for loose balls. The Mavericks have all hands on deck now that Josh Howard is playing and they are peaking at the right time, so this looks like it will be a competitive series but the Nuggets have the trump card of home court advantage

Other things to consider: It is interesting to try to predict the outcome of a series when you did not expect either team to make it this far; I thought that the Spurs would have enough firepower to beat the Mavs and that the Hornets would find the form that they showed in last year's playoffs but neither of those things happened. The Mavericks showed versus San Antonio that they have a lot of offensive weapons, so they will put Denver's new found defensive mentality to the test. Denver and Dallas enjoyed a lot of success behind the three point arc in the first round, so containing the long range shooters without breaking down defensively in the paint will be important for both teams. Neither Kidd nor Billups served as the primary defender versus the opposing point guard in round one but I would assume that they will guard each other in this series, renewing a rivalry from when Kidd's Nets and Billups' Pistons met in the 2004 and 2005 playoffs.

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posted by David Friedman @ 5:12 AM

9 comments

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9 Comments:

At Friday, May 01, 2009 9:02:00 AM, Anonymous warsaw said...

I think Dahntay Jones was a bit underrated in round one, he did an excelent job on Paul. It wasn't a fluke (I've seen him blocking Garnett and getting into his mind in a Memphis-Minnesota game)

I agree that Kidd and Billups will guard each other in this series, so Jones will probably have to guard Barea or Terry.

 
At Friday, May 01, 2009 10:46:00 AM, Blogger madnice said...

Why did you expect the Hornets to regain last years playoff form? That has nothing to do with this year. The Hornets only have a few good players and only one who can gets shots for himself. Denver should have swept the Hornets.

 
At Friday, May 01, 2009 3:29:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Warsaw:

Yes, Jones did a very good job in round one. I would not have thought that he could guard Paul so effectively, though he did have a lot of support from his bigs.

 
At Friday, May 01, 2009 3:29:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Madnice:

It doesn't matter much now why I expected whatever I expected, right? That series is over.

However, it is false to say that the Hornets only have one player who can get his own shot. West is fully capable of creating a shot for himself; don't be fooled by the inflated assist numbers for Paul on West's shots: Paul is not creating every shot West takes, unless you think that passing West the ball, moving to the weak side and watching him go one on one merits getting credit for an assist.

 
At Friday, May 01, 2009 4:15:00 PM, Blogger D.H. said...

I like the Nuggs in 5 or 6. Carmelo picks up so many fouls and three point plays when he drives. He quit tossing lazy jumpers and took it to the hole hard in game 5, and that was that for the Bees. He's also turned into a nice passer out of the double. So while the Martin/Nowitzki, Billips/Kidd, and JR.Smith/J.Terry match-ups are more or less a wash, I see Melo burning Howard, Nene over Dampier, and Denver's bench out-hustling Dallas'. As you said, add in the home court advantage, and this is Denver's series to lose. But I don't think they will.

 
At Saturday, May 02, 2009 11:32:00 AM, Anonymous J said...

DH has a pretty good quick analysis, although I would have say that Billups/Kidd is *not* a wash.

Kidd has scored 20 or more points exactly 3 times in 2009; Billups exploded for two 30+ pt games to open the New Orleans series, and is clearly much more capable of putting a decisive scoring stamp on a game. Certainly Kidd remains a valuable player, a leader, somebody who can get other guys going, etc, but Billups provides the Nuggets with a major scoring threat in a way that Kidd just simply does not offer anything comparable to Dallas. And I think it's a difficult argument to make that Kidd's advantages in Asts & Rebounds make up for Billups' advantage in scoring, FG, 3Pt & FT % (where, aadmittedly, Billups' season stat advantages are fairly narrow, apart from FT%). Billups can still penetrate and get into the paint with surprising ease for a guy approaching 33, and I think will be able to give Kidd a lot of trouble by getting to the rim and scoring/going to the line/dishing to open bigs.

 
At Saturday, May 02, 2009 6:32:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

J:

Dallas does not need or expect Kidd to score to the same degree that Denver relies on Billups' scoring. I think that Kidd will be able to stay in front of Billups much better than he could stay in front of Parker (which is why Kidd did not guard Parker).

 
At Tuesday, May 05, 2009 10:48:00 AM, Anonymous No Blood No Foul said...

David - I remember visiting this site following the Billups/Iverson trade and saying something to the effect that Billups shooting was going to make the Nuggets a much better team, a playoff team, and I remember you didn't think that was possible. I think I understand where you're coming from in regards to the Nuggets - they're a fundamentally immature bunch. As a Nuggets fan myself I keep waiting for the inevitable implosion...but we're in the 2nd round and the Nuggs seem primed to crush Dallas. Dallas had good production from Dirk, Howard, and terry and they managed to limit Billups quite a bit, yet they still lost.

In other words, I told you so (LOL!), but I'm wondering if you think this bunch is for real. I keep looking at their roster as objectively as a I can and it seems like they're lacking depth at center compared to L.A. and Cleveland, but other than that they match up quite nicely. They don't have the accomplished defensive record of these other teams, but so what? That's all in the past, right?

Eagerly awaiting your opinion on this.

 
At Tuesday, May 05, 2009 1:03:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

No Blood No Foul:

My skepticism about the Nuggets' chances had more to do with my evaluation of the other teams in the West than a criticism of Billups per se--and I still maintain that if the Spurs, Jazz, Hornets, et. al had not suffered so many injuries then the Nuggets would not have finished second in the West (and thus may not have made it out of the first round).

Of course, the reality is that the Nuggets did finish second, they advanced past the first round and they are playing very well now. Billups has had a good season but he is receiving a little too much credit because some people are so fascinated by comparing him with Iverson. The biggest difference for the Nuggets this year is their overall team defense, particularly the shot blocking of Andersen and the defensive energy in general provided by the other bigs and by some of the bench players.

I picked the Nuggets to beat the Mavs in the current series but do not think that they will beat the Lakers (or Rockets) in the next round.

 

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