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Western Conference Finals Preview: Mavericks and Thunder

It has taken a while but we are finally here, the Western Conference Finals. If you can remember it took Dallas only four games to send the Lakers on summer vacation and Oklahoma City punched their ticket today after winning Game 7 against the blue collar Memphis Grizzlies.

Again we have a young versus old match up, however this OKC team isn’t an inexperienced young side and Dallas is standing the test of time. Let’s break down this series and see how it will unfold.

Dallas has Nowitzki and OKC has Durant, both unstoppable and neither team has anyone who can match up against them. The only person that is going to beat them is themselves and that is very unlikely. Each team’s supporting cast is very good, the Thunder has more presence inside with Perkins and Ibaka, but I don’t expect them to dominate the boards like the Bulls did against Miami. The Mavs have a better scoring punch coming from their supporting cast with Terry, Kidd, Barea and Stojakovic all able to light it up in a short amount of time.

This series will be in the hands of Russell Westbrook, like I said in OKC’s Game 7 preview, he will have to play more like a point guard rather than a scorer. He did that in Game 7 and the Thunder came away with a comfortable win in the end. No Dallas player is going to be able to match up with Westbrook, in Oklahoma City’s case let’s hope that this doesn’t go to his head and make him think that he can take everyone on because that’s what he’ll be doing when the four Dallas players come to help on defense.

It is going to be interesting to see if Westbrook has learned anything from the last to series. OKC’s trip to the NBA Finals lies with him, but I don’t think he is at that level where he can be consistent for four games, especially against the tough veteran Mavericks.

Dallas wins the series in 5

Until next time..

D.B.

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OKC – Griz Going the Distance: Game 7 Preview

It was a seesaw of a game that the Grizzlies tied the series on. Built on runs, both teams had their chances of putting each other away, but the Grizzlies took advantage on the back of Zach Randolph which brings us to Game 7.

Based on what has happened in the entire series, this game will be a dog fight. Both teams will be out there putting everything on the line to face Dallas in the Western Conference Finals. So what do they need to do to get this win?

Memphis

Give Z-BO the ball and get out of the way! In their losses this series, not including the triple overtime thriller, Randolph took less than 20 shots, 13 in Game 2 and 9 in Game 5 to be exact. The man cannot be stopped by anyone that OKC throws at him, Memphis have to give him the ball and let him go to work.

I liked the inclusion of OJ Mayo in the starting lineup for Game 6, it gave them an extra threat on offense and possibly caught the Thunder off guard. Along with Conley he gives Memphis another true outside scoring option.

Marc Gasol by his standards had a pretty quiet game statistically last night but it did not impact negatively on the Griz, hustle plays made up for not having his usual double-double. How ever he plays really can’t hurt their chances of winning.

Tony Allen is the spark for the Grizzlies, I’m expecting him to play big minutes, give them more second chance opportunities and win those 50-50 balls. Allen and Randolph are the guys that give this Memphis team its blue collar identity.

Oklahoma City Thunder

The big disappointment in Game 6 was Kevin Durant, he started the game hot but after getting two early fouls he couldn’t get it together. If this happens again Durant needs to get himself going by taking the ball to the hole and not settling for jump shots like he did last night.

As the floor general, Russell Westbrook has to see this and help his fellow superstar out. A lot of responsibility falls on Westbrook’s shoulders, much like Derrick Rose for the Bulls, he is one of their main scoring options. He has to lead the team, play smart basketball, limit turnovers and I would like to see his assist numbers up. I don’t think he utilizes his teammates enough, especially when he has someone like Kevin Durant beside him.

Finally OKC have to do something about Zach Randolph, the man is killing them one on one on and off the block. It could be too late to try new things but just for the first quarter of Game 7 they should see how he responds to help defense or a hard double team. We haven’t witnessed Z-BO’s passing ability out of the post these playoffs, he has just been a black hole, but a very good one.

Outcome

As good as the Grizzlies have shown they can be, it is Oklahoma City’s game to lose. More specifically Westbrook’s game to lose, unless Durant shoots 3 from 14 like he did in Game 6 all the fingers will be pointed at Russell. He needs to think less on being a scorer and more on being a point guard, he is still very young and will learn this as he gets more experience under his belt but lets hope he can learn quickly for Game 7.

I have been a fan of the Grizzlies and all that they have achieved these playoffs but I will have to side with OKC going through to the Conference Finals. However I would love to be proven wrong..

Until next time..

D.B.

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NBA: Out with the old, in with the New

We knew it was coming but I don’t think anyone would have imagined it happening so quickly. The end to the veteran teams is here, whether you like it or not. We have already seen the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers crash out of the playoffs in the first two rounds.

Of the remaining teams there are two true veteran sides left, the Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics and they are doing everything they can to prolong their stay at the top of the NBA food chain.

But there will come a time where the younger sides catch up and overtake them, it may have already happened. The part after that is the most frightening because you don’t know when your team will have a legitimate chance to compete for a championship again. It is evident that the Spurs – Lakers era has come to an end (that is if the Lakers don’t get Dwight Howard) Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant cannot put up the numbers they used to when they carried their teams.

It’s sad and depressing to think that sooner rather than later we will see our favorite players taking a back seat to younger talent. As their numbers decline, playing time gets reduced and if they chose not to retire we will be able to find them in another uniform sitting on the end of the bench like Shaquille O’Neal.

But there is a light to this, with all these old guys stepping aside there will be room for new and upcoming talent to fill that void and for current stars to win some silverware that may be the only thing missing from their trophy collection. Yes that’s directed specifically to LeBron, but I would love to Dwight and Kevin Durant to win the MVP and a championship during the next ten years while they are still in their primes.

There are very bright days ahead for the NBA, I wish I could say the same for the veteran teams mentioned as it is win now or possibly lose your chance for a long time.

Until next time..

D.B.

Do you have thoughts on this topic? Reply in the comments section. We are now on Facebook click here to visit and ‘like’ our page. Follow us on twitter @hoopsweblog and subscribe to get regular updates.

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