1. I had picked the Dallas Mavericks to make the playoffs this season; but I didn't anticipate that they would be fighting for one of the last spots for the majority of the season. Looking at the season there are some good things (taking control of the the Grizzlies) and some bad things (having the Nuggets give you trouble). I am worried about your more direct opponents, the Golden State Warriors. Only 1.5 games separate these two clubs, and that's with the Warriors going 3-1 in the season series. Why are the Dubs such a bad match-up?
Tim: See, I wouldn't call them a bad match-up. Now, San Antonio is a bad match-up for Dallas, railroading the Mavs twice in a massacre so bloody Quentin Tarantino would cringe watching it. But Golden State? Two Steph Curry game winners -- one of them in overtime -- and one game-changing non-goaltend.
Golden State can bother the Mavericks offense at times. They've put up a lot of points in some games, too, but with all due respect to Steph's and Klay's brilliance -- a lot of it was due to terrible, God-awful defense. Particularly in the final match-up, the Mavericks allowed open layup after wide-open layup. My eyes bled for days afterwards.The Dubs took Dallas 3-1 this season, and I get the feeling that with four more games, it might swing 3-1 the other way. The Warriors have an edge, but not a significant one. It's too bad a seven-game series between these two is near impossible.
2. Assuming Dallas does make the playoffs (and I know there are head to head games remaining against the Grizzlies and Suns), what gear change needs to happen for the team in order to play 'playoff basketball'? Or are the Mavs currently ramping up to that speed already?
Tim: Playoff basketball has arrived in Dallas for a while now thanks to how close the race has been. Playoff Dirk? I think he's biding his time. Even at 35, the man is capable of putting the ball on the floor, making a few more moves and -- perhaps most importantly in the grind-it-out nature of the NBA playoffs -- get to the foul line. He's coming off Player of the Week honors, and you get the feeling he's got just a Monster energy drink saved up somewhere for the right occasion, when his old man legs desperately need it.
3. Would it be wrong to say Samuel Dalembert had a disappointing season? I look at the Mavericks rebounding numbers and I look at my own subjective idea of who Dalembeast should be, and I see a distinct problem here. While Sam shot better than he has ever before I had the feeling that he could have been helping his team more with more glass cleaning.
Tim: He's inconsistent. Our own Josh Bowe created a hashtag for him -- #DALEMDERP -- because of his ability to do something dumb at any given moment.
But like every inconsistent player, he has two sides. Sometimes, somehow, he'll click on in certain games. After one particularly good stretch and great game, I wrote this about him. And then over the past few, he's fallen right back off his horse. We know he'll find it. And fall off. And find it.
I like Sammy D. I wish he wouldn't throw alley-oop passes to Dirk (an actual thing) or fumble more passes than Erick Dampier (probably not an actual thing). But he works hard, and he's sure a helluva lot better than the Mavericks center rotation the past couple of years. I appreciate that.
4. Where does Monta Ellis rank next to all of the other second bananas Dirk Nowitzki has gotten to play with over his career?
Tim: That's a tough question. And please take into consideration I'm a 20-year-old who has watched the Mavericks since just 2007.
But I feel confident saying he's the second-best player Dirk has played next to. JET has a championship ring. When Finley was elite, Dirk was his second fiddle, not the other way around. So I'll say second -- and until the season finishes, I won't say much else. It's still too early to crack that enigma.
As a Canadian I don't know how to feel, honoured that Steve Nash isn't a second banana, or insulted that he's not listed here? Or just be quiet and apologize. Ha ha.