Getcha Popcorn Ready

I feel pretty ridiculous fleshing out every potential detail of the Mavs-Spurs series.  In fact, we should all feel pretty silly for trying to predict the outcome of this thing.  You can weigh advantages and disadvantages all day and all night, but this is the one series in the first round that ain’t over ’til it’s over, meaning the Mavs are decimated en route to a roster shake up, or the Spurs are dead, buried, and staked.  I simply refuse to believe that either team is finished until the final bell tolls, tolls again, and maybe even a third time.  These teams are just that evenly matched, and this series is really going to be that close.

So, Spurs in six, Mavs in six, Spurs in seven, Mavs in seven…what’s really the difference?  I’m expecting several overtimers and almost every game being decided by ten points tops.  The ball has to bounce one way or the other, but no man, woman, or blogger can rightfully say who will be left standing.

This is a series that, regardless of team affiliation, should be judged strictly on entertainment value.  Even if you find Duncan or Dirk boring on an individual basis, it’s hard to doom a slugfest between these two teams to the same fate.  So what if the offenses are meticulous?  So what if each team’s superstar analyzes each possession with the precision of BallerBot 3000?  There’s something organic in the mechanical and the robotic, even if each is more a visage of the past than the future.  Plus, robots can be completely exciting, awesome, and demanding of your attention.  This ain’t Rosie, folks.  These are Sentinels, T-1000s, Bicentennial Men, HALs, and those bots from Chopping Mall all rolled into one.  Stare into the face of Duncan and you stare into the face of annihilation; dare to challenge Dirk’s calculated primacy and risk death by numbers.  Two of the best at their respective craft, doing their thing, relatively undisturbed by the opposition.  It’s a beaut.

But it’s also ignoring Tony Parker, and nobody puts Tony in the corner.  He’s become infinitely more hateable than Duncan, and his role within the offense is at an all-time high.  To cringe at every blow-by, teardrop, and floater is to feed into exactly what many of us already know: Tony Parker is the real deal, and an elite NBA scorer.  Maybe he still relies on Duncan’s draw and shooters to space the floor, but I can count on one hand the number of players who can stop this guy, and that’s saying quite a bit.

To counter, the Mavs offer Jason Terry, Josh Howard, and Jason Kidd.  The three are everything that gives the Spurs’ defense fits, and they do it without the obvious domination of a Chris Paul.  Terry will run whoever is guarding him ragged, beating them up with Dampier screens and constant curls.  Josh Howard will surprise a lot of people with a playoff comeback, in which he isn’t so much X-factor as he is a force of nature.  Kidd will aim to prove what’s been ignored for a large part of the season: this guy is an elite point guard that can still have a huge impact on the offense.  He still sets things in motion in the half-court and on the break, and though he’s closer to the AARP than Devin Harris is, you shouldn’t neglect his impact on a game and his series based on his inability to drop 30.

This is a series that transcends predictions.  It’s just buckets of fun, and possibly the last hurrah for the recognizable forms of the only two teams to win 50 games every year this decade.  So please, fasten your safety belts, put up your tray tables, and lock your seats in the upright position – it’s about to go down, y’all.

The Mavs and Spurs tip off tonight at 8:00 EST on ESPN.

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