You Live to Fight Another Day (Dallas Mavericks)

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Last night, the Dallas Mavericks were on the brink of getting swept by the Houston Rockets. Thank goodness J.J. Barea kept the Mavs’ energy level up the entire night to move on to Game 5.

You would think the Mavericks would shut it down after being down 3 games, riddled with the injury of Chandler Parsons, and the sudden absence of Rajon Rondo from the Mavericks lineup. However, Dallas put all the pressure on their back and rose to the challenge.

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Coach Rick Carlisle and Rajon Rondo

 

I, personally, believe the Rockets took it easy on the Mavericks in order to close out the series in their hometown of Houston this Tuesday. One thing for certain is that Mavs fans can breathe a sigh of relief after avoiding being a victim of the dreaded, playoff series sweep.

A major part of the Mavericks’ new energy level can be attributed to the dismissal of Rajon Rondo. Bad blood between Coach Rick Carlisle and Rondo has affected the chemistry of the Mavericks’ success. Due to both individuals possessing an NBA championship, this most likely created a “proud” energy among the two. Although Rondo is a champion on the player level, he has found it very difficult to buy into Carlisle’s “championship-formula” on the coaching level.

“Mavs fans can breathe a sigh of relief…”

From the outside-looking-in, the Mavericks still have a chance with Rondo out of the picture. The only problem is our matchups. Dwight Howard has outplayed Tyson Chandler every night of this series. James Harden will always be an issue against our guards; although, Al-Farouq Aminu did a great job on defense last night. Lastly, Corey Brewer and Josh Smith are willing to be the X-factor in this series.

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Al-Farouq Aminu

Dallas has met a Houston team that can go toe-to-toe with them in every position. If this series extends to Game 6 or 7, Houston may need to close this out as soon as possible. Dallas is playing desperate, which is bad news for the Rockets.

Go Mavs!

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Re-Fueling the I-45 Rivalry (NBA)

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A couple of days after the Dallas Mavericks acquired Chandler Parsons from the Houston Rockets last summer, I submitted a blog post titled Fueling the I-45 Rivalry. Months later, here we are. Dallas versus Houston in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

I’ve never been more relieved for the Mavs to play Houston instead of San Antonio, because the Spurs are on a mission to repeat. This well-oiled machine would have chewed-and-spit back out the Mavericks before Dallas fans could realize what happened. But, Mavericks fans everywhere can breathe now that we’re taking on the Rockets.

Before you throw jabs or anything about Dallas, I want you to know I do not have a problem with the Rockets. I just think they’re beatable. Well, especially beatable by the Mavericks.

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Dallas has had a rocky season, barely finishing with a 50-win record. Suffering from the injuries of Devin Harris and Chandler Parsons will affect the Mavs, but this series will come down to whether or not the Mavericks stop James Harden. I’m pretty sure everyone knows Harden is in the MVP race, so I’m expecting him to “enhance his resume” versus Dallas.This year is very reminiscent of Houston’s dominance in the ’94-’95 NBA champion seasons. Houston is not going to back down.

This series is calling all Dallasites and Houstonians everywhere to side with their city’s respective teams.

The matchup begins this Saturday.

Go_Mavs

Welcome Back, PG (NBA)

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Indiana Pacers G Paul George made a return worthy of a “standing ovation” Sunday versus the Miami Heat. Although the Pacers blew out Miami by 23 points, I think you would have been more in awe of Paul George’s first game back from his injury this past August.

He finished with 13 points, plus a couple rebounds and assists. Not bad for being away from the fast-paced NBA for over eight months.

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Paul George after his injury with USA Basketball in August 2014

Here’s a link to the gruesome video, if you can stomach this visual of PG’s injury.

The return of Paul George is right on time for this year’s Pacers team. The Pacers currently sit at the 9th spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture (also known as “in front of the TV” in the playoffs). With five games remaining, PG’s return might be the catalyst to fire up this team and its fans to claw their way into the playoffs.

After seeing the injury in August, I thought George would have to miss the season or even walk away from the game. However, I’m glad to see him prove me, as well as the critics, wrong. I look forward to Indiana playing their heart out for the next five games to jump ahead of Boston. Plus, the Celtics will have their hands full as they take on Cleveland twice before the end of the season. Hopefully, the Cavs sit LeBron down or Boston will be “in front of their TVs”, too.

Welcome back, PG.

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Duke/Wisconsin Championship Matchup (NCAA)

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Three weeks of upsets, busted brackets, and a dismantled quest for an undefeated season define this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Tonight, I’ll be a man of my word (and my bracket) and stick to Wisconsin to take it all. Duke is a great team, who also beat the Badgers earlier in December.

But, this is April. It’s the championship. Everything else before tonight’s tip-off does not matter at all.

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The key for Wisconsin to win this matchup will depend on getting Duke’s big men in foul trouble and stretching them out to guard the perimeter. In December, Wisconsin’s field goal percentage was about 40%. Judging from the good shooting night versus Kentucky, the Badgers should carry the same momentum into tonight’s game.

For the Duke fans out there (who mainly want to avenge Kentucky’s loss), the Blue Devils still have a chance to cut the net when the buzzer sounds. Jahlil Okafor will be the catalyst for the Blue Devils to control the game. If Okafor has a great game, Duke’s team will follow suit.

The length of Duke’s big men will be a great match for Wisconsin, so I expect Frank Kaminsky to get more physical than Saturday’s game.

Duke fans should hope the Wisconsin guards have a bad shooting night, because it will be a long game if they’re feeling it.

This will be a close one with the Badgers cutting the net, 75-71.

Wisconsin v Arizona

Kentucky/Wisconsin Matchup (NCAA)

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The true excitement of March Madness has remained on the “left side” of the bracket, highlighting the Kentucky Wildcats’ success. Their 29-0 record shows their dominance, as well as their resiliency. This young Wildcats line-up has faced a great deal of opponents, but I believe Wisconsin will really be a team to ruffle their feathers (or de-claw them, since they’re “cats”). I have to admit, my bracket has Wisconsin taking it all.

Wisconsin v Arizona

Wisconsin Forward Frank Kaminsky

I’m going with experience this time around versus the young, skilled, Kentucky line-up. Kentucky is the favorite to win it all, but I have very high hopes that Wisconsin will be the team to finally give Kentucky a run for its money.

Thank goodness the Badgers didn’t make the same mistake as West Virginia.

This game will be one you will not want to miss! It’s basketball in its most competitive form and I’m excited for how the Kentucky Wildcats will rise up to the challenge of the Wisconsin Badgers.

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Let’s be honest, Kentucky is trying to make history. These young guys want the championship. Plus, this is a rematch from last year’s early departure of the ‘Cats vs. Wisconsin.

I’ll be on the edge of my seat cheering for the Badgers.

‘Til next time.