|I'm the Larry Bird for the new millenium, bitches.|
Game 1 has passed by and what a game that was. You could call it the Dirk Nowitzki Experience, where whatever Oklahoma City put up did not stand a chance. Even their coach, Scotty Brooks, said it. Lost in the DNE was that Kevin Durant was not all too shabby either.
After the jump is the much belated preview of the NBA Western Conference Finals.
Schedule of Games: All games in Eastern Time
Game 1 -
Game 2 - Thu May 19 Oklahoma City at Dallas 9:00PM
Game 3 - Sat May 21 Dallas at Oklahoma City 9:00PM
Game 4 - Mon May 23 Dallas at Oklahoma City 9:00PM
Game 5 * Wed May 25 Oklahoma City at Dallas 9:00PM
Game 6 * Fri May 27 Dallas at Oklahoma City 9:00PM
Game 7 * Sun May 29 Oklahoma City at Dallas 9:00PM
Unlike the Eastern Conference, it's simply an alternating setup and no events that could possibly disturb the cycle are present. What helps is their proximity to each other makes it conducive. (Oklahoma City is just three hours away from Dallas-Forth Worth.)
Regular Season Matchup: Dallas won the first two meetings before Oklahoma City got theirs in their final encounter. Interesting to note that all games came before the trade of Kendrick Perkins. In addition, both of Dallas' wins have been with Caron Butler on the roster before he got hurt, and Dirk did not play in that final meeting.
What should Dallas do? Feed Dirk. The German shooting machine has totally been as efficient, like what the German stereotype of their industry. The Thunder are befuddled as they try to defend him in Game 1. JJ Barea has been running rings as of late and in Game 1, OKC failed to keep him in check. Dallas also has been great with the three-pointer, predicated on by Jason Terry and Jason Kidd.
What should Oklahoma City do? Still, the major elephant in the room remains to be the Westbrook shot selection process. Russell needs to make those shots and at the same time, find opportunities that would make Durant feel comfortable with. Focus on the defensive end is also a need, considering all their games against the Mavs have been high-scoring affairs.
X-Factor/s: A pair of guards off the bench for both teams need to contribute well for the success of both teams. On one side, JJ Barea has been great in the playoffs, while James Harden for the Thunder has been the offensive oomph from the bench, considering they start off with Thabo.
The pick: Dallas in 6. Dirk is primed for a return run to the Finals. This is another learning experience that would be for the benefit of Durant, Westbrook and the others, knowing that next season is the leap to becoming one of the favorites to win the title in 2012.