04-18-2009, 12:32 AM
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4/18/2009 -Round 1 - Game 1 - Mavs vs Spurs Preview
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The Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs were so dominant three years ago that they practically forced the NBA to change how playoff teams are stacked.
Three years later, the Spurs and Mavericks have ceded that superiority.
Tim Duncan and the Spurs are the third seed, but were a Michael Finley buzzer-beater this week from dropping to fifth and starting the playoffs on the road. Dirk Nowitzki and Dallas are seeded sixth, and had to win seven of the last nine to get there.
In the Western Conference, it's now the Los Angeles Lakers and everyone else.
"But we think we're still up there," said Duncan, embarking on his 12 consecutive postseason. "We still think we have a chance."
So do the Mavericks, who renew their playoff rivalry with the Spurs starting Saturday in San Antonio. But unlike in 2006, it won't be the same meeting of 60-win titans who played to a thrilling seven-game series in the West semifinals. The Mavs prevailed, and went on to the NBA finals before losing to Miami.
Because of that semifinals series, the NBA changed its playoff rules the next season so that the teams with the best records wouldn't meet until the conference finals. Many felt robbed the Spurs and Mavericks, who weren't seeded Nos. 1 and 2 because they came from the same division, had squared off so prematurely that year.
But these days, Mavericks guard Jason Terry can't seem to turn on his TV without being reminded of the general consensus of where Dallas is now in the pecking order.
"It feels disrespectful when you watch these shows, TNT, ESPN, and they're talking, 'Walk through the Mavericks, that's who you want to play,'" Terry said. "OK. We'll see if that's who you want to play."
Dallas has been ousted in the first round in each of the last two seasons. The Spurs rebounded to win their fourth NBA title in 2007, then lost to the Lakers in the conference finals a year ago.
Both teams have four players remaining from their memorable 2006 showdown, most of whom are core players. The Spurs have Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Bruce Bowen. Still around in Dallas are Nowitzki, Terry, Josh Howard and Erik Dampier.
Last edited by ScolaFan : 04-18-2009 at 07:51 PM.