Monday, April 23, 2007

Dallas Hates UCLA

The popular upset pick, Golden State, did that rare thing where they actually went out and pulled an upset. The series is far from over, but the Warriors struck first in their series with Dallas tonight, scrapping and clawing their way to a 97-85 victory.

G-State had a lot of heroes tonight, including Crazy Stephen Jackson, but the W came largely thanks to a couple of former Bruins, Baron Davis and Matt Barnes.

Davis deserves the long paragraph, so we'll start with the low profile guy of the two. Barnes, sporting a hideous mohawk, was the classic glue guy in this game. In 24 minutes off the bench, he went 10-4-3 with two steals, a bunch of hustle plays, and an enormous (and ill-advised) three from the corner. When thinking about this game and all of the dangerous matchups that Dallas would face, I honestly never even considered Barnes. Not for a minute. I have a feeling Dallas didn't either, which is something they will want to rectify.

Now, as for The Baron. Wow. Which player in this game was the MVP candidate again? After watching every minute of all eight playoff games, I can tell you that this healthy, streamlined, explosive version of Baron Davis might just be the most dangerous player in the postseason. He is ridiculous right now. 33-14-8 with 3 steals, 4 threes, and a block. Are you kidding me? Baron's 19-point third quarter was a masterpiece. He is so strong that neither Devin Harris or Jason Terry can guard him. And he's so quick that Stackhouse and George don't have a prayer. Throw in his ability to simply flick his wrists and bomb 27-footers and when he's on, he's unguardable. I still can't believe how good he was in that second half.

(By the way, Barkley made a great point on Inside the NBA when he said that Dallas played right into G-State's hands by going small. I know the Mavs were trying to avoid mismatches like Jason Richardson running isos against Dirk, but they failed to realize that those same matchups would work in their favor on the offensive end. They need to play their game instead of reacting to the gameplan of an eight seed. It sends the wrong message and it is just bad strategy. Score one to the teacher tonight. We'll see what the pupil responds with.)

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