OKC, The Nicest Group Of Bandits You Will Ever Meet?!
If you were to listen to Dallas Mavericks head coach, Rick Carlisle, you would think the OKC Thunder roster is the James-Younger gang reincarnated. But I’ve had a chance to speak with just about every player on the roster and they are, to a man, a great group of guys. But, when the ball is tossed up they are willing to put it all on the line every night. Dallas on the other hand, especially without Tyson Chandler, is a soft, non-contact team that wants/expects the defense to step aside and let them do what they want. Well ladies and gents, that’s NOT playoff basketball. This time of year there’s gonna be pushing, shoving, pulling and maybe even a bit of biting if that’s what it takes to win. The team best prepared to accept this has the best chance of winning. If you compare the two rosters it’s easy to see why THIS Dallas team will lose this series in no more than five or six games.
Where does toughness come from? It comes from within, within the paint that is, and OKC has a group of guys that will get nasty on the block. Perkins and Collison are the leaders of the group, but their toughness rubs off on the other guys, particularly Ibaka and Sefolosha. And as much as all the attention is placed on Durant, Westbrook, and Harden, without the four guys I just mentioned OKC would have NO chance of winning. It’s amazing what a little toughness can do for a team. It’s something the Blazers can use a little more of and that’s not to call any of the guys soft. In fact, I don’t think our guys are soft, but I don’t think there is an over abundance of toughness either. Think about it this way, “soft” guys run from contact, “normal” guys accept contact, “tough” guys initiate contact. This team needs to get a couple more initiators, guys who are rotation guys, that will look to put bodies on people just because they have a chance to. That’s what OKC’s bigs do all game long and Dallas HATES it. And now they have taken themselves out of the game trying to “ACT” tough when the truth is, they aren’t. Which is why they will be lucky to win even one game in this series.
When this play-off series is over and the Dallas Mavericks look at what went wrong people will look at a number of quantitative factors; rebounding, shooting %, blocked shots, etc… But the truth is, this series was lost on July 1st of last year when the Dallas Mavericks, in their pursuit of a couple of big named free agents (neither of whom look to be moving to Dallas this summer,) changed their teams identity by letting Tyson Chandler and Deshawn Stevenson, the only real tough guys on the roster, WALK away in free-agency and replaced them with Vince Carter and Brendan Haywood. Not a lateral move!
My grandma used to say, “a fish in the pan, is better than ten in the bayou.” I think Dallas would agree right about now.