Dallas Mavericks – Dirk Gets Another Shot At Glory

Spirits are high right now in the “Big D” as the Dallas Mavericks have secured their second NBA Finals appearance in five years. Dallas finished off the young and improving Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Five with a 100-96 victory at American Airlines Arena on Thursday. The 4-1 series win sets up an NBA Finals re-match with the Mavericks’ 2006 opponent the Miami Heat. Dirk Nowitzki was amazing in this series and will look to continue his stellar form throughout the Finals in much the same fashion. Let’s take a closer look at the “Dirk Nowitzki Show”.

In recent years not only Dirk but the Mavericks in general have been labelled “soft” by the collective NBA community. Being guilty of MVP fade outs, a distinct lack of defense and some early Playoff exits, the Mavs have allowed the NBA public to doubt whether they have what it takes to win it all. This Playoff run certainly has a different feel however as contributions keep on coming from all areas of their roster. If it’s not Dirk’s amazing play carrying the Mavericks it’s Jason Kidd getting it done. If Kidd disappears at any stage the contributions of guys like Marion, Barea or Terry seem to come at the most prolific times. Even the aging sharp-shooter Peja Stojakovic is finding time to shine as these Dallas Mavericks seem to be on a mission.

Let’s focus on Dirk though and drink in his statistical wizardry throughout the recently concluded Thunder series.
Dirk Nowitzki
32.2 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.6 APG, 55.7% FG, 96.7% FT in 40.6 MPG.
To say Dirk has been amazing probably doesn’t quite cut it as it’s not just what he is doing so much as when he does it. Nowitzki has made a myriad of tough shots at crucial times during these Playoffs and doesn’t look like slowing down any time soon. Before the Oklahoma series began it was common opinion that the Thunder big man rotation of Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison and Kendrick Perkins could provide the necessary resistance to contain Nowitzki. This was clearly not the case and poses the question of who for Miami can stop this guy?
Taking a look at NBA.com’s Statscube one can notice two glaring shortfalls on offense for Nowitzki vs. the Miami Heat during the regular season. While rarely getting inside the lane during those two games, Dirk certainly shot well below his season average from downtown connecting on only one of nine attempts. Miami’s swarming defense and close out ability has held plenty of players below their normal output throughout the season and Playoffs.
The area of the floor that Nowitzki has attacked the most throughout this Playoff run is the mid-range. Take a look at this rather glaring shot chart from Dirk’s two games against Miami this season.
It’s clear that over this admittedly small sample size, Miami’s defense bothers Dirk when it comes to mid-range conversion. The bread and butter for Nowitzki so far in the Playoffs may be harder to come by than at any time in the past 13 games. Miami’s defense will present Dirk with a variety of defenders that can play long, physical or quick and Mavericks Head Coach Rick Carlisle will have his hands full. It’s not unreasonable to expect Miami to throw Bosh, Anthony, LeBron or even Juwan Howard at Dirk for at least small amounts of time. Dallas will need the big German to continue with his diverse array of offensive moves and maintain his hot streak to be successful.
This series is very hard to predict and it’s likely that whoever wins Game One, will go on to win the Championship for mine. One thing is for certain, if Dallas is going to win their first, then that man Dirk Nowitzki is going to have to maintain his current form and lead his team to the promised land.
Can he and his Mavericks beat the Heat? We’ll know in about six games time.

An irrationally addicted follower of all things NBA since 1986. A casual contributor on a website that only has one contributor. Will Photoshop for food and old basketball cards.