by user DRE-LO

Sometimes all a team needs is a commitment to change their mentality before they can change their approach. In this case, this commitment took place during the off-season with the permanent hiring of Avery Johnson as the head coach. Avery Johnson was well-known for being tough as nails on the defensive end for the Spurs and a vocal leader as well as on on-court general. {a la Sam Cassell}

NBA fans over the past few years were getting quite used to seeing the high-powered offense of the Dallas Mavericks tear up the scoreboard night in and night out. Unfortunately, it was only the high-powered offense of the Mavericks showing up on most nights. The Mavericks were good for 115-120 points in regulation but were just as prone to giving up 125. I would sit back, relax and enjoy the overload of offense and scoring in the good old Dallas/Sacramento series. At the same time, I would cringe at the cesspool of defense being played and realize at the end of the day that just trying to outscore the other team does not win you a championship. It will give you a 1st or 2nd round elimination.

This was the challenge for Avery Johnson as he prepared for his first full season with the Mavericks. It was to take the energy that the Mavs would normally use for offense and gear it towards the defensive end. More importantly, his challenge was to decrease the Mavs reliability on the 3 point shot.

So far, the mission's on a direct course to being accomplished.

The Mavericks own a 3-1 series lead over the Spurs because of their increased ability to win close games thanks to their new-found philosophy. The Dallas Mavericks of old would probably have had lapses on defense in key moments which would have cost them the game. Not these Mavs. We saw it when Devin Harris stripped Manu Ginoboli of the basketball in a key possession in Game 3. We saw it when Avery Johnson brought in Desagna Diop to make Brent Barry's inbound pass harder to execute.

Let's not forget that the Mavericks have focused on the intangibles in this series as well. Their free throw shooting has been impeccable. Why?

Their new-found philosophy.

The Dallas Mavericks of old would have kept firing and firing from the outside. Now, they're paying rent at the free-throw line and cashing in as well. What's scary for the San Antonio Spurs right now is that they've played well in their last two losses. They just have not been able to match up with the speed of Devin Harris, Marquis Daniels and Josh Howard. Jason Terry has been clutch and Jerry Stackhouse should have won 6th man award this year. {With all due respect to Mike Miller.

The Mavericks have found the real key to winning an NBA championship. They have San Antonio on the ropes and while I'm not counting the Spurs out, it will be a tall order to come back against a team they don't match up very well against.

Well done, Avery Johnson. Well done.


Tue 05/16/06, 1:57 pm EST

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