I’ll be the first to say that I Dirk Nowitzki isn’t and never will be one of my favorite players. He’s a pisser if there ever was one, and there’s just something about him that, when he steps onto the court, I just don’t like. But don’t get me wrong, I have deep, deep respect for the man. Defensive deficiencies aside, I think he’s one of the most phenomenal players to ever touch a basketball. Never before has there been a player of his size with such an arsenal of offensive moves and weapons. If he were in the army, he’d be a sniper, a close-quarters combat solider and a fighter pilot – because he can kill you from anywhere on the court.
And while he may have a history of being the leader of a franchise guilty of numerous choke-jobs, he’s still a fierce competitor. He wants to win, and he’s going to grab you, push you and make you work for everything on both sides of the floor – that’s what makes him the superstar that he is. Especially considering the weight of anticipation attached to this series, along with the fact that he is facing arguably the most storied franchise in sports history – he’s going to want this one more than many others in the past (maybe even more so than the 2006 NBA Finals). That’s what playing against the Lakers does to a superstar opponent – it brings out the best in them. They see the celebrities on the sidelines, the beautiful people in the stands and the championship banners in the rafters – and they want to dethrone all of that.
However, while Nowitzki is great, he’s going to be facing one of the league’s most daunting front courts. For Lakers fans, it’s no secret that the purple and gold sport one of the top post rotations in the league – as Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom are capable of putting on all-star performances on any given night. For the Lakers to win, they are going to have to do more than simply slow down one of Dallas’ many offensive weapons, they are going to have to slow down Nowitzki – a former MVP and one of the greatest offensive players in the history of the game. Luckily for them, they have three very capable big men to throw at him, and don’t be surprised to see Ron Artest and Matt Barnes get some run time against the Big German.
Nowitzki won’t be slowed easily – he’s got every offensive weapon one could imagine, and he’s going to come out gunning to open the series. He’s the Mavericks’ catalyst game in and game out, and if Dallas has any chance at winning this series, it largely depends on Nowitzki’s production during it. So, expect an array of turnaround, fadeaway jumpers and 3-pointers from Nowitzki over the course of the series.
Next: Dallas might start off hot, but…
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