by Micah Hart
Each day until the end of the NBA Finals, we’ll be taking a look at the conventional wisdom of the moment — which team is currently the favorite to win it all, and which team should be ashamed to still be putting on their jerseys.
Here’s how it looks on the morning of Monday, May 9.
Start planning the parade:
Several things stand out in the wake of the Mavs’ total destruction of the Lakers on Sunday. Their staggering proficiency from 3-point range was amazing, as Dallas tied several NBA playoff records including most 3′s in a half (11), most 3′s in a game (20) and most by a single player (Jason Terry, nine). But the biggest achievement to me (as our main man Sekou Smith also points out): the Mavs became the first team in playoff history to have three bench players top the 20-point mark in the same game, with Jason Terry (32 points), J.J. Barea (22), Peja Stojakovic (21) each reaching the plateau.
Dallas has everything rolling right now and is making its playoff failures of the past a distant memory with each win. If the Mavs’ bench can keep turning in performances even half as good as what we saw from them in Game 4 on Sunday, they just may net Dirk Nowitzki his first NBA title.
Give it up already:
Game 4 against the Hawks showed everyone exactly why the Bulls aren’t ready to win a championship yet. When Derrick Rose doesn’t have his offensive A-game, Chicago doesn’t have enough reliable alternative scoring options. Much like Atlanta did against Orlando and Dwight Howard, the Hawks can focus their defensive energy on making Rose work for his points (34 points in Game 4, but on 32 shots) and count on the rest of the Bulls coming up short.
The Bulls may have had the best regular-season record in the NBA, but they had a much tougher first-round series against the Pacers than most expected. Now the Hawks are threatening to take them to the limit as well. Even if Atlanta can’t finish the job, the looming battle with the Celtics or Heat — both of whom play much better defense than the Hawks — will be enough to send them packing.