Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas Mavericks
American Airlines Center
5:30 p.m. PST
March 27, 2014
FOX Prime Ticket
For the Dallas perspective, check out Andrew Han hopping over to help the Mavs Moneyball crew preview the game.
1. True or false: Dirk Nowitzki has become underrated.
Kirk Henderson, MavsOutsider, (@KirkSeriousFace): False. Before the season I think it’s fair to say Dirk was pretty underrated, after coming off two sub-par seasons due to injury. But after 70 games, where he’s put up numbers within range of his career average, I think most observers and fans rate Dirk pretty fairly. At 35 years old, he’s in the top 15 in PER and a real possibility for an All-NBA team, which is just nuts.
Seth Partnow, (@WhrOffnsHppns): Not so much underrated as forgotten. We talk so much in terms of ranking players “going forward” that old lions who still got it like Dirk (and Tim Duncan) get simply taken for granted. He’s still really, really good, though he’s just starting to show his age against the very best and most athletic defenders.
Fred Katz, (@FredKatz): Yes. Clearly. We’ve talked all season about LaMarcus Aldridge’s breakout season. Well, guess what? Dirk is having an even better one. And he’s doing it at age 35. Nowitzki is a hair away from becoming the second-oldest player ever (behind Steve Nash) to have a 180 shooting season, and no one seems to be talking about it. Even with his defensive struggles, Dirk is still a top-four or -five power forward, hands down.
2. True or false: The Mavericks will make the playoffs.
Henderson: True: Dallas has a slight, slight edge, but things are going to get plenty uncomfortable for the team and fans. It’s currently a three-team race between Memphis, Dallas, and Phoenix which should come down to the Suns and Mavs. I give the edge to the veteran team anchored by a Hall of Famer, but Dallas could very easily collapse over these final few weeks
Partnow: I’ve been saying no all along, so I’m going to stick with that. I know Phoenix has the tougher remaining schedule, but the Mavs have been staying aloft with a combination of duct tape, twine and sheer Carlisle cussedness.
Katz: True. Someone tell Seth that Carlisle’s cussedness isn’t going away for the final 10 games of the year. Actually, that’s when it’s most important. It appears to be a three-team race for the final two playoff spots, but there is another scenario: Memphis, Dallas and Phoenix all make the playoffs while Portland unexpectedly drops to No. 9. I’ll go with that one.
3. Which coach would you rather have: Doc Rivers or Rick Carlisle?
Henderson: I’d rather have Carlisle. I think Doc Rivers is a top-five-to-seven coach in the league (and probably the single best player’s coach), but give Rick Carlisle the roster of the Clippers, and imagine the results. Carlisle is second only to Popovich in terms of strategic and tactical thinking, getting fantastic results out of limited rosters.
Partnow: I love Doc, but Carlisle could take Dirk, the three of us and Jae Crowder and make us competitive.
Katz: Doc is tremendous, but you could pretty reasonably say Carlisle is the best non-Popovich coach in the NBA. Rivers is right there, and mostly, it’s about personal preference of style, but I’ll take Carlisle’s craft any day.
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