With Wednesday night's wrapup of the regular season, the playoff matchups are set. There are eight conference quarterfinal contests, and the whole shebang kicks off this tomorrow.
Because we feel that no one understands the NBA more like the way we wish we understood the NBA than the gang at Free Darko, we've asked them to write up previews of every playoff series throughout the postseason. It will help us understand what's at stake in each series, what matters, what it means for the individuals involved, their fanbases and their history. And there will also be funny, bizarre, non-linear photographs.
After the jump, our second playoff preview of the day, the series between the Dallas Mavericks and the Golden State Warriors. Looking at how everyone's reacting to the Warriors finally making the playoffs, we know what will happen when/if our Buzzsaw ever make the postseason again: Every one will pat you on the head and smile like you are a child who has soiled itself for the first time. Screw that: Go Warriors! If you want to hop in with your predictions in the comments, please do. Because we type about sports, and people expect it, our prediction is Mavericks in 5.
And now, Billups, from Free Darko, after the jump. Enjoy.
Barbaric yawp time. The Golden State Warriors. New Basketball. Positions are just constructs, man. The Atlanta Hawks have the same kind of same-type-of-dudes roster as the Warriors, but see ... they're crippled by the need to be "normative;" playing Zazza Pachulia because he's tall and Tyronne Lue because he's short. They need to join Nelly outside the box! Bringing the ball up the court doesn't make you a point guard any more than being named "Al Harrington" means you can't play center. Al Harrington can play center! Up is down. Black is white. Baron Davis' beard is running for Congress.
Don Nelson returned to Oakland in a pickup truck with his dog and a playbook called FREEDOM.
He and flattop-devotee/Dream Teamer Chris Mullin had a white boy fire sale, and Larry Bird was buying. They got themselves Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson. Armed with half a dozen cats around the same height, all with the similar skill-sets (scoring as much as possible), Nelson installed a lineup consisting of Baron Davis, Jackson, Harrington, Jason Richardson and the blossoming Monta Ellis. Average height? Something like 6'5. If they're too short then you're probably too old. They put up 120 on the regular and dare the other team to catch 'em. It ain't Super System. It's, "Fuck it, lets plays some cards."
The gang-that-couldn't-shoot-straight (so they just kept on shooting) go up against possibly the best team of the decade (he said arbitrarily).
This Mavericks team is the end result of one of the finest pieces of personnel tinkering since Michael Corleone's Spring-Christening Housecleaning. Don begat Donny Nelson, and Donny Nelson knows what he's doing. Players are valued for being the special and unique flowers that their agents tell them they are, but at the same time the boat floats whether or not Jason Terry has his chakras in place. Everyone on the Mavs seems to know: a) exactly what their role is, b) exactly what's expected of them and, perhaps most importantly, c) exactly when to bail Dirk out if he's having "one of those days."
Mavs coach Avery Johnson was a Nellie protégée, but (FACTOID) he also spent time studying the Drunken Monkey style of San Antonio's laffaholic Gregg Popovich. Johnson's kids do fun stuff like break off the opposing team's basket and chuck three's like they just watched a Dennis Scott instructional tape, but they also play with Pop's charming dedication to discipline, defense. It's kind of like watching Jason Bourne beat people up.
There may have been a time when a vertically challenged group of gravity-challenging guards and forwards might have been able to steal a win away and hold home court to win a five-game series. And there might've been a time when Don Nelson could've pulled the same stunt Jon Gruden did on the Raiders sever Bowls ago (the convenient, "I fathered your whole style" thing). But those days are yesterdays.
So: The revolution (whatever) dies here. But at least it's going to be televised. Do you believe in miracles? The NBA doesn't give a shit. The NBA Playoffs is the anti-March Madness. Cinderella gets knocked up and doomed to a life pushing mock turtles at Old Navy. Goliath uses David as a bottle opener. Want human interest? Get psyched for the Winter Olympics. Athletic Darwinism is in full effect. Mavs in 4.