basketball | NBA Playoffs: NBA: A Touch of 2011 with the Dallas Mavericks

Status: 16.05.2022 at 12.00

The Dallas Mavericks are in the finals of the NBA Conference, bringing back memories of the great era with Dirk Nowitzki. In addition to Maxi Kleber in Dallas, Daniel Theis can also dream of the championship title with the Boston Celtics.

The spirit of 2011, the year of their title win, has often been invoked by the Dallas Mavericks in recent years. Sunday night (May 15, 2022) in the basketball arena in Phoenix, a touch of it could actually be felt again: Dirk Nowitzki, the leader of the legendary championship team and today in the club’s management, recorded during the match. on Twitter “Let’s Go, Mavs!” shouting in the hall.

On the sidelines was Jason Kidd, the playmaker from the Nowitzki team, who now works as a coach for the Mavs and delivered a first small masterpiece: With the clear 123:90 victory in the seventh game at the Phoenix Suns, the Mavericks entered the final of the Western Conference .

Mavericks – strong team with Doncic

This comes as a huge surprise, and not just because the Mavs tore the season’s best team down in their own arena. The experts had previously been in doubt as to whether Mavs would really be ready for the big wins in the playoffs without a really different superstar next to Luka Doncic. Similar to 2011, when they “only” went to the final with Nowitzki, against Miami’s super team of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

But like Nowitzki, Doncic, the current manager in Dallas, can also count on a functioning team by his side where a player can always explode: Reggie Bullock, for example, who in the sixth game against Phoenix was trailing 2-3 in the series, which at once sinks one three-pointer after another. Jalen Brunson also helped avert the impending finish with 18 and 24 points, respectively, in game six and seven.

Spencer Dinwiddie in particular became the X-factor in the Mavs: In the decisive matches against Phoenix, Dinwiddie hit more than 70 percent of his throws – none were more effective, not even the excellent Doncic. For Dinwiddie, Mavs unexpectedly let star player Kristaps Porzingis leave in February. This has proven to be a real coup so far.

Kleber – used as a long-range shooter in Dallas

One of Doncic’s most important helpers is still Maxi Kleber: The German national team player has often had problems with his shots beyond the three-point line this season, but that is actually his greatest strength on the offensive line. In the playoffs, Kleber recently scored better again. He also forces more attention from the opponents’ defenders – and gets them a piece of Doncic’s neck. Another important piece in the puzzle for the resurgent Mavs, who are now as close to a possible NBA title as they were in late 2011.

On course for the title in the NBA: Boston coach Ime Udoka (left), Marcus Smart

Image: image alliance / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Theis in the East with Boston on course for the title

Besides Kleber, another German NBA professional, Daniel Theis, can dream of a big hit: Theis was already in the conference finals with the Boston Celtics two years ago in the Corona Bubble in Orlando. The renewed participation in the final in the East was not necessarily expected recently. The series against Milwaukee already seemed lost to the Celtics, mainly because there was an almost insurmountable opponent on the other side: Giannis Antetokounmpo, the elemental force from Greece who had led the Bucks to the title last year.

“Greek Freak” also dominated this year’s playoffs: In game five in Boston, Antetokounmpo almost single-handedly turned the game around in the playoffs. In the opinion of many experts, he showed one of the best performances in playoff history – and was put on par with Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

Playoff success against the NBA champion and Antetokounmpo

In game six, Antetokounmpo returned to 44 points and 20 rebounds – but the victory went to the Celtics, who had found the key to success: after realizing that they still could not completely take the Bucks leader out of the game, let them give it as much as possible, barricaded the zone as best they could – and made sure none of the other Bucks players ran hot, especially not the long-range shooters. In the decisive seventh game, the Bucks landed only a paltry four hits in 33 attempts beyond the three-point line – a record with which one can hardly win games in the NBA.

On the other hand, shooting ability from the outside became a crucial factor for Boston. The Celtics managed to play to their great strength in the crucial moments: In game six, it was Jayson Tatum who gave the Bucks seven three-pointers. In the seventh game, Grant Williams was the match winner and he also hit seven shots from “downtown”. In total, the Celtics hit 22 three-pointers in the do-or-die game against the Bucks – which set a new franchise record.

“Giannis survives” – Boston now favorite

Due to their deep, balanced line-up, Boston is now considered the favorite for the Eastern Finals against Miami – and no doubt also for the NBA title. This in turn will depend on Daniel Theis’ clearing properties. The Celtics brought the national team player back mainly because of his strength in defense and rebound. He is assisted by center veteran Al Horford, who also showed great form against Milwaukee.

The fact that the Celtics won over the champion team around Antetokounmpo, the “best player in the world”, as guard Jaylen Brown said after game seven, should give them an extra boost in confidence. ESPN columnist Brian Windhorst also thinks this: “If you fly to Miami on Monday, you can stick a sticker on your suitcase in advance: We survived Giannis.”


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