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Monday, May 19
Dr. Jack's Breakdown: Mavericks vs. Spurs

By Dr. Jack Ramsay
Special to

Editor's note: Dr. Jack Ramsay, whose Hall of Fame head coaching resume includes making the playoffs in 16 of his 20 seasons and winning an NBA title with Portland in 1977, breaks down the playoff matchups for Throughout the 2003 postseason, Dr. Jack will analyze each series all the way through to the NBA Finals.

Irrepressible Steve Nash is a non-stop competitor, driving to the hoop, knocking down 3-pointers and setting up teammates. He's also a pesky defender. Michael Finley is a dangerous but inconsistent shooter, yet he is capable of hot streaks from beyond the arc. He also works hard within the Mavs' disconcerting matchup zone. Parker and Jackson lack experience, are somewhat erratic, but are capable of spectacular streaks. Tony Parker must find way to penetrate the Mavs' zone without turnovers, and Stephen Jackson needs to play aggressively but under control.

Raja Bell and Bruce Bowen play similar tough defensive games with occasional offensive outbursts. Dirk Nowitzki vs. Tim Duncan is a classic matchup, but neither coach will allow too much of it because of the defensive demands and risk of personal fouls. Nowitzki has a tremendous perimeter game and drives to the hoop using either hand to finish. Duncan is the heart of the Spurs' game at both ends of the floor, and he's the most complete inside player in the game. David Robinson must go to the perimeter to defend the 3-point shots of Raef LaFrentz, who must limit The Admiral's lob-pass finishes at the hoop.

Nick Van Exel has been incredible. He is averaging 20 points a game, making critical shots and shooting 50 percent from the field in the playoffs. Eduardo Najera is a hustling, productive banger. Walt Williams hit big 3-pointers to win a game in the Sacramento series. Adrian Griffin and Shawn Bradley have seen limited action, but Don Nelson may need Bradley against the Spurs' bigs. Manu Ginobili and Speedy Claxton have improved during the postseason and are reliable contributors. Coach Gregg Popovich will need their quickness against the Mavs. Malik Rose and Kevin Willis give the Spurs muscle around the boards. Rose also adds an outside scoring touch.

Two seven-game series victories provided a huge confidence builder for the Mavs. But can Nellie make necessary adjustments in his zone defense to keep Duncan under control? The Spurs also got a big psychological boost from beating the Lakers. However, can rock-solid defense keep the Mavs' uptempo game under control? Moreover, will the Spurs' perimeter shooters be able to knock down shots when Duncan is double-teamed?

Spurs in six. The Mavericks will double-team Duncan and dare the Spurs' supporting cast to beat them. Parker, Jackson, Ginobili and Bowen will do just that by making jump shots from the perimeter.



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• Dr. Jack's Breakdown: Nets vs. Pistons

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