Mavs Ready for Next Step?
The nightmare has been dancing in their heads all offseason. Dwayne Wade and the Heat toasted their title chances. Every night must look something like this:
NBA Finals 2006
Dallas has responded by tweaking the roster with toughness, obviously noticing what a difference players like James Posey, Udonis Haslem, and Alonzo Mourning make. Anthony Johnson, Devean George, and Austin Croshere have all seen time in the NBA Finals and make offensive players work for their points. (Okay, okay Croshere isn't all that tough but is a bully compared to Keith Van Horn) And Greg Buckner has never been in the finals but may be the toughest of them all.
The Mavs learned something last year they missed in all their years under Don Nelson: defense. This year coach Avery Johnson wants to add an adjective to the noun: tough defense. And with their veteran signings combined with still developing players in Josh Howard, DeSagana Diop, D.J. Mbenga and Devin Harris this team stands ready to take that step. Add in rookies Maurice Ager and Pops Mensah-Bonsu and it gets even better.
Will that next step mean a championship? It's hard to say. The Western Conference is the deeper of the two conferences and gets better every year. But know this: the Little General won't let this team get off track.
(Check in this preseason as I endeavor to give an update on player progress with each game.)