Wednesday , Mar , 31 , 2010 Oly Sandor

How ’bout ‘dem Mavericks? Why Dallas can beat L.A., Cleveland, and win NBA Title

It would be a sight to see.

Commissioner David Stern making nice with Mark Cuban before handing the Dallas Mavericks owner the Larry O’Brien trophy.Caron Butler

While the personal dynamic between Stern and Cuban is always, well, interesting, the real story is the Mavericks’ sudden emergence as a championship threat.

Dallas, whether league head office likes it or not, can win it all. They can beat the star-studded Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. They can also topple the top teams from the Eastern Conference like the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, or Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals.

Yes, The Big D is for real. And Cuban, talking a page from the beloved Cowboys’ book, could be yelling ‘How ‘bout dem Mavericks’ at a June victory parade.

Their improvement is due to a February trade with the Washington Wizards: they swapped malcontent Josh Howard and journeyman post Drew Gooden for a pair of rugged wings, Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson, and blue-collar big Brendan Haywood.

Overnight, Dallas was transformed, going from soft to hard, weak to tough, and, best of all, pretender to contender.

For instance, before the mid season makeover, the Mavericks had dropped six of their past eight games. After adding Butler, Haywood, and Stevenson, they rattled off an astounding thirteen game winning streak and resembled an elite team.

The Washington trio are tough: Butler, at his best, is a superb two-way player; Haywood never shies away from a fight –even if it’s in practice; and Stevenson, just a few years ago, had a long running and public beef with LeBron James, Jay-Z, and the entire Cleveland Cavaliers organization.

Clearly, these three aren’t timid or afraid to mix it up.

Aside from changing Dallas’ identity, the new additions give Coach Rick Carlisle suitable players for his get-stops system. After all, Haywood, with his height and length, can plug the middle against the Western Conference’s best fives, while Butler and Stevenson, both talented lockdown guys, can rotate on opponents’ best perimeter player.

Speaking of Carlisle, he has more options then Vincent Chase at a nightclub. Consider the Mavericks’ flexibility: perennial MVP candidate Dirk Nowitzki can play centre as part of a smaller, quicker line-up; Jason Terry, Jose Barea, and rookie Rodrique Beaubois are instant offense off the bench; Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, and the three former Wizards, if given an opportunity, would form an elite defensive unit.

With an eleven deep line-up, Carlisle has other combinations at his disposal. For instance, his twelfth and thirteenth men, Matt Carroll and Tim Thomas, are both legitimate NBA players.

Of course, the critics point to their mediocre 4-4 mark during the last two weeks. This is an overreaction, especially since Terry, a key reserve, was finding his form after facial surgery.

Get used to it: Dallas is championship material. And while we’re at it, get used to the possibility Stern could be awarding Cuban the O’Brien trophy in June.

Can the Mavericks win it all? Get at us in the comment box below and follow Breaking Down The NBA. Photo courtesy of Keith Allison.

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