Spurs-Mavericks Playoff Preview: Five Key Factors

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benched spursWell, we might as well start things by reminding everyone how the Spurs should be the team calling themselves the defending champions, except for the part where Gregg Popovich had his three best players on the bench at the end of Game 6 in Miami.

That’s when we stopped calling him “genius” and vowed to never do so again.

So this spring, we will laud Pop with congratulations for finishing with the league’s best record, for putting together a 19-game winning streak, for replacing a top reserve (Gary Neal) with an even better reserve (Marco Belinelli) and for having so much balance on his team that not one single player merited a mention on my postseason individual awards ballot.

Chris Bernucca’s Postseason Award Choices

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Image.AdamSilverTransparency is a two-way street.

For years, NBA media members – echoing the sentiments of its passionate fan base – wanted more transparency from Commissioner David Stern and his executive staff. Whether it was a lottery drawing, a suspension in the playoffs or a referee scandal, folks felt like they were entitled to an explanation. And they were.

Stern grudgingly came around. He arranged for the media to meet with referees prior to the season about rules changes. He allowed the media into the lottery drawing. He okayed press releases that admitted, Yes, we blew that call.

Since replacing Stern as commissioner less than three months ago, Adam Silver has taken the NBA’s transparency up a notch. He declared that there will be an open dialogue about officiating and is walking the walk by making internal memos available to the media.

But Silver is getting something back, too. At All-Star Weekend this year, the media presented the notion of transparency with regard to how its members vote on postseason awards, and the commissioner bought in. 

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SH Blog: Carlisle says Nowitzki is one of 12 greatest of all-time, Cavs expected to offer Irving $80 million this summer

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Dirk-Nowitzki-Dallas-Mavericks-NBA-9-485x728Dirk Nowitzki recently moved past Oscar Robertson to take the 10th spot for all-time scoring in the NBA.

Think about that for a second. 10th all-time! It puts him ahead of legends like Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Jerry West, and the list goes on and on. It’s a surprisingly impressive feat, and it helped put into perspective just how great of a player the power forward has been to reach such a milestone.

So with his career somewhat starting to wind down at the age of 35 (about to turn 36 in a couple of months), is it finally time to start wondering where exactly he belongs when you talk about his standing in the history of the game? Is he in the conversation in terms of being a Top 10 Player of All-Time?  Top 20? According to his coach Rick Carlisle, Nowitzki is already in the Top 12, from Marc Stein of ESPN

Tweet of the Day: Dirk Nowitzki Grateful For Encouragement

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Tuesday night Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki moved past Oscar Robertson on the NBA career scoring list with an 19-foot jump shot at the start of the fourth quarter against the Utah Jazz en route to a 95-83 victory.

Nowitizki scored 21 points, moving him to 10th among the all-time scorers’ list with 26,714 points thus far in his career.

Many players took time to congratulate Dirk on his career accomplishment last night.

One player who didn’t get the chance to congratulate him Tuesday night was Miami Heat superstar LeBron James, who was busy in a losing effort to the Brooklyn Nets.

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Nowitzki, Conley, Dragic, Stoudemire key for NBA Teams Chasing Final Playoff Spots

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With one week left in the NBA regular season, the pressure is on for two Eastern Conference teams and four Western Conference teams fighting for the final playoff spots. Millions will intently watch what transpires over the next seven days as teams face must-win games, and the effort and intensity pick up.

Each of these half-dozen teams have a player who will greatly impact the fate of their clubs the rest of the way.

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