Not Everything Is Predictable Headed Into the NBA Playoffs

Wednesday night was an example of the Mavericks dominating a team. They scored 121 on 55% shooting, hit thirteen three pointers, shot twice as many free throws, outrebounded the Hornets offensively and defensively, all while holding them to just 89 points. The cause of the domination, though, lies in the x-factors.

Everyone has heard of this sports cliché. I can't say I'm a fan, because the last thing I need is math class being added to sports, something I watch and write about to get away from school. Seriously, why does it have to be x? Why not q, or j, or even ~? But back on topic: the Mavericks clearly have x-factors on their team, and much of their playoff success hinges on how much production they can bring each and every night. Let's go down the list and break down each of these x-factors.

Jason Kidd

Kidd's not a true x factor. It's a known fact that he will bring his full effort each and every night, running the Mavericks offense to perfection, facilitating a Dirk-centered attack. He will guard opposing players often several inches and a few dozen pounds heavier than him without giving an inch, but then suddenly coming off to dash into the passing lane or spring to a loose ball and grab a steal. The unknown quantity with Jason Kidd is his scoring. His 40%+ shooting had been a staple for this Mavericks team the two previous years, but this year it has been clear that his shot is not just off, but way off. He still leads the team in both attempts and makes, but his meager 34% shooting from deep is playing into the other team's hands unless he is able to find his range. Perhaps his four makes in six attempts Wednesday is a sign of things to come, because Jason Kidd going back to February form (his one good shooting month at 47%), it makes it exponentially harder to double Dirk and expect there not to be consequences.

Corey Brewer

Corey's potential to impact games in this series lie in his ability to drive the basketball. The Mavericks have just a few players who will consistently score in the paint, even fewer who can create a shot in the paint, and really only two whose strength is attacking off the dribble. That's Corey Brewer. He's not Derrick Rose, but if he is able to put the ball on the floor and attack defenses in his minutes (if he even gets any), he will really help open up the floor. Jose Barea will help the second team with this, but he simply doesn't have the 6'9" frame that Brewer has been given. Brewer has shown that he knows how to set people up off a drive, so he will be able to make some passes that for Barea are just not possible. His ability to cut and slash to the hole can also prove useful to combat double teams on Dirk, because clearly kicking to an open shooter is not such a great thing on this team (Kidd and Terry, the top two three point shooters in volume, are 34% and 36% respectively). If he can hit three pointers, too? Well, that's when the Mavericks have the ability to roll off 121 points, just like they did to the Hornets.

Peja Stojakovic

Peja is clearly long gone from his Sacramento days, or even his New Orleans days, but he's still can be a threat. For the Mavericks offense, he often seems to be the player that is able to change a good scoring performance to a great one, if he's playing right. And yes, by playing I do mean shooting, because that's all he really does, and all he really needs to do. The Mavericks are 17-3 when he plays over 15 minutes, and usually he only plays that many if he's shooting well. Not much is really expected from him, but he's a playoff veteran and there's no telling when he might be able to hit four or five threes to get the Mavericks back in a game, or put it out of reach.

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