After Game 3, I started really believing.
I started really believing Dallas could come out of the West.
If Dallas could combine their offensive prowess with defensive schemes and plugs concocted by a hoops magician and executed well by a bunch of heady veterans, there wasn't a team they couldn't beat in the West. Maybe even in the East (really just meaning Miami).
Then the blowout in Game 7. It was tough to watch, but also there was a peace, like watching someone who had suffered through their life for so long finally lose the struggle. It was almost a miracle that Game 7 blowout didn't happen in one of (or perhaps any of) those opening six games.
This, combined with the fact that the Spurs looked so vulnerable against us, led me to believe that they wouldn't really live long enough for us to wonder "what if?"
The facts as they stand now: Dallas beat the Spurs three times in seven games. Portland and Oklahoma managed three victories in eleven games.
Sure, a matchup in the NBA has many factors to consider in terms of matchups and styles of play. But we just watched the team that we had a chance to beat in each of the first 6 games of the series roll over their most recent opponents to the Finals again.
Dallas played well against the Blazers and Thunder this season. 2-1 records against both if memory serves. Particularly I like how Dallas matches up with OKC, mainly because of the Thunder's perennially lackluster perimeter defense and, it's a good matchup for Dirk, typically. As we saw in OT, Duncan got what he wanted posting up against Ibaka. Your other options at that point are Perkins (we've seen Dirk shred him a ton before), Durant (asinine), and Collison (not effective on offense). Also Carlisle eat Brooks for breakfast.
Portland is a little tougher to call. They have more athleticism, and good scoring. But they're also largely inexperienced at this level of competition, and though I like Stotts, I think Carlisle and his familiarity with him could tip the scales. We definitely saw Portland shrink in the series against the Spurs.
So, now that San Antonio dominated their other West opponents, what does anyone else think? If Dallas comes out of that series, do we have a legitimate shot for a rubber match with the Heat?