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Sunday Links

At Philadelphia today -- don't forget the 5:00 start time.

Joe Juliano of the Philadelphia Inquirer previews the game by writing about the Mavs defense.

They rank third in the NBA in points allowed with 92.9 while still averaging just over 100 points a game, making life miserable for opponents at either end.

"Their defense has been a big key for them," said Maurice Cheeks, whose 76ers get a chance to test the Mavericks tonight at the Wachovia Center.

"They're an offensive team. But since [coach] Avery [Johnson] came in, their defense has been solidified, one of the main things. They score over 100 and they give up about 92 or 93, so those things breed success. When you're scoring and defending, it helps you a great deal."

The Mavericks also have the ninth-ranked team in field-goal percentage defense, at 45.0 percent. They allowed Houston 33.3 percent shooting and 74 points in a 21-point home win Friday night over the Rockets, their sixth straight victory.

Sefko writes about all the Mavs role players.
George was inserted into the lineup against the Rockets to combat 6-8 shooting guard Tracy McGrady. Devin Harris is simply too small to contest McGrady.

What you don't see in the statistics is that the Rockets had to pay so much attention to George on the perimeter that it opened up scoring opportunities for Jerry Stackhouse, Josh Howard and Jason Terry.
And then there's Dampier, who had 11 rebounds. Along with fellow center DeSagana Diop's 14 boards, that's the sort of tangible production people notice.

"The other night when we didn't have a lot of fluidity on offense was because of Damp," said Stackhouse. "Not because he's getting 20 points, but because he's setting screens and getting guys open.

And, of course, the second-chance opportunities that Dampier provides as one of the best offensive rebounders in the league cannot be undervalued.
Dampier is 15th in the NBA with 3 offensive rebounds per game.


Greg Buckner is glad he doesn't play for the Sixers anymore.
"I was happy to get out of there," he said. "They let me out of my contract, which was a blessing. I got to go to Denver [for two years] and now I'm back in Dallas. I'm just so happy to be out of there."

Of all the articles I've read about Wade/Dirk/Cuban feud, Buck Harvey's article in The San Antonio Express News today is the best.
In the three Finals games decided by three or fewer points, Wade scored a total of 46 points in the fourth quarters and overtimes. Nowitzki scored 19.

That said, does anyone remember Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson -- or any of the Spurs -- needing to say such things? The ring should say enough.
Cuban also added his usual sarcasm. "You are an amazing player Dwayne," Cuban said, misspelling Wade's first name. "I love watching you shoot free throws."

That's also classic Cuban, the promoter. Whether he's working the crowd or his blog, he has one undeniable gift. He demands attention, and Cuban created a similar storm last year in San Antonio. As he said was his intent then, he helped fuel a rivalry.

But he's clearly brilliant, and his recent opinion on the future of newspapers is something the industry should read. After all, he already knows how to sell newspapers, as well as his league.

A blog entry is part of that. And when the playoffs start, perhaps Cuban will calm down as Nowitzki wants.