John Hollinger is in a daze after the opening weekend of the NBA playoffs! Mere days after declaring that the Spurs - who Hollinger had a man-crush on all season - and the Mavs were the teams with the best chances of winning it all, the ESPN.com analyst now has to explain why and how both teams gave away home court advantage by honking Game 1 to the Nuggets and Warriors respectively.
I'll give it a shot for him. There's a pretty simple rule of thumb for the NBA that goes like this: when your team's star players outplay the star players on the other team, your team is probably going to win. Thus, while Duncan was looking old and Manu was looking more bald than ever, Carmelo and A.I. were superb for Denver, and that was pretty much the story of Game 1. Even an unusually valiant effort for a Frenchman (Tony Parker) wasn't enough.
Meanwhile, I'll admit to not seeing most of the Warriors-Mavs contest because I was watching the Detroit Red Wings eliminate the pesky Calgary Flames, but when Baron Davis' line looks like this:
33 pts, 14 reb, 8 assists
And Dirk Nowitski's looks like this:
14 pts, 12 reb, 4 assists
And Steven Jackson outscores all of Dirk's running mates and Matt Barnes easily outscores Dallas' entire bench, let's just say it doesn't look good.
Note that my rule doesn't hold true for team's with a star that plays well but has no supporting cast, so Kobe can score 60 a game against the Suns and it isn't going to make any difference.
I don't think anyone except The Dude really thinks the Mavs are in danger of losing this series, but they sure made things difficult for themselves. If this loss lights a fire under Dirk I'll be much more okay with him winning the MVP award.
As for the Spurs, maybe it's the homer in me but I think they now have a fight on their hands. Yes, I think Duncan and Manu will play better as the series goes on, but they had zero answer for Iverson off the dribble, and Denver made most of the hustle plays with guys like Nene, Najera and Kleiza beating the Spurs' old legs to loose balls and rebounds. Hollinger has to be at least a little nervous now!
In less exciting news, nice win by the Rockets over the Jazz, Dude.