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Denver's the red-hot story in the Western Conference at the moment, closing in on the injury-depleted Houston Rockets and even eyeing fifth-place Sacramento.

But Dallas is the team to watch out West.

Former Spurs point guard Avery Johnson — who took over for Don Nelson as head coach on March 19 — has the Mavericks playing Spurs-like defense, a notion that ought to scare every team in the West, including the Spurs.

The Spurs got a taste of it on Thursday night, when they were held to 34.8 percent shooting in a blowout win for the Mavs. Until the final two minutes, the Spurs were in danger of recording their lowest point total ever.

Some of that was just poor shooting by the Spurs — who missed all 12 of their 3-point attempts, many of which were open looks. But a lot of it was Dallas' defense, and the absence of Tim Duncan — still out with a badly sprained right ankle.

Nevertheless, the difference Johnson has made in his team's approach to defense can't be overstated. It starts with subtle reminders, like the sign that hangs in the center of the Mavs' locker room that reads: "Contested shots wound us. Uncontested shots and layups will kill us."

That's straight from Gregg Popovich's playbook. Johnson just reinforced the notion. He rewards the starter he and his assistants believe played the best defense in each previous game by calling the Mavericks' first play of the game to get a shot for that player. Doesn't everyone like to score?

The return of Erick Dampier from a foot injury has helped Johnson's emphasis on defense. Dampier blocked three Spurs shots on Thursday night, and he changed a lot more. But no Dallas team of the recent past has played in-your-face, pressure defense the way these Mavs did on Thursday.

No team wants to face a defensive-minded Dallas in the playoffs, including Phoenix.
With the recent slide of the Spurs and rise of the Mavericks the Western Conference standings are much closer. The Mavericks defense is really clicking with Avery under control and with the entire roster becoming healthy. Your team is a team to watch out to win the championship this year.

Johnson's made all the difference in Dallas
 

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Thanks you think your sixers will make the playoffs cuz new jersey is coming on.
 

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what's the Mavs' biggest obstacle to the WCF in everybody's opinion? Suns? Spurs? Other?

P.S. I just got tix to the 1st Dallas home game in the first round. :banana:
 

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Against the Spurs, I just imagine this grueling tough it out pace where both teams struggle to score. That is going to be a LONG series.
 

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Is anyone at all worried about the Suns? I've always called them the Mavs of two years ago, except I've always alluded to the fact that I thought we would of won the championship if it wasn't for Dirk's injury
 

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Yeah, our toughest obstacle will be the Spurs, pretty easily.

Is anyone at all worried about the Suns? I've always called them the Mavs of two years ago, except I've always alluded to the fact that I thought we would of won the championship if it wasn't for Dirk's injury
Yeah, but then again, the majority of us think we're better than the Mavs of two years ago. I just don't think their style of play wins. Not in the playoffs.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
mavsmania41 said:
Thanks you think your sixers will make the playoffs cuz new jersey is coming on.
Yeah, I think we are going to make the playoffs. New Jersey could make it as well, but Cleveland might fall out of the picture soon. It's a mess in the Eastern Conference playoff scene.
 

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Everyone in the West can take it....Houston, Memphis, and Denver, all underdogs in their 1st round series, are capable of taking it.
 

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DHarris34Phan said:
Everyone in the West can take it....Houston, Memphis, and Denver, all underdogs in their 1st round series, are capable of taking it.
All the teams are pretty dangerous in the West right now. Spurs would have been the only team I was confident couldn't lose until Duncan got hurt. Even when he comes back he may not be at 100% which could really hurt the Spurs. None of the teams in the west will surprise me if they ended up going to the finals.
 

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Theo! said:
Is anyone at all worried about the Suns? I've always called them the Mavs of two years ago, except I've always alluded to the fact that I thought we would of won the championship if it wasn't for Dirk's injury
Eh, I would call them the 01-02 Mavs then the 02-03 Mavs.
 
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