Friday, May 11, 2007

Why Is Okur Doing What Dirk Couldn't?

Let’s be honest. The Warriors had a very nice gameplan for slowing down Dirk Nowitzki, but they are not a great defensive team- they’re not even a good defensive team! So why is it that Mehmet Okur, whose game is not all that different from Dirk Nowitzki’s, is averaging 22 points and 14.5 rebounds (4.5 offensive) per game while shooting 56% from the floor, and Dirk only managed 19.7 points, 11.3 rebounds (in his defense, 4.2 offensive boards) per game, while shooting 38.3% from the floor and making just 21% of his threes?

The Utah Jazz and the Dallas Mavericks are similarly built teams. Both teams have other offensive weapons (Jason Terry, Josh Howard and Jerry Stackhouse on the Mavericks, Carlos Boozer, Deron Williams and Matt Harpring for the Jazz), both teams have point guard that can drive-and-kick (Terry and Devin Harris for the Mavs, Williams and Derek Fisher for the Jazz) and both teams run very methodical, structured offenses.

Utah’s success against Golden State in the first two games of their series has revealed 1) that Dirk Nowitzki isn’t all that much better than Mehmet Okur and 2) the biggest flaw in the Dallas Mavericks: It is nearly impossible to have major success in the playoffs when your best perimeter scorer also be your best interior scorer and your best rebounder. The fact that Deron Williams combines the strengths of both Jason Terry and Devin Harris’ games, and that Carlos Boozer is an absolute monster in the paint creates an environment where Okur can thrive. With that said, there’s still no explanation for the league’s MVP putting up just 2 shots 21 minutes in the 2nd half of Game 5 and going 2-13 in Game 6.

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