‘Old guard’ dressed in Dallas uniforms for NBA playoffs

May 31, 2011 3:00 AM

Say, what happened to the Celtics, Lakers and Spurs?

2011 was supposed to be the year when all the old fogies advanced in the NBA playoffs. Instead, young teams from Memphis, Miami, Chicago, Atlanta and Oklahoma City pulled many surprises. This postseason appears to be "The Year That the Torch was Passed."

Unless you’re a Dallas Mavericks fan.

The 30-something Mavericks, a No. 3 seed, pulled some surprises of their own to advance to the NBA Finals. Despite the site of 26-year old Jose Barea running all over the place, this is an older, veteran Dallas team.

You have 32-year old Dirk Nowitzki (33 in June), 33-year olds Shawn Marion, Jason Terry and Peja Stojakovic and 38-year old Jason Kidd.

While the NBA is more of an athletic game, primed for young legs, the experience of the Mavericks certainly has helped. They were poised in their upset series win over the defending champion Lakers, even when trailing on the road, then watched Oklahoma City fall apart at key stretches while the veteran Mavs executed so well at crunch time.

There really haven’t been many youthful teams winning the NBA title lately. The Celtics and Lakers were veteran teams that clashed in the Finals in 2008 and last year. The experienced Lakers topped the young Orlando Magic in 2009, blowing out the kids in Game 1, 100-75. Prior to that veteran teams like the Spurs, Pistons and 2006 Miami Heat won titles.

Ahh, the Heat, and here they are again.

Miami aren’t really that youthful, with LeBron James the only kid at age 26 – and even he’s been in the league eight years. He’s also been in the NBA Finals in 2007 with Cleveland.

Dwyane Wade (age 29) already has a ring with the 2006 Heat, a veteran team that also had Shaq, Antoine Walker, Udonis Haslem and Gary Payton.

You will be seeing two of the best defensive teams in the NBA, which shouldn’t surprise: Miami was sixth in points allowed during the regular season, Dallas 10th.

Miami was second in field goal defense (.434%), Dallas eighth (.450%). The OVER is 13-6-1 in the Mavericks last 20 after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game. Miami is 9-4 OVER in its last 13 as a road underdog.

Both teams had some difficulties in the first half of the season, but came on like gang busters down the stretch. You know the old saying: It’s not who starts the race hot, it’s who finishes first.

Dallas won both regular season meetings, though those were back in November and December. The Mavericks won 106-95 at home in the first meeting that sailed OVER the 189 total.

Miami was 9-8 at the time and had just called a "players only" meeting the previous game. The Mavericks outscored the Heat 48-26 in the paint and held Miami to 41 percent shooting. Miami had a big edge at the free throw line (35 attempts to 22), but Dallas was 7 of 17 from long range.

Dallas has won 14 consecutive regular season games over Miami since March 2004, and 17 of 18. That doesn’t include the 2006 NBA Finals, when the Heat won in six games after losing the first two. The Mavericks are 11-3 ATS in their last 14 when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game and 40-18-1 ATS in their last 59 following a straight up win.

In the most recent meeting, Dec. 20 at Miami, the Mavericks won again, 98-96, as a +7 dog. The game went OVER 189. The Mavericks held James scoreless in the first half on the way to ending Miami’s 12-game winning streak as Miami shot just 40.6%. Dallas was again strong from long range, hitting 8 of 21 three pointers (38%), while Miami was 11 of 31 (35%).

Keep in mind the Mavericks are 3-9 ATS in their last 12 after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game. The Heat are 7-0 ATS in their last seven games playing on one day’s rest.

Terry has spoken often about how losing to Miami in the 2006 NBA finals still upsets him. He gets his chance this week to do more than talk about it!