Point Guard: Tony Parker vs. Jason Kidd
I hate saying no contest when you have a perennial all-star and future hall-of-famer like Jason Kidd in this matchup, but he really has no chance against the lightning-quick Parker. Parker is going to make him look slow and old and that's going to be a huge factor in this series.
Shooting Guard: Roger Mason Jr. vs. Antoine Wright
Mason is my x-factor in this series. If he can score consistently and hit some big shots, he takes some pressure off of Tim and Tony. Wright isn't a big enough part of the offense or defense to be a factor. He is athletic and the Spurs have been known to have problems with athletic swingmen, but I still give the edge to Mason.
Small Forward: Michael Finley vs. Josh Howard.
Did Finley find the fountain of youth late in the regular season for the Spurs? In the last few games he has been clutch. Hitting a 3
against the Hornets to send the game into OT and hiting another 3 with "plenty" of time left on the clock against the Kings for the win! But will this be enough to hold his own versus his old team and Josh Howard? Hell no.
Finely is too streaky. His shot comes and goes so for the Spurs he will need to work on his shot. Josh Howard is just way to athletic
for Finley to guard. Howard is much more reliable on the offensive end than Fin. Howard can drop more points and will cause Fin defensive
problems. I suggest Fin drop a bag of weed on the court to ditract J-Ho. Might be his only chance to slow doen Howard.
Power Forward: Matt Bonner v. Dirk Nowitzki
It's the battle of two tall white guys that like to shoot threes. That's where this comparison ends. One of them is a former MVP and the other has only received one B in his life and bought a Pontiac Grand Prix because of it's leg room and gas mileage. I think these two might be on a different playing level.
Nowitzki's performance against the Spurs in four games this year falls in line with his season averages - 25.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, 49.4% shooting. While Bonner will start he has no chance of slowing Nowitzki down, so expect to see Kurt Thomas and Drew Gooden have their turn. Thomas is the best one-on-one defender of the three, but even he will have problems.
82games.com has this great feature that breaks down production by position. The Spurs have the second worst point differential at the power forward position. Who has the best? You guessed it, Dallas.
This should be an easy call, but San Antonio has a goofy center position. When Nowitzki is inside, look for Duncan to guard him, but as soon as he edges to the perimeter, it should be no surprise to see Bonner move out with him. Bonner isn't half the rebounder Duncan is, so he'll be the floater. But when they're all in the post, Bonner will have his hands full. Dampier is still a big guy, and Bonner is still more of a finesse player. But offensively, Bonner is at a huge advantage. He can score from any spot on the floor when he's open, and Dampier is just klutzy enough than Bonner could put some moves on him.
Once you get past Dirk and Tim duking it out, and Parker repeatedly blasting past Kidd, this series will come down to the bench. Who will unexpectedly rise to the challenge? Brandon Bass? Drew Gooden? Devean George? Ime Udoka? Ryan Hollins? Kurt Thomas? This could go either way, but I'm giving the edge to San Antonio, with their history of the bench doing spectacular things in the playoffs. I'm sure Dallas still has a few players with nightmares of Steve Kerr bombing away.
Alright, this is going to Pop and his postseason record of 101-59. But you can't discount Rick Carlisle. His postseason record may only be 30-32, but he is very smart defensively, and he will take advantage Ginobili's absence. That being said, Popovich knows the key guys on Dallas VERY well, and he has more than a few tricks up his sleeve for dealing with them.