In a recent post on ESPN Dallas/Fort Worth, Jeff Caplan talked about Peja Stojakovic's return to the Dallas Mavericks lineup and his 17 point performance against the Golden State Warriors.
Peja Stojakovic gave the Dallas Mavericks a few "what if" moments Sunday night in his return from a six-game absence because of a stiff neck.
As in, what if he had been able to play in the 96-91 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers? And what if he had been on the floor to knock down five 3-pointers as he did Sunday against the Golden State Warriors when the Mavs were firing blanks from long range Friday night in the 97-91 loss to the San Antonio Spurs?
"If you look at that Spurs game, we went five minutes without scoring," Mavs guard Jason Terry said. "Peja plays five minutes and puts in 11 points. So, that tells you right there when a guy can get hot like that, and it could be any one of us, but you've got to have that out on the floor. You can't have that in the locker room in a suit or on the training table."
While Caplan, Terry and Mavs fans may have some added optimism due to Peja's recent performance, let's face the facts:
- Peja is not the player he once was. He is averaging 8.5 points and 2.5 rebounds per game, and he has only played in 22 games this year with New Orleans, Toronto and Dallas. He also missed 20 games in his 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons and has not played a full season his entire career.
- He also knocked down those five three-pointers against the Golden State Warriors, who are the second worst defensive team in the league.
- The "what if" scenario is a little half-baked. It's the equivalent of writing a post on what if Steve Novak were with the San Antonio Spurs in 2004 when they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers, or what if Novak were with the Spurs when they struggled offensively in overtime against the Mavericks in game seven, just because he scored 19 points against Charlotte.
- Counting on Peja to hit clutch shots in the playoffs is like counting on Dirk not kicking a stationary bike. Ask the New Orleans Hornets, who saw Peja disappear right before their eyes in a seven game series against the Spurs in 2008.
Unless the Mavericks plan on finding some plutonium and a flux capacitor sometime soon, I would take Peja at face value.
What's your take on the latest from the Mavericks? Let us know in the comments and for more on the Mavs, be sure to read Paul Garcia's post on the possibility of both teams meeting in the playoffs for a round three.