Killer Instinct. That's what's separating the teams in the West right now. The Lakers employ the ultimate killer. San Antonio has three guys who would legitimately shank you for two cigs. Chris Paul hasn't proven his killer credential on the Playoff stage, but we all know it's coming. Even in the East you have to fear guys like Lebron, Billups, and Sheed. And the Boston guys to some lesser extent.
Outside of those teams, who do you love? I mean certainly Utah is a solid team, but do they scare you? Over the course of 7 games do you really see Dwil and Boozer out battling any of the previously mentioned guys? No. Me neither. Down the line...maybe, but right now those guys rate as B+'s in a league heavy with A's.
The same could be said about Melo, AI, TMac, even Nash an' 'em. The league's littered with these guys who you trust to win maybe one big game in one big series, but don't have the constitution to do it series after series until the one king is crowned.
To me, Dirk is the walking definition of these killer B's. I remember two years ago when Avery's prescence was still new and he effected Dirk the same way he did Mr. Robinson back in the day. remember the '06 playoffs when Dirk averaged 27 & 12 over a 23 game playoff run that saw him single-handedly destroy two top notch Spurs and Suns squads. Ultimately though, the soft doughy heart that is Dirk Nowitzki came through.
Up two games, and about to close out a third against the Heat, Dirk took a break. For 101 basketball games and 3 quarters, Avery begged, pleaded, or otherwise cajoled Dirk to rebound, to D-up, to work the post, to take the open shot, to take the big shot, to never let up. One step from the crown, Nowitzki let up.
Enter JKidd. At 35, Kidd is no longer a dominant player. And there's no question that, on paper, Dallas gave up way too much to get him. Kidd alone simply cannot put Dallas over the top. The future of the Cuban-era Mavericks has always rested in the heart of Dirk Nowitzki. Avery Johnson, at one point, provided a shot of nitro. But like any additive there is a point of diminishing returns. The aborted Finals appearence. The grind of of a 67-win season. The devastating first round loss to Nellie's Warriors. Whatever mojo Avery started with is clearly depleted. Now it's Kidd's job (or at least that's what both Cuban and Avery are betting on) to apply a little pressure to the gas. Not just juicing up Dallas's stale offense, but also applying on-court pressure to push Dirk to his best.
Oh and um, is anybody really surprised that the Suns suck now? A bad defensive team gives up their best defender, and they're supposed to improve? It's really time to stop drinking that Nash kool-aid y'all.