Of the four teams remaining in the NBA Playoffs, three are owned by Jews. But this writer has special love for Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, and so Tablet Magazine’s official team is the Mavs. Tonight, more than a week after sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round, the Western Conference Finals will begin as Dallas hosts the Oklahoma City Thunder at 9pm E.S.T.
The Thunder’s stars, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, are quick and young; the Mavs’ youth, by contrast, can mainly be found on its bench (which, admittedly, stepped up tremendously during the Lakers series). If he is on, Mavericks big man Dirk Nowitzki will be the most dominant player on either team—when he is on, he is arguably the most dominant player in the NBA. The three-seed Mavs just dispensed with the two-seed Lakers in four games; it took the four-seed Thunder all seven to defeat the eight-seed Memphis Grizzlies, which also means the Mavs are playing on much more rest. The Mavs are hot as hell, having won 12 of their past 14 games (stretching back into the regular season). And, naturally, the Mavs enjoy home-court advantage. All of which is to say that the Mavs should win this series and advance to their second NBA Finals ever (their first was in 2006); I predict they’ll do it in five games. But they should be careful not to let this go to a game six or seven, where the Thunder’s relative youth may threaten. Go Mavs!
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Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.