The Tweet came across a couple of hours after the Mavericks had eliminated the Spurs, who will not be venturing past the first round for the first time since 2000. How many starting point guards in the west under the age of 30 will be playing after saturday? #fb
Take a bow, Cubes. Just don't strain your back.
The taunt obviously was in response to a world of critics -- myself included -- of Cuban's decision to trade Devin Harris to the Nets at last season's trade deadline. Now that the Mavs have slain the Spurs' dynasty, Cuban is well within his rights to gloat.
At the advanced age of 36, Kidd had an excellent series against San Antonio, shooting 40 percent from the field and 44 percent from 3-point range. Rick Carlisle did a nice coaching job with Kidd, playing him with J.J. Barea and protecting the slowing, aging Kidd from his defensive liabilities. Cuban is right in that by the end of the weekend, the two younger point guards in the West most capable of exposing Kidd on the defensive end -- Tony Parker and Chris Paul -- will be at home and not on the court. The other is Houston's Aaron Brooks, but the Mavs wouldn't see him until the conference finals -- and only if they can beat Denver and the Rockets can knock off the Lakers (assuming they finish off Portland at home Thursday night).
Chauncey Billups is tough to defend, but doesn't have the burst that Parker and Paul possess. With a combination of Kidd's savvy, Barea's peskiness, and Antoine Wright's length, Carlisle should be able to figure out a way to keep Kidd from getting sliced and diced too badly in the second round, too.
The bottom line is this: Yes, Harris is a better player with bigger upside than Kidd at this stage of their careers. But this is an example of a progressive owner taking a calculated risk and watching it pay off. It is hard to argue with the results. Harris and the Nets won 34 games this season and are saddled with Kidd's former running mate, Vince Carter, and his $34 million over the next two seasons. The Mavs are done with Kidd after the playoffs are over. And for them, the playoffs are far from over.
Given the Hornets' 58-point loss to the Nuggets in Game 4, it isn't too early to look ahead to Mavs-Nuggets in the conference semifinals. Denver will have home court by virtue of its 54 wins compared to 50 for the Mavs. The Nuggets swept the regular season series 4-0. although three of those losses were by three points or less. But once you're this deep into the playoffs, regular season matchups don't mean as much. It's about how you're playing now, and the Mavs have their superstar, Dirk Nowitzki, playing at a high level. They also have an effective bench led by sixth man of the year Jason Terry, a certain geriatric point guard who's still hanging on, and a trigger-happy, tweeting owner who isn't afraid to point out when he's right.