The Warriors are for real

First they had to win nine of ten just to make the playoffs. Then they had to face the Mavs, the #1 seed in the West (and the consensus best team in the league). But Golden State just seems to have Dallas’ number. This year, they won all three regular season meetings and, counting the playoffs, have won six of the last seven games against the Mavs.

Golden State is a small, athletic team that plays at a frenetic pace both offensively and defensively. Head coach Don Nelson (who used to coach Dallas) loves to utilize gimmick defenses and has thrown the Mavs completely off their game. Likely MVP Dirk Nowitzki has been limited by the Warriors’ scrambling, in-your-face defense and is completely out of rhythm. He’s no longer getting that famous post up at the free throw line. The Warriors are running a double team at him just about every time he catches the ball and they’ve got the team speed to recover when he elects to pass instead of shoot.

Offensively, Baron Davis is playing out of his mind. At the end of the second quarter he hit a 45-foot desperation three to tie the game going into halftime, and at the end of the third quarter he stole the ball and flushed it home to give Golden State the momentum going into the final period. Finally, with time winding down in the fourth, he hit a long jumpshot over Devin Harris to seal the game.

But the Warriors are not all Davis. They’ve got loads of young, athletic wing players – Monta Ellis, Jason Richardson, Stephen Jackson, Mickael Pietrus and Matt Barnes – along with a bit of an inside presence in Al Harrington and Andris Biedrins, which gives Nelson the pieces he needs to give the Mavs fits.

Golden State leads the series, 3-1, but still has to get one more win. Two of the last three games are in Dallas. Tuesday’s Game 5 (9:30 PM ET, TNT) should be very interesting. The Mavs are in a very tough spot – how will they respond?

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Seventh Round Recap

Here’s a snap shot the NFL Draft’s round seven:

Best Value:
Brandon Siler, LB, Chargers (No. 240) – Siler was once regarded as the second best middle linebacker prospect in the draft and a potential second or third round pick. The reason he slipped was because of his lack of experience and could have probably used another year at Florida. However, he’s a true playmaker, should benefit from playing with a top San Diego defense and was a great find in the seventh round. Other values: Deshawn Wynn, RB, Packers; Dallas Baker, WR, Steelers; Chase Pittman, DE, Browns.

Potential Sleeper:
Ben Patrick, TE, Cardinals (No. 215) – Shocking that Patrick dropped into the second round because his stock was on the rise after the NFL Combine. He’s got a ton of talent, but didn’t play at a Division I program, so therefore he dropped. It’s interesting to see how he’ll fit into that offense though, especially since Arizona took Leonard Pope in last year’s draft. Other sleepers: Clark Harris, TE, Packers.

Sixth Round Recap

Here’s a snap shot of the NFL Draft’s sixth round:

Best Value:
John Wendling, S, Bills (No. 184) – I’m shocked Wendling lasted this long because he at the very least will be a solid special teams contributor. He’s not a starter – at least not right now – but he’s got great speed and is an outright football player. Other values: Rufus Alexander, LB, Broncos; Ryan Smith, CB, Titans; Prescott Burgess, LB, Ravens.

Potential Sleepers:
Courtney Taylor, WR, Seahawks (197) – By trading Darrell Jackson to the 49ers for a fourth round pick, the Seahawks needed to address their wide receiver position. Taylor is almost a copy cutout of Jackson (without all the NFL experience of course) in that he’s got great size and athleticism. He’s not overly fast, but neither was Jackson. Other potential sleepers: David Irons, CB, Falcons; HB Blades, LB, Redskins.

What the hell were they thinking?
Hard to criticize this deep into the draft, so I won’t.

Fifth Round Recap

Here’s a snap shot of the NFL Draft’s fifth round:

Best Value:
Aundrae Allison, WR, Vikings (No. 146) – Allison had some off field issues in college, but is an incredible athlete and has tremendous hands. He had an excellent week at the Senior Bowl and if it weren’t for his baggage, would have been at least a third round pick. Other values: Dustin Fry, C, Rams; Kolby Smith, RB, Chiefs; Troy Smith, QB, Ravens.

Potential Sleeper:
Kevin Boss, TE, Giants (No. 153) – Boss had a solid workout at the NFL Combine, displaying soft hands and running well in drills. If he makes the team – and he certainly should – he’ll be a nice compliment to Jeremy Shockey. Other potential sleepers: Josh Gattis, S, Jaguars; Justin Medlock, K, Chiefs; Tarell Brown, CB, 49ers.

What the hell were they thinking?
Steve Breaston, WR, Cardinals (No. 142) – Arizona didn’t reach – Breaston was projected in the fifth – but didn’t get an unbelievable prospect. His value is on special teams, but only on returns seeing as how he’s not that big. He struggles getting off the line as a receiver and unless he proves himself as an amazing returner, it’s doubtful he’ll even make the team.

Fourth Round Recap:

Here’s a snap shot of the NFL Draft’s fourth round:

Best Value:
Michael Bush, RB, Oakland Raiders (No. 100) – The fact Bush actually slipped into the fourth round – there were thoughts he might have gone in the late second or early third – makes this an even better pick. Bush would have been a top five pick if he hadn’t broken his leg at the start of the ’06 season and if he turns out to be healthy; this could be the steal of the draft. Other values: Jay Moore, DE, 49ers; Antonio Pittman, RB, Saints; Tarnard Jackson, CB, Bucs.

Potential sleepers:
Zak Deossie, LB, Giants (116) – Another small school product, Deossie has loads of speed, changes directions well and is a cover linebacker. He might be a bit raw, but for a fourth round pick and a team depleted of linebackers, he’s a solid selection. Other potential sleepers: Manuel Ramirez, G, Lions; Stephen Nichols, LB, Falcons; Doug Free, G, Cowboys.

What the hell were they thinking?
Marcus Thomas, DT, Broncos (121) – Don’t get it twisted about this pick, Thomas would have been a first round pick if he didn’t have so many off field issues at Florida last year. However, the Broncos unloaded a ton of picks (including a third rounder in ‘08) to move up and take the talented, yet controversial Thomas. Now, one could argue that if he fulfills his potential, it was all worth it, but you generally don’t give up multiple picks for a troublemaker. Other questionable moves: The Steelers traded a fourth and a sixth round pick to Green Bay in order to select punter Daniel Sepulveda. Granted he’s the top rated punter in the draft, but he’s still a punter…and the Steelers gave up two picks for him…yikes.

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