Saturday, May 04, 2002

Mavericks, Kings set to light up scoreboard

Series pits highest-scoring teams in NBA

Enquirer news services

        Today, the NBA's future might be on display when the Dallas Mavericks visit the Sacramento Kings in a second round Western Conference series.

        The series pairs the two highest-scoring teams in the league.

        “This is great basketball,” said Steve Nash, the Mavs' All-Star point guard. “I think getting up and down and running is the essence of the sport. It's kind of got bogged down recently, and that's unfortunate. The beauty of this game is to get out and run and to move the ball and shoot the ball and take shots.

        “We've got away from that in the NBA. Hopefully, there's a lot more shooters and skill players coming along, and we can see some of this athleticism and skill come together. It really makes for an exciting, aesthetically pleasing game.”

        This Western Conference semifinal pits two teams that overcame decades of mediocrity with similar blueprints. As directed by innovative coaches Don Nelson and Rick Adelman, both teams prefer to push the ball, then shoot from everywhere on the court.

        “I really can't see a shot clock being used in these games,” Dallas' Nick Van Exel said.

        Friday night, Paul Pierce's 46 points helped the Boston Celtics eliminate the defending Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia 76ers 120-87 before a capacity crowd of 18,624 at the Fleet Center in Boston.

        The Celtics claimed their first playoff series victory since Larry Bird retired in 1992.

        Third-seeded Boston will visit second-seeded Detroit on Sunday afternoon in Game 1 of the conference semifinals.

        San Antonio defeated Seattle 101-78 in Game 5 of their Western Conference first-round series late Friday. The Spurs will play the Lakers on Sunday.

        And for the players, this style is just as much fun to play as it is to watch. When Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley asked Mike Bibby where he would prefer to be traded last summer, Bibby immediately chose Sacramento.

        “There are guys around the league who would love to play on our team or on Dallas,” Bibby said. “This is the most fun you can have in basketball. This is how you play when you're a kid. It's the most exciting for the fans, too.”


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