Mavs' many combos make them almost unbeatable

Originally Published: May 23, 2006
By John Hollinger | ESPN Insider
There's strength in numbers, and nowhere is that more evident right now than in the Western Conference finals.

On the one hand we have the incredible shrinking Suns, who might be down to a four-man rotation by the time you read this. They lost center Amare Stoudemire in September and then again in March. They lost Kurt Thomas in February and seem terrified to put him back in after three months of inactivity. Then they lost Raja Bell in Game 2, and may only have a shadow of the normal Bell tonight.

The Suns weren't known as a deep team even before those injuries. And the losses have been compounded by several reserves playing their way practically out of the rotation. Eddie House, for instance, was a frequent fourth-quarter contributor during the regular season, but you get the impression Mike D'Antoni would rather clip his tongue to a car battery than play House in crunch time now. Against the Clippers he took five straight DNPs, and he still hasn't hit double figures in a single playoff game after scoring 10 or more on 34 occasions during the regular season.

James Jones has had similar trouble, shooting 34.6 percent and not exceeding 10 points in the postseason despite ample playing time.

As a result, the Suns could find themselves playing Game 6 with what amounts to a five-man rotation -- the four usual starters and supersub Leandro Barbosa, replacing Bell.

Contrast that with the Mavericks, who unquestionably are the deepest team in the NBA right now.


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