TNT studio analyst Charles Barkley, known for his strong opinions, second-guessed Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson for going with a small lineup in the Mavs’ 97-85 loss to Golden State in the opener of the first-round playoff series Sunday night in Dallas.
“I’m disappointed in Dallas for changing their starting lineup,” Barkley said at halftime. “They have the best record in the NBA and they changed their lineup to go small against these guys. When you’ve got the best record, you don’t change up to go against the worst team in the playoffs. You can get every offensive rebound, and on defense it’s very simple. Keep them in front of you and force them to shoot jump shots.
“If you’re a big man, you’re foaming at the mouth to play against Golden State. You’re going to get lay-ups and offensive rebounds all night since they got all those midgets out there. What’s my rule? Keep paint under your feet because they are going to switch everything and double everything. All teams that do that have one thing in common, they can’t play defense.”
The series continues with Game 2 at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday on TNT.
Barkley, by the way, paid tribute to Hornets center Tyson Chandler in his regular-season awards, naming him co-most improved player of the year along with Nets forward/center Miki Moore.
On the Spurs-Nuggets telecast Sunday night, Kevin Harlan and Doug Collins joked about Harlan’s Kansas ties during the Spurs-Nuggets telecast Saturday night. Said Harlan about fellow KU alum and Spurs guard Jacque Vaughn: “This is defense he learned at the University of Kansas.” Responded Collins: “I was waiting for that shameless promo, we’ve had enough promos tonight without promoting the Jayhawks.”
TNT studio analyst Magic Johnson, who predicted the Nuggets might upset the Spurs in the series, looked like a prophet after the Nuggets’ 95-89 victory in Game 1. Johnson said, “They (the Nuggets) are more mature, Carmelo (Anthony) understands what’s at stake. They are running Nene at Tim Duncan and then (Marcus) Camby at Tim Duncan and then even (Eduardo) Najera to play him. They have enough guys to beat him up and play physical and who can still score. This is not the same San Antonio Championship team. Denver is a little quicker then San Antonio this year.”
FSN Southwest spotlights Sooners: If you missed FSN Southwest’s half-hour installment on OU as part of its Big 12 Spring Football Tour, you have several times to catch it again this week: 10 p.m. Tuesday, 10 p.m. Thursday and 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The theme of this year’s series is Turning Points with each show featuring a segment highlighting the biggest play of 2006 as selected by the coach. The OU episode includes highlights from the Red-White game, interviews with coaches and players and a 2007 season preview. The Turning Point focuses on quarterback Paul Thompson’s 35-yard, third-down completion from his own 1-yard line to freshman tight end Jermaine Gresham in the Big 12 Championship against Nebraska. Oklahoma State will be featured at 10 p.m. May 8.
NBC hires Weisman to produce studio show: Michael Weisman has been named to head production for NBC’s “Football Night in America” pregame show. Weisman, winner of 22 Emmy Awards, promises to make the show more fun. He faces a challenge in trying to split up air time for his team that includes Bob Costas (host), Cris Collinsworth (co-host), Keith Olbermann (co-host), Jerome Bettis (analyst), Tiki Barber (analyst) and Peter King (reporter).