By Will Martin
This series has been anything but boring through four games. Although tied at two, an argument can be made that the Mavericks could have pulled off the surprise sweep if not for an Easter meltdown with seven minutes to go in San Antonio. On the heels of an exciting walk-off three by Vince Carter in Game 3 there were some similar circumstances that we were privy to in Game 4.
In the event you didn’t get a chance to watch here were the specifics of Game 4-a tale of two games.
Dallas would jump off to leads of 12-2 and 16-8 before San Antonio would rattle off a 40-11 run right before the half and then proceed to a halftime lead of 50-36. An 8-2 run propelled the Spurs lead to 58-38 before the Dallas Mavericks came roaring back to tie things up at 75, 77, and 79 apiece.
In that crazy sequence of double digit comeback be advised that had the Mavericks held on to win this game as the #8 seed they would have set NBA postseason history for a deficit overcome. That also happened to be against the Spurs in 2003 (19 points). To the credit of San Antonio, Manu Ginobli came to play and had no problems driving into the basket to the tune of 23 points to offset a 20 point night from Monta Ellis.
The Spurs bench also came up big to outscore Dallas 50-30. Boris Diaw was key with 17 points contributed including a three point dagger that sealed the fate of Game 4 in favor of the Spurs 93-89 and a series now tied at 2-2.
The Dallas Mavericks get to ask themselves what if. What if they had not shot so poorly in the first half of this game? What if DeJuan Blair had not made the mistake of committing a hostile act on Tiago Splitter with three minutes to go? What if the Mavericks didn’t miss ten free throws at crunch time (going 18 for 28)? What if Dirk got looks at game’s end instead of Monta and Vince? Why has Dirk been struggling to get above 20 points all series?
That’s a lot of what ifs…
Consider also the following: From the half way point of period one until the eight minute mark of the third period Dallas allowed the Spurs to outscore them 32-13 in the second period and 56-26 in the time allotted. That’s not how you try to get a #1 seed on the ropes when you’re at home.
One saving grace for Dallas: The bench play of DeJuan Blair! At one point during the comeback of being 20 down Blair had ten points, ten rebounds in all of ten minutes. His physicality was causing chaos for the Spurs to be able to maintain any sense of continuity. Right before getting ejected for kicking the side of Tiago Splitter’s head (which he wasn’t trying to do he states) Dallas was neck and neck with the Spurs. Blair left the game with 12 points, 11 rebounds in just under 16 minutes.
Here’s DeJuan Blair addressing the media:
After the game Rick Carlisle didn’t want to talk about comebacks. He was more on edge over the lack of performance in the first 24 minutes of the game.
“I’m so disappointed in our no-show in the first half that it’s hard for me to mitigate it with fight for 24 minutes out of 48 minutes in a game with this kind of meaning. So, I’m glad we showed that we were willing and able to fight in the second half but the way we performed, just competitively, is inexcusable.”
Also a bit of a head scratcher was the inability of Monta Ellis being able to connect on a layup with under a minute to go in a two point game before Manu went to the foul line to close things out. Ellis had himself a 20 point night but shots just weren’t falling. Here’s Monta for his take on what didn’t happen.
Expect Game 5 to be even more intense now that momentum has returned to the Spurs favor. Dirk is very due for a high scoring game. The Mavericks will have to keep turnovers to a minimum. Samuel Dalembert did a nice job of wiping the glass with 15 rebounds in Game 4. He’ll need to do more of that for Game 5. Two areas of concern I have are Dirk going one on one and getting pounded by Tiago Splitter. Keep an eye on Kawhi Leonard being deadly from the three point line at the corners. If indeed Tony Parker’s bum ankle continues to be an issue this could work in Dallas’ favor should they be able to contain and keep Duncan and Ginobli off target.
11 times the Dallas Mavericks have gone into a half trailing by double digits. They are 1-10 in those games. San Antonio was 47-3 when leading at the half. If the lead was double digits Spurs go 28-0! Since San Antonio was up eight points at the start of the 4th period know that the Spurs in 2013-2014 are 54-1 when leading after three quarters.
By the time you get to reading this a verdict will undoubtedly have been passed down on the fate of Donald Sterling for remarks made that were racist and offensive courtesy of a secretly taped audio recording by an estranged ex-girlfriend. Mark Cuban had chosen to remain quiet and abide by whatever Adam Silver decreed within the laws of the NBA constitution.
Right before Game 4 Mark Cuban addressed some very important topics with regards to Don Sterling and the fear of ‘walking a slippery slope’. Here’s Mark Cuban in his entirety. Well worth the listen. The Mavericks owner makes some great sense as always.
Series to Date:
Game 1: Spurs 90 Mavericks 85 – Spurs Lead 1-0
Game 2: Mavericks 113 Spurs 92 – Series Tied 1-1
Game 3: Mavericks 109 Spurs 108 – Mavericks Lead 2-1
Game 4: Spurs 93 Mavericks 89 – Series Tied 2-2
4/30 Mavericks vs Spurs 6:00 p.m.
5/2 Spurs vs Mavericks TBD
5/4 Mavericks vs Spurs TBD *If Necessary