By Will Martin
April 10th was a microcosm of what no team wants to deal with when you speak about the success story that has been the San Antonio Spurs under the friendly (sic) tutelage of Gregg Popovich.
The Dallas Mavericks were beaten handily on this night 109-100 to extend a current losing to nine in a row against the Spurs.
They are nine different players on the roster who are not American who just pass the ball and work the clock every 23 and a half out of 24 seconds. It’s really that simple.
One could try to create a whole slew of pseudo theories as to what the Dallas Mavericks will need to do if they hope to compete, much less get past the San Antonio Spurs.
I highly doubt they will. Dallas will be lucky to make this a five game series much less a sweep. Granted in a second season sometimes the unthinkable can happen. Before we go that route lets do a quick video visit with what turned out to be a very loose knit group of players getting ready 48 hours prior to heading to San Antonio.
Dallas had a successful run of luck on the road to complete a 49-32 season. When you look at what made the Spurs so successful this year how about not allowing the Mavericks a lead at any time after the first period in any given game? Average margin of victory has been 11.5 points. Monta Ellis managed to average 21.3 points per meeting.
While Dirk is the barometer of what the Mavericks can do when he’s on and feeling it, if you take Monta out of the equation then the impetus is really on DeJuan Blair or Samuel Dalembert to defend and contain in the paint.
The system under Pops has been as follows: Pass, pass, spacing, keep passing and hit the open guy for a high percentage shot, usually from the corner or at the baseline.
Dirk in four meetings with the Spurs this season has averaged 18.5 points being guarded by Boris Diaw for the most part. Once you get past the initial game plan of relying heavily on Dirk and Monta if that isn’t clicking then you look for a spark off the bench with the tandem of Vince Carter and Devin Harris.
You could try to create some mismatches while placing Dirk at the #5, no doubt going one on one with Tim Duncan. That would work for a while before adjustments are made. Vince Carter had a few ideas of his own about how to handle the Spurs. Here’s Vince…
For this last practice before the start of the playoffs on April 20th at 12 noon along the Riverwalk indeed I was struck by how loose everyone appeared. If it was just for show then Dallas goes through the motions and realizes they bought an extra week of playing time.
Looking back on the 2013-2014 season how many games were there in which a double digit lead was lost? In March there was an eight game homestand where a 6-2 mark places them in the number 6 or seven seed.
Instead that homestand, their first ever of eight straight home games was disastrous as three of the games went to overtime and Dallas lost games by 1 point, 2 points, and 3 points. Lack of defense obviously.
Prior to that season ending one point loss to Memphis everyone locally was looking forward to a Dallas/Oklahoma City matchup. One more point, one more victory, one more game held defensively and we are talking about a 7-seed, 6-seed, maybe higher. Rick Carlisle also took some time to address some team issues prior to Game 1 tipoff.
“It’s a showcase for two of the 12 greatest players of all time,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “Both of those guys have been more than 10-time All-Stars, league MVP and Finals MVP. There’s only a dozen guys that have done that and you got two of them. … So this is a treat for people who appreciate NBA basketball and the history of the game. You got two guys whose love and respect for the game is so high and their work ethic and standards are so high that they’ve kept it going in their mid-30s as well as anybody I’ve ever seen.”
Dirk for the record had nothing but high praise for fellow veteran Tim Duncan.
“I like him,” Nowitzki said of Duncan. “I think he’s about as quiet of a superstar as you can get, and, obviously, I’m not the rah-rah guy for my 16 years, either. We’re both pretty laid-back and go about our business. We didn’t try to make a ‘brand’ out of our names. We’re just trying to go out there and win games and compete.
The history of success a #8 has versus #1 are few and far between. 20 years ago (come Mothers Day) I’ll remember the heartache I felt when the Supersonics blew a 2-0 lead to the Nuggets and the sight of Dikembe Mutombo on the floor clutching a basketball and crying.
While the Mavericks indeed enjoyed an eight game improvement over 2012-2013 there’s no way Dallas gets past San Antonio. The Spurs are by far the best team I saw play this basketball season. Pops and team want to erase the horrible memory of Game 6 and a title a mere 21 seconds away.
Too much Manu Ginobli, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, Kawhi Leonard, Patty Mills, Tiago Splitter and company shall make easy work of the Dallas Mavericks this round of play.
Spurs in 4. No two ways around it. Here’s to next year Dallas.
4/20 @Spurs 12:00 pm
4/23 @Spurs 7:00 pm
4/26 vs Spurs 3:30 pm
4/28 vs Spurs 8:30 pm
4/30 @ Spurs TBA *If Necessary
5/2 vs Spurs TBA *If Necessary
5/4 @ Spurs TBA *If Necessary