“How long should you try? Until.“
- I don’t know how you could possibly look over the last decade of Mavericks basketball and not find Mavs-Spurs as the epic, enduring narrative. The Mavs have had plenty of individual heartbreaks, but no other opponent has provided the shear number of intriguing contests, in the playoffs and otherwise. There are almost too many good games between the two, and last night was no exception.
- The defensive key against San Antonio is to take away the threes from the wing and the corner. When healthy, Tim Duncan (31 points, 12-19 FG, 12 rebounds, five assists) is going to get his, just as he did against Erick Dampier and Drew Gooden. But if the Mavs can prevent Tony Parker from walking to the rim and put some pressure on the Spurs’ shooters, they’re infinitely beatable. San Antonio outscored Dallas 26-19 in the third quarter behind 3-4 shooting from beyond the arc. But in the fourth quarter, when the Mavs’ offense exploded for for 42 and held the Spurs to just 23, the Spurs shot just 1-5. It’s no coincidence.
- On that note, Jason Kidd may be one of the best close-out artists in the league. He’s not a threat to block many shots, but he does a great job closing out on shooters without fouling and without sacrificing his defensive position. Somehow, Kidd is still in the picture even after a mad scramble to the perimeter, and it’s those subtle defensive maneuvers that make Jason a completely underrated defender at this stage of his career.
- Rodrigue Beaubois actually got some burn in the third quarter opposite Tony Parker. It took Roddy a few possessions to get in his groove defensively, but he did a great job of preventing TP from getting where he wanted and needed to go. Also some great pick-and-roll coverage by Roddy and the Maverick bigs over that stretch, which is kind of important against a combination like Duncan-Parker. Beaubois also showed some intermediate touch, nailing a midrange jumper and a floater in the lane.
- Jason Terry (21 points, 7-13 FG, eight assists, two steals) had an absolutely incredible game, and showed shades of villainy. One of the things I’ve never understood about the Mavs-Spurs rivalry is complete hatred of Jason Terry on the San Antonio side of the fence, but last night brought some clarity. After diving for a loose ball but losing it to George Hill, JET stuck out his leg to trip Hill for both utilitarian and vindictive reasons. Then, for good measure, he stood up to jaw with Hill before the two had to be separated. Terry hits big shots, isn’t shy about celebrating, and jaws with the best of them. Part of being good is being hated, and Terry is certainly that.
- Drew Gooden’s greatest asset as a Mav is his offensive rebounding (he had four last night). The scoring is nice, obviously, but Drew needs to continue to put in work on the offensive glass and get the Mavs more and more scoring opportunities. It’s the perfect way for Dallas to compensate for their low number of forced turnovers, which has long been a Maverick weakness (though they’re currently 17th in the league in opponent’s turnover percentage, which isn’t terrible).
- Oh, and by the way, the Mavs completely demolished the Spurs in the fourth quarter behind huge performances from JET, Dirk (26 points, 10-28 FG, five rebounds), and oddly enough, Erick Dampier (14 points, 6-6 FG, five boards). Terry (11, four assists), Nowitzki (16, two blocks), and Dampier (eight) combined for 35 of the Mavs’ 42 fourth quarter points, and dismantled the San Antonio D with a barrage of clutch threes (Dirk, JET, and yes, Damp) and back-breaking buckets. Tremendous quarter and game for those three, who put nails in the coffin, possession by possession.