As a convenience, I’ve assembled a number of predictions on Mavs-Spurs from writers here, there, and everywhere, with choice excerpts from some. Enjoy:
Eddie Sefko, Dallas Morning News: Mavs in 7
Unsolicited, two Mavericks who are going to have to deal with the P-n-R said that will be the key to everything. “It’s not really about matchups, it’s about stopping the pick and roll,” Eddie Najera said. “They’re really good at doing that. And then after that it’s individual defense. They like to get to the rim, so we got to try to build that wall early on and get a little physical. That’s what playoff basketball is about.”
Tim Cowlishaw, Dallas Morning News: Mavs in 7
Brad Townsend, Dallas Morning News: Mavs in 6
Jean-Jacques Taylor, Dallas Morning News: Mavs in 6
Angry Trey: Mavs in 6
Mike Monroe, San Antonio Express-News: Spurs in 6
Richard Oliver, San Antonio Express-News: Spurs in 6
Graydon Gordian, 48 Minutes of Hell: Spurs in 7
Michael De Leon, Project Spurs: Spurs in 7
Jeff Garcia, Project Spurs: Mavs in 6
Dave Berri, Wages of Wins: Spurs in 7
This is a very tough series to call. Dallas has home court. But San Antonio was the better team — in terms of differential — the entire season. I am going to give the edge to San Antonio, although my call requires that the Spurs win the last game of the series in Dallas.
John Hollinger, ESPN.com: Spurs in 6
I’ve been cynical about Dallas’ contender status (“Really?” Mavs nation says, “You don’t say?”), but the Mavs played much better over the final 10 days of the season and ended up with a respectable point differential over the final quarter of the season. The Mavs also are 23-7 since trading for Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood, which is superior to San Antonio’s 20-11 mark in that time.
The difference is that San Antonio played one of the league’s most difficult schedules over the final quarter of the season, while…Dallas played the league’s second-easiest schedule over the final quarter. Of the Mavs’ final 21 games, 12 were against lottery teams, two others were against the lottery-esque Bulls and one was against San Antonio’s scrubs — plus, 12 of the 21 games were at home. So only six of 21 were against playoff-caliber competition, and they lost four of those games (and two others).
Meanwhile, San Antonio faced a murderer’s row over the final month. Eleven of the Spurs’ final 17 opponents won 50 games, and two others (Memphis and Houston) were respectable, plus 10 of the 17 were on the road. In that time, the Spurs beat Cleveland, L.A., Orlando, Denver, Boston and Oklahoma City, and posted a better scoring margin against the brutal schedule than Dallas did against its parade of softies.
What I’m saying is that the records deceive — by most advanced measures, San Antonio appears to be the better team.
Steve Ilardi, APM expert and quantitative team consultant: Spurs in 6
Dallas is not nearly as good as its record might suggest, as indicated by its rather mediocre team efficiency (only +2.72 points per game). In contrast, the Spurs have been outscoring opponents by over seven points per game down the stretch with a healthy Manu leading the way. They should be strong enough to overcome the Mavs’ home-court edge.
Jeff Ma, former whiz kid and quantitative consultant to the Blazers: Spurs in 6
I think this is the matchup the Spurs wanted. The good news for the Mavs: They drew the second seed and have home-court advantage versus any West team not named the Lakers. The bad news? They face one of the top three teams in the conference in the first round. I think most would agree that the Spurs are one of the hotter teams in the West at this point. This series should be a good example of why the NBA is a matchup league and not a power-ranking league. Dallas’ strengths match up pretty closely with the Spurs’ weaknesses.
Neil Paine, Basketball-Reference: Spurs in 7
Kevin Pelton, Basketball Prospectus: Mavs in 7
The question then becomes, how much better is Dallas with the addition of Butler and Haywood? Since the All-Star break, the Mavericks’ point differential adjusted for schedule is +3.1 points per game. San Antonio is +4.4 in that span. That’s still a big difference for a playoff matchup, but not an overwhelming one. This series should be tremendously close and filled with ups and downs, but ultimately I see Dallas as the slight favorite.
Haralabos Voulgaris, Former Professional Gambler: Mavs in 7
Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don’t Lie: Spurs in 7
Here’s what will happen – possibly the best series you’ll see all year. This could be epic, especially if the shooting is on. The Spurs (ninth in offense, eighth in defense) seem to have the slight edge on paper while the Mavericks have the slight edge in getting to wear their white uniforms four out of seven games. I can’t give you any significant reason why either team will pull ahead. Just pull up a chair.
Trey Kerby, Ball Don’t Lie: Spurs in 7
No George Hill means Tony Parker and his kind-of-healed hand need to be a lot better than the Spurs were hoping when “Baguette” went down earlier this year. Without Hill, and with Parker still recovering, the Spurs might have trouble putting up enough points to hang with the Mavericks.
However, as any scholar of French history will tell you, a Frenchman’s hand heals faster than any other hand on Earth. It has something to do with Napoleon and the way he stuck his hand in his vest. Probably. I might have just made it up, but it sounds right.
Dan Devine, Ball Don’t Lie: Mavs in 7
Matt Moore, Hardwood Paroxysm: Mavs in 6
Oh, sure, they met last year. But no one really seems to remember it, like it was just wiped from our memories like Sun’s English. But throw out the season finale’s Manu-Duncan-Parker-less game, and the Mavs are still 9-2 against the Spurs lately. That’s pretty damn good. The Spurs have been so brilliant over the last decade it’s easy to forget that only three teams have eliminated them from postseason play in that timespan. The Los Angeles Lakers, the Phoenix Suns, WAY back in 99-00, and the Dallas Mavericks. The reason for this is the simple truth that Dallas’ core causes San Antonio fits.
Zach Harper, Hardwood Paroxysm: Mavs in 7
Jared Wade, Hardwood Paroxysm: Mavs in 7
Noam Schiller, Both Teams Played Hard: Spurs in 7
Literally anything can happen for with these teams. The Mavs look much more talented on paper – they have multiple scorers, they have a (still) elite floor general, they have the size to guard Duncan and they have two of the best closers in the league – and yet the Spurs have regained that Spurs aura in the past two months. Sure, Parker’s health is a concern, but when Manu is this good, the only way the Spurs lose is if they don’t get their production from Duncan. And if the difference between winning or losing is Tim Duncan, my bet is that you’re going to win.
Maurice Bobb, SLAM Online: Mavs in 6
Henry Abbott, ESPN TrueHoop: Spurs in 6
Chris Broussard, ESPN.com: Mavs in 7
J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: Mavs in 7
Chad Ford, ESPN.com: Mavs in 6
Tim Legler, ESPN.com: Mavs in 7
Jalen Rose, ESPN.com: Mavs in 6
Chris Sheridan, ESPN.com: Mavs in 7
Marc Stein, ESPN.com: Mavs in 6
David Thorpe, ESPN.com: Spurs in 7