The Difference: San Antonio Spurs 99, Dallas Mavericks 93

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 31, 2010 under Recaps | 9 Comments to Read

Screen shot 2010-12-31 at 12.39.37 AM

Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
San Antonio107.653.323.718.415.2

You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.

  • It would be unfair to lump the weight of a loss on one player in any game, but Jason Terry (eight points, 3-16 FG, four assists) makes the idea awfully tempting. Last I checked, JET was supposedly the Mavs’ most efficient non-Dirk scorer, and yet his shooting stroke was lost but never found. There were no late-game heroics (aside from a pair of three-pointers swished after the game had been decided) from Terry, only well-intended attempts each flawed in their own special way. He drove to draw fouls rather than score. He took a three from a good foot-and-a-half behind the three-point line, just for kicks. He pulled up and pulled up and pulled up in the hope that something would go down. Whatever pixie dust JET has benefited from in the past seems to have disappeared over the last two games, so if anyone knows a good supplier of magically enchanted performance-enhancing goods or potions, Terry might be interested.
  • The Mavs’ defense wasn’t sterling, but it was surely competent. In man and zone alike, Dallas put forth a strong defensive effort, and though the execution was hardly pitch-perfect at every turn, the Mavs did about as well as one could ask — while throwing two deep bench players into the regular rotation — against San Antonio’s impressive offensive front. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili combined to shoot 10-of-27 from the field, and though Ginobili’s three-pointers were pretty crucial, I think the Mavs can live with that shooting mark.
  • If one Maverick lived up to expectation and then some, it was Caron Butler (30 points, 10-21 FG, ). The oft-maligned wing was an efficient scoring machine, and the one stable aspect of the Mavs’ offense all game long. Jason Kidd started off hot but faded fast, Jason Terry sputtered throughout, and Caron worked his way into good attempts. The Mavs’ offense isn’t sustainable without Dirk, but Caron did his part to keep the team afloat. Toss in plus performances by Tyson Chandler, Brian Cardinal, and Alexis Ajinca (who leapfrogged Brendan Haywood in the rotation, if only for this game), and the Mavs almost stole a win. They competed, but their offensive limitations combined with Terry’s struggles were too much to overcome. (Also: the Spurs switched every 1-4 pick-and-roll, pitting George Hill and Tony Parker up against Shawn Marion in the post. The Mavs found some success going to that match-up, but they never attacked it. Why?)
  • All hail the vaunted zone. It broke down at times (as any D is ought to do), but the match-up zone again keyed substantial runs for the Mavs that helped them overcome the Spurs 14-point first-half lead. It continues to amaze me how seamlessly Dallas can transition from zone to man and back again, as if each didn’t require a distinct mentality and its own approach.
  • Three-point shooting seems a popular theme, but it’s not as if the Spurs were the only team hitting their looks from beyond the arc. Gary Neal hit a dizzying 5-of-8 threes en route to 21, but Cardinal hit all three of his attempts, and Jason Kidd nailed 2-of-5 from deep. It’s a point of separation in a close game, but even the Spurs’ blistering shooting was countered. Plus, if we’re looking to long-range shooting as a distinction between the Mavs and the Spurs, then offensive rebounding should surely be taken into account; San Antonio bested Dallas by nearly 10% in offensive rebounding rate.
  • Jason Kidd (12 points, 5-15 FG, 10 rebounds, 13 assists) notched a triple-double, which deserves note. Like much of the Mavs’ efforts though, it was a bit empty. Dallas never felt like they were ready to actually win the game, instead seemingly content to have fought hard and ceded in the final act. It’s a commendable loss if such a thing exists, but I’ll be damned if there didn’t seem to be a bit of destiny involved. Caron Butler may not have gotten the memo, but Dallas wasn’t scripted to be the plucky underdog.
  • Jtex53

    The Spurs better find another big player for the middle or this one area will come up to haunt them come playoff time. They don't need to be big all the time but need it off the bench against teams like the Mavs, Lakers and Celtics. Their uptempo fast breaks is what's keeping them winning. Remove Manu or Parker things would get much tougher. The can beat some teams that are bigger in the middle, with their speed but not all and it will eventually surface probably at the worst possible time, the playoffs! When you have a future HOF coach with Popovich, I expect the height issue in the middle to eventually be addressed by a trade. I hate to say it but Charles Barkley is correct. With the aquistion of some height and hopefully Splitter will eventually come into his own. Still the Spurs are a very, very good team, with a minor tweak the may become scary good! GO SPURS GO!!!!

    • robin

      i still believe, splitter just have to have the chance to be on the court…he has the pedigree and experience to be one of the toughest/solid player that can contribute offensively(at least 10pts minimum) and defensively(where he is expected to help a lot) and rebounds(another aspect where he is expected to help)…if he can get that court time, im should he should be solid come playoff time…

  • Titletown99030507

    Good point Jtex53 as I've said since day 1. Splitter has to play first in order to come into his own. What an opportune time for Splitter to get more real experience but wasted again on the bench. Come on coach what gives? Splitter has already shown he can be on an NBA court. What are you doing picking straws when blair can't compete to select your next center to come off the bench. (2 straws McDyess, and Bonner, Really coach. The best time was last night to see McDyess and Splitter come off the bench. Oh well, It aint broke so don't fix it. That is so tired already. You better have something ready for the play offs. 3 years waiting and 3 million $ on the bench. NUTS! Why don't you not start blair in games like this from the beginning and give those min to Splitter? He needs them.

    • robin

      this is what im really having trouble understanding, on why coach pop have refused to field in tiago…he really shows that he can mix it up with the big boys, he just have to have the chance…

  • Dr. Clarkus

    New to the site. Really like the write up. A couple of questions. is TOR = turnover ratio? And is the significance of FT/FG to see how relatively aggressive the team is? I googled, but couldn't find an answer. Thanks again.

    • Rob Mahoney

      Welcome, Doc. Make yourself at home.

      TOR = turnover rate, or the percentage of that team's possessions that end in a turnover.

      And yeah, FT/FG more or less measures how aggressive a team is. But more accurately, it's a measure of free throw frequency that accounts for pace. Rather than just look at FTM/A, you can see how a team is getting to the line irrelevant of how fast or slow the game is.

      • Dr. Clarkus

        Thanks for the reply Rob. Is there a good place to check out those stats for the rest of the league and historically?

  • Bgalella

    DeJuan Blair is a nice player, but Tiago Splitter should be the starter in San Antonio.

  • Charles M. Reed

    I know this isn't the ideal place to air such grievances, but these injuries aren't just decimating the Mavs' roster, they're decimating my spirit. We're in the midst of a severe gut check, boys and girls.