Box Score — Play-by-Play – Shot Chart – Game Flow
You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- This game was a demonstration of how incredibly simple basketball can be at times; although intense basketball observers attempt to break the game down into dozens of very complicated, interrelated factors, Dallas was ultimately bested by effort, the extra pass, and the open three-pointer. And now, I will proceed to give you 16 more bullet points that are by no means arbitrary, but nonetheless seem rather silly in a game like this one.
- Manu Ginobili — as a defender — was two or three steps ahead of Rodrigue Beaubois for this entire game. It’s not uncommon to see a young playmaker be stifled by an older, craftier defender, but Ginobili’s ability to peg and deflect Beaubois’ moves was downright uncanny. It’s to Beaubois’ credit that he still managed to notch 10 points and five assists, but even that passable stat line doesn’t convey just how thoroughly marked Beaubois was throughout this particular game.
- It was certainly noteworthy that even with Shawn Marion’s return to the lineup — and after expressing some concern about Rodrigue Beaubois’ minutes inflating as a product of being in the starting lineup — Rick Carlisle elected to keep Beaubois in the opening set. Lineup variants involving Marion, Beaubois, Jason Kidd, and Dirk Nowitzki haven’t really played enough minutes together this season to be judged for their merits, but matchups depending, this could be a very sensible starting five (save Ian Mahinmi’s substitution for an injured Brendan Haywood) going forward.
- Dirk Nowitzki had an absolutely horrific game, in which he provided little impact aside from his willingness to seek out contact and put up shots. It was weary legs, it was San Antonio’s active, dynamic defense, and it was a stark contrast just to highlight Nowitzki’s usual efficiency, but most importantly from a game-specific context: it was an outright disaster. There’s simply no other way to look at his 5-of-21 shooting mark, his inability to make an impact on the defensive end, and his noncommittal work on the boards. I’m not saying Nowitzki wasn’t trying, but next to the exemplary effort that the Spurs put forth, it sure seemed like it at times.
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- Impetus of a physical object in motion.
- Impetus of a nonphysical process, such as an idea or a course of events
(definition from dictionary.com)
NBA games are all about momentum. In Game 4, the Spurs not only seized momentum when they came back from a double-digit deficit in the third quarter, they also managed that momentum effectively and didn’t allow the Mavs to take advantage of what appeared to be giant momentum shift in the fourth quarter.
Let’s take a look at the course of the game’s momentum shifts, including the woulda-coulda-shoulda moments in the fourth quarter when the Mavs couldn’t seem to regain the momentum despite a late-game push.
Momentum Shift #1: Shawn Marion made a layup on a pass from Jason Terry to put the Mavericks up 25-24, after being down 20-24. Immediately after, Matt Bonner missed a three and Brendan Haywood was fouled in the act of shooting. Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan re-enter the game, but didn’t accomplish much, and the Mavs took advantage of poor shooting by both of the Spurs’ stars to go up 15 with 2:33 remaining in the half.
Momentum Shift #2: With two minutes remaining in the half, Jason Terry rolled his ankle on a fast break layup attempt, which was blocked, and the subsequent Spur fast break ended in a Richard Jefferson dunk. The home crowd got back into the game in one sequence. Jason Terry went to the bench and the Spurs took control, outscoring the Mavericks 38-16 from this point until the start of the fourth quarter.
Should-have-been Momentum Shift #3: Dirk was called for a technical with 1:34 left in the third. On the very next play, Richard Jefferson was called for a flagrant foul for karate chopping Dirk as he went up for a shot. Normally, this course of events would cause a team to rally around their best player, start a run and not look back. Not in this game, though. By this point, the Mavericks had lost the lead and were trying to fight their way back into the game. When Dirk went to the line, the Mavericks were down 57-62. Dirk made both free throws, followed by a Terry missed jumper a George Hill corner three. Any chance of the Mavs gaining momentum was thrown out the window.
Should-have-been Momentum Shift #4: Eduardo Najera got ejected from the game after just 43 seconds of play for a flagrant 2 foul on Manu Ginobili. The Spurs should have completely blown the game open right here, and it looked like they were going to, when Manu made both free throws, then DeJuan Blair got a tip-in on the ensuing play, which made the score 61-70. But no, the next Mavericks possesion was……
Kind-of-was Momentum Shift #5: Blair was called for a flagrant on Jason Kidd (the third flagrant of the game, for those of you counting at home). This play was a small momentum shift, and it allowed the Mavs to get right back into the game, but they never could take back the lead.
All season long, we’ve heard Rick Carlisle and different members of the team talk about focus, or lack thereof. Even after Game 3, we’ve heard the same song and dance from Carlisle and Dirk about the team’s need to focus. I’m sure that for many, the notion that the Mavs would pull it together for the playoffs seemed like a given considering their veteran status. The team may have thought the same, because they look like they’re expecting the focus and drive to just come to them naturally. It hasn’t. Meanwhile, the Spurs are playing like the vetrans they are and are squelching the Mavs opportunities and confidence at every turn.
Basically, in Game 4, whenever the Mavericks should have taken control of the game due to their veteran leadership, instead they instead expected someone else on the team (Dirk) to carry them to victory.
In order for this series and season to be saved, the Maverick veterans need to take advantage of every opening the Spurs give them. Dirk is going to have to become as agressive as he was in Games 1 and 3, especially if the rest of the team is content to stand idly by while expecting Nowitzki to carry them to victory.
This post was written by Blaine Zimmerman. If you’d like to contact Blaine, drop a comment or email him at bzimmerman11b[at]gmail[dot]com.
- Sebastian Pruiti did a fantastic job at NBA Playbook of picking out the specific ways the Spurs were able to beat the Mavs’ zone last night. For starters, combining the three-guard lineup with the zone means that Jason Kidd is often guarding the likes of DeJuan Blair, which isn’t any fun at all.
- Johnny Ludden continues his coverage of the series with another excellent game-specific piece: “Hill and Blair felt right at home in the middle of it. Young and hungry, both from hardscrabble backgrounds, they have given the Spurs an edge, a toughness, they haven’t always had in recent years. They look the part – between the two of them they have more tattoos than the Spurs’ past three championship teams combined – and also play it. With Duncan making just a single shot and Ginobili missing 12, with Tony Parker looking almost as ordinary, Hill carried the Spurs’ offense, shedding his defenders with a series of crossovers and step-backs, throwing in five 3-pointers on his way to 29 points, just two fewer than the Spurs’ three stars totaled. The Mavs couldn’t keep a body in front of Hill or Blair, who scrapped and fought, frustrating the Dallas big men with his limitless energy…Three minutes into the second half, the Mavs led by 12. By the end of the third quarter, they were down seven, losing their grip on the game and maybe the series. Over the course of a week, Gregg Popovich’s dog pound had somehow transformed from poodle to pit bull.”
- Kelly Dwyer, peeking Behind the Box Score: “…[the Mavs] did play sound D on Duncan. Tim missed some chippies, but he only got nine shots off, clearly a function of the Dallas defense. The Mavs just didn’t have enough shot-makers running things in the second half, as Jason Kidd’s 3-10 mark actually raised his playoff shooting percentage to 28.6 percent from the floor. Even with all these nasty stats, this might be my favorite series thus far. Competitive basketball from two teams that just don’t seem to know any better. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle should be on the hot seat for some of his rotation choices, but I’m openly rooting for seven games. Rotate accordingly, Rick.”
- Kurt Helin at Pro Basketball Talk notes that the Mavs’ salary situation won’t allow for an easy off-season overhaul should they bow out early from the playoffs. I agree, but with one clarification: that’s never stopped Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson before. If they want to make moves and there are pieces available, they will make moves.
- Shawn Marion, via Marc Stein: “I’ve been in this situation. It can be done. I don’t see no fat lady.”
- According to Wayne Winston’s lineup ratings, the Mavs’ two most effective lineups have been of the three-guard variety.
- Apparently the Suns started focusing on their defense because of Jason Terry.
- ADDED: More glorious photo captioning courtesy of Doc Funk.
- ADDED: Dan Devine compiled a bevy of perspectives on Caron Butler’s poor play in Game 4 for Ball Don’t Lie. (H/T Phil in the comments.)
- ADDED: Henry Abbott, reflecting on a Hill-Beaubois parallel: “Watching that same game, I couldn’t help but marvel once again the value of young legs. Of course, in the playoffs, you can’t play anyone who makes a lot of mistakes, as some young players — including Hill, last year — do. But if you have a player who makes good decisions and has young legs … that’s awesome. Then, if you’re in Dallas, you have to wonder about the magical, but benched, Rodrique Beaubois. Was there no way to have him groomed to be ready, right now, to do such things for Dallas?”
- ADDED: Charles Barkley thinks that Caron Butler “is probably [the Mavs'] second best player and you’ve got to play him.” Really, Chuck? Really? (H/T Ben Q. Rock)
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images.
Box Score — Play-By-Play — Shot Chart — GameFlow
“Any event, once it has occurred, can be made to appear inevitable by a competent historian.”
Admittedly, I’m a bit tired of the Mavs being both incredibly predictable and uncomfortably surprising.
On the offenseive end, the Mavs’ limitations are the same old, same old: there aren’t enough players around Dirk who can create shots. Jason Terry’s pull-up game is nice but only when he’s hitting, Caron Butler’s ability to drive is comforting but he’s both resistant of it and can’t finish, and the rest of the Mavs are largely situational scorers that can only complete plays if put in very specific situations. For all of the moves, the money, and the hype, these Mavericks are more or less the same team that they’ve always been.
You can’t walk into every Maverick game knowing precisely what to expect, though. For one, it’s unclear exactly which opposing role player Dallas will allow to thoroughly demean them. Maybe it’s George Hill, like it was tonight, or Richard Jefferson, like it was in Game 2, or DeJuan Blair, like it was in the regular season finale. That’s one regard in which the Mavs will always keep their fans guessing, as you never know when they might give up 52 points to Andre Miller.
That’s the Dallas Mavericks in a nutshell: too predictable on offense, too unpredictable on defense. They have yet to find the magical balance where they can still bewilder their opponents without also startling themselves, and it’s that quality that separates the Mavs from the Spurs, much less teams like the Cavs or the Magic. It’s that quality that has Dallas on the brink of elimination, facing a seemingly impossible three-game gauntlet just to move on to the second round.
That fate is, of course, made even more depressing by a few factors. The Mavs led by 15 points in the first half, and looked to be responding well to the pressure of a “must-win” Game 4. Tim Duncan scored just four points on 1-of-9 shooting and Manu Ginobili shot 25% from the field despite tying the team high in shot attempts. Dallas was right there at the end yet again, despite playing one of the worst third quarters in the post-Greg Ostertag era. You’d think in a game where the Mavs held a substantial lead, the opposing Big Three totaled just 37 points, and their own shortcomings were remedied by a shot at greatness, that something would end up going Dallas’ way. It didn’t. The lead was an empty memory, the Spurs’ stars’ struggles were erased by an incredible game from George Hill, and the Mavs’ second-half struggles should haunt them long into the off-season.
This was a game Dallas could have won and should have won. They just didn’t, and while there is some consolation in knowing that all of the Mavericks’ losses have been close, that very fact also makes them incredibly heartbreaking.
I think it would be difficult to fully comprehend everything that happened in the third quarter. It was a bizarre intersection of turnovers, poor defense, and iffy shot selection, and the magnitude of that 12 minutes (or even the first six minutes, in which Dallas went completely scoreless) likely warrants a post of its own. Maybe the Mavs will miraculously climb out of the 1-3 hole they now find themselves in, and we can all laugh and reminisce about how dire it all seemed. But should the rest of the series play out as expected, Dallas won’t have died rolling over in Game 5, toughing it out in Game 6, or clawing to the last in Game 7. They’ll have fallen whiffing, caving, and settling in the third quarter of Game 4.
It’s a shame.
As I mentioned before, George Hill (29 points, 11-of-16 shooting) was beyond impressive. He was deadly from the corners, but just as efficient from mid-range. That’s what surprised me most about Hill’s performance: most of his damage came strictly from jumpers, as a loose ball found its way into his hands or he was left open off a pick-and-roll rotation. With Dirk (17 points on a measly 10 shot attempts, 11 rebounds, four assists, three turnovers) held down by Antonio McDyess and shackled by the Spurs’ double-teams, no Maverick could even attempt to match Hill’s scoring production. Terry (17 points, 5-of-11 FG, six rebounds) tried, and Butler (17 points on 18 shot attempts, three turnovers) really tried, but it wasn’t enough. Haywood and Kidd managed to chip in 10 apiece, but where is the scoring option that can take advantage of the double teams on Dirk? Where is the scorer that will elevate the Mavs above their .416 mark from the field?
The Spurs, by contrast, won in spite of subpar performances by their stars. Duncan couldn’t hit a thing (1-for-9), but it didn’t matter. Hill provided the scoring, DeJuan Blair was so good that his mortal offerings on the stat sheet (seven points, seven rebounds) seem like a joke, and Richard Jefferson was both more productive and more efficient than Tony Parker. It turns out that this is what depth looks like, and though the Mavs would seem to have it in spades, Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson seemed to have done nothing more than make the world’s most ferocious paper tiger.
This post honestly isn’t supposed to be an outright hit; there are still plenty of positive things to take out of Game 4 and the effort was there even if the execution wasn’t. But suffering another close loss by the Spurs’ hand doesn’t make this 1-3 deficit any less glaring or any more manageable. Dallas will need something truly remarkable to advance to the second round, and based on how the Spurs have answered the Mavs at almost every turn, deeming a comeback ‘improbable’ may be too kind.
- Jesse Blanchard from 48 Minutes of Hell discusses how the Spurs adjusted to contain Dirk: “Given the same looks he has gotten in the first two games, and they have been the same despite the vastly different outcomes, on most nights Nowitzki will produce a stat line that looks like 8-17 from the field and four to five free throw attempts. A great line, but hardly unmanageable.”
- Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie notes that the Mavs’ Game 2 offensive performance was atypical: “Dallas was stinko, in that regard. Save for the late comeback mentioned above (after trailing for double-digits for most of the contest, the Mavs got it down to five points before Duncan and Ginobili put it away), Rick Carlisle’s team consistently failed to connect on shots that, I’m sorry, they’ve consistently made for years.”
- Apparently, DeJuan Blair has a new nickname.
- Spurs owner Peter Holt responds to Mark Cuban’s comments regarding “hating” the Spurs: “Listen, there might be some people in the league that are mad at him, but I’m not mad at him. Anything that raises the awareness is only good for us.”
- Johnny Ludden of Yahoo explains Tim Duncan’s post-season focus, and with Duncan turning 34 on Sunday, Ludden spotlights the implications of Duncan’s age: “As much as anyone, Duncan settles into a rhythm in the postseason, which spares him the grind of back-to-back games. He’s at the age where any day off is a good day. Popovich’s decision to hold Duncan out of the season finale afforded him five days to rest before the playoffs. He received another two days before Game 2. ‘I’m feeling a lot better and I’m re-energized,’ Duncan said. That’s why it was imperative for the Spurs to win one of these first two games. The series now shifts to an every-other-day format, which should favor the deeper Mavs. The Spurs can’t ignore that reality, nor do they pretend Duncan is the same force he was seven seasons ago, when he won his second MVP award. Last year’s knee problems spurred him to lose 15 pounds during the summer, and no longer does he command a double team as often as he once did…But this, too, is also true: ‘He’ll never lose his skill set,’ Dirk Nowitzki said. Come Sunday, Duncan will have another birthday to celebrate, another game to play. And if the Spurs’ season needs saving again? Yes, Tim Duncan is both older and wiser. No one should think he is done.
- As usual, Rick Carlisle kept his cool during the post-game interview.
- Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas writes that when Kidd isn’t playing well, neither are the Mavericks.
This post was written by Blaine Zimmerman. If you’d like to contact Blaine, drop a comment or email him at bzimmerman11b[at]gmail[dot]com.
It’s a date: the Mavs savor the thought of playing the Spurs, and the Spurs apparently aren’t too intimidated by the Mavs. That much was certain based on how each coach chose to play the regular season’s final game, and now everyone gets what they want.
Photo by Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images.
This series is going to be excellent. I’m talking 2006 Western Conference semifinals excellent. It’s anyone’s guess as to whether or not this series is going to go the distance, but based on how Dallas and San Antonio match up, I’d honestly be shocked if there was a single blowout. We’re looking at at least six games of stellar, well-executed, well-coached, and entertaining basketball.
Let me get this out of the way early: if you’re a Mavs fan and you think this series is going to be a cakewalk, you’re sadly mistaken. Many a MFFL fancied this match-up over a series with the Thunder, (healthy) Blazers, or Suns, but a lot of that is familiarity. The Spurs are so familiar to Mavs fans because of their status in the Southwest division, their location, and their frequent playoff battles with Dallas. So in this case, I think the fans (and possibly the Mavs) prefer the devil they know…even if they don’t know him all that well.
The Spurs that we’ve saw in last season’s playoffs barely resembles this model, largely because a healthy Manu Ginobili is capable of making an MVP-level impact. He’s certainly one of the top shooting guards in the game, and not only has he been out of his element a bit over the last few seasons, but he skipped last year’s playoff series with Dallas entirely due to injury. As a result, the Mavs won in 5 and the games honestly weren’t as competitive as precedent would have predicted. Dallas’ 2006 win over San Antonio was a huge step in the evolution of the rivalry, but the 2009 series between the two teams had a completely different dynamic. Even though both series fell well short of the Spurs usual title aspirations, the 2009 playoffs brought something new to San Antonio: shame. They can excuse away the loss with Manu’s absence, but never before had the Spurs been so thoroughly embarrassed by the Mavs.
Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images.
The storylines from San Antonio are primarily concerning those two elements: Manu’s renaissance and the Spurs’ revenge. Understandably so, as Ginobili should be both feared and respected, and the same should go for this entire San Antonio team. They’re quite formidable. If the Mavs’ offensive and defensive ratings for the season are a bit misleading due to the trade and — Dallas hopes — a legitimate mini-surge to close the regular season, the the Spurs’ are even more so. Tony Parker missed 26 games this season due to injury, and while he isn’t quite up to his 2008-2009 scoring level, he looked more than capable against the Mavs in the regular season finale.
That’s significant. If Parker is as ready as he seems, he could end up causing a lot of match-up problems for the Mavs alongside Ginobili. If it’s just Manu doing considerable damage, then the Mavs are well-equipped to contain him. Shawn Marion’s perimeter defense has been superb this year, particularly against elite opponents. Ginobili certainly qualifies. Caron Butler also has shown himself to be an aggressive defensive alternative for highly productive wings as well, with perhaps his keynote performance coming just five games ago against Brandon Roy. Like Ginobili, Roy is an atypical cover; he’s not a 2 that’s reliant on incredible athleticism, and his strength lies in his ability to change speeds and confuse defenders. I wouldn’t say that Ginobili is an extremely similar player, but he and Roy are similar in their deviance from the 2-guard norm. That doesn’t prove that Butler is a great option for defending Manu, but it does at least show that Caron can defend unconventional off guards. Beyond that, Jason Kidd is terrific defender at the two, and DeShawn Stevenson has done fine defensive work over the last two weeks.
Unfortunately, it’s never quite as simple as locking in one defender on one opposing player and calling it a day. The Mavs’ general defensive strategy against teams such as the Spurs is to overload on the initiator of the offense, which in this case would be Manu. Even if Ginobili has technically been listed at the two, the team is in his hands when he shares the floor with George Hill. It’s not an issue of who plays what position but who takes on what roles, and Ginobili’s spot in the Parker-less Spurs’ offense is to initiate. He’s the one triggering plays and he’s the one making entry passes. As a response, not only does Dallas typically cover such a threat with a long-armed, athletic wing defender, but they throw all kinds of pressure at them. You’ll see the Mavs completely blitz the ball-handler on the pick-and-roll. You’ll see them trap the initiator as soon as he crosses half-court with the ball. You’ll see double teams coming from all over the place at various times, just to throw a stud like Manu off his game. The price of that is leaving Brendan Haywood or Erick Dampier to their own devices against Tim Duncan, but Rick Carlisle and the Mavs’ coaching staff have deemed that an acceptable risk.
Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images.
That strategy works pretty well, but if Tony Parker is as healthy and dominant as he’s capable of being? Trouble. Big trouble. Parker is the one player on the Spurs that the Mavs don’t have a good match-up for. Should Tony start feeling like his former self, it’s likely that Dallas would be forced to go with speed without considerable defensive skill (J.J. Barea, Rodrigue Beaubois) or size without considerable speed (Butler, Marion, Stevenson). Both could work, as J.J. showed in spots in last season’s playoffs, but if you’re Rick Carlisle, do you feel particularly great about those players trying to handcuff a fully-effective Tony Parker?
Brendan Haywood and Erick Dampier are thus far more useful than simply acting as the large bodies between Tim Duncan and the basket. Don’t get me wrong, their post defense is still important. Really important. But should Parker start revving up, Haywood and Damp’s ability to protect the rim will be fairly essential. Neither has to be Dwight Howard, but having some kind of deterrent in the middle will be Dallas’ best shot at curtailing Tony’s production.
Then again, Tony Parker hasn’t been himself this season. He isn’t playing like the player that torched the Mavs a year ago, and even if he is, Dallas is a better team than they were then. The Mavs aren’t a great team, don’t get me wrong. I still stand firmly committed to the fact that this team has, on the whole, played mediocre basketball, regardless of whether you want to look at their season-long or simply post-deadline performance. But Dallas knows and matches-up with San Antonio so well, that the only thing putting the Spurs way over the top is a suddenly resurgent Parker.
Photo by Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images.
Otherwise, we’ve pretty much got a coin flip on our hands. No one on the Spurs’ roster can really cover Dirk, and he’s not going to be flummoxed by Popovich’s defensive pressure. Tim Duncan will likely be prevented from completely dominating, though he’ll still be very productive. Jason Kidd will hit big spot-up threes and run the offense expertly, but the Spurs defense will be ready and waiting. Jason Terry and Caron Butler can combine to eclipse Manu Ginobili’s scoring, Shawn Marion can cancel out Richard Jefferson’s production, and the Mavs’ bench offers more versatility than the Spurs’. Rick Carlisle is an excellent coach, but Gregg Popovich is an all-time great coach. It’s point-counterpoint all the way up and down the rosters, and while that’s not likely to let MFFLs sleep easy over the next few weeks, it’s absolutely brilliant for this series’ entertainment value.
The only conclusive fact that anyone should have to say about this series is that it’s going to be close. If you’re resolved that either team should win outright, you’re probably wrong. Every game will be a battle, but I’ll take Dallas in seven. I’m picking the Mavs because I think Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry are in a great offensive rhythm right now, and I trust in the Mavs’ ability to contain Manu Ginobili. I think home court advantage matters, and a playoff atmosphere should remedy Dallas’ woes at home. I don’t trust Tony Parker’s ability to dominate the series like he did a year ago, but I do trust the balance of the Mavs’ offense. As good as George Hill and DeJuan Blair are, I don’t think they’re going to step out of themselves to become x-factors. This Dallas team is in a good place right now, is brimming with confidence, and knows they can beat the Spurs.
All that’s left is for them to go out and do it.
Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images.
Box Score — Play-By-Play — Shot Chart — GameFlow
“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.“
It’s over. The ending wasn’t pretty nor did it provide much in the way of closure, but the Mavs have played out the regular season to its less than thrilling conclusion. Dallas won in the least glamorous way imaginable: they beat a Manu and Duncan-less Spurs team to avoid any significant questions about a final-game meltdown, but failed to rest their starters or build upon the last week’s success.
Not much to take away from this 48 minutes either way. Neither the Spurs nor the Mavs are as bad as they looked, and neither pulled out all the stops. For Dallas, it was about winning with the least amount of effort possible, which was something of a success (only 28 minutes for Jason Kidd) but also a bit of a failure (fairly competitive late into the fourth quarter). Ultimately, the contest itself mattered for little other than its result. Both sides got what they wanted, as evidenced by Gregg Popovich folding before the first round of betting and Rich Carlisle seeing the game out until the very end.
Still, due to the specific circumstances facing both teams, it’s safe to say that last night’s events were rather unique. Among the things you shouldn’t count on seeing on a regular basis during the Mavs’ series against the Spurs:
- The obvious: Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan did not play. I’d suspect Pop might alter that strategy for the playoffs.
- Dirk Nowitzki (19 points, 8-20 FG, five rebounds, five assists) will not be so wide open. Dirk’s poor shooting percentage certainly wasn’t because the Spurs player particularly good defense, and Nowitzki had clean look after clean look from mid-range. He just couldn’t convert, which is another thing I wouldn’t count on.
- DeJuan Blair finished with 27 and 23 in 37 minutes.
- The Spurs shot 9.1% from three-point range. San Antonio is the eighth best three-point shooting team in the league, and they averaged 36.2% for the season.
- Between them, the Mavs and Spurs averaged 95.4 offensive efficiency. That’s nearly 12 full points below their combined season average, and marked an especially dismal night that I’m sure both teams would like to forget.
- George Hill played just five minutes. After hitting a layup in the first quarter, Hill stepped on a cameraman sitting baseline and tweaked his ankle. Hill left the game, and did not return. Count on him to be healthy by the time Game 1 rolls around on Sunday night, or at least healthy enough to play more than five minutes. As such, Garrett Temple (14 points, three assists), who filled in for Hill after he headed to the locker room, won’t be as significant of a player once the games start to carry serious weight.
- Jason Kidd (18 points, 5-12 FG, three assists, seven rebounds ) had to carry the Mavs with his scoring at times. With a more typical rotation in place and hopefully more interested teammates, that shouldn’t be the case come this weekend.
- Neither team looked particularly motivated to really come out and play. For the Spurs, it was as simple as pulling a few starters and mailing in the night. The Mavs were definitely thrown by the move, and were thrown into a funk as a result. This is hardly the first time Dallas has come out flat against a team missing its star players, but what we’ve learned in the past is that games like these are rarely representative of either team’s level of effort or execution under slightly more normal circumstances.