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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.
- Mark Cuban, via Tim MacMahon via The Jason Terry Show: “The Lakers have been playing worse than us,” Cuban said. “Utah has been playing well, but not as well as they were now that Andrei Kirilenko is out. And if we dial in, we know we can kill anybody.”
- Tom Ziller spells out why it makes sense for Dirk (and Yao Ming, as well) to opt-out this summer and sign a long-term deal. It definitely seems like the best move for Nowitzki on an individual level, though in this case the Mavs would be footing a substantially larger bill than they would otherwise. All indications point to the new CBA completely changing the free agent game, meaning that if Dirk choose not to opt-out this summer, he’ll likely end up signing a shorter, less lucrative deal.
- On The Basketball Jones’ mail show yesterday, Skeets and Tas reviewed some of the suggested nicknames for Rodrigue Beaubois. My personal favorite: the Beauboinic Plague.
- Manu Ginobili and the Spurs are close to a three-year, $40 million extension. That’s not good news for Mavs fans to see their division rivals keep a critical piece, but at the same time, the match-up wouldn’t be the same without Manu. The Spurs wouldn’t be the Spurs without Manu.
- Mark Cuban on the Western Conference, via the Dallas Morning News: “I think all eight teams are better than they were last year. I don’t think anybody’s really taken a step backwards, and we are better than last year, and we’re gonna have to be much better. But, I think, what it comes down to, there’s nobody in the Western Conference playoff run who’s afraid of any other team. Everybody’s beaten everybody. … It’s about injuries, and it’s gonna be who’s hot. … Whether you play San Antonio with the way (Spurs’ guard Manu) Ginobili’s playing, that’s not going to be easy. Portland, Oklahoma City, Phoenix – who is it that you want to play?”
- There will be no guaranteed starter for the Mavs at center.
- Dirk doesn’t seem to mind the fact that the Mavs will have to work themselves into a rhythm, especially against the leisurely stroll the Mavs did into the post-season in 2007.
- From Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News: “‘What’s important is that we’re jelling at the right time,’ said Wright, adding that Sunday’s win over Phoenix ‘was a big game for us to see where we are mentally…I don’t know too many teams that want to see the Mavericks right now. They can say what they want, but we’re a dangerous team.’ Perhaps. But moving up a rung or two on the playoff ladder would do more to get everybody’s attention than talking about it. ‘With the way our schedule is set up, this is a great test to see if we can make any noise,” Jason Kidd said. “We’ll be battle-tested.’” I wouldn’t be so sure, Antoine. A lot of teams want a piece of Portland, but when faced with the prospects of playing Portland or playing Dallas, who do you think the Lakers would pick? The Mavs have definitely been impressive, but those of us with long memories know that can’t last forever. Let’s just hope that this time around it lasts much longer, and is demonstrative of some real progress.
- Todd McKean lists the Mavs among the best teams to never win a championship on TrueHoop.
- It’s possible that Manu Ginobili’s injury won’t impact the Mavs whatsoever, unless Dallas can break through to the second round. But it’s still huge news, and still game-changing to those of us looking at a basketball scene that isn’t exclusive to Dallas. Check out the takes of Graydon Gordian and Tim Varner at 48 Minutes of Hell, and Matt Moore at Hardwood Paroxysm.
- This was one of those posts that sat in my browser as a tab all day long, and when I finally got around to really reading and appreciating it, I was sorry that it had taken me so long.
- Mike Fisher with some chatter that Shaq would like to play in Dallas. Yeah, I think we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Manu Ginobili. Out for the season and playoffs. Ankle problems and stress fracture. Whoa.
CLIMB THOSE STANDINGS, MAVS! CLIMB LIKE YOUR LIVES DEPENDED ON IT!
The San Antonio Spurs visit the Dallas Mavericks
Well, hello again, Spurs.
The Mavs have gotten plenty of second chances, and deserved about a quarter of them. Tonight they’ll get another, when they get crack at the Spurs and attempt to save some face after their latest embarassment. Cuban is pissed, Carlisle is pissed, and I sure hope that each player is taking it personally.
It’s definitely a good thing that Duncan, Ginobili, and co. are closer to full-strength. We’ve learned not to take any win for granted (see Oklahoma City Thunder sans Durant and Green). My one singular hope for this game is that if Timmy and Manu are thrown into the mix, the Mavs will show. Maaaaaaavericks, come out to plaaaaaaaay. Something like that.
I don’t think a win is enough. A good thrashing would be welcome, or at the very least a solid victory backed by consistent effort. No more taking halves off, or quarters off, or defensive sequences off. There’s been enough procrastinating this season, and it’s time for the Mavs to buckle down if they plan to amount for anything. Mark Cuban insists that this team has the talent to win in the playoffs, and if that’s true they need to show it. Or maybe just show that they can take a very important game against a division rival seriously. Is that so much to ask?
Semi-related: I’ve been exchanging emails with Chip Crain from 3 Shades of Blue over this post that I linked to yesterday, and one of the topics of discussion has been the Mavs’ blueprint for success. It’s no secret that the Mavs were a team constructed with the sole purpose of beating the Spurs. Based on the success San Antonio has enjoyed, I don’t think that’s a crazy proposition; as recently as last season (and possibly even this season), the “road to the championship went through San Antonio.” But when Pau Gasol was traded to L.A., all of that changed. Phoenix and Dallas both freaked out, and as a result the Suns went ‘big’ in terms of style of play and salary commitments, and Dallas went ‘big’ in terms of reputation and supposed impact. You don’t need me to remind you what we gave up so Kidd could get his kicks on I-75, but along with Harris we surrendered our tunnel vision on the Spurs. The Lakers became the new team to beat, and the new barometer for success. These match-ups with SanAn are where we feel Harris’ absence more than ever, and that ghost will haunt the Mavs until they find a true replacement to give Tony Parker nightmares. Just something to keep in mind as Parker inevitably blows by Kidd to the basket about a dozen times.
The Dallas Mavericks visit the San Antonio Spurs
I’m not sure what to make of Mavs-Spurs anymore.
The 2006 playoff series remains my favorite that I have ever witnessed. The history between these two teams over the last decade is undeniable, even if the Spurs have always acted like they have an older brother complex with the Mavs. The games this year between the two have been incredibly entertaining. But where are the sparks?
This could be an incredible case of imposing my own view of the “rivalry” onto the teams, but I just don’t pick up the same vibe. The energy is there, but it’s on a completely different wavelength. As the Spurs have aged slowly and now find themselves trying to sneak into the backdoor of championship contention, and as the Mavs have dropped off greatly from the 2006 days, has the matchup lost its mystique?
Tim Duncan used to be the enemy. Now, while I still hate the palms-up “Who, ME?!” foul reactions, I respect him as the greatest power forward to ever play the game. Tony Parker is still there, but for some reason I find him much less irritating. Manu Ginobili is still there (although he’s injured for tonight’s game), is sometimes sickeningly good, and…yeah, I still hate him.
It could be any number of factors, really. I’ve liked Roger Mason since last season and the dude has ice water in his veins. His work ethic is amazing, and in classic “root for the underdog” fashion, I can appreciate how far he’s come to get to SanAn. I would have preferred if Michael Finley hadn’t gone to our division rivals after the Mavs cut him loose, but I’ll never forget his work as a pillar of this franchise’s legitimacy. George Hill is a likable rookie from a small-time school that’s actually two schools sharing one campus. I would never say that I like the Spurs, but I’m just not sure that I hate them anymore.
With most of the headliners static and a few new faces, there is one name that is conspicuously absent from the Spurs’ success this season: Bruce Bowen. The vicegrip that Bowen once had on the wings of the league has loosened considerably, as a function of his reduced role and reduced abilities. He can still hit the corner three that makes your head sink into your hands and your shoulders slump, but his relative fall into irrelevance is both cause for the Spurs’ defensive fall-off and my growing indifference towards the franchise.
What was it that characterized the Spurs as the NBA’s evil and necessarily juxtaposed them opposite of the white knight Mavericks? And, more importantly, why has the dynamic changed? Is it the fall of a dynastic titan or the gradual disappearance of villanous basketball’s poster boy?