The Spurs look to be the Spurs of old. Or at least they are playing well. It was a matter of time for this preseason favorite to gel. With the pickup of Richard Jefferson this offseason, many thought of the Spurs as a front runner to come out of the West. Then this team had some struggles down the stretch and ended up being the 7th seed. No problem. They hold a commanding 3 to 1 lead over a very strong Mavericks team.
I admit that I picked the Mavericks to escape this series in 7 games on my “NBA Playoff Preview.” In fact, I picked the Mavericks to advance all the way to the Western Conference Finals. Well, I am not going to retreat from my prediction just yet. But I will state this. If Tim Duncan is able to score 4 points and the Spurs can win, the Mavericks are in major trouble.
George Hill, who started over Tony Parker tonight put on an outstanding performance. His uncanny playmaking ability and stroke from 3-point range led the Spurs to a hard-fought victory. Who would have thought this 2nd year player out of IUPUI would be the difference maker? In addition, Dejaun Blair continues to impress with his ability on the boards and his tenacious effort. Many overlooked this rugged, undersized forward out of Pitt. Well he is putting up some key minutes off the bench for the Spurs here in the playoffs. The other key stat for the Spurs. Manu Ginobli got to the line 9 times. Manu provides electricity. And on this night, his shot was really struggling as displayed by his 4 of 16 performance from the field. But he got some key points from the line (8 of 9 on his free throws). He also had 4 steals. I really never thought I would see the day where Tim Duncan was held to 4 points and the Spurs could win against a team as tough as the Mavericks. The former MVP only had one field goal! Times have truly changed.
Some key stats for the Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki only got off 10 shot attempts. This is unacceptable. Dirk needs to be putting up 15 to 20 shots a game. Caron Butler put up 18 shot attempts tonight. Shawn Marion, put up 13 shot attempts. Jason Kidd put up 10 shot attempts (equal to Dirk). And finally, Jason Terry put up 11 shot attempts off the bench! I mean these guys are all fine players, but Dirk is this team’s star and leader. The ball needs to be in his hands more. The other key stat. The Mavs were outscored 29 to 11 in the 3rd quarter. When a good team goes into a half ahead 48 to 37, you expect them to lay the hammer, or at least get the W. Well the Mavericks were unable to do this and let the Spurs escape with a home victory. Now they look at a very tough 3 to 1 deficit and all directions are pointing in the Spurs favor.
What is this Maverick’s team made of? Can they come back and take this one in 7?
Lastly, shout outs to Dwayne Wade and the King, Lebron James. Both put on absolutely exceptional performances today. They really demonstrated why they are 2 of the best the League has to offer.
Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.