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NBA Playoffs: Suddenly those Spurs are back, and the Mavericks don't know what to do about it

Apr 22, 2010, 8:58 AM EDT

Duncan_layup.jpgUh-oh. Those Spurs are back. The ones that have all those pretty little banners hanging up in the AT&T Center. The seemingly mistake free ones. For one night at least, those guys were back.

Tim Duncan was his cyborg-efficient self. Manu Ginobili continues to play like a man on fire. They defend but do not foul. They rebound well. They have some guy named Richard Jefferson who can drive the lane or knock down the wing jumper if you leave him open (and Dallas kept leaving him open). Their offense was simply efficient.

The Spurs were up 9-0 before anyone knew what happened. When Dallas did realize something was up, Dirk Nowitzki was on the bench with two fouls (a problem he spent much of the night battling). The Spurs could not seem to miss and pulled away to a 102-88 with that evens the series, which now heads back to San Antonio.

Nowitzki was a key part of the story (as he always is). In game one he made it look effortless and was 12 of 14 shooting, he was as hot as he can be. In game two he balanced things out by shooting worse than normal, 9 of 24. That is 24 shots to get 24 points. When your star does that — whether it be Dirk or Duncan or Kobe or Wade or… — the only way you get the win is a lot of help.

He didn’t get a lot. Caron Butler was the only other starter in double digits, but he needed 17 shots to get his 17 points. Not efficient. Jason Terry had a good game (and led the Mavs with 27 points) and hit 9 of his 19. But Jason Kidd was 1 of 7, Shawn Marion 2 of 7. None of it pretty, some of it due to good Spurs halfcourt defense.

A lot of it due to the Spurs only having 8 turnovers, limiting the easy transition buckets for the Mavericks and slowing the pace of this game way down.

Meanwhile, the Spurs were very efficient shooters — Duncan was 11 of 19, Jefferson 7 of 12, Ginobili 8 of 13, the entire team 8 of 15 from three. They were hitting the shots.

And they never let that early lead go, they kept growing it, all the way to 20 at one points. Then a 12-0 Mavs run in the fourth made it interesting for a moment, but these were those Spurs, the ones of old. They have seen a thousand of these runs, they do not get scared or flustered. They just kept hitting shots, kept doing what they do and doing it efficiently. They kept defending.

The Mavericks needed in game two — will need in San Antonio — some spark, some fire. May we recommend Rodrigue Beaubois, who sat out for a second straight game at the discretion of coach Rick Carlisle. That guy is a walking, talking ball of energy on the court. Dallas could have used that.

Coming into this series, the one thing the Mavericks showed was a professional, confident, steady locker room demeanor. They walked and talked like a team ready to make the big step forward. Now they are being tested in that belief. We know how the Spurs are going to react, they have those pretty little banners, they are the veterans of a thousand campaigns. But the Mavericks, are they only confident after beating the Clippers at the end of a long regular season? Or was that confidence real, this game being the outlier?

Tune in Friday and find out.

  1. NBA Fan - Apr 22, 2010 at 11:58 AM

    The Spurs have always had one advantage that they dont get in the regular season: no back to back games or a series spaced out over 2 weeks. The Spurs mantra for winning in the post season is just grind it out defensively, rest their veterans in between, and just make it to the finals in a low scoring post season fashion. And.. it works!
    But its not reflective of how many teams arrived to the post season during the regular season play. During the regular season, the Spurs limp along, plagued by injuries, an aging cast, and exhaustion from the rigors of playing a typical NBA schedule.
    The current post season set up is good for the Spurs. They figure “just get to the post season, thnen grind out a championship”. The setup ends up costing younger more agile teams their advantage of rebounding quickly after the last game, brings about a stale, boring, “Spur-Like” feeling to the post season, with low ratings for TV exectives, who often cringe at the thought of the Spurs advancing.
    If the post season spacing of games matched the regular season, the Spurs would not have that many championships, and would be toast year in and year out.

  2. PHE - Apr 22, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    I think there’s a lot to what NBA Fan says. The Spurs’ age and fragility don’t factor in as much during a two-week series as they would in a more tightly packed schedule.
    The Mavs are better than they were last year, when they beat the Spurs in the first round. No more Josh Howard launching 20 ft fadeaways. No more total reliance on an offensive liablity like Dampier. A lot more toughness. This Maverick team is better than the 2006 group who went to the NBA FInals.
    The Spurs are also better than they were last year. Ginobilli is back, and he is one of the best crunch-time players in the history of the league. Duncan, who looked like he was in his mid-60s late in the season, appears more spry than he has in years. They miss Bruce Bowen, but still play arguably the best defense in the league.
    It’s too early to say which team has the advantage. It seems certain we are in for an epic series, no matter who wins in the end. Great stuff!!

  3. Bill - Apr 22, 2010 at 12:57 PM

    If my aunt had a package she would be my uncle. The Spurs have 4 titles because they are smart and play basketball the right way.

  4. Andy - Apr 22, 2010 at 9:50 PM

    This is a very sloppy article.
    “They have some guy name Richard Jefferson who can drive the lane or knock down the wing jumper if you leave him open (and Dallas kept leaving him open).”
    Named, not name.
    “Then a 12-0 Spurs run in the fourth made it interesting for a moment, but these were those Spurs, the ones of old.”
    The Mavs made the run, not the Spurs.
    Proofread before you publish.

  5. ucwhatudid - Apr 23, 2010 at 12:02 AM

    Of all the idiotic arguments, the one by “NBA fan” is the silliest one around. How is it that a lack of back to back games in the post season only works to the Spurs advantage? No one else benefits? No other teams are worn down by the rigors of the regular season, only the Spurs. Wow! And to use that as an argument that without this particular benefit, the Spurs “would be to be toast year in and year out” I guess assumes that the Spurs have “always” been old. Now isn’t that stupid.
    The Spurs have a great organization that has been successful over the years in assembling a quality, well coached group of players that are the epitome of team – and somehow that’s a bad thing. “NBA fan” should call himself by his real name – “jealous whiner”.

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