Playoff Game Day Preview: Spurs vs. Mavs Game 3

2010 NBA WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS — 1st ROUND
(2) DALLAS MAVERICKS vs. (7) SAN ANTONIO SPURS Series Tied at 1-1

TEAM LEADERS

Points Rebounds Assists
SPURS Tim Duncan 26.0 Tim Duncan 12.5 Tony Parker 6.0
MAVS Dirk Nowitzki 30.0 Erick Dampier 9.5 Jason Kidd 9.5


The San Antonio Spurs played like a team that needed a win. They started the game with a 9-0 run and got Richard Jefferson involved early on offense. When the going gets tough, they went to their franchise cornerstone Tim Duncan on four straight possessions in the fourth quarter; each time he delivered.

Duncan led the Spurs with 25 points and 17 boards, Ginobili added 23 and Parker chipped in 16 points, but it was Jefferson’s performance that was most noticeable; after scoring just 4 points in Game 1, RJ pumped in 19 points in Game 2 — 17 in the first half as he helped the Spurs maintain an early lead.

Jefferson seemed motivated in this one and said “
Everything is going to be intensified, everything is going to be over analyzed. You go from one day being a hero to the next day being a zero. That’s just the way it is.” He probably responded to Coach Popovich’s comments after Game 1.

Also, George Hill started for the second straight time in the playoffs and scored 7 points but it was his defense on Jason Kidd that was more admirable. In Game 2, Kidd was held to 5 points on 1-7 shooting from the field.

Despite losing Game 2 however, the Mavericks have a reason to stay confident. They have beaten the Spurs in their last two playoff series and they proved to be good road team 27-14 this season plus they hold a 3-1 series advantage over the Spurs in their regular season meetings.

This is the playoffs and their success of over the Spurs during the regular season might not matter but if you are a team trying to fight adversity and finding a way to win that could be good start for the team’s collective psyche. It note worthy to mention that Caron Butler has been playing well in this series averaging 19.5 in the first two games and Jason Terry torched the Spurs with 27 points in Game 2.


KEYS TO THE GAME


SPURS
On Offense: The “Big Three” will always be the focal point of the Spurs offense, but it is necessary to have a collective effort to ease the load for them on offense. Richard Jefferson remains the key, but if George can find his groove and Matt Bonner continues to hit his shots the Spurs have a great chance to win Game 3.

The Spurs did a great job of taking care of the basketball turning the ball over just 8 times for the entire game, let’s hope that trend continues. But they have to make their free throws, in a tight series like this one freebies can make a difference. The Spurs made just 14 of 22 of their shots while the Mavericks went 19-20 from the foul line in Game 2.


On Defense:
McDyess has done a fine job defending Dirk Nowitzki as the German sensation struggled from the field hitting just 9 of 24 shots. Will Pop continue with the single coverage? I guess we will soon find out although an occasional double team to swarm Nowitzki on defense will certainly help.


MAVERICKS


On Offense:
Dirk will try to bounce back and come out strong in Game 3 and he has a solid cast of players in Caron Butler, Jason Terry and Shawn Marion that can provide offense when needed.

But they have to do a better job making their shots from the field. They shot an atrocious 36.5% from the field in game 2 and 36.8% from behind the arc.

Free throws has been key for the Mavericks in this series. They 95% of their foul shots in Game 2.

On Defense:
Containing Tim Duncan in the post will be key for the Mavs and they also must limit Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker from their dribble penetrations.


INJURIES


SPURS
George Hill – sprained right ankle (day-to-day)
Malik Hairston – sprained ankle


MAVERICKS
None

PREDICTION


With the series tied, the next game will be pivotal for both squads. Expect a close game with both teams giving their best to win this one. This is a close call, all I know is that this game could go into overtime. Let’s hope the Spurs comes out with the victory. I’m giving them the slight edge because the game will be played in San Antonio.
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