|SPURS||Manu Ginobili 17.8||Tim Duncan 9.1||Tony Parker 6.5|
|DALLAS||Dirk Nowitzki 23.3||Tyson Chandler 9.3||Jason Kidd 8.4|
The San Antonio Spurs (54-13) have the NBA’s best record but look vulnerable recently. The Spurs had three days off to make adjustments following Monday’s 110-80 loss at Miami which was their worst loss in the regular season.
The Dallas Mavericks (48-20) will surely try their hardest to beat the Spurs with Dirk Nowitzki back in the lineup.
The Spurs have a 6 1/2-game lead over Dallas and the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference but have gone 3-2 over their last five outings.
The Mavericks have struggled recently as well. After losing four of six, including consecutive games to the Lakers and Portland, they trailed by 18 before beating the Golden State Warriors 112-106 last Wednesday. Nowitzki finished with 34 points and 13 rebounds in that game.
While San Antonio is 2-1 against Dallas this season, the Spurs lost the only game in which Nowitzki played. He scored 26 points in a 103-94 victory last November 26.
Defense has become a problem for the Spurs, who have given up 106 points per game in their last four, almost nine more than their season average.
The Mavericks lost to the Spurs in the first round of last year’s playoffs with a healthy Nowitzki, but they’ve won the last four regular-season meetings when he’s played. He averaged 28.0 points in those four victories.
Hit the jump to find out the keys to the game for the Spurs and Mavericks, and which team wins this game.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Offense — It’s not a stretch to say that the Mavericks goes as far as Nowitzki goes. But it doesn’t mean he don’t get any help, likewise five Mavericks are averaging in double figures entering tonight’s game.
Defense — Limit Tim Duncan inside the paint, guard the Spurs’ perimeter shooters and cover Ginobili, Parker, Hill and Jefferson’s dribble penetrations.
Spurs — None
Dallas — Caron Butler – knee (out), Brendan Haywood – back (day-to-day), Peja Stojakovic – back, neck (day-to-day)
This will be a battle and might probably go into overtime. Expect a physical game, the team that can impose their will on defense will win it. Final score 103-99 with the Mavericks winning a close one.
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