After Friday nights 97 to 91 win in Dallas, San Antonio Spurs fans have the common ideology that their team may have seen the last of the Dallas Mavericks. The Spurs currently possess a league leading 56-13 record and have a 6.5 game lead over the Los Angeles Lakers for first place in the West.
The Mavericks (49-21) trail the Lakers by one game in the standings and hold a 3.5 game lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Mavericks are currently third in the West.
From this Spurs ideology, you’d presume that the Mavericks would hold onto the third seed and most likely lose to the Lakers in the second round. Hence, a Spurs-Mavericks playoff series likely wouldn’t happen unless both teams make it to the Western Conference Finals.
But, what if the Mavericks fall to the four seed? Then a possible second round matchup is possible.
An Ode To Wade Phillips
(I named the heading that because Phillips’ Dallas Cowboys teams were known to fall apart toward the end of the season. The Mavericks are currently falling into that position.)
Post all-star break, the Mavericks are 9-5. As ESPN’s Jeff Caplan wrote:
“The Mavs couldn’t rely on the Spurs to make mistakes and poor decisions in aiding a comeback win.”
Caplan wrote this regarding Dallas’ main issue at the moment, which is starting the game strong. According to Caplan, lately the Mavericks have been struggling in the first quarter of their games. The Mavericks have to play catch-up and it usually works against bad teams like the Warriors but not good teams like the Spurs.
Dallas has 12 games remaining on their schedule. Eight of the teams they will play have a record of .500 or better. Of their five losses post all-star break, all five losses have been to current playoff teams. The Mavericks still have to play the Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets and New Orleans Hornets.
If the Mavericks were to lose some of those games, plus one or two to the other plus .500 teams, this would open the door for the Oklahoma City Thunder to grab the three seed. The Thunder have an easier road as they only play seven plus .500 teams and have six under average opponents remaining.
While the Mavericks concentrate on acclimating guard Rodrique Beaubois into their system, they must also try to work forwards Corey Brewer and Peja Stojakovic into the lineup. The Thunder are also in an assembly line reformation as they insert centers Kendrick Perkins and Nazr Mohammed into their rotations and allow them to brew some chemistry with the team.
It’s unlikely the Mavericks will slip to the four seed but with the schedule they still have, if they don’t solve their issues, those young guys from Oklahoma have a chance to grab the three seed.
Possible Round 3 In The Ring
Let’s assume the Spurs and Mavericks meet in one of two situations: 1.) The Mavericks slip to the four seed and play San Antonio in the second round. 2.) The Mavericks dethrone the Lakers and play San Antonio in the Western Conference Finals.
There is really only one game to give us any sort of preview, that game is the most recent in Dallas. Why?
In the first game, Nowtizki played but Caron Butler was also there to help the Mavericks close out the Spurs in a fourth quarter victory in San Antonio. Fast forward to today, Beaubois is healthy and Butler is hurt. The December and January Spurs wins can only be used for individual analysis since Nowitzki didn’t play in either game. The most recent game gave us, essentially, the closest lineup both teams would have in the playoffs except Stojakovic and Brewer. Even this game is hard to anazlyze as Beaubois is still a new piece in the Mavericks lineup.
From what I see, the Mavericks just don’t have the consistent talent to keep up with the Spurs in a potential series. For the series the Spurs would have Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, George Hill and Gary Neal consistently having good games as they’ve shown in the four previous matchups. Not to mention, the Spurs would posses home court.
Dallas can only rely on Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Jason Terry and maybe Beaubois?
I dissected the four games and took the most consistent players and looked at what each brought to the series. Mathematically, I looked at each player’s in-game average versus his season average. For Nowitzki, I only considered the two games he played in.
“R” means season average. “D” means average against Dallas/San Antonio.
Ginobili (R: 17ppg. D: 20.5ppg) Dallas’ wing defenders aren’t very good and as Ginobili showed Friday night, he doesn’t have to score thirty points to get a win against Dallas. He can pace himself and close the game in the fourth quarter.
Parker (R: 17ppg. D: 18.5ppg) Parker’s only bad game of the series was the first game (9 points). As shown on Friday night; Kidd, Barea or Beaubois won’t have any chance of slowing Parker down.
Duncan (R: 13ppg. D: 17.5ppg) Chandler is a good defender, but through this series Duncan has been able to consistently score over him and Brendan Haywood. Duncan would have a monster series against the Mavericks.
Jefferson (R: 11ppg. D: 4.8ppg) Wait? Why is he in here? Next.
Hill (R: 11ppg. D: 11.5ppg) Hill also seems to be a pest and shows consistent numbers against the Mavericks. His speed and length help in preventing Dallas’ perimeter shooting and he is another tough cover for the Dallas wings defensively.
Neal (R: 9ppg. D: 10.5ppg) Neal had 21 points against Dallas earlier in the season. As he displayed on Friday night, he isn’t afraid to fire away from three point range when the moment is tense in the fourth quarter.
Nowitzki (R: 23ppg. D: 24.5ppg) Dirk is Dirk, he is going to put up his numbers regardless of who defends him, he’s a great player. The Spurs best strategy that has worked is to leave McDyess on him and if he makes an 18-foot jumper with a hand in his face, then he does. The Spurs can live with Nowitzki scoring major numbers while the rest of the Mavericks stay quiet.
Terry (R: 16ppg. D: 12ppg) Terry seems to only give the Mavericks points in spurts, whether it be during a run or clutch baskets in the fourth quarter. For the series, he doesn’t hit his quota.
Marion (R: 12ppg. D: 14ppg) This is a player that seems to play well against the Spurs, he’s usually getting a fast break layup or grabbing an offensive rebound for an easy put back.
Chandler (R: 10ppg. D: 9.5ppg) Chandler had one monster game in the first game (19 points) of the series, since then he’s only good for one or two alley-oop fed dunks.
Beaubois (R: 9.9ppg. D: 8ppg) He is more of a question mark? He’s hard to analyze because he only played in one game against the Spurs. Offensively he’s very fast and a streaky shooter, but defensively he is train wreck that the Spurs exposed numerous times on Friday night.
Barea (R: 9.2ppg. D: 8.3ppg) Barea is inconsistent in the series. He’ll have one decent game every other game. He’s not a real issue for the Spurs to be concerned about.
As you can see, the Mavericks just don’t look like they have the firepower or defense ready yet to stop the Spurs in a series. If Butler were playing then maybe it would be closer, but as his nickname “ball stopper” applies, he slowed down the tempo of their offense on numerous occasions.
Should the Spurs and Mavericks meet, each game will be close as usual with these two teams. Home court and execution in the fourth quarter will eventually help the Spurs prevail to victory.
No one can see into the future, Spurs fans must wait until April 17 for the playoffs to begin. Even then, both teams would still have to win their first round matchups if they’d like to have one more round in the ring.
Round 3 Scorecard
Alright Spurs fans, do you think the Mavericks have a chance to defeat the Spurs in a potential series? I’d pick the Spurs to win in six games. What’s your scorecard?