Analyzing the Loss: Mavericks 113, Spurs 111 (Series tied 3-3)

With 0.4 seconds remaining Friday in game six between the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks, the Spurs trailed the Mavericks 113-111. The Spurs inbounded to Patty Mills, but Mills’ 3-point heave was both too long time-wise, and too short in distance. Thus, the Mavericks held on to defeat the Spurs behind 29 points from Monta Ellis 113-111, to force a game seven Sunday in San Antonio. Here were a few keys to the Spurs’ loss.

Issues in the paint

The Mavericks put together two 30-plus point quarters in the win, by scoring 34 points in the first quarter, and 37 points in the final quarter. One issue the Spurs had in those two quarters was keeping the Mavericks out of the paint, as the Mavericks scored 18 points in the paint in the first, and 14 in the fourth. Via Synergy Sports, the Spurs actually did a decent job in defending the Mavericks’ best driver to the rim, Ellis, as Ellis was only allowed four layup attempts. One issue the Spurs’ defense had was letting the Mavericks’ other two guards, Jose Calderon and Devin Harris, penetrate the defense, and get to the rim with layup attempts. Harris was 2-of-4 on layup attempts, one which was toward the end of a quarter, and resulted in an and-one opportunity, while Calderon was 3-of-5 on his layup attempts. The Mavericks ended up outscoring the Spurs 50-48 in the paint on 25-of-42 shooting, however it wasn’t just dribble penetration that led to the 50 Dallas points in the paint, the Spurs’ trouble with boxing out also had a connection with the issues in the paint.

Trouble with boxing out

Though it was a narrow overall rebounding battle (Mavericks 50-49), the Mavericks were able to pull down 13 offensive rebounds that led to 13 second chance points. In his return from suspension, DeJuan Blair grabbed a playoff career high 14 rebounds, as five of them were offensive rebounds. Samuel Dalembert only grabbed four rebounds, but those were all offensive boards. Per the SportVU data, of Blair and Dalembert’s combined 11 offensive rebounding chances, the duo grabbed nine of them. With the Spurs’ guards allowing the Mavericks’ guards to penetrate, players like Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter were forced to help in contesting the layups. When the layups did not go in, Dalembert and Blair had the upper hand in being able to grab the offensive rebounds without being boxed out by any of the Spurs’ perimeter players. Had the Spurs’ guards been able to prevent less dribble penetration, there’s a chance the Mavericks wouldn’t have grabbed as many offensive rebounds.

Ginobili’s lone struggle game

Coming into game six, Spurs guard Manu Ginobili had arguably been his team’s best player in the series averaging 19.6 points on 13.0 field goal attempts (46.2% FG), 5.8 three point attempts (41.4% 3FG), 6.8 free throw attempts, 4.4 assists, 1.8 steals, and he was drawing 5.0 fouls per game in 29.0 minutes per game. Friday, Ginobili struggled to put together a consistent, productive effort, finishing with six points, 1-of-8 shooting, 0-of-5 from three, four free throw attempts, five assists, three turnovers, and one steal in 23:11 minutes.

After the Spurs had 14 pick-and-roll opportunities to their big men in game five, with Ginobili being one of the main facilitators, the Mavericks’ defense limited the Spurs’ offense to just four pick-and-roll opportunities Friday. Whether it was an offensive foul, or two errant passes, it was clear Ginobili wasn’t having one of his best nights on the basketball floor Friday.

Game seven will tip off Sunday at 2:30 PM CST, at the AT&T Center.

(All Stats and player tracking data via

Paul Garcia

About Paul Garcia

Paul is a San Antonio Spurs credentialed media member for Project Spurs. He covered the 2013 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, TX, and the 2013 and 2014 NBA Finals. Paul has been featured on WOAI, Fox 29, and numerous nationwide radio shows.