What positives can you take away from a 21-point defeat on a home court advantage?
As many of you would expect, it is not many.
At the end of the day, the Dallas Mavericks didn’t just beat the San Antonio Spurs. As Manu Ginobili said, “They beat us in every aspect of the game,” on their way to a 113-92 curb stomping of San Antonio. It was the worse playoff loss at home for the Spurs, in the Duncan era, since 2006, when the Mavericks also made them look foolish.
So what good things can the Spurs take away from a game that was so ugly?
Positive: Manu Ginobili
Nine times out of ten, when Ginobili goes for 27 points on 75% shooting and five three-pointers, the Spurs are going to beat anybody in the Association. In fact, according to Project Spurs’ Quixem Ramirez, Manu is the first player in the playoffs in the last 28 years to score 27 points in 23 or fewer minutes For a while there, Ginobili singlehandedly kept the Spurs in the game, including scoring 10 of the Spurs last 12 points to pull the Spurs within five at the half. If one other player produced anywhere close to their averages yesterday, the game is an entirely different story.
Negative: Patty Mills
The shooting was atrocious. That happens sometimes. In fact, it was the case for most of the Spurs on Wednesday night. What was really worrisome was his defense on Devin Harris. For the second straight game, as both the backup point guards entered the game, it was clear which team had the advantage. It didn’t matter what Mills did once a big came and set the screen. If Mills went under, he couldn’t recover in enough time to prevent Harris from getting a good look from three. If Mills went over the screen, Harris would get around the free throw line, and either knock down the jumper or dump it off to a big for an easy bucket. To start the second quarter, Harris scored or assisted on the first 10 of 12 Dallas buckets with Mills playing defense on him.
Negative: Shot distribution
There is no way that Mills and Marco Belinelli should outshoot Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard. Duncan’s five shots tied for the lowest of the season. Leonard’s was his third lowest total, not counting the Oklahoma City game he left early with an injury. He was plagued by foul trouble, but for a guy that shoots 52% on the season from the field, he needs more looks in the post, especially if Marion is going to continue defending Tony Parker. Mills and Belinelli were both struggling with their shot and did not need that many attempts.
The Coach of the Year is getting outcoached so far. Carlisle has the perfect game plan through two games, taking away the shooters and forcing Tony Parker to take jump shots. Parker only had one shot in the paint, after dominating in the paint in game one. The assists through two games are barely over their season average for one game, due to Carlisle’s game plan. Pop seems to be overthinking this series. He nearly reverted back to the regular season rotation; taking away minutes from the star players and not exploiting the matchups after the Mavericks switch on every screen. Also, Carlisle found his best advantage in Harris and uses it to build and lead, and keep it. Popovich has to find a way to counteract that. Lastly, early in the game, Splitter was dominating Nowitzki on the defensive end. When Diaw entered the game alongside Splitter, Pop threw Diaw on Nowitzki and Splitter on Blair. Neither of those matchups make any sense, and Dirk made his first shot over Diaw, and his shots started falling for the rest of the game.
There isn’t much that needs to be said. PROTECT THE BALL!
Ginobili told Project Spurs, “Having such a poor performance in the playoffs really bothers me, so we are definitely going to have to play much better to have a chance in Dallas, so I am pretty disappointed in the way we played.”
The Spurs know how to bounce back. Ginobili’s quote shows the Silver and Black boys are going to get to work, because it just doesn’t sit well. It’s just one loss. There’s a long ways to go. Saturday will be very telling, as to what adjustments will work and how the series will go from here on out.