Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki was on fire late in the game. Tony Parker returned to form after a lackluster few games. It was an offensive duel in the fourth quarter of the pivotal game five.
Just like the whole world had expected.
By the time the dust had settled, the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs defeated the eighth-seeded Dallas Mavericks 109-103 to creep within one win of advancing to the conference semifinals.
Positive: Tiago Splitter
When is the last time Tiago Splitter took over a game?
During the fourth quarter, Splitter took it upon himself to duel Dirk Nowitzki.
And he won.
Splitter was doing it all: scoring, passing, rebounding, and defense. When the score was 82-73 in favor of San Antonio, Splitter scored or assisted on 18 of the next 19 Spurs points. His passing made him look like Manu Ginobili out there. The angles on his bounce passes were incredible. The pick-n-roll could not be stopped, no matter who was running it with Splitter. Most of all, Splitter put down a two-handed dunk. That’s not something you see very often. In the end, Splitter finished with a career playoff high 17 points, with 12 rebounds and 5 assists, also.
Popovich finally made some adjustments, and the Spurs looked like the Spurs of the regular season. The offense was very crisp. In fact, the Spurs recorded only five turnovers, their lowest total of the playoffs. Actually, it was the second lowest of the entire season, only one behind a win over Sacramento in late December.
At the beginning of the contest, Pop called some post-up plays for Kawhi Leonard, as he was matching up with the smaller Monta Ellis. If the double team came, Leonard would make the correct play. Carlisle’s hand was forced. He had to take Marion off of Parker, where has been doing great all series, and Calderon was forced to defend Parker.
Back before game one, I said this:
Parker should be able to absolutely burn Calderon. As mentioned above, Calderon is weak on the defensive end, and, also seen above, Parker has taken advantage of that.
When Calderon was on Parker, Tony took advantage.
Lastly, using Bonner for spurts has been advantageous. Bonner only logged three minutes in game five. He played five minutes in game four. In those eight minutes total, he has not recorded a single stat other than one personal foul. Most casual fans would not even realize he played. However, he was a +5 in game five and a +9 in game four. Bonner keeps the Mavericks’ defense honest. He never shot, but he has the potential to. That spacing opens up the lanes for Parker, Leonard, and Manu to create by themselves, or run the pick-n-roll that killed Dallas last night.
Negative: Three-point defense
This was mainly Vince Carter. Carter hit seven threes by himself. In fact, his play drew another classic Popovich sound bite. Devin Harris and Jose Calderon also hit a couple threes, and that’s the biggest reason why this game was closer. In order for the Spurs to close out the Mavericks in six games, the defense needs to come out and contest those long balls.
Game six is Friday night slated for a 7 P.M. tip. The Spurs will try to send their in-state rivals home for the summer.
(Stats via ESPN.com and basketball-reference.com)