Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki performance in Game 1 versus the San Antonio Spurs was on he would like to forget. Dirk had a terrible shooting night and finished with 11 points off 4-of-14 shooting.
And though some may point at Nowitzki himself for his poor performance, Spurs’ Tiago Splitter had a huge hand in slowing down No. 41 with great defense and taking Dirk out of his comfort zones.
“[Nowitzki] has a quick release, a high release, so you just try to be close to him, not foul,” Splitter said. “It’s not easy.
“He’s going to fade away and do the jumper, but he wasn’t comfortable the first game.”
Keeping one of the best players in this era of the NBA is no easy task. But in Game 1, Splitter was physical, and pushing Nowitzki off his sweet spots. It may not show up on Tiago’s stat-line but what he did in Game 1 helped the Spurs get the narrow win.
If Dirk had a normal “Dirk” night on the court, the Spurs could possibly be looking at an 0-1 deficit.
And Splitter knows this.
“He’s one of those players that can shoot with really good defense on him, so even some days when we do a good defense on him he’s still going to make his shots,” Splitter said. “If he has that kind of day, it’s hard, really hard.
There is no way Dirk has another off night in Game 2. Splitter will have his hands full and knows the team might need some help from above to keep Dirk from exploding on the offensive end and seeing his shots fall.
“All you can do is pray the ball does not go in.”