The San Antonio Spurs pulled away late in the fourth quarter, outlasting the Dallas Mavericks 90-85 to take game one of their first round matchup. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili proved once again to be ageless, leading the Spurs to yet another playoff victory.
Duncan scored 27 points on 12-20 shooting and collected seven rebounds. Dallas simply could not stop the pick and roll game plan that San Antonio relentlessly executed. Parker scored 21 points, dished out six assists and collected four rebounds. The first quarter consisted mainly of Parker forcing the Mavs defense to switch a big man onto him. It worked out in the Spurs favor to say the least, and the Spurs jumped out to a quick early lead.
Dallas, however, put up a tremendous fight, clawed their way back into the game and looked to have control midway through the fourth. Their balanced scoring attack and limited turnovers were almost enough to steal game one in San Antonio, but the minimal scoring output from Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki, who only had 11 points a piece, really hurt Dallas. If the Mavs are going to win this series, or even a single game, then those numbers are going to need to double if not triple.
Devin Harris was the high scorer for Dallas, scoring 19 points and dishing out five assists off of the bench. In fact, the Mavericks bench outscored their starters 46-39. That’s not exactly how coach Rick Carlisle drew it up. The Spurs defense simply overwhelmed the Mavericks usually explosive offense. San Antonio ranked eighth in the league in opponent field goal percentage (44.4) and sixth in opponent points per game (97.6). They did not disappoint on Easter Sunday, stifling the Mavs to just 41 percent shooting and 85 points.
San Antonio is now 5-0 against the Mavericks this season and 17-13 against them all time in the playoffs. The Mavs will look to snap that streak and get back on the winning side of things on Wednesday night, but in order for them to do so, they will need a much bigger effort out of both Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis. If the Mavericks can’t defend the Spurs, which most teams can not, then they are going to have to flat out outscore them. They will most definitely need a thirty point game out of one of if not both of their stars.
As for the Spurs, they were able to scrape by without much production out of their usually reliable bench. Manu Ginobili scored 17 points, but the rest of the bench combined for just six. Those numbers are atrocious considering the fact that Gregg Popovich played 11 players. San Antonio also managed to connect on just 3-17 three-point attempts. Look for role players like Patty Mills or Marco Belinelli to catch fire before this series is over. As the Spurs proved last year, their three-point shooting can be deadly.
San Antonio took another step in the right direction of avenging their heartbreaking Finals loss a season ago. The top seeded team in the league has proved time after time that they can win in a variety of ways. Sunday was no different.
Commentary by Rich Peters
Guardian Liberty Voice NBA Analyst