The legend of Vinsanity lives on! With just over one second remaining in the fourth quarter, Vince Carter buried a baseline three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Dallas Mavericks a 109-108 victory over the San Antonio Spurs. Carter, who had not connected on a three all game, picked the right time to knock one down. The eighth seeded Mavericks have now taken a 2-1 lead over the top seeded Spurs. In what has been a spectacular NBA Playoffs thus far, Saturday afternoon’s contest just may have been the best game yet.
Monta Ellis was masterful for the Mavs, scoring 29 points, 12 of them in the fourth, on 12-22 shooting. He sliced and diced through the San Antonio defense all game long and was by far the best player on the floor for either team. His partner Dirk Nowitzki had his best game of the series as well. Nowitzki scored 18 points on an efficient 7-13 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds. All eyes were on both Ellis and Dirk for the final Dallas possession, as the ball was certainly going to go into one of their hands.
But instead the ball wound up in the hands of the 37 year old, 15 year vet Vince Carter. Carter, who has always been knocked for his lack of playoff performances, hit arguably the biggest shot of his career. One of the most spectacular players to ever play the game, he should most definitely be a Hall of Famer. But there are a lot of people who feel otherwise because of his alleged lack of the clutch gene. Maybe that will be the shot that everyone remembers.
As for the Spurs, they had their opportunities to close out the game, but just couldn’t get that final stop. Manu Ginobili scored two of his 12 points with 1.7 seconds remaining to take what looked to be the final lead of the game. But much like preceding possessions, they could not hold onto that lead.
Tim Duncan, as expected, had a bounce back game with 22 points and five rebounds. Tony Parker had 19 points and six assists. But in the end, they were plain and simply outgunned in a game that saw very little defense. San Antonio cannot beat the Mavericks in an uptempo, high scoring affair like Saturday was. They were the sixth best team in the league regarding opponent points per game during the regular season at 97.6 per game. Dallas, on the other hand, was tied for 19th in the league, allowing 102.4 points per game. Oddly enough, it’s Dallas that tops the playoffs in opponent points per game, allowing just 91 with San Antonio in ninth place, allowing 99. Who would have predicted that switch heading into this series?
Across the board, both teams shot over 50 percent and relatively matched each other in most categories. Both teams also made big shots and got solid contributions from their benches. It just came down to who had the final possession, and in this case the clock was San Antonio’s worst enemy.
The series continues in Dallas on Monday as the Mavericks will look to take a big 3-1 lead over their in state rivals. After two losses in a row for the Western Conference favorites, Gregg Popovich’s aging roster has their backs steadily backpedalling, but not quite up against the wall. Being down 2-1 is not the end of the world for San Antonio, especially considering Game 5 will be back home. But they know that Game 4 will make or break them. It has been the speed and slashing ability of Dallas, especially from Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon and Devin Harris, that has bothered San Antonio. The Spurs are going to need to make some serious adjustments if they don’t want to be just the sixth number one seed in NBA history to lose to an eight seed. It recently happened to San Antonio in 2011 when they fell to the Memphis Grizzlies in 6 games.
Commentary by Rich Peters
Guardian Liberty Voice NBA Writer