The eighth-seeded Dallas Mavericks finished strong Wednesday 113-92 to even up the Western Conference Quarterfinals with the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs.
San Antonio needed a fourth-quarter rally during their last game to get past Dallas who shook off another slow start trailing 13-6 with a dominant start to the fourth. The Mavs increased their 13-point bulge after three by scoring 11 of the first 12 points to begin the fourth period.
The Spurs, who relied on the Big Three of Tim Duncan (27 points, Manu Ginobili (17 points) and Tony Parker (21 points) in Game 1, had a vintage performance by Ginobili (27 points) in Game 2. Unfortunately for San Antonio little else worked well.
Spurs Brick Free Throws, Gift Dallas Points Off Turnovers
On Sunday San Antonio was outscored 18-9 from downtown with Manu, 3-of-6 from 3, accounting for all of the Spurs’ damage. Once again Ginobili, 5-of-6 from deep, was lethal. However what San Antonio did at the line as well as their usually crisp passing is what led to the Mavericks running away with a road victory on Wednesday.
Compounding the Spurs making just 18-of-29 FTs was Dallas hitting 15-of-16 from the charity stripe. Speaking of charity, San Antonio gave the Mavericks 24 TOs. It seemed like more with many of the Spurs’ mistakes leading to 33 points for the Mavs.
As well San Antonio was limited to 17 assists and shot 50 percent from both 2 and 3. Dallas had eight TOs, three during the first half compared to 15 by the Spurs. The Mavs’ relentless defense, which led to 28 more shot attempts, was sparked by Rick Carlisle‘s decision to open the contest with Shawn Marion guarding Parker.
Marion, Nearly Perfect On Offense, Keeps Tony Out Of Paint
Shawn matched his minutes played, 35, by playing fantastically on both ends of the floor. Marion, nicknamed Matrix, was a pest on the Frenchman all evening in San Antonio. While Parker got into the paint a number of times Tony was never able to score once there.
Equally stunning was Shawn took as many shots as the Frenchman. Marion was 8-of-10 from the field while Parker was 5-of-10. The Matrix was 5-of-5 during the first half and didn’t clank one off the rim until a 3-pointer, his eighth shot of the contest.
Tony started the game hot hitting three of his first four field goals. Shawn, who made it difficult for the Frenchman to raise up for a shot inside the key, finished with 20 points, one behind Monta Ellis for a Dallas-high. Parker ended the game with a dozen and the Spurs were minus-10 with him on the court. Conversely the Mavericks were plus-10 with Marion on the floor.
Game 3 Preview: Momentum Not With San Antonio Heading To Dallas
The best road team during the regular season, the Spurs, plan on restoring home-court advantage in Game 3 after letting the Mavs have their way Wednesday.
Once again San Antonio and Dallas will get a few days to rest before transitioning to American Airlines Center. So the Mavericks have the momentum, right? Yes, if you believe in that sort of thing. In one sense Dallas, who has been beaten 10 of the last 11 meetings with the Spurs, has hold of the series taking home-court advantage.
The other side of the coin suggests every contest has its own identity and momentum doesn’t necessarily follow the previous duel. If it did San Antonio would be up 2-0 and the Mavs would be fussing about letting another fourth-quarter lead slip away.
Dallas’ main chess move for Game 2 was moving the long and wiry Matrix over to defend Tony. How will Gregg Popovich react? Manu has played the first two contests with his hair on fire so perhaps Pop will insert Ginobili into the starting five.
One thing is for certain, despite the series being knotted at one, Tiago Splitter is in Dirk Nowitzki‘s head. Nowitzki had 16 points on Wednesday, but most came when Splitter was on the bench or not on him. Dirk had 11 on Sunday.
How long can the Mavericks keep chugging along in this best-of-7 fight with the German relatively missing in action? And for the Spurs, can Kawhi Leonard (six points on 1-of-5 shooting, 3-of-5 at the line) awaken? Whoever has a better game between Nowitzki and Leonard Saturday should be smiling at the end with their team up 2-1.