The Dallas Mavericks are set to face the NBA’s best San Antonio Spurs in the first round. We’re taking a look at what the Spurs’ side is saying about this matchup.
We’ve been lucky to have Quixem Ramirez of Project Spurs to answer a few questions for us.
Quixem Ramirez is a staff writer at Project Spurs. He enjoys basketball and pie — sometimes in that order.
1. What about the Mavericks do you feel can give the Spurs problems?
They scored 109 points per 100 possessions with this unit, a mark only behind Miami and the Clippers — both teams well equipped to score points. And Dallas improved in the 28 games following the All-Star break, scoring a league-leading 111.1 points per 100 possessions. This doesn’t get enough attention in NBA circles; this team shouldn’t be this good!
The tradeoff with Dallas, of course, is defense. They are lapped by the majority of the league, which is expected when your frontcourt consists of Dalembert, Blair, Wright, Nowitzki and is complemented by the uneven (to be kind) perimeter defense of Ellis and Calderon.
But they’ll score a ton of points, and Dirk is about the deadliest matchup for this Spurs team.
2. Which players(s) on the Mavericks do you worry about?
Dirk Nowitzki, Dirk Nowitzki, Dirk Nowitzki, Dirk Nowitzki.
Also, Ellis has been a pain, too; he averaged 21.3 points, 5.5 assists and 3.3 rebounds in four matchups against the Spurs, and this isn’t a one-year fluke. Ellis’ brutish style isn’t easy to contain for most teams and even the Spurs, a team that is typically stingy on the perimeter.
But mostly Dirk.
3. Who on the Spurs will give the Mavericks the most trouble? What about the Spurs will be tough to contain?
Besides everyone? Well, that’s a tough question. I compared the Spurs to zombies a few weeks ago, because their strength is contingent on the collective, rather than the individual. They come at you in waves, and they never quit. There’s Tony Parker
! There’s Tim Duncan
! There’s Manu Ginobili
! There’s Patty Mills! (I could go on a lot longer.)
Against the Mavericks, specifically, Parker, Mills and Ginobili should be trouble. Dallas doesn’t protect the rim well, and their perimeter defense is a glaring weakness.
So cue the Spurs backcourt. They should have a field day.
4. Even at their respective ages, Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki are still playing at a high level. How will this match up compare to their previous ones?
They’ve squared off in 78 basketball games (including playoffs). These guys have A LOT of history together.
This matchup likely won’t be nearly as competitive as their previous battles, but it should still be plenty of fun since Duncan and Nowitzki have both sustained a high level of play even as Father Time witless away at their bodies.
I’m not going to say that this is the last playoff series featuring Nowitzki and Duncan, because as long as both are in the league, their teams will be in automatic playoff contention. But the clock is winding down, and if this is the last Dirk-Duncan series, then by golly I’m going to sit down and enjoy every second.
5. The Spurs have won NINE straight against the Mavericks. Do you expect the Spurs domination to transition into the playoffs?