Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Air Alamo (Spurs) has joined us to breakdown this first round matchup.
Part 2 HERE
1. The Spurs have won NINE straight games against the Mavericks. Do you expect that same domination to transition into this series?
Rhys T-J (@areteejay789): In a way I do expect this to continue. I have no doubt the Spurs will win all of their home games in this series, and to be honest I would be surprised if they didn’t sweep the series. Even though these are different teams than last year, and he playoffs are a different beast, I just don’t see the Mavs being able to match San Antonio’s defensive execution.
Ace Feltman (@MFFeLtman): The Mavericks are as well equipped to take down the Spurs as they’ve been since this streak of dominance began. And frankly, despite my fandom – and my homerism – the Spurs have adapted so very well to the new 3-point barrage that is the NBA (seriously, they need to move the line back) and the Mavericks still don’t have the offensive firepower or defensive anything to overcome what the Spurs are good at…and that’s pretty much everything.
Brian Gosset (@Gosset41): No, because the Mavs have played them well in the last couple of playoff match ups. Spurs won 4-2 in ’10, Mavs won 4-1 in ’09. The Mavs were in a couple of games this season, it wasn’t like they got dominated. They just have to continue to make shots and play defense in the 2nd half. Carlisle needs to find the right match ups to slow down Parker and Duncan.
2. Who is the X-factor for the Mavericks? Why?
Michail: I have to go with Jose Calderon. The Mavericks obviously brought him in for his offense, but they’re going to need him to show some life on the defensive end. If he’s cold from the field, we may see a heavy dose of Devin Harris and maybe even some Shane Larkin.
T-J: I can see Jose Calderon being a keys for the Mavs to steal a game or two. If he can stay in front of Parker defensively, while also hitting a couple of threes a night, that could neutralise one of the Spurs biggest threats. San Antonio’s offence is based on great ball movement, usually following penetration. If that penetration is slowed or stopped then Spurs well oiled offence could see some technical difficulties.
Feltman: Monta Ellis, among many candidates not named Dirk that we can’t really rely on to perform at the level needed to beat the league’s best team by W-L record. The Mavericks will need their 2014* number two option to be a number two option in 2014. Samuel Dalembert and Devin Harris are other players who need to step up and take advantage of the few holes in San Antonio’s defenses…attacking the rim and protecting it.
Gosset: I have two. Samuel Dalembert and Brandan Wright. Carlisle might put Dalembert on Duncan to start the game and Wright will come in and probably guard Duncan too. Dalembert didn’t finish the season great, had foul trouble against Memphis, but Wright finished the season as good as anyone in the league. The key for Dalembert, though, is too limit his turnovers and make easy baskets.
3. Who is the X-factor for the Spurs? Why?
Michail: The Spurs are such a deep and well-rounded team that it’s hard to label one specific player as an “X-factor”, but if I have to pick one, it has to be Danny Green. The Spurs are loaded with shooters; but if “Icy Hot” gets rolling, they’re almost unbeatable.
T-J: The thing with Coach Pop’s system is that no individual player is key or irreplaceable. Even in the playoffs, when most coaches shrink their rotation, I expect Popovich to stick with at least nine players. Despite that, Manu Ginobili will need to punish Monta Ellis offensively. By forcing Dallas to switch a better defender onto Manu, this either takes away from the defenders to cover other Spurs, or it means Rick Carlisle will have to limit Ellis’s minutes – and therefore his offensive impact.
Feltman: Manu Ginobili, because he’s going to have to look 2013 NBA Finals bad for the Mavericks to have a chance.
Gosset: Patty Mills. We saw what he could do in the last meeting when he started for Parker and dropped a game-high 26 points. We need to limit his touches and baskets when he comes in because he’s probably the key to their bench. If we can limit the bench, the Mavs have a great chance.
4. Which matchup on the court favors the Mavericks?
Michail: Has to be Monta Ellis. Kawhi Leonard will probably be forced to match up with the attacking Ellis due to no other Spur really matches up well defensively. If Ellis is able to tire Leonard or force him in foul trouble, it may give the Mavericks an advantage on the boards.
T-J: Brandon Wright vs. Everyone. The Spurs just don’t have anyone that can match Wright’s athleticism or his energy. Duncan might be able to slow him down with his technique and experience, but in terms of above the rim plays, Brandon Wright literally rises above everyone else.
Feltman: Dirk Nowitzki. He still is an elite player and the only advantage the Mavericks have by an amount that can cover their losses at the other positions. Help us (again) Dirk, you’re our only hope (to at least beat the Spurs in 2014).
Gosset: It has to be Dirk. No one can guard him, not even Duncan. But we’ve seen Dirk look confused when a smaller guy is guarding him, but if it’s any indication of the 2011 playoffs, Dirk will get his shots and score at will.
5. Which matchup on the court favors the Spurs?
Michail: Easily Tony Parker verse Jose Calderon. This matchup can and may doom the Mavericks. If Parker is able to get inside the paint at will, the Spurs will enjoy a quick and easy series.
T-J: Tony Parker vs. Jose Calderon. Calderon is known for being an efficient shooter and passer, but not a great defender. Parker should be able to take him off the dribble every time down the floor, which is why Calderon’s defence is so important. If the Mavs have to bring Devin Harris in to guard Parker, the shooting and spacing that are key to Dallas’s offence will disappear.
Feltman: Everything besides Dirk. And on paper Tim Duncan is positionally matched up with him, so…please shoot 38% a game, Spurs.
Gosset: I think it’s Parker against whoever guards him. Calderon and Ellis are shaky on defense and Parker is just so quick and flashy, it’s like he scores inside the paint so easily. It will create considerable match up problems for Dallas because I think we’ll see Marion guarding Parker at times, but then it means Ellis or Calderon will be
Part 2 HERE