2014 NBA Playoffs — Mavs vs Spurs
There was a standing ovation inside the AT&T Center before the game started in honor of San Antonio Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich winning the NBA Coach of the Year award. Spurs owner Peter Holt presented Popovich with the Red Auerbach trophy, which was his third time winning it. Unfortunately, the standing ovation wasn’t repeated at the end of the game, as the No. 1 overall seeded Spurs fell to the eighth seeded Dallas Mavericks in a 113-92 rout.
The Mavericks pretty much controlled the whole game in their 21-point victory. They increased the lead each quarter, little by little. After the first quarter, the Dallas Mavericks led 24 to 23. They then went into halftime with a 56-51 lead. After the third quarter, they increased the lead by 8, bringing the score to 88-75. Finally, after a 25-point fourth quarter, they ended the game 113-92.
Now that the Dallas Mavericks have evened up the series at one game apiece, the two teams will now go to the old-school best-of-five series, with three of those games taking place in Dallas.
Dirk Nowitzki, who is coming off of an 11-point, 4-of-14 performance in Game 1, struggled once again offensively. He was tightly guarded all over the floor by San Antonio’s big men, making it tough for him to score from the left block area, mid-range and three-point range. The Spurs did a good job with pick and rolls and stayed glued to the Mavs All-Star, much like they did in Game 1. Unfortunately, that strategy didn’t bring the same result as in Game 1 of the series. “I don’t think they’re going to leave me much on pick-and-roll coverage all series,” Nowitzki told reporters. “I can’t just sit out there and measure the wind and shoot.”
In Game 2, Nowitzki finished with 16 points on 7-of-19 shooting. These first two games in the series mark the first time Nowitzki has gone back-to-back games without scoring at least 20 points in a playoff game since 2010. However, the success on defense against Nowitzki allowed every other Maverick to play well.
Dallas shot 48.9 percent from the floor as a team, including 54.2 percent during a critical third quarter. In that third quarter, the Mavericks did a good job of stretching the lead by whirring the ball around the perimeter and taking advantage of the Spurs’ preoccupation with Dirk. It is also the time when Jose Calderon scored all of his 12 points, including a run where he went for seven straight points all by himself.
One Maverick in particular that stepped up his play in game two was Shawn Marion, who played excellent on both offense and defense. He had one of his best offensive performances of the season by sneaking out in transition for easy cuts to the basket and hiding out in the corner for open jumpers. Marion connected on his first six shots before missing and finished the game going 8-of-10 for 20 points.
The second player who stepped up offensively was Monta Ellis, who led the team with 21 points. He was the Abbot and Marion was the Costello in tonight’s game. It was a great team performance, though, and a good look in head coach Rick Carlisle’s direction in a battle of, arguably, the NBA’s two best coaches. Carlisle and the Dallas Mavericks once again out-schemed San Antonio in every conceivable fashion, coming out with the win this time.
The Spurs on the other hand, had a sloppy night all-around. Their starting lineup combined for an ugly 41 points, which coincidentally is how much Ellis and Marion combined for. Each one of the Spurs’ stars went long stretches of bad play. Kawhi Leonard was in foul trouble throughout the first half and didn’t attempt a field goal throughout the first three quarters. Tim Duncan was a little more engaged, but only finished with 11 points on five field goals. Tony Parker, unlike in Game 1, couldn’t find a way to be effective without the ball, being thwarted by Dallas’ pick-and-roll efforts.
There was one person on the Spurs’ squad that seemed locked in throughout the game. That player was Manu Ginobli, who had a game-high 27 points. However, he did have trouble taking care of the ball and took numerous risks with his passes. The Spurs matched a season-high with 22 turnovers, which is very uncharacteristic of San Antonio.
The mental errors turned into a high amount of frustration for the Spurs in the first half. They gave up 14 turnovers, while only forcing 3 by the Mavericks in the first half. That led to Dallas taking 12 extra shot attempts. The Spurs were shooting nearly 58 percent from the field, but were trailing due to their mistakes. They finished the game with a better field goal percentage than Dallas, at 50 percent. However, Dallas’ ability to take care of the ball (seven turnovers), crash the boards offensively (14 offensive rebounds) and get shots off led them to victory. Dallas out shot San Antonio with 92 shot attempts, compared to the Spurs’ 64.
Another characteristic of the Spurs that was lacking tonight was their free throw shooting, where they shot just 18-of-29. Dallas ended up making all but one of their 16 free throw attempts.
Through two games, we have seen great coaching from Carlisle on the Mavericks’ end. They came into the playoffs as the worst defensive playoff team by a strong margin, with few people giving them a chance against the Spurs. The San Antonio Spurs were a juggernaut on the offensive side and defensive side all regular season, hence the No. 1 overall seed. They were heavily favored over Dallas, but let the playoffs get to their head in game two.
Thanks to Carlisle’s workable defensive strategy, Dallas shut down the NBA’s sixth best offense to tie the series up 1-1. The Spurs are scoring just 98.7 points per 100 possessions in this series, which would have only been good enough to top the dreadful Sixers during the regular season. Seeing the Mavs win with Nowitzki struggling only means positive things for Dallas. We shall see if they continue this momentum as they head back home for Game 3 of this series.
Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Justin Becker of FantasyBasketballMoneyLeagues.com. You can follow him on twitter at @NBAFantasyInfo, and you can follow the Fantasy Basketball Money Leagues Google+ Page. For more NBA news visit Fantasy Basketball Money Leagues, a fantasy basketball blog.