Chasing Down The Latest NBA News
#2 Dallas Mavericks (55-27) vs #7 San Antonio Spurs (50-32)
Season Series: 3-1, Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs 92 vs Dallas Mavericks 93, Dallas Mavericks 99 vs San Antonio Spurs 94 OT, Dallas Mavericks 112 @ San Antonio Spurs 103, Dallas Mavericks 96 – San Antonio Spurs 89.
Relevant Statistics: Dallas: 92.4 possessions per game (17th), 109.3 points scored per 100 possessions (10th), 106.4 points allowed per 100 possessions (12th). San Antonio: 91.6 possessions per game (23rd), 110.3 points scored per 100 possessions (9th), 104.6 points allowed per 100 possessions (9th).
Hit the jump to see the individual match-ups for the Mavericks and Spurs…
Point Guard: Jason Kidd vs Tony Parker
Two contrasting styles here. Parker is a small, score first guard that attacks the rim and doesn’t distribute the ball well while Kidd is one of the best passing point guards in the history of the NBA, is big, and is one of the best three-point shooters in the league. Parker isn’t 100% and there isn’t a chance that he plays like he did last season, which means Kidd could do some major damage in this match-up. If he plays like he has all season by feeding the ball to Dirk, making picture perfect passes in transition, and hitting open three’s, he’ll control the tempo and pace of this series, which gives Dallas a huge edge.
Shooting Guard: Caron Butler vs Manu Ginobili
Undoubtedly the most important match-up of the series. Butler is more like a small forward than a two guard, but because Marion does a great job at SF and Butler has the ability to handle the ball and to play on the perimeter, he’ll stick on Ginobili. Butler is six-foot-seven, making him taller than Manu, and he is much thicker and stronger. It will be one tough task slowing down Ginobili, who has been on a tear of late, but Butler has the size to keep him from playing out of this world. Offensively, Butler won’t have to do too much, but 15 points a contest and some aggressive takes to the rim will help Dallas flow as an offense. He likes to play from the mid-range, giving him the option of driving, shooting or getting the ball into Dirk. It’ll be nice to see how he plays in the post-season. He’s looked great to this point.
Small Forward: Shawn Marion vs Richard Jefferson
If you would have asked me six months ago who the better off-season acquisition would be come playoff time between these two, I would have said Jefferson. And I would have been dead wrong. Jefferson has been completely atrocious this year. He hasn’t fit in offensively, he’s not shooting the ball well at all, and he is constantly out of place or confused on the defensive end. You’d think he’d be able to adapt with such a great coach but Ron Artest is more familiar with the Lakers’ offense than Jefferson is with SA. That’s not right. Marion might see some time on Ginobili as well. He’s a long, rangy defender, that plays extremely well against two guards like Manu. On offense, he’ll take whoever is on him to the post and do a quick turnaround lay-up several times in this series.
Power Foward: Dirk Nowitzki vs Tim Duncan
Legacy is on the line here folks. While Duncan no doubt has the better track record, there will be debates for years to come as to who was the better all-around player between these two. Dirk’s gotten Duncan twice in his career, first in 2006 and then last season. Dirk’s the better player now and it should show. He’ll pull Duncan away from the basket, and that will matter now more than ever thanks to a mid-season trade that brought a true center to Dallas. Duncan will still get his 20 and 10 but it won’t mean as much as it used to.
Center: Brendan Haywood vs Antonio McDyess
The impact Haywood will have on this series is going to be huge. His ability to protect the rim will relieve that responsibility from Dirk, his rebounding skills will help keep San Antonio off the offensive glass, and he is an adept low-post scorer especially when Kidd is running the show. McDyess will hit some outside jumpers, work on defense, but won’t be enough to control Haywood.
Bench: Jason Terry, J.J. Barea, Rodrigue Beaubois and Erick Dampier vs George Hill, Keith Bogans, DeJuan Blair, and Matt Bonner
Terry is the x-factor. Ginobili would carry the same title if he was still a sixth man but the Spurs need him way too much to put him on the bench. The Spurs might have the advantage on the boards when the second unit comes in as Blair pulled down 23 rebounds last night against Dampier. Still, the scoring will be in favor of Dallas when it comes to the second units. It would be fun to see Beaubois and Parker go head-to-head at some point.
The Mavericks have a chance to effectively end Tim Duncan’s career and the Spur’s dynasty with a win in this series. Though Ginobili is healthy this year, the Spurs are worse than they were last season and Dallas absolutely destroyed them in the first round. The Mavs, on the other hand, have gotten better with the addition of Butler and Haywood.Dirk is having a big time season, I think he is going to come out on fire in this series and show the world how great of a talent he is.
San Antonio will be relying heavily on Manu Ginobili. If he can’t do something ridiculous like averaging 30+, five helpers and five boards a game, San Antonio won’t have much of a chance in this series. Manu has the ability to throw up those numbers on any given day, but to do that four or five times in a row is challenge in itself, and having great defenders like Butler and Marion coming at him for the full 48 minutes doesn’t help his cause.
Pick: The Mavs will take this series in six games. I think Ginobili’s brilliance is good enough to carry the Spurs to a couple of close W’s where Manu hits a clutch shot late. Dirk, however, will do the same in the other four contests, earning a series win.