The San Antonio Spurs are facing a tough Dallas Mavericks team looking to prove that they are the best team in Texas, unfortunately Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and head coach Greg Popovich have something to say about it. Dallas has not won a regular season game against the Spurs since March 7, 2012 — and were 0-4 during the 2013-2014 NBA regular season. The Spurs are looking to avenge their 2013 NBA finals defeat to LeBron James and the Miami Heat, but before they can advance to the next round, they have to take down Dirk Nowitzki and company. After a close game 1 loss, it appears the Mavericks are not going down without a fight.
Which team will prevail? Can the Mavs spoil the Spurs hopes of another NBA finals appearance? Jr. Williams and I weigh in with our Spurs versus Mavericks preview/prediction.
Who are the key players on both teams?
Arnold Glass: Key players for the Spurs are shooting forward Kawhi Leonard, point guard Patty Mills and shooting guard Marco Belinelli. Leonard is key with his scoring and prowess to play defense on the other teams top scorer, Mills need to continue to come off the bench as a spark for the team while Tony Parker gets a breather and Belinelli for his clutch shooting ability when the Spurs need it at the end of the game.
Key Players for the Mavs are point guard Devin Harris, shooting guard Monta Ellis and center Samuel Dalembert. Harris for his ability to attack and slash the defense and make plays for his teammates, Ellis for his way to create his own shot and stretch out the opponent’s defense and Dalembert for his defensive skills against the likes of Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter.
Jr. Williams: I agree partially with your response. For the Spurs the key players have to be Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker. Leonard is a hybrid type of player — he can score, defend, and rebound; he is arguably the best all-around player for the Spurs, without him playing effective, the Spurs will not advance beyond the first round of the playoffs. Parker sets the tone for the Spurs offence, honestly, how good would this team be without him.
Dirk Nowitzki and Monte Ellis are the most important players for the Mavericks. They are the best scorers on the team and have to continue to create issues for the Spurs offensively. Jose Calderon will be another key player the Mavericks will rely on, he has knock down shots because defensively he may not be able to keep up with Tony Parker.
Keys to winning the series
Arnold Glass: Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle has to find a way to plug up all of the defensive holes that can be exposed against a Spurs team that have many options of scoring, and if the Mavs have any chance of winning, they will have to outscore the Spurs. The Spurs already know that Dirk Nowitzki is going to score, they just have to limit Ellis from scoring and keep the team healthy for the long run.
Jr. Williams: The Spurs have to get optimum output from their role players and keep Nowitzki from getting into a scoring groove. They have to be physical and force players to make tough shots. If the Spurs can keep the Mavericks under 95 points, this series could be over early.
I’m not sure the Mavericks have what it takes to defeat the Spurs this series. Defensively, if they can stop Tony Parker’s penetration and somehow force a couple of their “bigs” in foul trouble, then perhaps they might have a fighting chance at winning this series, otherwise, the Mavs only option would be to outscore the Spurs in order to make this a winnable series.
Arnold Glass: The Mavericks are going to give it good effort, but the Spurs will show why they have the best record in the league and have a solid chance of making it back to the NBA Finals. Spurs in 5.
Jr. Williams: The Mavericks will still one at home but the Spurs will win the series 4-2.