The Spurs defeated the Mavs 97-87 and won the series 4-2. The Suns finished off the Blazers last night 99-90 and will be the next team the Spurs face.
Friday, 6 of December of 2013
The Spurs defeated the Mavs 97-87 and won the series 4-2. The Suns finished off the Blazers last night 99-90 and will be the next team the Spurs face.
Manu Ginobili is at it again. Bleeding from a nasal fracture from a Dirk elbow in the third quarter, Manu bandaged that sucker up and scored another 11 points in the 4th quarter to keep the Mavs at bay in a 94-90 win. Dallas went on a little run to take a nine point lead late in the game, but it wasn’t enough. Ginobili finished with 15 points, five rebounds, seven assists, three steals, and one block. He is now averaging 21.3 points in this series. He did much of his damage last night by getting to the free throw line where he was 7-of-8. The Spurs shot 20-of-26 from the line in this game while the Mavs went 14-of-15.
George Hill decided to finally join the party last night. He had 17 points, five rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block. Nice to see you, George. The Spurs needed him to step up since RJ faded into the background again and Tony Parker is playing well enough as a reserve that Popovich probably would like to keep that going. RJ finished with six points, three rebounds, and three assists. Parker finished with 23 points, four rebounds, three assists, and one steal. He is averaging 19 points in the series.
Tim Duncan had 25 points, five rebounds, four assists, and one block. He didn’t really crash the boards, but then again, no one did. There were no double-doubles in this game from either team. The main thing for Duncan is he had another five turnovers. He had six in Game 1, but none in Game 2. He is averaging 25.7 points in this series.
The rebounding edge belonged to no one as both teams were even in that department. Turnovers were about the same as well. However, the Spurs shot 11 more free throws than Dallas. Of course, they also missed every three-point attempt while Dallas went 8-of-20 from downtown. In the end, it was just slightly better shooting that made the difference as the Spurs shot 48.7% from the field compared to 44.7% for Dallas.
Dirk was the best player for the Mavs, as usual, with 35 points, seven rebounds, three asssits, two steals, and one block. Also, Jason Terry is doing his thing off the bench still. He finished with 17 points and was 4-of-8 from beyond the arc.
The Dampier/Haywood tandem was as pitiful as ever finishing with a combined four points, eight rebounds, one steal, one turnover, and seven fouls. Wow, they can’t even manage a double-double between them – and in a combined 45 minutes? Even the Spurs’ DeJuan Blair had two points, five rebounds, one assist and no turnovers last night, and he only played about 4 minutes. Caron Butler and Shawn Marion have been non-factors in the past two games, well Marion has been a non-factor in all three. Granted Rick Carlisle opted to go with the hot-shooting J.J. Barea (14 points) for much of Game 3 instead of Butler, the fact of the matter is Butler needs to show up for the Mavs to have any chance. Shawn Marion is not any better and hasn’t reached double digits in scoring or rebounding once in this series. The Mavericks picked these two guys up specifically for this moment and neither is worth a flip right now. The Mavs have no chance of winning it all this year even if they miraculously make it past the Spurs. Frankenhead will probably spend another few million to bring in another fringe star, former All-Star, or overrated has-been this summer and everyone will get all excited until this time next year when the Mavs start falling apart yet again. Tsk. Tsk.
Check out the Game Highlights.
The rivalry continues tonight and I’ve already let it be known that I expect the Spurs to win in six games. I have to agree with Kenny Smith in this video when he says it wouldn’t really be an “upset” so to speak, since we are talking about a couple of 50 win teams that might not even be facing eachother if the regular season went a week longer.
Kenny and I aren’t the only ones who believe the Spurs could win this series. ESPN has 3 of 10 analysts picking the Spurs (Abbot, Hollinger and Thorpe). I’m not enthused about only getting 30% support from their “experts” but Dallas has been a popular pick since the All-Star Break trade.
In J.A. Adande’s playoff preview, he lists the Spurs as the “Scariest Team”:
Put it this way: They even had the Suns wondering if they might be better off losing their final game of the regular season to avoid any possibility of facing the Spurs in a potential 3-6 matchup. After all, these are the Spurs that sent the Suns home in the 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2008 playoffs.
Record since Dec. 15: 38-20.
And now, with Ginobili’s extension locked up, the Spurs enter the playoffs distraction-free. Not that they’ve traditionally been an easily distracted group. The last time they had issues looming, with David Robinson’s pending retirement and the possibility of Jason Kidd replacing Tony Parker at point guard, the Spurs won a championship.
Interesting. The Spurs did what they always seem to do, start off slow then click late in the season. They clicked waaay late this season and are still overcoming an injury to George Hill, but beyond that are ready to go. George Hill is a better defender than Parker and will be needed big time to help slow down the Dallas point guards.
The Mavs have some ferocious rebounders in Haywood and Marion, but Tim Duncan, DeJuan Blair and Antonio McDyess should be able to battle them to a draw if not out-rebound them. The problem is that the Mavs have the best rebouding point guard in Jason Kidd. A problem for the Mavs is that DeJuan Blair is the most ferocious rebounder on either team, and Richard Jefferson has been improving on the glass as well. It will be interesting to see how the battle of the boards plays out.
Manu Ginobili will be the guy the Mavs have to focus on the most. He can and will wreak havoc on the Dallas defense by slashing to the rim, popping threes, dishing to teammates, creating fast-breaks, etc. However, the Spurs will have their hands full with Dirk trying to do much of the same. He isn’t as good a play-maker as Ginobili is, but he doesn’t need to be with Kidd running the show.
One of the biggest keys to this series for the Spurs is going to be turnovers. The Spurs simply have to take care of the ball and play near mistake-free basketball for 48 minutes. Turnovers have been an issue all year and especially with Tony Parker. We need him to make better decisions and play like his All-Star version in this series.
The Spurs have been getting better and better all season and I still don’t think they are playing their best basketball. What better time to crank it up a notch than right now?
The NBA Playoffs are ready to start and the bracket is below along with my thoughts on each round and my own predictions all the way to the NBA Finals. If I am wrong then so be it, but if I get it right I need proof that I “knew it all along” so here goes…
LA Lakers vs Oklahoma City Thunder > LA Lakers
This has the potential to be one of the funnest matchups in a long time. Durant is the youngest scoring champ in NBA history and is going against one of the best players the league has ever seen. It has all the makings of one of those classic “pass the torch” matchups. The only problem is that it isn’t. The Thunder just aren’t there yet and will be lucky to win a game against a well coached Lakers team who will make quick work of the young OKC squad. Scott Brooks is on his way as a fine coach, but this is where the real lessons are learned and the happy-to-be-in-the-playoffs-Thunder are going to get a quick, not-so-subtle lesson in humility. Still, I think that Durant and company will make this an entertaining series and Kobe has no shortage of fans or haters (me included) to keep things extra interesting. Prediction: Lakers in 5
Denver Nuggets vs Utah Jazz > Utah Jazz
The Nuggets are falling apart and have lost their coach and their mojo over the past month. They are 6-7 in their past 13 games and got pummeled in a blow-out loss against Phoenix in their season finale. Coach Karl is expected to miss at least the first round of the playoffs which means he is basically going to miss the playoffs. However, the Jazz don’t exactly inspire much confidence either, especially after the way they lost in their season finale, also against the Phoenix Suns. I think that neither team is a serious contender but they will battle eachother to a near standstill before one ultimately prevails over the other only to get ousted in the next round. Prediction: Jazz in 7
Phoenix Suns vs Portland Trail Blazers > Phoenix Suns
The Suns are on a mission right now after thrashing both Denver and Utah in the past week en route to a 14-2 finish. The Blazers are likely going to be without their leading scorer and best overall player, Brandon Roy. The Blazers have shown that they can meet many challenges over the course of the season, but this is the end of the line for Portland. They can only hope that next year Greg Oden doesn’t get another case of janky-knees or pose for anymore risque pictures. Prediction: Suns in 5
Dallas Mavericks vs San Antonio Spurs > San Antonio Spurs
Oh boy. Revenge or Repeat? I say revenge for the Spurs. The Mavs made a nice little blockbuster deal during All-Star Weekend, but Caron Butler is not having quite the impact he was expected to. He’s no slouch, and is miles better than the inconsistent, injury-plagued, blitzed out of his mind Josh Howard, but he is not taking this team to the next level – at least not yet. Haywood has probably had a bigger impact for the Mavs. Still, after the Mavericks went on their 13 game win streak shortly after the trade, they came back down to earth and started looking mortal again. Can they win it all? Certainly, but they are known more for blowing up for no apparent reason than winning championships. Enter the Spurs. San Antonio has been slowly but surely integrating several new players into the Spurs system and while the results were not so great early on, they are now showing signs of being a legit contender. They can absolutely upset the Mavericks and anyone else in their path. Last year the Spurs didn’t have Manu Ginobili for the playoffs, and this year he returned to form in a big way and got a $39 million contract extension to boot. George Hill’s defense will factor in as well. He won’t stop Kidd from getting his fair share of assists, but he can keep the point guards for the Mavs from running amok. I’ll do a more in-depth preview of this matchup, but for now let’s just say that this matchup has “upset” written all over it. Prediction: Spurs in 6
Cleveland Cavaliers vs Chicago Bulls > Cleveland Cavaliers
The Bulls barely managed to make the playoffs, and while their epic series against the Celtics showed a lot of promise, the only promise they have this year is a swift execution. Cleveland is the favorite in the East if not the league and will dispatch the Bulls quickly and with authority. Prediction: Cavs in 4
Boston Celtics vs Miami Heat > Boston Celtics
The Celtics are nowhere near the dominant team they were a few years ago when they were NBA champs. The Big Three are older, slower, and a little bit rickety. Even Doc Rivers is hinting at bailing out before it gets worse next season. They just aren’t the same squad. Bill Simmons blames Rasheed Wallace to an extent which is probably about accurate, although I think it’s more an effect than a cause. The cause is that they simply aren’t as hungry, aren’t as desperate, and aren’t as good as they once were. Having said that, the Miami Heat have very little chance of advancing. As hopeless as I think the Celtics are when it comes to winning it all this year, the Heat are not any better. Can they upset the Celtics? Certainly. Will they? I think not. Prediction: Celtics in 7
Atlanta Hawks vs Milwaukee Bucks > Atlanta Hawks
I don’t really like Milwaukee, but I like Brandon Jennings. He won’t be able to win this for the Bucks though. Atlanta has a veteran point guard in Bibby who will run all over the Bucks who really don’t have anyone on the team that’s playoff tested unless you count Jerry Stackhouse or Kurt Thomas – and I don’t. John Salmons has a little bit of experience with Chicago, but that won’t be enough to overcome the Hawks. Atlanta wants everyone to know they are for real, and they are not going to let the Bucks stand in their way. Prediction: Hawks in 6
Orlando Magic vs Charlotte Bobcats > Orlando Magic
The Charlotte Bobcats are making their first playoff appearance with Larry Brown leading the charge. They have the coaching and the personnel to flat out embarrass the Orlando Magic if they don’t come with it. I still don’t see it happening though. The Bobcats are good, but Orlando has too many weapons at every position and even an injury to one of the Magic’s key players probably wouldn’t be enough to derail them this early on. They need to focus on this opponent and this round though, or they will be taking an early vacation. Prediction: Magic in 6
LA Lakers vs Utah Jazz > LA Lakers
The Lakers will be well rested and the Jazz will be out of their element in this round. Aside from Deron Williams at point guard, the Jazz have no favorable matchups in this round and he won’t have an easy day with everyone from Fisher, to Kobe, to Artest pushing him around. Prediction: Lakers in 6
Phoenix Suns vs San Antonio Spurs > San Antonio Spurs
I don’t know why, but for some reason the Spurs always own the Suns. Maybe God hates the Suns or maybe just likes the Spurs – I don’t know. Maybe the fix is in. Either way, the Spurs almost always beat the Suns and this will be no different. Prediction: Spurs in 6
Cleveland Cavaliers vs Boston Celtics > Cleveland Cavaliers
This is where the wheels fall off for Boston. This will be the last time the Big Three play in a series together, the last time Boston is considered a true contender, and hopefully the last time we are forced to look at Rasheed Wallace’s man-boobs. One can only hope. Prediction: Cavs in 6
Atlanta Hawks vs Orlando Magic > Orlando Magic
Orlando can smell the NBA Finals by this point and will be itching to get to Cleveland without being battered too much. That’s too bad though because the Hawks will give them everything they can handle. Atlanta has a good team, but not a great team, but they can take another step in the right direction in this series. Prediction: Magic in 7
LA Lakers vs San Antonio Spurs > LA Lakers
I want to be wrong. I want so desperately to be wrong, but I just don’t see it happening. The Spurs can beat the Lakers, but I fear that Artest and Kobe will harass RJ and Ginobili too much. I don’t think the Spurs can really account for Gasol and Bynum. The keys to this series for the Spurs will be the play of Tony Parker and George Hill at the point guard spot, and whether or not McDyess and Blair can neutralize Bynum at the center spot. The Spurs can beat the Lakers, but probably not four games out of seven. I just hope the Spurs batter the Lakers enough to weaken them for the Finals. Prediction: Lakers in 7
Cleveland Cavaliers vs Orlando Magic > Cleveland Cavaliers
This is where the Magic are going to miss Hedo Turkoglu’s play-making ability. The Cavs defense is going to smother the Magic and do to them what they should have last season – knock them out of the playoffs. Prediction: Cavs in 6
LA Lakers vs Cleveland Cavaliers > Cleveland Cavaliers
Kobe wants to repeat, but not as much as LeBron wants to win his first title. Kobe doesn’t have the same motivation that he had in previous seasons since Shaq left town, but LeBron has all the motivation in the world. Also, Shaq will surely enjoy snatching a championship away from Kobe. This is LeBron’s year and that’s all there is to it. The Cavs all know that if they don’t win it all, LeBron could walk. If they do win it all, there is no way LeBron walks away. Everyone in Cleveland knows this. You know it. I know it. The Lakers know it… and there is nothing they can do about it. Prediction: Cavs in 7
The Washington Wizards, desperate to turn over probably their entire roster after the Agent Negative 80 Million fiasco, completed a seven-player trade with the Dallas Mavericks today. That’s not a big deal until you realize that the Mavericks just got a whole lot better. The Wizards gave up Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, and DeShawn Stevenson for a package of Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, Quinton Ross, and James Singleton.
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