Corporate Knowledge: Game 1 Aftermath

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Travis Hale, Pounding the Rock: “Those of us that get an up-close chance to observe Coach Popovich regularly would say that his actions during Game 1 of the Western Conference Playoffs on Sunday against the Dallas Mavericks were of no surprise, but to the rest of the country it must have been quite a shock. Here was the man, famous for his snarl and six second press conferences, smiling at Craig Sager Jr. before looking into the camera to deliver a heartfelt and emotional message to the young man’s father.”

Rob Mahoney, The Point Forward: “This has to be a deflating loss for Dallas, which managed one of its most impressive defensive performances of the season against an unmistakably elite opponent. By no means was their viability a function of Carlisle’s defensive devices alone; players from Shawn Marion to Monta Ellis were fully dedicated and focused in their defensive responsibilities, a commitment that showed in every stop. All of the Mavs’ perimeter defenders did an incredible job in recovering out to open shooters. The bigs did the best they could in handling difficult mismatches and Tim Duncan’s post work. To be this sharp defensively while bouncing between a few different defensive designs is awfully impressive, particularly for a Mavs team that so regularly gave up ground defensively during the regular season.”

Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com: “In true pick-your-poison fashion, the Mavs decided that they’d rather have the 37-year-old Duncan go one-on-one than have the rest of the Spurs team up from 3. They clamped down on the Spurs’ shooters like they planned, with the Dallas defense employing more switches than a square dance early on, and San Antonio struggled from the outside, hitting just 3 of 17 attempts (17.6 percent). But the Big Fundamental became the Big Nullifier.”

Dan McCarney, Spurs Nation: “Ranked 22nd in defensive efficiency coming in, Dallas didn’t appear to have much hope slowing down the Spurs after giving up nearly 111 points per game while losing the previous nine meetings. All the Mavericks did was limit the Spurs to their lowest scoring output in 33 games (89 against Brooklyn on Feb. 6) with just three 3-pointers and 14 assists. They did so largely by switching everything on the perimeter, particularly Parker’s pick and rolls. That gave Parker open lanes galore and multiple mismatches to exploit in the post, such as Kawhi Leonard on Monta Ellis. But those static options also slowed down the Spurs’ usual ball movement as Mavericks defenders stuck to shooters. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was so desperate for an antidote that he went to little-used Matt Bonner for a spark midway through the second quarter.”

Tim McMahon, ESPN Dallas: “So much for the Mavs’ chance to steal the series opener. Instead, the Spurs’ slammed the door on Dallas’ face, denying the Mavs their first playoff win since they celebrated their 2011 championship by chugging a $90,000 bottle of champagne in Miami Beach’s Club Liv, an experience shared by only two players remaining on the roster. If the Mavs couldn’t get this win, it makes you wonder when they’ll ever be able to beat the Spurs. Or at least if it will happen in this series.”