Playing the Matching Game



Whenever teams in the Texas Triangle tussle (alliteration is fun), it’s not hard to get excited. There’s no motivation needed as most fans of the Spurs, Mavericks and Rockets intermingle. Fans of the Texas teams work with, are friends with and, hell, even date fans of their enemy teams. Everyone wants that one win to hold over their rival’s head until the next time the two teams meet.

With the Spurs and Mavericks tipping off tonight in what has been a fantastic rivalry in the ten years since Mark Cuban bought the Mavs, I thought it would be fun to have a look at a couple of the game’s match ups that make these rivalry games special.

The obvious place to start is between the two players fighting, through fan voting, for the second starting forward spot on the Western Conference All-Star team. In the latest voting numbers released on Thursday, Tim Duncan is about 50,000 votes behind Dirk, and closing. Perhaps a win in their match up tonight will persuade more voters?

Dirk comes into tonight’s game having one of his strongest seasons to date, as his numbers are only slightly off his averages during the 2005-06 season, when he won his only MVP award. His 23.58 rating in John Hollinger’s PER is good for 11th in the league.

Over the last week, we’ve covered pretty well the type of season Tim Duncan brings into the game tonight, so I won’t beat you over the head with it. So instead, I’ll tell you to take note of the instances when Duncan and Dirk are matched up one-on-one. It doesn’t happen often, simply because the two are different types of forwards. But when they do, it’s a beauty to watch a pair of players who simply know how to play basketball attempt to solve the problem that the other has laid out before them.

On the heels of Jesse’s great post on Tony Parker from earlier today, the match up of Tony and Jason Kidd is another battle to look out for. Kidd has lost a step (or two) defensively as he gotten up in years and how often the Mavs use Kidd to defend the point guard spot, either Parker or George Hill, will go a long way in influencing the outcome of this game.

If the Spurs can get consistent penetration by going at Kidd and kick out to open shooters and easy baskets in transition, San Antonio could build a big lead on Dallas quickly. Expect to J.J. Barea to guard Parker and Kidd guard Keith Bogans to start the game. The question is what Dallas will do when Coach Popovich plays a two point guard lineup featuring Parker and Hill.

(Also something to keep an eye on, how often Jason Kidd draws charges in transition. He is one of the best at taking charges on driving guards, especially near mid-court.)

The final match up to keep an eye on, only because I brought it up in the recap of San Antonio’s game against Detroit on Wednesday night, is how often Tim Duncan is double- and triple-teamed and how efficient the Spurs are scoring when Duncan gets touches in the low block. It’s become a pet project of mine to track these things, and I do believe that Duncan drawing extra defenders and creating confusion for opposing defenses is important for the Spurs success, especially come playoff time.

Enjoy the rivalry game.

  • Tristan Wilkins

    i can’t wait! i am pulling for those spurs all the way. but 1 problem we have with the mavs is of course dirk. if we can guard him and make his night 48 minutes of hell we will be ok. gotta watch out for jj baera, he so fast and good at cutting to the rim. hope our defense is ready. go spurs, go!!!!

  • junierizzle

    I say the Spurs play them the same way did in the last game.
    Play Dirk one on one. It was effective enough to almost get a win. Ofcourse Dirk will end up having a huge night but so what. What star is ever truly stopped?? What kills you are the wide open 3’s by Terry and even Kidd.
    And we didn’t have Manu last time. I think we got it. It will still be close though.
    Even if the Spurs played with Jordan in is prime, The Mavs would still keep it close. I guess that’s what makes it a good rivalry.

  • VP of Common Sense

    Come on you Spurs!

  • SpurredOn

    Didn’t have Manu or Parker last time. And didn’t have Parker or TD the first time (home win). Even considering the players Dallas had out of the lineup in the last meeting, the Spurs have outplayed Dallas twice this season. Bonner was a part of that and he won’t play so it will be interesting how Pop uses the smaller two-PG lineup (plus with Manu) to attack the Mavs.

    If our guys play well it shouldn’t be that close late.

  • TheRed&Black

    WOW. This game was nothing but a lot of frustration. There is NO excuse for some of the shots Tony Parker was taking. ESPECIALLY the 12 footer in the final seconds.

  • JT

    I don’t really know how much we have learned about the Spurs this season so far. We still can’t beat elite teams. Our offense is mediocre, see in the 4rth quarter how Mavs got Dirk the matchups which were better for him, having parker, Jefferson, all smaller players on him. They switched so many times, Disk got who he wanted, Terry got Duncan who sorry to say cannot stay in front of Terry. Just horrible. I guess they handed to us the 4rth quarter we handed to Detroit, ha… and we expect to beat the Lakers. This may just be the first sub 50 game win of the Timmy era.

  • Mr. Anonymous

    How did Mavs end up taking 13 more shots then us? ;\

  • JT

    12 offensive rebounds for the Mavs, 42 point 4rth quarter, are you kidding. So much for the Spurs defense coming back. We always fail to play 48 minutes and this simply will not do. I don’t really know that I want to watch the Lakers matchup. Too upsetting, I may pull a Popovich and eject myself….

  • JT

    maybe you can rename the site to 36

  • lvmainman

    42 pts given up in the 4th qtr against a playoff team at home, does not a hint of a better defense make (title of recent blog). Depressing.

    2-11 against teams with a winning record.

    Another game that reinforces my belief the Spurs need to get a young, active big man like Bosh, after seeing Nowitski go off in the 4th qtr and seeing McDyess’ 0 pts, 4 fouls, no playing in crunch time, performance. Not to mention killed on the offensive glass 12 to 5.

  • Mr. Anonymous

    I don’t think we need to trade, if I’m honest.

    I just think these players need to stop being so damn lazy and concentrate for 48 minutes.

    They need to realise none of them as good enough to have a lackadaisical approach to their play and still dominate.

  • grego

    Questionable coaching, especially in the 2nd half. The big 4 (outside of Duncan) stopped bringing it in the 2nd half.

    RJ was taken out (the best defender on Dirk that whole night).

    Blair/Dice couldn’t play without picking up a foul every 5 minutes in the game.

  • muwu

    Maybe the Spurs should stop getting international players so their players aren’t worn out all the time from international duties.

    But sign Mensa-Bonsu! Even to just a 10 day contract

  • wannabe_fan

    I thought RJ did a fine job on dirk for most of the game. Don’t know who chose to make the switch towards the end. We obviously missed Pop in the 2nd half, the asst. (forget his name) let our guys “play” through some tough stretches where I would have called a time out or 2. To me, a big mistake was not to keep Tim on isos to foul out the mavs big men…and have dirk guard Tim…and get eaten alive.

    Hindsight is 20/20…bottom line: still can’t beat pretenders/contenders…even at home.

    Best play of the night: early in the game, Joey Crawford pulled down a rebound with his face. Nice to see that red tattoo!

  • Ivander

    Dirk and the Jet just killed us in the 4th. I really thought we were going to get a win after 3. Losing a game when shooting 52,6% from the field, 46,7% from downtown..this loss is hard to swallow. The defense just sucked in the last quarter. The refs got us in a lot of foul trouble early, they seemed to blow the whistle every time Josh Howard or someone else approached the paint – but that’s not an excuse for giving up 42 in the last period and giving up so many second chance points (Eric Dampier….). I decided that I am not going to watch the game against LA on tuesday. Yesterday’s game will haunt me for the whole weekend already. Pop really should get some Tai Chi and Yoga classes until then…

  • agutierrez

    I’m having Kurt Thomas flashbacks with Dyce. He’s had maybe one or two games where he’s given us what we expected (and needed). Other than that, he’s a major flop. Pop should try Haislip or even Ian, for Christ’s sake. They couldn’t do worse.