San Antonio Spurs 102, Dallas Mavericks 88: Regression to the mean means a victory for Tim Duncan and the Spurs

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Manu GinobiliPerception and reality are two vastly different and constantly changing things, especially in an NBA playoff series where momentum shifts freely from one game to the next.

A superficial glance at the box scores will tell you that the San Antonio Spurs did a much better job guarding Dirk Nowitzki than in his blitzkrieg Game 1 victory over the Spurs. And yes, while there were some rotation changes, defensive adjustments and a concentrated effort to avoid fouls, the true difference between Games 1 and 2 can be summed up in one simple statement–regression to the mean.

Or, as Tim Duncan so astutely put it following Game 1, “and I can go ahead and bet he’s not going to go 12 of 14 again.”

For Dirk Nowitzki the mean is a fairly high standard, or roughly 25 points per game on 48 percent shooting and between five and seven free throw attempts. In fact, as Rob Mahoney pointed out, in most years it would be enough to warrant Dirk Nowitzki serious MVP consideration.

Following Nowitzki’s 12-14 performance, there was much ado about San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich’s decision to use single coverage for most of the night. Take an excerpt from Gil Lebreton from the Star-Telegram:

“To all who wondered what would happen if, for whatever silly reason, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich chose to defend Dirk Nowitzki one on one, the answer came with near-perfect resonance… “Well, you know, they had scorers last year too.” Popovich explained later. “You pick your poison…” Popovich rolled the dice and it came out 36. Wrong poison.”

For Nowitzki, shooting 12-14 from the field is an outlier–a rare and exaggerated movement away from the mean–as is the 9-24 performance he delivered in Game 2.

Given the same looks he has gotten in the first two games, and they have been the same despite the vastly different outcomes, on most nights Nowitzki will produce a stat line that looks like  8-17 from the field and four to five free throw attempts. A great line, but hardly unmanageable.

That being said, as easily and truthfully as Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs dismissed Dirk Nowitizki’s first performance as a fluke, the Dallas Mavericks are probably taking comfort in the knowledge that Richard Jefferson’s not likely to repeat his 17-point, 7 of 12 performance either.

Free of foul trouble, Richard Jefferson was both aggressive and brilliant in the first half, attacking the basket early, which seemed to breathe life into his missing jump shot. For a night Jefferson showcased the player he was in his peak seasons in New Jersey, but is it something the San Antonio Spurs can expect from him moving forward?

There will be other outliers in this series, the NBA Playoffs are full of them. We recognize them as the moments where “Amazing Happens”. Given the comparative levels of talent, the team that wins out will likely be whoever can best deal with these outliers without deviating from their personality.

Last night the San Antonio Spurs rediscovered part of their championship persona with the Big Three of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker equally dominant.

Tim Duncan, in particular, displayed his own regression towards the mean–showing that the body of work he’s accumulated in the playoffs over the years still provides a fair gauge of what to expect from him. Facing single coverage most of the night, Duncan reeled off a vintage night, 25 points and 17 rebounds.

Manu Ginobili was his brilliant self, weaving through defenders while coming up with big steals and big three-pointers (23 points, 8-13 shooting) while carrying the team down the stretch.

And filling in the gaps was Tony Parker (16 points, eight assists), presenting the Mavericks with the one matchup they have few answers for: speed and creativity from the point guard position.

Watching Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker on the court together in the playoffs, and how well pieces like Jefferson and Antonio McDyess fit in around them, it’s hard not to wonder if the past two NBA playoffs were not outliers themselves. Aberrations explained by injuries to Ginobili and Duncan.

The night might have been a fluke, but if the victory was merely the San Antonio Spurs regressing to their own mean, what does that mean for the rest of the series moving forward?

  • Chipp

    Good article, and astute observations. I like the fact the Spurs actually looked for Jefferson, and he didn’t force. Also, it looked like Hill played a much better game than the first, though he still seemed a step slow on D, especially when trying to check Terry.

    You’re dead on with the fact Dirk got the exact same looks as he did game one. That still will bother Pop– as will Jet’s open looks. But all in all, a better performance, and one which hopefully the Spurs will build on.

    Still, we need to shoot foul shots better, and Manu needs to take better care of the ball in key situations. Still too many turnovers from bad pass decisions. But, he hits them when it counts.

    The other important thing to note about this game, is that the Spurs HELD the lead in the fourth. Something which they’ve had a hard time doing this season. THAT might make Pop think something special’s on it’s way ;-)

  • SpurredOn

    RJ can’t be counted on nightly for 19 pt games but he can/should be expected to score double digits, play smart defense and rebound. What’s great for the Spurs is that Hill has yet to find his offensive stride (though his timing for making shots was excellent in this game) and non of the big-3 has had an awesome night of scoring. Tony has yet to even score 20 points, yet they shot 50% in the opener and over 48% this game. They’ve got some favorable match-ups.

    I liked that the Spurs controlled the pace minus the end of the 3rd Q. They were smart on defense and Pop wisely stuck to the same plan to guard Dirk. The big guys were hustling as the offensive rebound stat supports and the turnovers were cut in half. This is the team, even on a night where no one scored even 30 and mistakes were made, that can contend for the title.

  • Pork Fried Rice

    wooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

    Now we go home where role players normally play better… let’s hope RJ and George can improve even more.

  • jason

    After 2 games that appear to be statistical outliers on opposite sides of our imagined normal curve, the question remains which team will be better on an all around average night. Its hard to say, but its worth noting that so far the spurs hold the scoring margin advantage winning by 12 and losing by only 6…

    One non statistical factor that should work in our favor is that our bench and specifically our young guns like george and dejuan haven’t really shown up to this series yet, they could really help us return to dallas up 3-1 in the series if our home crowd can help them find their playoff games. I guess what we’re hoping for is that our bench plays like the bench they’ve been all year, jefferson plays like he has in previous years, and for the mavs to continue being the defensive team we all know they really are

    If all that happens we’ll be ok

  • Jeremy

    I’m guessing, from now on, every time someone has a crappy game, it will be called an “outlier” ;-)

  • ITGuy

    Last night the Spurs gave cuban yet another reason to hate the Spurs, there should be two other reasons soon…

  • Trade Tp

    I liked how Parker came into the game last night. That was the only good coaching move.

    To all you praising the +/- tonight was arguably Bonners best playoff game EVER and he was a -12.

    I hope Jefferson can sustain. I dont like him taking a bunch of outside shots though. We need him to keep penetrating.

    Pop’s Theory for success: give it to Tim every other time down the floor. Although I enjoyed watching Tim last night, I really dont think he’s going to be able to play like that (hitting slop from 10-12) every night.

    Great win. Great to see us sustain the lead and composure. I really like the way TP is playing right now off the bench. If we can have our 3 score 15-20 and then Hill/Jefferson go off for 15 I think we will be fine. Our success is dependent upon attacking the rim.

    Less minutes for BOnner / McDyess more for Blair.

  • Ivander

    Yeeesss yes yesss!!! great ballgame! that game nearly was like 48 minutes of heaven! didn’t trail a single time.. series tied and heading back to SA!!
    I am feeling pretty good right now! the intensity level
    was high from the very first possession on , one could
    feel the sense of emergency they were playing with!!
    GO SPURS!!!

  • rangerjohn

    IMO dyess was the key to the win more then RJ. during the stretch when the mavs cut it from 20 to 5, dyess was off the floor and bonner was in. the defense all of a sudden was terrible, and the shooting got cold. i like bonner as much as the next guy but as soon as he went out and dyess came in, the defense turned, and the tide of the game changed.

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  • Fra

    McDyess was huge (and so he was on Game 1). As for the plus-minus it’s definitly better to analyze rotations and player combinations than individual performances, just look at TP, played great but a lot of his minuets came with the second unit and thus he was +-0

  • Hobson13

    Here’s what I said were keys to victory yesterday:

    “1. RJ, Blair, or Mason need to show up and help out the big 3.”

    RJ finally came through with 19 points. That was essentially the difference in the game

    “2. Limit turnovers”

    Spurs had 17 in game 1; 8 in game 2.

    “3. Allow Dirk to get his, but drastically slow the rest of the Mavs.”
    Dirk got his average and Terry had a good game, but other than that…..

    Two other things:
    “1. Dirk may drop another 36 on us, but it’s virtually impossible for him to shoot any better or be more efficient. We weathered the Dirk storm so things can only go downhill for him(we only lost by 6 in the process). Play him straight up and just make him work for his shots.”

    Dirk shot 9-24 from the field. According to some Mavs fans, Dirk was just gonna go 12-14 every game this series. This is playoff ball and it just doesn’t work that way.

    “2. I’ve read a lot of the arguments on both sides regarding the Free Throw disparity in game 1. However, I would almost bet a lot of money that we won’t see that in game 2.”

    Spurs outshot the Mavs from the line 22-20. However, all that griping over free throws didn’t pay off that much since Spurs only made 14-22. However, there was no way the refs were giving the Mavs 20 more FT in two consecutive games. It just wasn’t going to happen.

  • agutierrez

    While I would not blame our game 1 loss on the refs, it helped a helluva lot that the refs called this game more evenly and by and large “let the players play.” Dirk was clearly baffled that he wasn’t getting the touch and phantom foul calls that he got in game 1. Actually, it pissed him off to the point of getting a technical. I think it also freed up our guys to play freely without the timidity that comes with knowing that you can’t do much on defense.

  • http://www.operaforthemasses.com David G

    Great to see the Spurs play so well. If Dirk plays better and Jefferson plays worse does that mean five great games to come?

    Game two good news/bad news

    http://www.operaforthemasses.com/2010/04/spurs-vs-mavs-game-two-good-newsbad.html

  • Tyler

    I thought Pop did a good job handling the rotations last night. Outside of the starters, only Bonner and Parker played significant time, which was good to see.

    And as much as I like Dejuan, it was obvious he struggled with the length of Haywood and Dampier. I think Pop recognized this and made a good decision in limiting his minutes. That’s not to say he can’t be effective going forward, but he just didn’t seem to have it last night.

    I thought everyone that stepped on the court made a positive impact for the team. McDyess was big. Not only did he play good defense, he single handedly gave us at least 4-5 more possessions. It’s really tough for the team that’s trailing to make a run when you’re giving up offensive rebounds.

    Our defensive rotations were fantastic last night. We really worked on that end of the court. The first defensive possession of the 2nd half summed it up. We gave up two offensive rebounds, yet we scrambled, rotated, and hounded the Mavs and never gave them a decent look.

    Just a great, all-around team victory last night. Guys stepped up, we knocked down shots, we took care of the ball, and we made Dallas work for everything they got. Let’s hope it translates to good things in game 3.

  • http://espn.com Jacob

    I cant believe that Cuban is so arrogant as to just come right out and say that “he hates the Spurs”… what a jerk.

  • john

    Trade TP – Even the most ardent +/- supporters will tell you that a one game +/- doesn’t tell you much. Bonner happened to be in when the Mavs made their big run (which was not entirely about him). One of the biggest detractions from +/- is that it has a lot of statistical “noise” built into the measure. It’s really only useful when looking at trends and long term effects – and even then there is a certain amount of “chicken or the egg” argument about cause/effect.

  • http://www.goodtimescomic.net Jordan

    @Jacob

    Cuban is both the best and worst of the owners at the same time. I love how much energy and passion he has for his team. He’s like the fan in the front row. I hate him for his energy and passion at the same time. He gets under my nerves so much.

    Of course, I would never want to give up Holt. Not in a million years, but there is something tantalizing about having a guy who bleeds his team’s colors so openly.

  • Blofeld

    The big difference was that Bogans did not play! Yeah! Bless you Pop!

  • pastrypride

    Possibly the single most reassuring things about last night to me were Tim Duncan and Tony Parker.

    Those four consecutive buckets Timmy scored in the clutch won’t go down for him every time, but his overall play suggests to me that he’s pretty healthy right now. I don’t think he gets those 17 rebounds without a pretty good knee. Those came with a lot of traffic, against Haywood and Dampier, tall guys. The Spurs are going to need that from him, given the size of our frontline. And he was aggressive on offense.

    Jesse Blanchard and I disagreed about Tim Duncan a while back. I dont want to try to recapitulate what Jesse said, cause I might get it wrong, but I was right about one thing and wrong about another. I think last night shows I was right that we need Timmy to be an offensive force. We’re just a different team when we can go to him like that. A healthy Duncan makes as much difference to the offense as a healthy Manu. I was wrong to suggest that Timmy’s days of offensive greatness are over.

    Parker looked healthier to me than he’s looked all season, which is obviously huge. Also, I think his offensive style fits in great with that second unit; hopefully we’ve figured out how to use him along with our other guys. I don’t remember exactly, but I think it was in the second quarter, Pop sends in TP, Bonner, Mason, and I think the other two were Blair and Jefferson. I didn’t think a unit like that would be able to score or defend. But Parker took over the offense, and I’m happy with that when he’s out there with those guys.

    Given Manu’s consistency for a couple months or so now, I think our big three have established themselves for the first time all season.

    Jefferson definitely won’t regularly go off like he did last night. However, I also expect him to reglarly do better than he did in game 1. Over the last month or so, I think the team has a better idea how to use him.

    Another encouraging sign: Hill driving in transition, drawing a couple fouls. He didn’t have a great game, but was much better than in game 1. I assume he’s getting healthier. The longer the playoffs go on, the healthier he’ll get. I expect him to be more of a factor in the next two games. He’s actually pretty important to us, given how little we get from Mason or Bogans. Our backcourt should go outside of Parker, Manu and Hill as little as possible.

    Speaking of which, great to see Pop give Bogans a DNP and limit Mason’s minutes. I wish we could give Bonner fewer minutes, but Blair wasn’t giving us too much either, and I think our frontcourt is so thin, we have no choice but to play him. I have to say, it would be great to have Ratliffe right about now.

    Though I liked most of the lineups, Pop seems a little overly conservative with the big 3’s minutes. 36 for Timmy and 33 for Manu and TP. Four Mavs (Dirk, Terry, Butler, and Kidd) played more minutes than that. Granted, there was a minute and a half of garbage time. But I think that second unit led by TP (the one with Mason, Bonner, Jefferson, and Blair) was left in too long. I’m pretty sure the Mavs cut it to one at that point. I’d say, give that unit a minute or two less and get Manu in for Mason and/or Timmy in for Bonner or Blair.

    One final thing: big props to McDyess. (Somebody above advocated giving some of his minutes to Blair; were we watching the same game?) His number aren’t huge, and he won’t get as much talk as RJ, but I think his contributions to this win were huge. His defense on Dirk looked excellent to me. Dirk got a BS superstar call or two against McDyess, but mostly took tough fade aways that McDyess contested perfectly. Also, 9 boards in 30 minutes is great. His rotations on help defense looked better than they have all year. I think this helped prevent so many of the Mavs from getting going offensively. Lastly, I just thought that hussle play where he fought for a rebound/loose ball, then made a smart pass to Timmy right on target for a lay-in summed up his game.

    That was a lengthy comment, but that game has me feeling great about this team. Go Spurs Go!

  • BALLHOG

    I must give Pop a tiny bit of credit on this one. Couldnt give much credit because he really didnt make any adjustments. He extended Parker’s minutes a tad, but didnt make any other changes.

    The credit that Pop earned in last nights game is due to his finally keeping Mason and Bogans where they are most effective, on the bench.

    As for Bonner….It was close to being his best game ever for the Spurs. He stayed within himself and didnt try to get outside of his box. He still sucks as a defender, but at least he made the Mavs account for him offensively.

    As for the Spurs…Still would love to see minutes given to Hairston and Temple. Those guys can cause headaches for the Mavs second unit and provide nice spots of rest for some of our regualrs, including Ginnobli.

    I would have thrown Ian in the mix as well, but I am finally convinced that the team only views Mahinmi as a fan with excellent seats for the game.

    Bring on game 3 at the SBC…..

  • DNITCH

    RJ played like the guy we expected to last night, let’s hope he can keep it up.

  • OneWing

    Bogans didn’t play, but RMJ got some run.

    Hill still isn’t quite right, but Pop seems content to run him out there to play D and take a few jumpers. He did get to the line by going hard to the rim a couple of times early, but I don’t remember seeing him really attacking after that point.

    Bonner made some shots, but overall, the flow of the game seemed to not quite be right with him on the floor last night. This is the difference between statistics guys and “feel” guys. You can see the stats and see his “outlier” +/-. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but something didn’t “feel” right when he was on the floor. Two big threes helped a ton, but notice he didn’t get playing time until late in the third or maybe even into the fourth. Pop saw something he didn’t like there.

    Blair, I think, is seeing the difference between playoff intensity and regular season intensity. Dampier and Haywood just seem to be too much for him when they are playing with playoff intensity. Add in the length of Dirk and Najera playing much harder than they did in game 82 and this, to me, is why his last two nights are more the mean for what we can expect from him this year. Blair just isn’t going to be too effective unless he can find time where he only has to see one of those four players.

    The remaining games should go well for us if there aren’t huge statistical outliers like 12-14 and the freethrow disparity; if we don’t foul; if we keep “showing our hands” on D; If we keep having one role-player really step up on offense and one really step up on D.

    Of course, we had three days rest coming in. With a more normal every-other-night schedule over the next few games, Pop may lengthen his bench to get Bogans back out there and give RMJ more time. I’m hoping not, but we’ll see.

  • http://www.goodtimescomic.net Jordan

    Pop should be given more credit than just tightening the rotation. He hammered it into the players heads that rotating to Dirk was #1 priority. Yelling at George after Dirk hit that 3 was golden. I loved seeing him get upset after that. He’s far from done yet.

  • pastrypride

    john,
    I thought Bonner’s -12 was deserved. He hit a couple of threes, but was really struggling on defense. Whereas you could see McDyess and Timmy rotating, Bonner was just not a factor. Dirke seemed to have an easier time against him too. 2 rebounds, 0 blk, 0 stl in 20 minutes isn’t enough from a PF. He wasn’t the only reason Dallas went on the run while he was in, but I do think he was one of three (the others being Mason and Blair).

  • Tristan

    the article stated that duncan went 27 15? i thought it was 27/17/2 assist? Great game though, The spurs played smart and effective basketball. Can’t wait for game 3! Go Spurs!!

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Jesse Blanchard

    @ Tristan: My mistake, probably part of the problems with writing at 3 a.m. Good catch, it’s been corrected. Apologies to Tim Duncan.

  • idahospur

    We stole the one necessary game on the road, now we just need to handle them at home. We’ve got this.

  • Tyler

    @Jacob –

    Cuban’s quote was taken out of context. Without having the article in front of me, I believe he had a lot of good things to say about the Spurs’ franchise. His “I hate the Spurs” was more a reflection of the great rivalry between the two teams.

    I don’t necessarily like some of the things Cuban does (like running onto the court), but he definitely deserves a ton credit for turning around once what once was a terrible, losing franchise. He’s a good owner and one that treates his players well. And besides, it’s always more fun when the little brother hits back and doesn’t just play dead.

  • Justin

    Funny – all the classless Mavsfans that mysteriously showed up in here after game one to taunt us have suddenly disappeared….weird.

    We will be unbeatable in this series with four playmakers on the floor at once. Thanks RJ – keep it up!

  • Este

    @Tristan

    I believe you’re right about Duncan’s line but this biggest stat for Timmy was zer0 turnovers.

    If RJ can give us that same effort he doesn’t have to score 20 but just bring the effort and the Spurs will win this series. When RJ plays like he did last night Dallas defense can’t adapt or adjust and that means Pop doesn’t have to go to Bogans and Mason and hope that they can perform, something neither one of those guys have done consistently all season. RJ also forced Dirk to play D and he looked like his feet we’re planted in cement.

    One thing that I’ve learned that this Mavs team isn’t very effective in the half court. And IMHO are pretty average on the break with an aging Kidd. I thought with the addition of Haywood they would be better in the paint both offensively and defensively but that wasn’t the case in the first 2 games. I hope continues as Charles Barkley would say Dampier is becoming a limo guy.

  • Jim Henderson

    Great adjustments by Pop, execution by the players, and a 4th gun steps up: GO RJ!!

    From yesterdays post; a CHECK LIST – TO A WIN IN GAME TWO:

    Finally, figuring out how to best guard Dirk is actually the least of our worries. Look at Dirk’s game in game one, look at the mistakes on our side, look at the “no shows” from key players, and look at the score. Even with Dirk shooting 85% (which will not happen again), we could have beaten them in game one by taking care of our own issues.

    So, lets just:

    (1) Hope RJ decides to play! – CHECK

    Game One – 4 points
    Game Two – 19 points!

    (2) Hope Hill is ready to GO! – BETTER

    Game One – Zero points
    Game Two – 7 points

    (3) Take care of the ball! – CHECK

    Game One – 17
    Game Two – 8

    (4) CONTROL THE TEMPO! – CHECK

    Game One – Mavs – 100
    Game Two – Mavs – 88

    (5) Do NOT play MASON! – BETTER

    Game One – 9 minutes
    Game Two – 5 minutes (2 at end of game, up 14)

    (6) If Bonner plays, he MUST get AT LEAST TWO good three point attempts every TEN minutes! – CHECK

    Game One – TWO 3-point shots, 19 minutes
    Game Two – FIVE 3-point shots, 20 minutes

    (7) We need more scoring/rebounding in the paint. Give Blair, and/or Mahinmi more minutes, particularly if Bonner’s not HOT! – BETTER

    Game One – Blair 7 minutes
    Game Two – Blair 11 minutes
    Bonner shot 40% from 3-point land, TD monster on boards.

    (8) Pick up the intensity on “D”, and CRASH the OFFENSIVE & DEFENSIVE GLASS! – CHECK

    Game One – Mavs – 13/45, Spurs – 8/37
    Game Two – Mavs – 14/42, Spurs – 16/51

    (9) DO NOT be paranoid about judiciously playing our young guys (Temple, Hairston, Blair, Ian)! – NOT APPLICABLE

    With RJ stepping up BIG, not needed, tonight!

    Correcting these issues is MUCH MORE IMPORTANT than coming up with fancy defensive schemes to stop Dirk, which by the way, is a fool’s errand anyway!

  • junierizzle

    That one was for the idiot Mavs Fans that were talking smack on this site after game 1.

    Let’s get it done in game 3. No let down!!!!!!!

  • Jeremy

    Does anyone still want to trade TP?

  • David

    Great game, one comment i disagreed with was the “slop” comment, wow, really? great game , though!!!

  • BOSS

    If Hill and Jefferson can combine for at least 20 points a game we will win in 6…b/c Dallas has no answer for our big 3 and Manu hasn’t even went crazy yet but its all about the role players b/c Dirk,Terry and Butler outscored our big 3 last night 68-64 but the rest of their team only had 20 points and they really have no one besides those 3 players that they can really count on for points i think we just have more people capeable of scoring therefore this series if we stay focuesd on the defensice end shouldn’t go past 6 games

  • KOC

    Great win! Nothing like watching a lot of flattened big hair and droopy starch collars get chased out of their seats early in big D. ;-) I’ll bet Cuban broke some mirrors in the mansion last night a la Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now.

  • McMurry Professor

    I think that the rotation of guys covering Kidd did a terrific job in slowing down the Mavs high octane offense. Whether it was Georgie, TP, Manu, or even RJ, everybody seemed close out real well to keep Kidd off of or covered at the 3pt line. They also did a better job keeping him off of the boards.

    Game 1 Kidd had 13 pts, 11 ast, 8 reb.
    Game 2 he had 5 pts, 8 ast, 4 reb.

  • rj

    awsome win. great for us from a psychological standpoint to avoid the 2-0 hole.

    it is hard to expect dallas not to win a game in san antonio, but home games have a way of allowing less featured, impact players to have great games. although i do not expect rj to explode for 19 pts, the mavs will no doubt have to make defensive adjustments to him and may free up other players. i do expect, however, good games from matt bonner and dejuan blair. blair will explode and have at least 1 solid, impactful, energetic game that will fuel the rabid SA home crowd.

    i also expect steady improvement from george hill, and given his age in comparison to jason kidd, he should be able to play solid d on one ankle.

    go spurs! lets reassert our dominance over big-D

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  • pastrypride

    Boss,
    Their big three outscored ours last night, but were thoroughly outplayed nonetheless. TD, Manu and TP shot a combined 26/48 (57%). Dirk, Terry, and Butler shot a combined 24/60 (40%). Give me TD, Manu and TP any day. Our role-players are able to score a lot more because our big three take so many fewer shots. In my view, the role players for the two teams are a wash, though with excellent play for Jefferson and McDyess, ours got the better of theirs last night. Dallas’ big acquisitions (Marion, Butler, Haywood) certainly dont’ strike fear into my heart given what I’ve seen so far.

  • junierizzle

    I know its far from over but as long as the SPURS don’t turn the ball over I like our chances.

    Oh what might have been if they didn’t turn it over so much in game 1.

  • Dr. Who

    Great game in a must win game. I’ve been very critical of Pop and his tactics with long rants of his shotcomings, it’s only fair I call him out for the things he did right last night. Subtle changes but very effective.

    – NO BOGANS and limiting Mason’s minutes! That was great for the match ups, for the fans and for the game of basketball! OK maybe a little too far, but Bogans has been terrible. He may be of use if we make it out to face Phoenix or Kobe and the Lakers, but the really doesn’t fit into this series.

    – Managing Blair’s minutes… Blair did not have a good game and was exposed for being too small for Haywood, he missed easy dunks. But… he was still kinda holding his own. Duncan stayed out for an extended period with Blair on the floor. I thought it was abit too long, but Blair did just enough to keep us in control. This became crucial when Duncan played extended minutes down the stretch and carried the offense.

    – Duncan’s minutes during the season. There were many games when Duncan either didn’t play or didn’t play enough. Many people (myself included) made the point of what are we resting this guy for the playoffs for if we don’t even make the playoffs… Well so far we’ve been able to see what a healthy Playoff Duncan is like. A wonderful reminder to his greatness and how fortunate we are that he wears silver and black.

    – So Dirk didn’t shoot lights out. Part of that is luck and part of it is game plan. Pop did several things differently this game on Dirk. He remained with some 1 on1 but threw different looks at him from the weakside and kept him guessing. He even threw Duncan on him. While Duncan didn’t shut him down that is yet another look, one he hadn’t seen before. He also threw Gino on him. Gino is way undersized for Dirk but he had success. Some guards do bother Dirk. Gino did a great job and McDyess did a incredible job of 1 on 1 with Dirk. Mcdyess was an MVP on the floor, not int he stat sheet. His defense was key as was his rebounds.

    – McDyess’ rebounds and our success holding Dirk in check was the result of yet another subtle coaching move. Pop used Duncan not McDyess on the pick and roll early and often. This forced Dirk to defend in the low post. Since everyone was aggressive and driving to the hoop, Dirk was forced to play D. For all the ALL Star qualities that Dirk possesses, defense is not his forte’. Brilliant… no Dirk sits with two early fouls. This was huge, it also freed up McDyess to get more boards, which he did well.

    – Letting the dogs loose… Perhaps the Dogs comment made more impact on none other than our #1 underachiever Jeffito. Jefferson had the green light to drive, the team made a concerted effort to get him in transition and distribute the ball for Jefferson iso’s. Jefferson came through with energy and points.

    – Pop mentioned to the media about 3 times before the game about Dirk’s fouls and how he was able to “sell it.” Sounds like he’s whining but it is a great to get it into the media. Philip does this many times but is a bit more blunt and gets fine. Pop straddled the line and was vocal but not in a I’m going to get fined way, but the calls were definitely more evenly distributed.

    – Defense on Kidd was a bit different. It appeared they were forcing him to finish instead of distribute. We all know Kidd is one of the best at distributing but finishing has never been part of his game. This worked beyond well.

    – Solid rotations on the perimiter. This was key as well keeping Butler and Kidd in check. NOt sure if this was so much coaching as opposed to having Hill out there instead of Mason. Either way, it worked.

    – Minutes distribution. Best job in a while we’ve seen Pop manage his personnel. Bringing TP off the bench is a great move ala Gino off the bench. It ensures we have scoring on the floor and kept the Mavs off balance.

    It helps when players play like they should (no stupid fouls and TO’s) but this was a just a great a game as the score indicates. It was a bit concerning that we let the Mavs back in after being down by 20 they closed it to 5 and Terry very well could have hit his wide open 3. That would have changed everything. But DUncan was a beast against Haywood (very good sign since he’s better than Dampier) and Manu silenced any critics that he may have had for SA signing his extension with a clutch 3. McDyess and Jeff WERE the players that the FO wanted and hoped they would be all season last night. Not enough can be said about McDyess’ game last night. One stat for this series which I believe will be a tell tale sign of the winner is rebounding and McDyess brought that. Along with crazy D on Dirk. Great win and great game. This is still a tall order, these Mavs are not going to roll over. We have to counter Carlisle’s adjustments for game 3 and there will most likely be plenty. Great execution by the Silver and Black and great adjustments by Pop. Let’s get them in game 3!

  • BOSS

    @pastrypride
    I agree I will take our big 3 any day as well but my point was even if they do outscore us we can still win the game as long as our role players play well if not it will be a repeat of game 1.

  • Micaroni715

    Shawn Marion has been ineffective since leaving Phoenix.
    This is his third team in the past two seasons.
    Brendan Haywood pretends he is a dominating center but is who we thought he was.
    McDyess is a serviceable pro at this point.
    Hill and Blair are not ready for crunchtime minutes.
    Jefferson needs to show more consistency.
    Parker needs to supply depth of the bench.
    Duncan needs to average 25 and 15 for the rest of the series.
    Ginobili has to get under control.
    Pop has to not be so predictable with his scheme.
    Bonner only needs to make wide open threes.
    By the way I bet on the Spurs to beat the Mavs, so as a Knicks fan I have a rooting interest.

  • BALLHOG

    No schemes or brainiac strategies need for Dirk. As was the case in game two, just stay close to his body, get a hand in his face and rotate on defense.

    Still too many jumpshots. Mavs can be had in the paint. Dumping the ball in to Duncan early and often will get Dampier to the bench. Haywood is better than Damp as a player, but Dampier is stronger and does a better job on Duncan.

    With Haywood in the game, Tim can work him out all night long.

    Also, here is a thought….Would it be possible to use Mcdyess on the low block when Duncan is resting? Is that far fetched?

    I’d pay to see Mcdyess spend a little more time in the paint. He would put enormous pressure on the Mavs front line if he made them play him honestly.

    Blair, Duncan, and Mcdyess could really do well against this frontcourt…

    Hope its kicked around a bit as a possibility…

  • edward rutkoski

    Parker’s jumper broke the “run” by the Mavs. Spurs fans need to forget about him being a true point guard and realize what makes Kobe so great isn’t the acrobatic drives or big threes … it’s the demoralizing idea that he can get and hit a 16 ft jump shot to stop your run and kill your momentum. That is what Parker brings as well.
    Go Spurs Go!

  • Tyler

    @Ballhog

    Honestly, I don’t know if McDyess is that kind of player anymore. I don’t think if he possess the explosiveness to score over the likes of a Dampier or Haywood consistently. And plus, the physicality over the course of the series would probably end up taking a toll on the 37 year old, and we really need to save the physicality for when he covers Dirk.

    I think we have more than enough offensive weapons to beat Dallas. McDyess’ defense is more important than any added role he could play on offense.

    I also think McDyess is best served in the pick and pop game with Manu and TP. Pair him with TD/Blair down low. Let McDyess shoot the jumper and tell Blair to go eat the glass. That seems like a good combo.

  • OneWing

    Why all the comments about Parker not being a “true” point guard the day after he put up 8 assists?

  • Bushka

    @Ballhog

    “I’d pay to see Mcdyess spend a little more time in the paint. He would put enormous pressure on the Mavs front line if he made them play him honestly.”

    I’ve had that same thought.

    Dejaun really struggles against this much size and length, I think he’ll get better with that as he adds more range to his game and can force guys like Dampier & Haywood to guard him at 18 to 20 feet, but right now when he has to bang theres a lot of size to contend with.

    McDyess is showing again why he is such a revered vet. Come the big show, he just elevates.

    I can see Tylers point though. He has found a niche for himself as a pick and pop guy and he crashs the boards hard. Do we really want him to start playing post ball as well right now? Tough choice but it is something they might have to visit as the series progresses.