Gameday 3-on-3: Spurs vs. Mavericks
Quick turnaround tonight, as the Spurs take on division rivals the Dallas Mavericks on the second night of a back-to-back. We’re ready, though, and we brought along good friend Rob Mahoney of Mavs blog The Two Man Game to help us break things down for us ahead of tonight’s game.
1. Both the Spurs and Mavericks stumbled out of the gate a bit this season, which team is in more trouble in the long run?
Rob Mahoney, The Two Man Game: A week ago it would’ve been the Mavs, but now I’m inclined to pick the Spurs. San Antonio came into the season with some built-in continuity, but Manu Ginobili’s injury — which could honestly derail the Spurs’ offense entirely if the wrong dominoes start falling — puts SA in an incredibly tough spot. They’ll still have time to try to work Ginobili back into the lineup upon his return, but what losses will San An have suffered in the meantime, and what kind of momentum can they establish while he’s working his way back?
Graydon Gordian, 48 Minutes of Hell: On Monday I would have said the Mavs. The Spurs looked sharper initially. Between an underachieving Lamar Odom and the absence of Chandler and Barea, the Mavs seemed listless. But the Spurs took a huge hit when they lost Manu. The Mavs have reasons to be worried, but the Spurs are in for a rougher ride.
Andrew McNeill, 48 Minutes of Hell: Given the Manu Ginobili injury and the nature of this season’s schedule, I’d have to say the Spurs. Though a championship hangover and a not-so-subtle focus on the upcoming free agent class, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Mavs slip a lot this season.
2. This season, will the Mavs be near the defensive juggernaut they were last?
Rob Mahoney, The Two Man Game: Not at all. Conditioning and early season rust are real problems for Dallas, but both of those concerns are dwarfed by the losses of Tyson Chandler and DeShawn Stevenson. Dallas added some interesting pieces in the off-season, but sacrificed plenty of defensive versatility in their efforts to keep the books clean. That’s going to cost them, and though the Mavs should still be a formidable club, their defense will suffer as a natural result of their personnel changes.
Graydon Gordian, 48MoH: No, they won’t. They won’t be a bad defensive team: Marion is still an excellent perimeter defender and Kidd has learned how to use his craftiness to counterbalance his lack of quickness. But the absence of a defensive force like Chandler next to Nowitzki in the frontcourt means this team won’t be able to maintain their defensive prowess.
Andrew McNeill, 48MoH: I gotta say no. With Tyson Chandler gone, and only Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi left to pick of the defensive slack, I think the Mavs are going to revert back to their old ways for the most part. Mahinmi will get some spectacular weak side blocks, but he’s not a defensive force in my opinion.
3. What is one thing should Spurs fans look for in this first Spurs-Mavs contest of the year?
Rob Mahoney, The Two Man Game: The offensive adjustments of both teams. The Spurs will be playing just their second full game without Manu, giving Gregg Popovich a chance to evaluate his team’s performance against Golden State and make some minor tweaks in approach or to the rotation. The Mavs are still feeling out how their offense is going to function, and though Dirk Nowitzki is starting to round into form, there’s still a lot of pieces in play without an easy, convenient fit. I’m looking forward to seeing how both teams work the game within the game within the game, down to this individual matchup and then even further as both coaches attempt to remedy their respective teams’ ailments.
Graydon Gordian, 48MoH: For Tony Parker to take control. With Manu out, a tremendous amount of responsibility now falls on Parker’s shoulders. Manu was not only the best scorer but also the best distributor. Parker needs to aggressively exploit his match-up with the much slower Kidd, while making sure to keep the rest of the team involved in the imaginative ways Ginobili does.
Andrew McNeill, 48MoH: How the Spurs defend Lamar Odom. Odom gave the Spurs fits in Los Angeles and pairing him with Dirk Nowitzki presents a nightmare matchup for the Spurs bigs. I fear they could really get torched tonight.