Dallas Mavericks vs. San Antonio Spurs: Postgame Grades and Analysis

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistApril 20, 2014

The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Dallas Mavericks 90-85 in Game 1 of the Western Conference quarterfinals Sunday afternoon behind a game-high 27 points and seven rebounds from Tim Duncan. 

After taking an 81-71 lead with 7:45 remaining in the fourth quarter, Dallas collapsed by missing 12 of its final 13 shots from the field. As a result, the Spurs went on a 19-4 run and outscored the Mavericks by five in the game's final frame to take a 1-0 series lead. 

"I love a lot of things we did today. But it's a 48-minute game, and the last seven minutes, we have to finish better," Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said, according to NBA.com's Earl K. Sneed. 

The Spurs were extremely fortunate to escape with a victory, too, considering they shot just 43.2 percent from the field, a putrid 17.6 percent from three and dished out 14 assists on 35 made shots. 

Dallas' offense came out flat by scoring 12 points in the first quarter but responded with a big 32-point effort in the second quarter and 21-point output in the third to tie things up entering the fourth. As a team, the Mavericks shot 41.2 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from deep. 

Tony Parker ran the show throughout and finished with 21 points (9-of-16 shooting), six assists, four rebounds and just one turnover in 34 minutes. 

Devin Harris led all Dallas scorers with 19 points on 8-of-16 shooting off the bench. 


Key Players

Tony Parker, Point Guard, San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs came out with a clear game plan on the offensive end to combat the Mavericks' myriad switches.

Shawn Marion was tasked with being Tony Parker's primary defender, so San Antonio sought to take advantage of those switches in the pick-and-roll early and often. 

With center Samuel Dalembert and several others flipped onto Parker time and again in the game's opening minutes, Parker attacked the rim at will, scoring the Spurs' first seven points, all of which came at the rim. 

And not only did Parker create offense with his aggression off the dribble, but he kept the offense flowing nicely by pushing the ball off of misses and orchestrating the Spurs' patented pick-and-roll action working toward the rim. 

Parker was held scoreless in the third quarter, but without his productivity and dictation of pace in the fourth, the Spurs wouldn't have been able to mount such a fierce late-game comeback. 

Grade: A


Tim Duncan, Power Forward, San Antonio Spurs

From the jump, it was evident that the Mavericks didn't have the defensive guns to combat both Parker and Tim Duncan in the pick-and-roll. 

San Antonio scored 18 of its 21 first-quarter points in the paint, six of which came courtesy of Duncan. 

Duncan refused to budge, either, scoring the majority of his points below the free-throw line. Working brilliantly as the second piece of the Spurs' lethal one-two punch, Duncan poured in his game-high 27 points on a tidy 12-of-20 shooting performance from the field. He was also a team-best plus-24 in 38 minutes. 

The big news, though, was that The Big Fundamental bumped knees with Monta Ellis late in the third quarter and still managed to return to action and spark a 14-0 run to give the Spurs the lead for good. 

Grade: A


Kawhi Leonard, Small Forward, San Antonio Spurs

With Parker and Duncan stealing the offensive show, Kawhi Leonard's performance largely flew under the radar.

The main reason? San Antonio's Jack-of-all-trades shot just 4-of-11 from the field. However, Leonard posted the game's only double-double, dropping 11 points while securing 10 rebounds in 31 minutes. 

Overall, Leonard was a key component of the Spurs' effort and was one of four starters to finish with a positive plus/minus rating (plus-23). 

Grade: B+


Manu Ginobili, Sixth Man, San Antonio Spurs

San Antonio's offense may have sputtered to the tune of 43.2 percent shooting from the field and 20 percent shooting from three over the game's first 24 minutes, but Manu Ginobili did his part, chipping in six points, two rebounds, two assists and a steal in 13 first-half minutes. 

Despite the Spurs' bench woes, Ginobili provided the Spurs' only reliable hand from beyond the arc and finished with 17 points on 4-of-10 shooting, including all three of the Spurs' conversions from three (on six attempts). 

Grade: B+


Danny Green, Shooting Guard, San Antonio Spurs

For one game, at least, the Danny Green of postseasons past failed to show up.

In fact, it was easy to forget that Green was on the floor at times, as Dallas focused heavily on stopping the Spurs from obtaining clean looks from the perimeter. 

Statistically, the highlight of Green's performance was that he tied a team high with two steals, but 24 minutes of scoreless ball reflected poorly on the Spurs' offensive execution from beyond the arc. Green shot 0-of-2 from the field and 0-of-1 from three in the win. 

Grade: F


Tiago Splitter, Center, San Antonio Spurs

Credit Tiago Splitter for stepping up to the plate. Given the first crack at defending Dirk Nowitzki, Splitter consistently got in the German sharpshooter's face and played solid defense that prevented him from getting the necessary space to rise and fire.   

And after Nowitzki shot 50 percent from the field against Splitter during the regular season, according to NBA.com, the Spurs had to be breathing a major sigh of relief after watching him miss so many early jumpers. 

Eight points in 31 minutes were an added bonus, but it's defensive intangibles and hustle (11 rebounds) that make him so valuable to the Spurs' core. 

Grade: B+


Bench, San Antonio Spurs

Ginobili and Boris Diaw excluded, San Antonio's second unit was torched by an energetic group of Dallas reserves that seemingly flipped the game on its side after the Spurs dominated the opening frame.   

Patty Mills was drastically outplayed by Devin Harris, Marco Belinelli was incapable of providing his patented spark from the perimeter and the offense simply stalled under its leadership, particularly in the second quarter. 

Gregg Popovich entrusted the league's highest-scoring bench to carry the load despite a wildly unproductive first half, but it simply couldn't establish any offensive continuity. 

“I don’t think our bench played as well as they usually do," Popovich said, according to Project Spurs' Paul Garcia. "I don’t know if they were nervous"

Diaw finished with four points and a ghastly mark of minus-22. 

Grade: F


Dirk Nowitzki, Power Forward, Dallas Mavericks

Game 1 didn't provide us with many glimpses of vintage Nowitzki, but the fact that Dallas remained highly competitive sans a sterling performance from Dirk was encouraging. 

After struggling over the first 36 minutes, four straight points during an 8-2 Dallas run to open the fourth quarter helped the Mavericks extend their lead to six with a shade over nine minutes remaining. 

In 42 minutes, Nowitzki finished with 11 points on 4-of-14 shooting and pulled down eight rebounds, seven of which came on the defensive glass. 

Sunday was a grind for Dirk, but expect him to come back ready to unleash his full arsenal of offensive weaponry on the Spurs in Game 2. 

Grade: C+


Monta Ellis, Shooting Guard, Dallas Mavericks

Considering the Mavericks were the best jump-shooting team in the NBA this season, according to NBA.com's John Schuhmann, it was terribly concerning that they scored a meager 12 first-quarter points. 

The good news, though, was that Monta Ellis looked comfortable working both inside and out on the offensive end, generating half of Dallas' offensive output over the game's first 12 minutes on 3-of-4 shooting. That was just about the height of Ellis' success, though.

He compiled 11 points (4-of-14 shooting, 0-of-2 from three), two rebounds, one assist and two steals while posting a team-worst mark of minus-23 in 36 minutes. 

It should also be noted that when Ellis and Harris were paired together, the Mavs offense came to life thanks to the presence of two multidimensional offensive threats. Keep an eye on if Rick Carlisle distributes the minutes among his key backcourt cogs moving forward. 

Grade: D


Jose Calderon, Point Guard, Dallas Mavericks

Jose Calderon's early-game struggles acted as a microcosm that helped exemplify the Mavericks' troubles on the offensive end during a positively dreadful opening period. 

Not only did Dallas open the game 1-of-8 shooting from the field, but Jose Calderon accounted for four of those misses, all of which come from the free-throw line or beyond. 

However, Carlisle stuck with Calderon to open the third quarter, a wise decision that paid dividends. The Spanish point man came out looking more confident in his shot and helped facilitate the Dallas offense in the second half, but the Mavericks were outscored by one in the third. 

All told, Calderon finished the afternoon with seven points on 3-of-9 shooting and two assists. 

Grade: D


Shawn Marion, Small Forward, Dallas Mavericks

Per usual, Marion's effort—which consisted of eight points, seven rebounds and two assists—was anything but pretty. But that didn't mean it wasn't effective.  

With Dallas so focused on switching in order to keep the Spurs from torching the Mavericks defense with pinpoint ball movement, Marion helped steady the ship and crash the glass. 

And given that Dallas entered the postseason with the worst defensive rating (105.9 points per 100 possessions, per NBA.com) of any playoff team, the Mavs had to be encouraged that the Spurs only dropped 43 first-half points and 90 total. 

Grade: B-


Vince Carter, Sixth Man, Dallas Mavericks

Like the rest of Dallas' bench mob, Vince Carter came ready to play when thrust into a tough spot. 

Carter opened with six points on 3-of-5 shooting but quickly cooled down upon coming out of the locker room to start the second half. With Calderon, Ellis and Harris assuming the offensive burden, Carter wasn't given many opportunities to make a significant impact in crunch time. 

That said, the Mavericks were plus-nine with the instant offense generator on the floor, as he totaled 10 points (5-of-11 shooting) and five rebounds. 

Grade: C+


Samuel Dalembert, Center, Dallas Mavericks

The best news to come out of Dalembert's performance was that he stayed out of foul trouble early. He wasn't whistled for a single foul in the first half and held his own on the boards (eight rebounds), which is really all the Mavericks could ask for. 

Guarding Tim Duncan tested Dalembert's low-post discipline, and while Duncan shot an efficient 60 percent from the field, the Dallas center did a nice job of keeping his hands up and using his length to try and combat Duncan's strength on the blocks. 

The offensive end was a different story for Dalembert, as he managed just two points on two shots, but we weren't expecting him to contribute much in the scoring column anyway. 

Grade: B-


Bench, Dallas Mavericks

After Dallas starters not named Monta Ellis shot a combined 1-of-10 from the field in the first quarter, the Mavericks bench came out guns blazing, led by Harris' jump shooting. 

Of course, recent history suggests that we shouldn't have been surprised by Harris' impact on the Mavericks offense. According to Schuhmann, Dallas was plus-22 in Harris' 27 minutes on the floor during their clash on April 10. 

On Sunday, the Mavericks finished plus-two with Harris in the lineup, as one of the league's premier backup point men poured in 19 points on 50 percent shooting, a team-high five assists and helped jump-start an offense that appeared to be dead in the water. 

Over the first three minutes of the second period, the Mavericks went on a 12-0 run, thanks to the combined efforts of Harris, Brandan Wright and Jae Crowder. In addition, Harris hit as many threes in the first half (three) as the Spurs did in four quarters. 

Wright finished with 11 points, three rebounds and two steals, while Crowder chipped in six points and four rebounds in an effort that saw him finish a team-high plus-16. 

Grade: A


What's Up Next? 

Game 2 between the Mavericks and Spurs will tip off at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday night on NBA TV. 


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