With the first two games of Round One in the rearview mirror, it’s now safe to look ahead at what’s next on the road to the NBA Finals.
After a remarkable bounce-back effort to tie the Lone Star series at one game apiece, San Antonio aims to keep the ball rolling in their favor when they host the Dallas Mavericks in Game Three on Friday night.
Richard Jefferson, who had a coming-out playoff part of sorts on Wednesday night at American Airlines Center, will be a vital part of the Spurs regaining control of this series.
“You could see it in his eyes that he was motivated,” San Antonio’s Tony Parker told NBA.com writer Dave Ivey when asked about Jefferson’s play. “Nobody likes to play bad and he knew he didn’t have a good first game. Knowing his mentality, we knew he was going to come back.”
Here are the three keys to San Antonio taking a 2-1 series lead with a Game Three victory.
The San Antonio Spurs did a great job of containing the Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki on Wednesday night in Dallas, limiting owner Mark Cuban’s star to nine-for-24 shooting in Game Two.
“We’re not going to trick him [Nowitzki] with anything, or give him anything he hasn’t seen before,” San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich said. “We came at him a little bit in different situations. Sometimes we didn’t, sometimes we did. But there’s nothing we can do that he hasn’t seen.”
Regardless of that observation, hopefully the Spurs defense can limit the Mavs’ Nowitzki to a second straight game of poor shooting.
If the Spurs can accomplish that feat, San Antonio will likely be heading towards that coveted series advantage against Dallas.
Starters, especially guys such as Richard Jefferson (19 PTS in game two) and George Hill (7 PTS in game two), must continue to produce for the Spurs if San Antonio hopes to take a series lead with a Friday night victory.
“It’s huge for him [Hill] and for our team, because he’s trying to get his confidence back and feel good about his game,” San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich said when asked about Hill’s clutch shots in the fourth quarter. “So, making a couple shots and getting the minutes that he got tonight hopefully will help him in future games.”
If Jefferson and his teammate counterparts can continue to contribute like they did in game two, the Spurs’ will be well on their way to stealing the show from Dallas.
For the Spurs to truly grab control of this Lone Star series, San Antonio must win on their home hardwood.
And they also need to continue doing a better job of focusing on fewer turnovers and less fouling defensively.
“We took care of the ball better and we didn’t foul," Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said after his team’s victory. “It helped us win a ballgame.”
So what is Popovich expecting from the Mavs come Friday night in San Antonio?
“It’s a big game, but people come back from losses, and they will, too,” Popovich said. “We came back tonight; we were very focused and a lot sharper. I would expect that Dallas will come out and be quite sharp on Friday night and we’ll have our hands full.”
Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org