So, what did we learn after last night’s victory by the Spurs over the Mavericks, with San Antonio now taking a commanding 3-1 series lead over Dallas?
Let’s begin by looking at the basics, from team defense to limiting the Mavs’ lone star in Dirk Nowitzki, to the finer things in life—like watching Dallas owner Mark Cuban’s face after his team dropped a pivotal Game Four.
Wherever you get your pleasure, there was a whole lot of San Antonio love being passed around on Sunday evening at AT&T Center.
Game Five is slated for Tuesday night in Dallas as the Spurs aim to finish off the reeling Mavs.
We’ll begin today’s slideshow with what had to (and did) happen in Game Four for the Spurs to prevail, and what we learned from their latest domination of the overrated Mavericks…
In Sunday night’s Game Four win for San Antonio, the Spurs’ defense limited Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki to 17 points on 4-for-10 shooting from the field.
Although the Mavs’ lone star in Nowitzki was still able to pull down 11 rebounds while going 9-for-9 from the charity stripe, the Spurs did a great job by limiting the Dallas forward to a mere 40 percent field goal shooting night.
If San Antonio wants to finish this thing off in Game Five on Tuesday night in Dallas, San Antonio will once again need to limit Nowitzki and swarm him every chance they get.
And if the Spurs can control and maintain Nowitzki, they can and will breeze past Dallas and leave the Mavs the rest of the summer to think about what-ifs.
Another thing San Antonio will need to continue doing is controlling the tempo of the game, both offensively and defensively.
Over the past few games, the Spurs have done a damn good job of just that: setting the tone early and often en route to victories over the Mavericks.
With the Spurs forcing 14 Mavs turnovers in Game Four while also blocking four shots, San Antonio did all the little things necessary to win the big one in holding off a late Dallas surge, 92-89.
Beyond the points on the stat sheet, the Spurs also did a remarkable job of showing up in numerous other categories as well, including rebounds, assists, and steals.
On the night in Game Four, San Antonio pulled down 43 boards (getting out-rebounded by Dallas as the Mavs grabbed 48), dished off 19 dimes (compared to 17 assists for the Mavericks), and garnered eight steals (on an evening when Dallas had five).
If San Antonio can continue eating up the stat sheet in these categories, the Spurs will have a solid chance of capping an amazing round one upset of the Mavericks on Tuesday night in Dallas.
San Antonio’s big three (Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker) continue to do their job for the Spurs: carrying a major load in all three victories over the reeling Dallas Mavericks.
In Game Four, Duncan had just four points on 1-for-9 shooting from the field (along with pulling down 11 big rebounds), but the other two super stars stepped up offensively when needed as Ginobili netted 17 points (and seven assists) while Parker contributed with 10 points (and five dimes).
The story of the night in Game Four, of course, was San Antonio’s bench (and mainly George Hill: a subject we’ll discuss shortly).
The Spurs’ Richard Jefferson is continuing to show up in a major way in the games San Antonio wins over Dallas.
In Game Four on Sunday night, Jefferson again showed up as the Spurs held off a pesky Mavericks team: scoring 15 points, grabbing four rebounds, and blocking a shot.
Jefferson was 6-for-9 from the field in Game Four and went 3-for-5 from the charity stripe in a little under 37 minutes of action.
The story of the night in Game Four (and possibly the feel-good story of the NBA Playoffs thus far) was George Hill introducing himself and his game to the basketball sports world with 29 points (shooting 11-for-16 from the field and 5-for-6 from beyond the arc), four rebounds, two steals, and a block.
Hill was a big part of a late surge in the first half when San Antonio found themselves down by 15 before beginning a run that would cut into Dallas’ lead heading into the break.
Shortly thereafter, the Spurs outscored the Mavs 29-11 in the third quarter before holding on for a Game Four victory.
DeJuan Blair is another major reason why the Spurs beat the Mavericks in Game Four on Sunday night in San Antonio.
Coming off the bench, Blair netted seven strong points for San Antonio (shooting 3-for-4 from the field in a little over 11.5 minutes of playing time) while also grabbing seven big rebounds.
If the Spurs can continue to find bench players that can step in and provide a spark when called upon, San Antonio is likely looking at finishing off the Mavericks on Tuesday night in Dallas.
The coaching by San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich also cannot be overlooked as we glance at how the Spurs have taken a commanding 3-1 series lead.
Popovich, who has been tweaking his starting lineup and working with numerous rotations through out the season, has finally found what appears to work best for this team: with Tony Parker coming off the bench as the Spurs’ sixth-man spark plug.
So far, so good.
Four games into this Lone Star Series, Popovich and his Spurs have a remarkable and stunning 3-1 lead and are just one game away from knocking off the highly-touted Mavs and advancing to round two of the NBA Playoffs…
Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at email@example.com