Mavericks Can Steal Game Two
The Mavericks had the chance to steal game one in their playoff series with the Spurs but instead they decided to miss about 30 straight shots in the final 5 minutes and give the game to San Antonio. Don’t expect them to be so generous in game two tonight. Dirk Nowitzki hit just 4 of 14 shots in game one and ended up with 11 points. His career playoff scoring average is one of the highest in NBA history, 26 points per game. The Mavs need him to hit his average–or better–tonight. On paper the Mavs appear to be able to hang with San Antonio but that’s always been the case with the Spurs, and most other teams in the league. On paper, most NBA teams have a chance with the Spurs.
Once you get past a “64 year-old” Tim Duncan and the human gnat, Tony Parker, the Spurs aren’t a very impressive roster. Does Matt Bonner or Marco Belinelli or Patty Mills scare anyone? Heck, even Manu Ginobili only worries you once in awhile. With a roster that only immediate family could identify, the Spurs have once again created a top seeded team that has a realistic chance of winning it all. Remember, this team came within 5 seconds and a missed rebound from winning the title a year ago. That this team can play at this level is a tribute to Gregg Popovich, who won his third “Coach of the Year” award yesterday. Pop can take an average looking roster, year after year, and win 70 percent of the games and get home court through the playoffs. The Mavs do get credit for shutting the Spurs three point-fest down in game one. San Antonio hit only 3 three’s after burying the Mavs with three’s during the regular season. But Pop always seems to find a plan B for his team that leads to another win.
Popovich may not get all the credit for how Duncan can still get 27 points in a game at a time when most of his contemporaries are 3 years into retirement but the Mavs have to solve him. That and keep Parker in check. And Mavericks guard Monta Ellis has to up his game. Like Dirk, Ellis shot just 4 of 14 in game one. A big part of the problem is that Ellis likes to go to his right and the Spurs kept him from doing that. Maybe I’m crazy but I thought if you made it to the NBA, you could actually go either way with the ball. My coaches drilled that into our heads as high school freshmen, but Ellis has trouble using his left hand? What else…he gets distracted by crowd noise? Can’t remember who he’s supposed to guard? This is the NBA, if Ellis gets shutdown for this series because he can’t go to his left, the Mavs should ship him to the D League.
The Mavericks should build on their “near-miss” in game one and steal game two tonight. That would take the home court away from the Spurs and give Dallas a chance to shock the top seed. It will take Dirk getting red hot, which we’ve all seen before. Even at his age, he can rain down three’s on anyone and single handedly carry the team. That and Ellis using his left hand a couple more times. I’ll bet he cashes his paycheck with both hands.