DALLAS -- It has been a series of picking your poison for the Dallas Mavericks.
Their insistence on switching on pick-and-rolls has opened the door for San Antonio's Tim Duncan and Tony Parker to get theirs on offense. Making matters worse, Manu Ginobili, the final component to the Spurs' big three, has gone off as he scored a total of 62 points on 50 percent shooting over their last three games.
Ginobili's relentless attack off pick-and-rolls has stymied Dallas' defensive disposition. The Mavs are mindful and fearful of his ability to pass to the open teammate. His aggression has put Dallas on its heels much in the way the Mavs were when San Antonio imposed its will over Dallas in the previous matchups prior to this series.
"I thought most of his points came in the first half, I’ve got to admit," Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki said. "In the second half I thought we did a better job, keeping him away from the rim a little better. We just had a bad second quarter. He was very good there. I thought in the second half, I thought we did a decent job on him.”
Nowitzki was right as Ginobili did his damange early on in Game 4 as he drove through the heart of Dallas' defense, scoring 15 of his 23 points in the first two quarters.
If the Mavs were able to slow Ginobili down in the second half, what led to that change?
"I did a good job on him," Mavs forward Shawn Marion said. "They put me on him in the second half, and I made sure he didn’t get any of that s---.”
Throughout the first three-and-a-half games, Dallas has had to use its smaller guards to defend Ginobili while Marion checks either Parker or one of the big men for San Antonio. As Marion has shut Parker down later in games, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has relied heavily on Ginobili.
The Mavs made their adjustment in the second half by having Marion check Ginobili. Dallas' best and most versatile defensive option worked his magic on Ginobili as he fought through screens set by Ginobili's teammates, playing the Argentinian to his natural left hand. Instead of being aggressive, Ginobili looked more passive when Marion was guarding him.
San Antonio's sixth man only went 1-of-5 from the field for eight points in the second half, thanks to Marion's rugged defense.
Marion has been Rick Carlisle's basketball spackle since he arrived in Dallas. He has guarded every position between point guard and power forward during his time with the Mavs, proving he's one of the more versatile defenders the league has.
When they're having a problem, Dallas is applying a little Marion to fill in the crack in the defense. Unfortunately for Carlisle, Marion can't be in two places at once. Carlisle's decision in relation to whom he will have Marion sic defensively will be a vital one.
Either way, Marion has shown that he's up for the challenge.