SAN ANTONIO -- If the Western Conference standings look the same at the end of the season, the Lone Star State's Interstate 35 rivals would meet once again in the playoffs.
Actually, any reference to a Dallas-San Antonio rivalry ought to be limited to past tense at this point. It certainly wasn't a surprise the Spurs rolled to a 112-90 rout of the Mavs at the AT&T Center on Wednesday night.
That's seven straight wins for the Spurs in the series, a streak that dates to March 2012. The average margin of those Spurs victories over the Mavs has been 16.9 points.
This wasn't the worst of the bunch for the Mavs, but that didn't make getting blown out by the Spurs any easier to stomach.
"We got outcompeted," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said, offering what might be the worst criticism a coach can give his team.
There was a bunch of ugly numbers in the box score of a game that the Mavs never led. But the rebounding totals were the stats that really stuck in Carlisle's craw.
The story on the boards: Spurs 55, Mavs 32. It was especially awful in the first half, when San Antonio had twice as many rebounds as the Mavs and Tim Duncan had more (12) than the entire Dallas starting lineup (10).
"It seemed like we weren't tough enough on certain possessions," said Mavs center Samuel Dalembert, whose five rebounds ranked second among the Mavs despite the big man playing only 11 minutes.
Forward Jae Crowder, who had only one rebound in 28 minutes, said the Spurs' dominance of the glass "deflated" the Mavs.
"It showed on the offensive end," Crowder said. "We never got anything going on the offensive end. Shots weren't falling. All that stuff goes hand in hand -- getting stops, making shots."
The Mavs didn't make many shots, shooting 41.9 percent from the field (39-of-93), a number boosted during garbage time. They got fewer stops, allowing the Spurs to shoot 52.6 percent from the field. That included a 37-point third quarter during which the Spurs shot 80 percent, highlighted by point guard Tony Parker scoring 14 of his game-high 25 points while making all six of his shot attempts.
"The third quarter was a demolition," Carlisle said.
It was also predictable.
The Mavs have a tough enough time trying to contain Parker and bang with the Spurs with Shawn Marion in the lineup. He's the Mavs' primary defender against Parker and their leading rebounder.
With Marion home nursing a badly bruised right shoulder and ribs, Davy Crocket's crew had a better chance at the Alamo in 1836 than the Mavs did at the AT&T Center on Wednesday night.
Not that Marion's absence should be considered an excuse. After all, the Spurs played without two key players, Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter. Marion wouldn't have made the difference between a win and a blowout loss. Heck, he has played in losses of 38, 25 and 17 points to the Spurs over the last couple of years.
"It's tough, especially against those guys," said Mavs center/forward Brandan Wright, who had nine points and only two rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench. "We pretty much stunk it up the last two years against them. We probably had one game where we competed."
No, this lopsided loss can't be considered surprising for the Mavs. Just disappointing.
And it's particularly painful to think of it as a playoff preview.