Dallas Mavericks: Tony Parker

Nowitzki, Terry, HowardGetty ImagesThe Mavs' trio with the most playoff wins: Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Josh Howard with 28.
Tim Duncan has earned the right to be recognized as the premier power forward in NBA history, but he’s also had the good fortune of being flanked by a couple of fellow future Hall of Famers for most of his career.


What's been the Mavs' top playoff trio?


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Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker made NBA history with the Spurs’ Game 1 win over the Thunder in the West finals Monday night. It was their 110th playoff win together, matching the Los Angeles Lakers’ Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper for the most ever by a trio.

When Dirk Nowitzki’s career is done, he might wonder what would have been if he’d enjoyed such continuity with co-stars.

Nowitzki’s tenure as part of a big three was too brief, broken up by the time he was 26 because Mavericks management believed that Steve Nash was too brittle to reward with a big contract. Nowitzki, Nash and Michael Finley restored respectability to the franchise, but that trio won only 18 playoff games together.

The Mavs’ trio with the most playoff wins: Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Josh Howard with 28. That’s followed by Nowitzki, Terry and the immortal Erick Dampier with 25, and Nowitzki, Terry and Jason Kidd with 24.
Jose Calderon and Tony ParkerKevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsJose Calderon and Tony Parker battle for a loose ball in the first round of the playoffs.

SAN ANTONIO -- The Dallas Mavericks managing to push the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs to the brink of elimination seems even more impressive now.

After all, the Portland Trail Blazers couldn’t even force the Spurs to fuel up the team plane for a second trip, as San Antonio finished the series in emphatic fashion with Wednesday’s Game 5 rout.


Which big fish would have given the Mavs the best chance at advancing in the playoffs?


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The Spurs, assuming Tony Parker's tight left hamstring heals by the time the conference finals begin next week, look every bit like the favorite to win the West for the second consecutive year. For that, they might owe a bit of gratitude to Rick Carlisle and the Mavs, who outwitted the Spurs to stretch the series to seven games, forcing Coach of the Century candidate Gregg Popovich and his veteran core to figure out ways to adjust.

"It was a great test for us," Parker said earlier in the series against Portland. "I think every time you play a Game 7 and you win, it gives you confidence. The team right now is doing good, but we know it can change real fast, so we just have to stay focused."

Poor Terry Stotts and Portland, a franchise that advanced to the second round for the first time in 14 years, never stood a chance. The young Blazers preserved their pride by avoiding the brooms with a Game 4 win, but the Spurs rolled by an average of 19.5 points in their four wins.

Perhaps the Mavs will be the equivalent of 2011 Portland to these Spurs. Those Blazers gave the Mavs their best test in the West playoff bracket. The Mavs made Portland’s 23-point comeback in Game 4 a rallying point, losing a total of only three games in the next three series before guzzling champagne in Miami Beach after claiming the franchise’s first title.

This is the drive for five for San Antonio, which came so close to earning its fifth crown last season. It seems the Spurs got a jump start from their old friends up Interstate 35.
DALLAS -- Nothing makes Dallas Mavericks fans groan like seeing the San Antonio Spurs flop.

Manu Ginobili is a master of it. Tony Parker is pretty darn good, too. And Tiago Splitter certainly shows promise.

Not that the Mavs are completely innocent. Vince Carter had a flop in Game 6 that was Oscar-worthy. But the Spurs have done enough flopping in this series to make a full feature film.

Well, they've at least flopped enough for one bitter Mavs fan to make a three-minute lowlight reel and send it to ESPNDallas.com.

Calderon breaks nose in Parker collision

May, 3, 2014
May 3
DALLAS -- Mavericks point guard Jose Calderon suffered a broken nose in the second half of Game 6 on Friday against the San Antonio Spurs.

The injury occurred when Calderon was defending Tony Parker's drive to the basket with 8 minutes, 35 seconds left in the third quarter. As Calderon leaned in to go for the ball, his nose collided with Parker's left shoulder.

"It is what it is," Calderon said of the injury.

[+] EnlargeJose Calderon
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports"It was a little tough to breathe in the second half," Mavericks guard Jose Calderon said of suffering a broken nose in Game 6.
Calderon subbed out of the game during the next dead ball, which didn't come until the 8:13 mark of the period.

Mavs head athletic trainer Casey Smith looked at Calderon, but it was quite evident that a serious injury had occurred as blood came pouring out of the point guard's nose. Calderon went to the locker room to get X-rays on the nose, which ultimately revealed the break.

"It was bad luck that he got hit when he did because he was playing so well on both ends," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "He was hitting shots. Sometimes, these things happen."

Despite the injury, Calderon returned to the bench and came back out on the floor at the 4:22 mark of the period. After returning, Calderon scored three points, coming off a crucial 3-point basket that got the Mavs back to within one with 10:16 to go in the fourth.

"It was a little tough to breathe in the second half," said Calderon, who had 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting, six assists and five rebounds in the Game 6 victory. "That's why I asked for a sub, because I couldn't breathe out there.

"I hope I'm better in Game 7. I think we were trying to stop the bleeding, so there was a lot of stuff up my nose. I think it was that more than anything else with the breathing."

With the team not scheduled to practice Saturday and traveling to San Antonio, it will be up to the team's medical staff to determine if Calderon will need to wear a supportive mask in Sunday's crucial Game 7.

"We'll see the doctors, and we'll go from there," Calderon said.
Shawn MarionJerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsShawn Marion's defensive versatility has been on full display in this series against the Spurs.
DALLAS -- This might be the last night that Shawn Marion wears a Dallas Mavericks uniform.

Not that he’s sentimental about the situation entering the must-win Game 6 against the San Antonio Spurs.

“I’m not looking at that right now,” said Marion, whose five-year contract expires this summer. “We’ll talk about that when it’s done.”

Regardless of when it ends, Marion’s tenure with the Mavs is worth celebrating.

When he arrived in Dallas in the summer of 2009, many considered him a former star on the decline, as he was coming off brief, unsatisfying stints in Miami and Toronto following his glory days in Phoenix. “The Matrix,” a four-time All-Star whose scoring average soared as high as 21.8 points per game with the Suns one season, redefined himself as a great role player in Dallas.

Dallas doesn’t win the 2011 championship without Marion’s sensational work as a defensive stopper against a parade of superstars including Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. The fact that Marion has never been named to an All-Defensive team is met with great dismay within the Mavs organization, which lobbied for him to be Defensive Player of the Year in 2012.

(Read full post)

Dirk NowitzkiJerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsAmong key players in the Mavs-Spurs series, Dirk Nowitzki is the one who's yet to leave his mark.

DALLAS -- Several players in the Mavericks-Spurs series have Hall of Fame résumés and, one by one, they’ve flashed the greatness that should grant them basketball immortality in Springfield, Massachusetts.

With one exception.


What will be the outcome of the Mavs-Spurs series?


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We’re still waiting for that great game, or even that great moment, from Dirk Nowitzki after the teams split their four contests.

Tim Duncan, widely considered the premier power forward in NBA history, dominated during the series opener. He scored 27 points, a third of which came during the fourth quarter, in the Spurs’ Game 1 win -- during which San Antonio fought back from a 10-point deficit.

Spurs point guard Tony Parker, a three-time champion and six-time All-Star, also delivered on Easter Sunday. He had 21 points and six assists in San Antonio’s first victory.

San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili, another three-time champ and arguably the best sixth man ever to fill that role, was the Spurs’ only real bright spot in Game 2 (27 points) and starred in their Game 4 win, scoring 23 points and dishing out five assists.

Ginobili would have been the Game 3 hero if Mavs sixth man Vince Carter, the No. 25 scorer in NBA history and an eight-time All-Star, had not one-upped him. Coming just 1.7 ticks after Ginobili’s go-ahead runner, Carter's buzzer-beating 3 from the deep-left corner is the series’ most memorable moment so far.

(Read full post)

Marion up for Manu challenge

April, 29, 2014
Apr 29
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.

Danny Bollinger/NBAE/Getty ImagesManu Ginobili has scored 62 points on 50 percent shooting during the 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?

(Read full post)

DALLAS -- The sixth playoff series between the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs feels like the good ol’ days to Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, or at least it did when he was giddy after a thrilling Game 3 win.


What's the bigger rivalry?


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"It felt like 2006 in that war that we fought down there," Cuban said, referring to the classic West semifinals that the Mavs won with a Game 7 victory in San Antonio.

Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki, one of five players to play in both series, isn’t so sure about that.

"I don’t feel like I did in 2006," Nowitzki said, half-joking about his advanced age. "But it’s a fun, fun playoff atmosphere, battling with that team that’s been through so many playoff battles. That’s really all. I’m not really thinking about eight years ago. I’m living in the moment."

We’ll all live in the moment when Game 4 tips off Monday night. For a moment, though, let’s look back at the past and see the similarities between these two Mavs-Spurs series through three games.

2006 -- Spurs 87, Mavs 85: Tim Duncan dominated, putting up 31 points and 13 rebounds as the Mavs played single coverage against him the vast majority of the night. Nowitzki had an off night, scoring 20 points but going only 8-of-20 from the floor while being harassed by Bruce Bowen. The Mavs couldn’t close out the Spurs because of a crunch-time offensive drought, going the final 4:07 without a field goal in a game that ended with Jerry Stackhouse air-balling a contested 3-point attempt.

2014 -- Spurs 90, Mavs 85: Duncan dominated, putting up 27 points as the Mavs played single coverage against him the vast majority of the night. Nowitzki had an off night, scoring 11 points and going 4-of-14 from the floor while being harassed by Tiago Splitter. The Mavs couldn’t close out the Spurs because of a crunch-time offensive drought, going 7:44 without a field goal in a game that ended with a meaningless layup by Devin Harris.

[+] EnlargeDevin Harris
D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty ImagesNow in his second stint with the Mavs, Devin Harris is turning back the clock to replicate his impact on the 2006 series.
2006 -- Mavs 113, Spurs 91: Harris played a huge role in the Mavs evening the series, scoring 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting after being inserted into the starting lineup. Duncan had another big night with 28 points, but the other two members of the Spurs’ Big Three were nonfactors. The AT&T Center crowd was dismayed by all the whistle-blowing, with the Mavs getting 35 points off 43 free throws in the Spurs' biggest home playoff loss since Game 1 of the 1996 West semifinals.

2014 -- Mavs 113, Spurs 92: Harris played a huge role in the Mavs evening the series, scoring 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting off the bench. Manu Ginobili had a big night with 27 points, but the other two members of the Spurs’ Big Three were nonfactors. The AT&T Center crowd was dismayed by the Spurs' sloppiness, with the Mavs getting 33 points off 24 turnovers in the Spurs' biggest home playoff loss since Game 2 of the 2006 West semifinals.

2006 -- Mavs 104, Spurs 103: The Mavs seized control of the series with a one-point home win, pulling out the victory after a wild fourth quarter in which the lead changed hands several times. The game was decided by mistakes in the final moments, the most costly being a Ginobili turnover with two seconds remaining. The superstars -- Duncan (35 points, 12 rebounds) and Nowitzki (27 points, 15 rebounds) -- both had big games.

2014 -- Mavs 109, Spurs 108: The Mavs seized control of the series with a one-point home win, pulling out the victory after a wild fourth quarter in which the lead changed hands several times. The game was decided by spectacular shots in the final moments, with Vince Carter’s corner 3 at the buzzer one-upping Ginobili’s lefty runner 1.7 seconds earlier. The sidekicks -- Tony Parker (19 points, six assists) and Monta Ellis (29 points) -- both had big games.

Spurs' Parker fizzling after halftime

April, 27, 2014
Apr 27
DALLAS -- The San Antonio Spurs had to call a timeout just 1:54 into Game 3 of their matchup against the Dallas Mavericks. As the Spurs went to the bench, coach Gregg Popovich lit into guard Tony Parker. In just three plays, the Spurs coach had seen Parker allow Jose Calderon to blow right by him with little resistance as Calderon delivered two easy assists at the basket and one running jumper.

Parker responded by going 6-of-8 from the field for 12 points in the opening quarter en route to a 19-point effort in the loss, but the damage might have already been done.

The Mavericks have insisted on switching on all pick-and-rolls, mainly leaving Parker with Shawn Marion or other bigs guarding him. It represents a mismatch, so Parker has tried to exploit it. While Parker is taking advantage on that end of the floor, Dallas is making him work when San Antonio plays defense.

"We want to make all of their guys work," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said after the team's practice on Sunday. "We know Parker is a great player. He had a great first half. He rested more in the second half. That may have been why he didn’t have as many points. I don’t know. He’s going to be a big priority for us."

It has been a collective effort by Dallas' backcourt as they've gone up against Parker. In Games 1 and 2, backup guard Devin Harris scored a total of 37 points and shot 60 percent from the field. In Game 3, Monta Ellis dominated as he scored 29 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter. After a rough start to the series, Calderon has made 12 of his last 20 shots and scored 28 points over his last two games.

With the Dallas backcourt providing so many issues, is Parker running out of gas?

Parker has scored a total of 42 points with nine assists in the first half of the three games. He has scored just 10 points with six assists in the second half of the three games. The shooting percentages tell another story, as well. In 17.0 minutes per game of first-half action in this series, Parker has shot 58.1 percent from the field. In 14.0 minutes of second-half action, Parker's shooting percentage has dropped to just 38.5 percent from the field.

"He looked pretty tired at the end of Game 3," Harris said. "Obviously, he exerted himself pretty much in the first half. We’re going to try to continue to make him grind for his points as well as guard us on the other end.

"So far, we’ve done a good job of that."

The fatigue factor might have been on display most in the fourth quarter of Game 3. Parker stole the ball from Harris with 10:27 left in the period, creating a breakaway attempt. Dirk Nowitzki was running along Parker's right-hand side. Instead of going for a layup, Parker slowed down, ran along the baseline and ultimately settled for a contested 13-foot jumper.

Shortly after that, Popovich subbed Parker out of the game and he didn't return until the 4:06 mark of the period. Parker said he understood the thought process of sitting during the final period.

"Manu [Ginobili] was rolling, he was playing great and [Popovich] felt leaving me on the bench to have more energy for the last four minutes," Parker said after Game 3. "I trust Pop's judgment. Me, personally, I feel fine."

He says he feels fine, but Parker's potential fatigue and the Mavs' ability to capitalize on it will be something to monitor as the series resumes.

Marion rushes home for baby's birth

April, 24, 2014
Apr 24
SAN ANTONIO -- This will be one of the most memorable nights of Shawn Marion's life.

His massive contributions to the Dallas Mavericks' first playoff win since they popped champagne bottles in Miami a few years ago were a mere footnote.

Marion wasn't available to the media after the Mavs evened the series with a 113-92 rout of the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night, but he had a really good reason for bolting out of the AT&T Center visitor's locker room after the win. He rushed to the airport to hop on a private jet to get to his hometown of Chicago for the birth of his first child, a source confirmed to ESPNDallas.com with the approval of the proud new father.

The 15-year veteran forward, one of the most versatile players in the history of the league, stuffed the box score with 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting, five rebounds, three steals and two assists in 35 minutes during Game 2. He did an outstanding the job as the primary defender on All-Star point guard Tony Parker, who had only 12 points and three assists in the blowout.

The performance by the man known as "Matrix" could speak for itself.

However, his coach and teammates were happy to speak about Marion as he rushed to the airport.

"I thought Marion played a phenomenal game all-around -- defense, offense, he hit one or two 3s, he was rebounding," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "He was terrific."

That's the kind of performance the Mavs need from a 35-year-old who joins Hakeem Olajuwon, Karl Malone and Kevin Garnett as the only players in NBA history to record at least 17,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 1,500 steals and 1,000 blocks in their careers.

The list of players capable of doing a solid defensive job on every player from Parker to Tim Duncan might be even shorter.

"He's one of the strangest players that I've played with in this league," said Dirk Nowitzki, who joins Marion as the only players remaining on the Mavs' roster from the 2011 title run. "He can do a lot of things out there. On defense, I've been saying for the last five years with him, he's our best perimeter defender. I've seen him guard [point guards to centers] in my five years with him, so on that end, you can always rely on him. On offense, he's just so great on the move. He posts up a little bit, he's just so great when he cuts and moves, and when he makes the 3 ball, he's great.

"We're going to need him. He was great tonight."

Marion was great in Game 2, and that wasn't even the best part of the Matrix's night.

Carlisle has upper hand on Pop so far

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
SAN ANTONIO -- Gregg Popovich, who tends to receive praise with all the grace of a one-man fast break featuring 270-pound DeJuan Blair, refused to believe Rick Carlisle was sincere with his Wednesday morning declaration that the San Antonio Spurs' sideline wizard deserves to be considered "Coach of the Century."

"Rick's a wise ass," Popovich grumbled about two hours before a blink-and-you-missed-it pregame ceremony to present him the Red Auerbach Trophy, commemorating his third NBA Coach of the Year award.

[+] EnlargeRick Carlisle
AP Photo/Eric GayRick Carlisle, above, is sincere in his praise of Gregg Popovich, but the Mavs' coach surely relishes the chance to go up against a coaching legend.
There's nothing sarcastic about Carlisle's Pop praise, but the Dallas Mavericks' coach is an awfully smart man himself. That has been apparent for ages, but it's especially obvious now that this Nos. 8 vs. 1 Western Conference matchup seems as if it's going to be a real series.

With all due respect to Phil Jackson, Carlisle is adamant that Popovich is indeed the Coach of the Century. That's a worthy subject for bar-stool and sports-talk discussions, but there's no doubt who deserves to be considered Coach of the Series so far.

It's Carlisle, and it isn't close.

The ingenious defensive plan concocted by Carlisle and his coaching staff is the primary reason Dallas rolled to a stunning 113-92 rout in Game 2 at the AT&T Center, earning the Mavs their first postseason victory since they clinched the 2011 championship with a radically different roster and, more important, evening this series.

The Mavs seemed to have no hope of slowing down the Spurs, a phenomenally efficient offensive team that had won nine straight games entering the series against Dallas. San Antonio lit it up for an average of 112.3 points while sweeping the recently completed regular-season series between the Interstate 35 rivals, raining in 42 3-pointers in the four games.

In this series, the Mavs made preventing open perimeter looks by Spurs role players such as Danny Green and Patty Mills their top defensive priority. It has worked wonders, as San Antonio shooters not named Manu Ginobili are just 5-of-25 from long range.

By switching on the majority of pick-and-rolls, the Mavs have gummed up the Spurs' typically splendid ball movement, holding San Antonio to an average of 91 points in the series and forcing an astounding 24 turnovers in Game 2, with Dallas converting those opportunities into 33 points.

(Read full post)

Calderon: 'No problem' with limited PT

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
SAN ANTONIO – You’ll probably never hear Dallas Mavericks point guard Jose Calderon complain about minutes.

If Devin Harris continues get the majority of playing time in this first-round series against the San Antonio Spurs, that’s cool with Calderon.

[+] EnlargeCalderon and  Harris
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezJose Calderon's inability to guard Spurs All-Star point guard Tony Parker causes major matchup problems for the Mavs, who have been giving Devin Harris major minutes.
“I just want to win games and try to help my teammates,” said Calderon, who played only 16 minutes in the Mavs’ Game 1 loss, the fewest of any game in which he wasn’t injured all season. “Whatever is better for the team, I’ve got no problem with that at all. …

“If I’m not good out there, I’m the first one to want to be on the bench because someone is doing better. With that, I’ve got no problem. We are 15 guys for a reason. Coach has got to decide. It is what it is, but we cannot be changing everything after one loss or one game.”

If the Mavs make a lineup change for Game 2, it will be a surprise. Dirk Nowitzki declared Monday that the Mavs would stick with Calderon as the starter, which coach Rick Carlisle confirmed the next day.

That makes sense given the chemistry of the Mavs’ bench, especially considering that Harris did the majority of his damage during his 19-point, five-assist performance when matched up with Spurs backup point guard Patty Mills.

Calderon had a horrible first quarter, when he was 0-of-4 from the floor as the Mavs fell behind by 12 points. He was much better to start the second half, scoring seven points on 3-of-5 shooting in a seven-minute stint in the third quarter.

“I liked the way he approached both situations,” Carlisle said. “It’s just the third quarter, the shots were going down. That’s the only difference.

“We need him to just be aggressive. For 80 or 82 games or whatever he played this year, he was a key guy for us. He was key for us because he was aggressive looking to score, he was a set-up man on offense and he was a guy who could scramble on defense. We need him to do those things.”

(Read full post)

3 Points: More concern over Monta or Dirk?

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
Monta Ellis and Dirk NowitzkiRocky Widner/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Mavericks need more from Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki in Game 2.
ESPNDallas.com columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor and MavsOutsider.com editor-in-chief Bryan Gutierrez will join me each week to run a three-man weave on a few questions on the minds of Mavs fans.

Is the 11-point, 4-of-14 performance in Game 1 by Dirk Nowitzki or Monta Ellis more concerning?

Gutierrez: It has to be Ellis. Nowitzki has seen everything in terms of defensive schemes, especially from the Spurs. He got looks from his favorite spots. Sunday's opening tilt just provided a game where the ball didn't go in the basket. The Spurs attempted to make Ellis settle for the dreaded long two-point shots rather than getting to the rim. The Mavericks will have to continue to find ways to get him to the rim. A byproduct of him getting to the rim is manufacturing more trips to the free throw line. Dallas only had 13 more free throw attempts. Easy points come at a premium and Ellis can help in that department. If opportunities aren't created for that to happen, the concern will continue to grow.

Taylor: Ellis' poor game is definitely more disturbing because he has no real playoff track record. We know what Dirk can do and we've seen it 10,000 times. He's played in 129 playoff games and won an NBA Finals MVP; Ellis has played in 16 playoff games and only started 11. Ellis had a really nice regular season, but we all know playoff basketball is different. We can assume he'll bounce back and play well, but there's no guarantee.

MacMahon: Ellis has never had it all during the playoffs. It’s not much of a track record -- and most of it is from his second NBA season, when he was the fourth or fifth option on the “We Believe” Warriors -- but it’s butt ugly. His averages from 16 career playoff games: 9.8 points, 39.7 field goal percentage, 2.1 assists, 2.0 turnovers. Nowitzki, on the other hand, has a Finals MVP and is one of four players in NBA history with career playoff averages of at least 25 points and 10 rebounds. We know Dirk delivers during the playoffs much more often than not. Ellis has to prove he can perform in the postseason.

Should Rick Carlisle change the starting lineup for Game 2?


Who should start for the Mavs in Game 2?


Discuss (Total votes: 8,295)

Gutierrez: MacMahon noted on Twitter that Dallas' starting five is minus-40 in 33 minutes of action against San Antonio this season. The only logical move I see making is inserting Devin Harris as the starting point guard for Jose Calderon. I don't think it is the wisest decision, though. There are no assurances that Harris would bring a better start to the games. What we do know is that he's a vital cog in the dynamic bench Dallas has. Even if he still is on the floor with some of them, moving him to the starting lineup disrupts the cohesion that has been established with the bench. The more reasonable option is shifting the workload of minutes in favor of Harris.

Taylor: No. No. No. A thousand times no. This team won 49 games and pretty much achieved as much as it could with this roster of players who struggle to defend and rebound. Changing the lineup now would be a panic move. The Mavs have spent the season creating roles for players, so that guys are comfortable with what they're supposed to and when they should expect to get into the game. Changing the lineup for a streaky guy like Harris makes no sense. If he's hot, he'll play more. If not, he'll get his usual minutes.

MacMahon: I remember a couple of “panic moves” that worked out pretty well for the Mavs -- starting Harris for Game 2 against the Spurs in the 2006 West semis and starting J.J. Barea in Game 4 of the 2011 Finals. I just don’t think the Mavs benefit from this potential lineup switch, because it’d break up the best thing they have going, which is the chemistry of the bench. Plus, Harris did the vast majority of his damage when matched up with backup point guard Patty Mills in Game 1. The Mavs want that matchup again.

Did the Mavs pick the right poison by deciding that defending the Spurs’ 3-point threats was a bigger priority than stopping Tim Duncan and Tony Parker?

Gutierrez: Nowitzki is one of the best basketball players to ever play the game. In his spare time, he also doubles as a mathematician. He stated that they got killed on 3-point shots in the regular season against the Spurs, so the better prospect was to give up twos instead of threes by switching on most of the screens. It's likely that the Mavericks will continue to sacrifice twos for threes, maybe just with tweaks along the way. There's danger looming with Kawhi Leonard being another big benefactor of the switching. There were multiple times where he had a smaller guard switched onto him. An adjustment the Spurs can make is taking advantage of those mismatches. While it just presents another problem, Dallas will trade twos for threes every day.

Taylor: Absolutely. They held the Spurs to 90 points and stopped the crowd from getting really engaged by making the Spurs' litany of catch-and-shoot players essentially non-factors. You can't stop everything. Let Duncan get his and contain everyone else is a sound strategy. The problem wasn't on the defensive end, it was Nowitzki and Ellis making only 8 of 28 shots.

MacMahon: The Spurs averaged 112.5 points in their four regular-season meetings against the Mavs. They scored 90 Sunday. I’d say Dallas’ defensive strategy was pretty darn smart. San Antonio torched the Mavs from the perimeter during the regular season, going 42-of-97 from 3-point range. The Spurs were 3-of-17 from long distance in Game 1. Great adjustment by Carlisle. The concern now: Will the Spurs exploit the mismatch of Leonard posting up Ellis, assuming Shawn Marion opens up on Parker again?

Does Ellis on Leonard have a side effect?

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
DALLAS -- As smart as three-time Coach of the Year Gregg Popovich is, it’s stunning that the San Antonio Spurs didn’t exploit their biggest mismatch against the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1.

Dallas got away with using undersized shooting guard Monta Ellis to defend muscular small forward Kawhi Leonard for long stretches.

That apparently won’t happen again.

“Because of the way they play defense, Kawhi has got one of the best matchups,” Spurs point guard Tony Parker told reporters. “If they’re going to keep Monta on him and have Shawn Marion on me, we should take advantage.”

The 6-foot-7, 230-pound Leonard, who is four inches taller and 45 pounds heavier than Ellis, had only 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting in Game 1.

Leonard averaged 12.8 points on 52.2 percent shooting this season. He’s a phenomenal finisher and the second-most efficient post-up scorer in the league according to Synergy Sports data, averaging 1.16 points per possession. Yet Leonard only attempted five shots in the paint Sunday despite the mismatch with Ellis.

(Read full post)

Mavs' plan: Keep Parker out of paint

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
Tony Parker, Devin HarrisAP Photo/Eric Gay
DALLAS -- Round 1 went to Tony Parker, who had 21 points and six assists in the San Antonio Spurs’ series-opening victory over the Dallas Mavericks. The tag team primarily responsible for battling the All-Star point guard can’t wait to get back in the ring.

All signs point to small forward Shawn Marion, the Mavs’ 35-year-old defensive Swiss Army Knife, opening Game 2 on Parker again. Backup point guard Devin Harris, who will probably play significantly more minutes than starter Jose Calderon in this series, will get plenty of time on Parker.

Marion has guarded everyone from point guards to power forwards for years, but he admits to a certain level of uncomfortableness chasing around the Spurs’ blur, but it’s a challenge the man known as “Matrix” embraces for the good of the Mavs.

For Harris, this feels like the good ol’ days during his first stint with Dallas.

“It’s fun,” said Harris, who played a key role as a second-year guard when the Mavs beat the Spurs in seven games during the 2006 West semifinals. “When I was here before, he was happy to see me go. I’m looking forward to matching up with him again.

“He got the better of us in Game 1. We have to try to return the favor.”

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Dirk Nowitzki
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
ReboundsS. Marion 6.5
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9