San Antonio wins series 4-3 (Game 1 of 7)

San Antonio wins series 4-3

Game 1: Sunday, April 20th
Game 2: Wednesday, April 23rd
Game 3: Saturday, April 26th
Game 4: Monday, April 28th
Game 5: Wednesday, April 30th
Game 6: Friday, May 2nd
Game 7: Sunday, May 4th

Mavericks 85

(49-33, 23-18 away)

Spurs 90

(62-20, 32-9 home)

    Coverage: TNT

    1:00 PM ET, April 20, 2014

    AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    DAL 12 32 21 2085
    SA 21 22 22 2590

    Top Performers

    Dal: D. Harris 19 Pts, 3 Reb, 5 Ast

    SA: T. Parker 21 Pts, 4 Reb, 6 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    Mavericks-Spurs Preview

    While San Antonio Spurs steamrolled toward their fourth 60-win season in 11 years, coach Gregg Popovich was asked if there is a secret formula for the franchise's almost unfathomable run of excellence.

    "Yes there is," said Popovich, in typical deadpan fashion. "Get the No. 1 pick in the draft every 10 years and make sure that it's a franchise player. That's the formula. That's how lucky you have to be. You've got David (Robinson) for a decade and then Timmy (Duncan) comes. Well, I think most anybody could build around that."

    Of course, Popovich is oversimplifying. What the Spurs have created is a program unlike any other in the league, one built on the willingness of three stars to take less money, band together and establish a culture and a pecking order under their no-nonsense coach.

    "Everybody knows their secrets," Minnesota Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said. "It doesn't do you any good, though."

    The Spurs finished with an NBA-best 62-20 record, wiping out last season's heart-breaking loss in the NBA Finals in emphatic fashion. Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are back for another run, and standing in their way is another one of the league's most enduring forces.

    In his 16th season, Dirk Nowitzki has enjoyed a renaissance, averaging 21.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and shooting 49.7 percent from the field to lead the Dallas Mavericks back to the playoffs. That patented one-legged step-back jumper is as dangerous as ever. He's battled Duncan for 16 years now, and one more matchup should be a thriller.

    "This is a treat for people that appreciate NBA basketball and the history of the game," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "And you've got two guys whose love and respect for the game is so high and their work ethic and standards are so high. They've kept it going in their mid-30s as well as anybody I've ever seen."

    Here are five things to watch in the series, which begins on Sunday in San Antonio:

    COACHING CLASH: The series features a matchup of two of the best coaches in the league in Popovich and Carlisle. The moves and counters from the opening tip of Game 1 will be fascinating to watch, and the postgame interviews of two men completely comfortable in their own skin should be almost as entertaining.

    "Those little adjustments with coach Pop and Carlisle, those in-between games, trying to adjust something," Nowitzki said. "It's just a fun time."

    SPURS DOMINANCE: The Spurs have won nine straight games against their in-state rivals. Parker's penetration has given the Mavericks' porous perimeter defense fits and generated easy layups or wide-open 3-pointers for the Spurs offense. On defense, the Spurs have Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter and even Kawhi Leonard to throw at Nowitzki.

    "We've got to pick up our game," Carlisle said. "We haven't played well against these guys. It's pretty clear from the results and the stats. We've got to bring a better game."

    RESTED VETERANS: As usual, Popovich did a masterful job of navigating the grind of an 82-game season and limiting the wear and tear on his aging Big Three. The Spurs didn't have a single player average 30 minutes a game this season, meaning everyone should be rested and ready for another deep run.

    LEONARD'S EMERGENCE: One could argue the Spurs no longer have a Big Three, but a Big Four. Leonard has delivered a career season and is the heir apparent to Duncan's throne. The Spurs are 54-14 when Leonard plays this season.

    "He really made a big step forward in the last two months of the season and hopefully he keeps getting better for the playoffs," Ginobili said.

    X-FACTOR: Monta Ellis. The mercurial guard has reinvented himself in Dallas as a slightly more efficient scorer. When he gets rolling, he's tough to stop and that may represent the Mavericks' only chance at an upset.


    AP Sports Writer Schuyler Dixon in Dallas and freelance writer Raul Dominguez Jr. in San Antonio contributed to this report.


    Research Notes

    The Spurs and Mavericks begin their 1st-round series on Sunday with Game 1 in San Antonio. It will be the sixth playoff series between the two Texas teams since the 2000-01 season, and their 29 games in the previous 13 postseasons are the second-most in the league behind the Spurs and Lakers.
    The Spurs are 1 of 18 teams to lose a Game 7 in the NBA Finals. Of the 17 previous teams, 11 actually made it back to the Finals the following season and 5 went on to capture the title (the last to do so were the Pistons, who lost in 7 games in the 1987-88 Finals and then won it all the following season). The last 3 teams to lose a NBA Finals Game 7, however, failed to make it back to that stage the following year.
    Under Gregg Popovich, the Spurs go on to win the series 85.7 percent of the time when they win Game 1 (24-4 series record).
    The Mavericks scored 12 points in the 1st quarter Sunday. That's tied for the Mavericks lowest point total in any quarter this season (done twice previously). The Spurs outscored the Mavericks 18-2 inside the paint in the 1st quarter.
    The Spurs are 147-45 (.766)in games which Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili each score at least 15 points (Regular Season and Playoffs combined).
    The Spurs outscored the Mavericks 32-16 inside the paint in the 1st half, with Tony Parker (7-8, 14 points) nearly matching the Mavs himself. However, the Spurs were only 3-18 outside the paint (16.7%). That was their 4th worst shooting half of the season. The Mavericks bench led the team back in it, outscoring the Spurs bench 26-10. The Spurs, who led the NBA in bench scoring this season, have not had their bench outscored by more than 18 in a game this season. Devin Harris sparked the Mavs as the team scored 9 points off of his drives (including assists) in the 1st half. According to tracking, the Mavs averaged 5.5 PPG off Harris drives in the regular season
    The Spurs went 3-17 from the field Sunday when Tim Duncan was off the court, including 2-12 during his stretch on the bench following a knee injury. Why were the Spurs so ineffective? 67% of the team's FGA attempts were in the paint with Duncan on the floor but only 29% were in the paint with Duncan off the floor, going only 1-5 on those attempts.
    Despite playing more than 40 minutes in Game 1 against the Spurs, Dirk Nowitzki managed just 11 points, the fewest he's ever scored in a playoff game when playing 40+ minutes. Maybe it should come as no surprise, as some of his other difficult offensive playoff games have also come against the Spurs.

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