Game Preview #7: Dallas Mavericks @ San Antonio Spurs - The Defense Sleeps

[Updated, with matchups]

Are you not entertained??? Well I am, after I watched the replay twice. But as many have mentioned, although a win is a win, you can't help but feel a little bit empty after a game like that, where we allowed a Euro team to drop 124 points on our home floor. A Spurs defense without its fangs is kinda similar to Stephon Marbury without the tattoo on his head. It just doesn't sound or look right. Okay, maybe the Starbury analogy is pretty bad, but you get the point.

After the Portland game where we failed miserably, we face our 2nd true test of this young season, facing off against bitter Texas rival the Dallas Mavericks. We need our old championship defense back. I saw it awhile ago and took a photo of it:

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Time to awaken the sleeping giant.

Here's an appropriate track to pump you up, Rufus On Fire-style, for this huge matchup. This is not the R-18 kick-ass live version so you'll just have to contend with clips from The Matrix.

First things first, Tim Varner wrote an excellent piece over at 48 Minutes of Hell discussing the state of the team's defense five games into the season. You can point to a lot of factors for our defensive deficiencies -- Tim's knees, the new guys, Matt Bonner, an out-of-shape Duncan and Ginobili, a tired-from-summer-ball Tony Parker, Matt Bonner, Pop tinkering with different lineups, Matt Bonner, the loss of defensive ace Bruce Bowen, and Michael Finley's corpse.

But whatever reason we throw out there, I'm confident about one thing - the defense is still there. Or will be there. It briefly made its presence felt during parts of the Portland game. It's just... just... maybe... sleeping. It's hibernating inside its cave and will only come out given the appropriate wake-up call. The defense is doing its best Papa Bear-Mama Bear-Baby Bear impression while Goldilocks (the other 29 NBA teams) sneak up on it to steal the porridge, sit on its chair and lie down on its comfy bed

I think I do my analysis best by way of photographs. Ladies and germs, here is your Annual State Of The Spurs Defense Six Games Into The Season Address:

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Whoops, sorry wrong photo.


And here are my three suggestions to wake up the slumbering defensive juggernaut. Mix and match at your own peril.

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Sorry if the preview broke down as I posted it. SB Nation must hate me. There's a huge possibility that Tim and Tony will NOT be playing tonight, so without further ado, the real preview as you scroll a few centimeters.

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Dallas Mavericks @ San Antonio Spurs
Where: AT&T Center - San Antonio, TX
When: November 11, 2009, 7:30 PM Spurs time
Watch: FSN SW(San Antonio); KTXA(Dallas)


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How They Stack Up
2-0 Home 3-1
0-3 Road 2-1
104.2 Offense 104.4
102.5 Defense 95.6
47.0 FG% 46.7
35.7 3-pt% 38.2
73.8 FT% 81.1
39.0 Rebounds 41.2
12.4 TOs 11.8
3-3 Last 10 5-2
Won 1
Streak Won 2
3rd, Southwest Position 1st, Southwest

Country/Time Zone Game Time
Argentina 10:30 PM
West Coast 5:30 PM
Philippines 9:30 AM
Central Europe 2:30 AM
Palestine/Egypt 2:30 AM
Least Coast 8:30 PM
Colorado/Arizona 6:30 PM
Perth, AUS 8:30 AM
Tokyo, JP 9:30 AM
Sydney, AUS 11:30 AM

Spurs
(3-3)
Matchups

Mavericks
(5-2)

George Hill
Cubitzer

Point Guard

Jason Kidd is a point guard savant, even in his old age. George will also have to contend with the speedy pesky J.J. Barea on several occassions. Let's hope our super soph is up to the challenge

Advantage: Dallas


Jason Kidd
Ageless Wonder

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Keith Bogans
Mr. Potato Head, Jr.

Shooting Guard

The headcase Josh Howard is back with the Mavs and will be here to cause more pain on the defense. Let's see what meantime starter Keith Bogans can do the slow him down. Dallas featured a big and long lineup with Howard at SG for the past two games. We'll see how this works against the Spurs.

Advantage: Dallas


Josh Howard
Willis Weed

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Richard Jefferson
Rage Against the Mavs-chine

Small Forward

RJ has been awesome on offense but so-so on defense. Marion is a pretty good defender and we should get a good indication whether Rage can go up against the tougher defenders of the league. Also, Marion's not exactly chopped liver on offense, given the right point guard, as we've seen in his seven seconds or less days in Phoenix.

Advantage: Tied


Shawn Marion
The Matrix

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Michael Finley
Dawn of the Dead

Power Forward

The question that's been begging to be answered: Who's going to guard the German Gatling Gun? Brucie is gone. Michael Finley's too short. Same goes for DeJuan Blair. Antonio McDyess is a step slower, and let's not even talk about Matt Bonner, at least on defense. We might see a Hairston or Haislip sighting. Even then, let's just hope that Dirk doesn't go Supernova on us. I should be putting five white boxes around the German's mug right now. Maybe I'll explore that later.

Advantage: Dallas


Dirk Nowitzki
4th Quarter Supernova

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Matt Bonner
The Hoagie Hammer

Center

Theo Ratliff should be starting but I'm putting Bonner here because I expect him to get the bulk of the minutes at C. I can't remember if Matty ever had a good game against Dallas. On the other hand, Dampier's numbers have improved at the start of the season. Still, I don't trust both guys enough to give them the ATS white box. Let's wait and see who earns it in this game.

Advantage: No One


Erick Dampier
Ericka

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Manu Ginobili
Return of the Jedi

Bench & Role Players

My wish for this game: to see Blair Force One clip The Jet's wings. Literally or figuratively, you can't go wrong either way. Drew "Fallen Hovercraft" Gooden appears to be out for this game with an injury, and the same goes for ballhog Tim Thomas, so that should thin the Mavs bench some. Still, they have a speedy Frenchie of their own in Roddy Beaubois and as mentioned earlier, J.J. Barea. But to sum it all up? We have Manu, they don't. End of story.

Advantage: Spurs


Jason Terry
Nut-Punching Douchebag

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Gregg Popovich
Brain Aneurysm

Coach

The lineups that Jim Carey will throw out there should give Pop even more fits than previous battles with the Mavs. I think Pop is up to snuff on how to counter them, but then again, he has proven us wrong before.

Advantage: Spurs


Rick Carlisle
Ace Ventura
images via yahoo.com

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Other Factors

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Intangibles

Dallas' stars are at full strength with the return of Josh Howard, and they're riding high with a 2-game winning streak. Pop doesn't give a batshit about the team's slow start, and will probably be experimenting again. Advantage: Dallas

Mojo

They beat us in five short games in the playoffs, and believe they've matched our reloading during the offseason. Josh Howard is probably still on crack, if that helps with their mojo. As for the Spurs, they escaped with a win despite letting an East team score 124 points. Not exactly a confidence booster there. Advantage: Dallas

Winner: Dallas

Let me be the first this season to hand out the victory to the opposing team. You are free to chew me out now and even more if we win. If we do win, holy shit I'll be even more convinced that we can go all the way. For now, no TP and TD means our best players will probably be sitting on the bench to start the 4th. Prediction: Mavs by double-digits

Keys To The Game

  • Defense - Much has been said in the photos above. Without 2 of our Big Three, we'll need all the stops we can get against a very good offensive team. A lineup of Kidd-Terry/Barea-Howard-Marion-Dirk is a scary run-and-gun lineup I'm not sure the team can handle. But hey, we can always hope.
  • Rebounding - As Coach Anzai of Slam Dunk manga fame says it best, "The one who controls the rebound, controls the game." First, controlling the glass helps limit the Mavs' opportunities to run. On the offensive end, we'll need the o-rebounds to keep us in the game should we again fall into a horrendous shooting slump.
  • Establish Attacking Game - If Dampier is your team's best shotblocker, there's kinda something wrong with that. We all saw from the Raptors game how many players we have that can attack the basket and draw fouls. Manu went on a fishing expedition and literally collected a boatload of fouls against the opponent. Hopefully, the team won't fall in love with the three-ball too much.
  • Payback's A Bitch -- if we want it to be - Will the Spurs coaching staff play this card to motivate the team? I hope so. If we beat them without two of our three best players, we'll have the Mavericks' number for life. Okay, maybe not, but at least for the season. But of course, Coach Pop always keeps the "Roll over and Die" option ready for deployment.

Strength of Schedule

A new segment suggested by BlaseE to analyze where the teams are coming from in terms of their schedule. I hope I'm getting this right.

For the Mavs, they are in the second half of a Texas SEGABABA after two days off. They dispatched a scrappy Houston team by double digits in Dallas, and the short road trip to San Antonio won't probably wear them out too much. After this game, they'll get a day off and head to 'Sota.

The Spurs got one day of rest after duking it out with the Raptors. Hell, it's better than four or five days vacation and losing the momentum of a win. The Silver and Black will get two more days off after this game before concluding their three-game homestand against the Thunder.

If you're still reading, exactly one week from now, we'll meet the Mavericks again but this time at the America Airlines Arena with microphone-augmented rims. Hopefully Tim and Tony will be ready for that game.

Last Time They Met

The Mavericks eliminated the Spurs in five games during last year's first round clash, in San Antonio no less. Regular PtR member SinCitySpur had this to say to the winners: "Congratulations Mavericks, your 2009 First Round Champions. Hang that banner with pride."

Some Other Reading

Mavericks

Mavs Moneyball - The Dallas Mavericks SB Nation site. Wes Cox and crew are nice guys and do a good job trakcing Cuban's boys. Go say hi and maybe drop a little friendly banter or two before the game starts. But remember to be nice and classy.
The Two Man Game - Part of the TrueHoop network of blogs that covers the Mavs. From the site banner: "Completely biased and unbalanced coverage of the Dallas Mavericks."
Blog Maverick - Mark Cuban's blog. Curiously, he hasn't posted NBA stuff for the last few entries. I hear he wants to buy the Dodgers or some baseball team? Damn rich freak.

Spurs

48 Minutes of Hell: Am I glad we got these guys on our side. They're always spoiling Spurs fans with excellent articles.
Project Spurs: Lots of content in this great site. Also, you can drop by and join their live chats during games.

The (sort of) Daily Twitter

spurs Manu, Tony, Timmy, RJ and Antonio all named to 2010 NBA All-Star ballot. Get out the vote! http://bit.ly/2RYypT #GoSpursGo

DeJuan45 I have a skype who wanna talk? Lol I just have it

manuginobili Great win, but 124pts? Won't get too far like that. Gotta keep improving! // Lindo partido anoche, pero nos... http://bit.ly/2GIUgz

tp9network hey facebook world great win for us yesterday my ankle is feeling better big game tomorow!!salut facebook world... http://bit.ly/3xLYkJ


The Magic That Happened

Lots of stuff to read in the comments if you flip through the game threads. Really, it's fun.

Some Other Viewing

Dunk of the year. Eat your heart out, LeBron.

It's Raining Buckets (Spurs-Raptors highlights)

Where to Tune In

TV

This game will be televised locally in San Antonio(Fox Sports SW) and Dallas(KTXA)

Online

As always, NBA league pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area.

Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate. In fact, nobody can stop you from googling "atdhe". You can also shoot an email to dmenendez@gmail.com for more assistance.

Spurs League Pass audio is still free this year if all else fails, so check it out.

Radio

If you're in the San Antonio area and aren't near a TV, tune in to WOAI (1200 AM).

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