Tonight, our Spurs found something that was missing a couple of days ago, and most of this season. What could it have been? Heart? Poise? Mojo? That package the UPS guy said he delivered last week with Manu's ankle boot? Nope.
Defense. Tough, gritty Spurs Defense. This is where we have the advantage over Dallas - we actually play defense. Occasionally.
And as long as the guys in silver in black continue to play Spurs Defense, they will have an excellent chance in this series. They closed out on shooters. Timmy was blocking shots. Bowen was in Barea's head, not to mention everyone else he matched up with.
Don't get me wrong, Spurs fans. Even if this excellent defense is there for every game from here on out, it's not going to be easy.
We aren't going to shoot 53% every game, and Tony especially isn't going to go 16-22 every game. Dallas isn't going to shoot 40% for the whole series either. And Dirk isn't going to be 3-14 every game - in fact, he's due for one of his typical badass scoring games. So, even when we play great defense, they still might beat us. We had a massive 44-26 rebounding edge tonight, and they still gave us a legit scare right before the half.
But this is why there's reason for hope: As well as the Spurs played, they could have done better in several key areas.
First, at a few different points during the game, the Spurs took their foot off the gas. The most noticeable of those moments was that stretch right before the half when the Mavs got 12 quick points on them(almost 15, if that ridiculous shot from Bass had counted). The guys looked disinterested at times, and Dallas responded quickly every time. That apathy didn't sit well with Pop, and he made good adjustments, as well as adamantly bitching out anyone who deserved it, even Bruce.
The second area the Spurs need to improve is linked somewhat to the first: turnovers. Every time they turned the ball over, it seemed like Dallas scored. Kidd and
The Nutcracker Terry are masters of the fast break, and the Spurs are older and slower. It's difficult to keep a lead when you turn the ball over 13 times. No, tha's not terrible, but during the season the Spurs were the best team in the league at playing keep-away. I'd expect Pop to lay into some people(I'm looking at you, Gooden) for this during the upcoming off days.
The last thing the Spurs really should improve upon is the interior D when Duncan isn't out there. Yes, we were closing out on shooters, but then they got to the rim with simple ball fakes, and there were no white jerseys waiting for them. This one is pretty nitpicky, but I stand by it.
Anyway, we got a great win, and I think there's a lot of reason for optimism.
For the 3 stars tonight, I'm picking the guys who seemed to catalyze the whole team:
3. Tim Duncan - the mild-mannered islander only had 13 points and 11 boards, but his presence on the defensive end was suffocating. The 3 blocks don't even begin to tell the story. Every time the Mavs got any penetration, they weren't shooting when TD was there. Also, his 5 assists are nothing to laugh at.
2. Bruce Bowen - It's about time this guy looked like his old self. He made one mental lapse out there, and Pop took him to task for it, but he was absolutely in JJB's head. And Terry's. And Howard's.
1. Tony Parker - no explanation needed. If anyone still thinks this guy isn't as important to us as Timmy or Manu, get your head examined.
Game 3 awaits - let's go steal one in Dallas.