GAME ONE - THE CLOSE LOSS
3 days without a game is a long time for an NBA player, but for those of us that do nothing all day and have no specific need to rest it can seem like too long. Waste five of the minutes in those three days by reliving the Dallas series, by the numbers, and put up with a few of my (totally unqualified) interpretations.
I love the Game Flows at PopcornMachine.net. It's a visual way to match lineups to the score margin and box score statistics. One truth from the Dallas series that you can see in all of them is how effective our starting and closing unit was against Dallas's best units.
Whenever we can get Duncan, Dice, RJ, Manu and either Tony or Hill we've been crazy effective. In Game one, the weak links in this unit were RJ and Dice, in large part because of foul trouble and the defensive matchup with the unstoppable-that-night Dirk.
In the first game there is the question of whether Bonner or Dice should get the balance of the minutes with the 'starters' and to close the game out. To Pop the defensive assignment on Dirk is probably as important as everything else combined. Although Bonner does well in the closer role in Game one, over the series we see Dice get this assignment more and more and Bonner's minutes start to come from the bench.
The units using Duncan, Dice, RJ, Manu and either Tony or Hill are -2 overall. The variations of the 'starter' unit using Tony and Bonner are effective, but the bench units get destroyed by the Mavs bench, and in a way lose the game for us - they slip in a big way while trying to rest Manu and Duncan.
In the next installment, Pop goes with the Starters + Dice lineup for the majority of the decisive ball, and it's an easy decision.