Dallas Mavericks @ San Antonio SpursAT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
April 20, 2014, 12:00 PM Spurs Time
TV: TNT - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI
There's always been cleansing feeling attached to the idea of Game 1 of a playoff series. Both teams have done enough throughout the season to earn a spot in this best-of-seven matchup. Their records no longer matter. Everything each player has done since October is forgotten. Everything about it says "Nothing that has happened in the past plays a factor anymore. All that matters is what happens now."
The Mavericks head into San Antonio for Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs to face a team that has completely owned them as of late. By now, odds are you've read the many, many articles previewing and predicting the way this first round series is going to go, whether here on PtR, the main SB Nation site, ESPN, etc. You've read how Monta Ellis is going to be stymied by Kawhi Leonard's relentless defense. You've been told about how the Splitter/Diaw combo on Dirk will prevent him from taking over the series. You've been reminded how Dallas' defense falls in the bottom third of the league. And you've probably bought into the idea that Nowitzki's offensive talent could get the Mavericks one win in the series, but not much more.
But even as obvious as some of these factors appear to almost everybody, the Spurs and Mavericks still have to play these games out, which is where Game 1's can get interesting. For example, if all of us are aware of Dallas' shortcomings when it comes to the Spurs, you know Rick Carlisle is painfully cognoscente of it. I'm curious to see whether or not he makes any tweaks to his lineup or defensive scheme. Will their PnR defense be adjusted going into this series? Will they find ways to help Jose Calderon on Tony Parker? Will they work in extra motions to clear Dirk for better looks at the basket?
Dallas has fallen short in all of these areas during the season, but a best-of-seven series brings a different set of rules with different sets of payoffs. It's no longer lose to the Spurs and worry about the next team for the Mavs. They get to come back and try again, and again, and again. It will be fun seeing the adjustments made mid-series.
The questions looming aren't just with the Mavericks regarding how they'll try to handle San Antonio, though. Game 1 may give us some insight as to how Popvich will manage his players' minutes in this first round. He's done an incredible job getting Timmy and Tony rest throughout the season and the rest of the team did an outstanding job filling in for them. So good, in fact, that I wonder if Pop will even need to increase Tony and Tim's minutes dramatically against the Mavs. This might be a move that is left to the second round. Game 1 will give us some insight.
These are just a few questions whose answers we will have to wait on until tipoff at Game 1 today. It appears the Spurs have already won the series on paper, not going any further than five games, but I didn't watch this team all season long see them win a playoff series on paper. I'm ready for the march to the Finals to begin. I'm ready for these playoff box scores to be filled and for Timmy add to his already legendary resume. I'm ready for the city of San Antonio to get that buzz again, where no one else cares or talks about anything else. And I'm ready for the rest of the NBA to be reminded of the deadly machine that is the San Antonio Spurs.
It all begins, again, here in Game 1.
Matchup to watch: For the Mavericks to have any chance to steal one in San Antonio, they are going to need someone else other than Dirk to provide a good amount of offense. Since Monta Ellis will most likely be stranded on the "Kawhiian Islands" without food or water, this second option will have to become Jose Calderon, which works out perfectly for the Spurs. Calderon is a pretty terrible defender, but since he'll need to be on the court to provide offense, he's going to have to do his best covering Parker. Long story short, look to Tony Parker to have a big game.
|Game 1, First Round, 2014 NBA Playoffs|
|April 20, 2014|
|TV: TNT Radio: 1200 WOAI|
|Jose Calderon||PG||Tony Parker|
|Monta Ellis||SG||Danny Green|
|Shawn Marion||SF||Kawhi Leonard|
|Dirk Nowitzki||PF||Tim Duncan|
|Samuel Dalembert||C||Tiago Splitter|
|93.5 (16th)||Pace||95.0 (10th)|
|111.2 (3rd)||ORtg||110.5 (7th)|
|108.7 (22nd)||DRtg||102.4 (3rd)|
The perspective of Mavs fans can be found here: Mavs Moneyball
Game Prediction: Spurs by 8.
Line in Vegas: Spurs by 9.5.
As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and 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.
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