Game 2 Preview: Dallas Mavericks @ San Antonio Spurs

Chris Covatta

The Spurs aim to get their offense going early while continuing to shut down the Mavericks' stars and take a 2-0 series lead in Game 2.

Dallas Mavericks @ San Antonio Spurs

AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
April 23, 2014, 7:00 PM Spurs Time
TV: NBA TV/FSSW - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI

Famed sociologist and New York Time Bestseller Malcolm Gladwell's newest release, David and Goliath, takes a deeper look into scenarios where an underdog overtakes an overwhelming favorite, whether in war, sports, or business. His main thesis throughout the book is that underdogs have a better shot at emerging victorious when they effectively force the "Goliath" to play a game that greatly differs from their normal scheme. This idea rings simple: if the "giants" are used to working one way, force them work another in an attempt to take their strength away.

If I were a betting man, I'd put money on finding Mr. Gladwell's latest book on Rick Carlisle's Kindle Fire right now.

As the Spurs walked off the court of the AT&T Center on Sunday, it wasn't the 1-0 series lead over the Mavericks that was the main takeaway from the game, but how Dallas totally disrupted San Antonio's offensive flow in the process. The Spurs had to lockdown Dallas' 3rd ranked offense in the final 8 minutes, while simultaneously scoring a frenzy of buckets to regain the lead, which ultimately secured the win. It pains me to say this, but the Spurs had to steal Game 1 away from the Mavs on their own home court.

If you haven't read Fred Silva's article yet, please do so because he nailed how Dallas repeatedly switched on screens, luring the Spurs into taking on a huge mismatch. This created more isolation plays for San Antonio, which has not been their game. What got them the number 1 seed was fluidity with the ball, setting screens and finding players with open looks, and those open looks turning into buckets. On Sunday, the Spurs' offense appeared stuck in first gear for most of the game; it looked bumpy, rough, and while still getting the job done, we knew this wasn't the well-oiled machine that we're used to seeing on the court.

This wasn't new for only the Spurs to see, but the Mavericks too. Mavs Moneyball's Hal Brown saw Dallas' new defensive scheme and said the following in his recap:

The Mavericks' defensive scheme was far and away the weirdest part of this game. It was unlike anything we've seen all season, and it's the kind of scheme that typically gets teams ripped apart, but it kind of worked, in this game.

Basically, instead of what they've been doing -- run a more or less traditional defense with lots of switching down low to try and make up for Calderon and Monta, with, hopefully, a body ultimately by the basket at the end -- they decided to switch on everything.

We Spurs fans went into this series feeling pretty confident, but may have forgotten to give Dallas the respect that they are due. They're a great team with a great coach in Rick Carlisle. The Mavericks may be the 8th seed, but we have to remember the strength of the Western Conference this year. In the west, the 8th best team had 49 wins and was only 2 games back of the 6th seed. What Dallas did to San Antonio in Game 1 showed how much the Mavericks respect the Spurs' game. They respected it so much that they tried their damndest to make it disappear.

On the opposite side of the court from the Mavs stood the NBA Coach of the Year, who had his squad do their share of "respecting" the Mavericks game in the form of limiting Dirk and Monta's offensive production. Dallas' top two scorers averaged 40.7 points per game combined in the regular season, but were held to a mere 22 points total in Game 1. This was not a new sight to Spurs fans, as many had predicted Monta Ellis would be locked down by Kawhi Leonard and that the Splitter/Diaw combo would give Nowitzki fits, just like they had all season.

For this series to ever get to 5, or 6 games, it's evident the Mavs are going to try to poke holes in the San Antonio defense. It's obvious that their offense will be their only possible route to success. Dallas' defensive scheme may have slowed down the Spurs' offense, but it was the Silver and Black's D that eliminated the only hopes the Mavericks have of scoring more points than the Spurs. Expect to see more experimentation from Carlisle's squad, but this time on offense as they will be working extra hard to get their "Big 2" better looks at the basket.

The Spurs are in the driver's seat for Game 2. They understand the importance of taking care of these first two games at home, and they proved they can push through anything Dallas throws at them. When playing the Spurs in a best-of-seven series, you might only get one opportunity to swing the series. Once that's gone, it's usually gone for good.

Matchup to watch: Dallas is desperate to get Dirk going. This urgency is driven by the knowledge that their season will end in three games if they can't. We might see them start to force their offense to run through Dirk. While Nowitzki is one of the greatest all-time scorers in the NBA, Splitter and Diaw have completely erased any chances of him tipping the contest in the Mavericks' favor. I'm now going into every game against Dallas expecting the Spurs defense to neutralize Dirk until it doesn't happen. It's a great feeling seeing your team render one of the greats helpless. Hopefully we'll see this trend continue.

Game 2, Western Conference Quarterfinals, 2014 NBA Playoffs
@
Regular Season: 49-33 (23-18 road)
Playoffs: 0-1 (0-1 road)

Regular Season: 62-20 (32-9 home)
Playoffs: 1-0 (1-0 home)
April 23, 2014
AT&T Center - San Antonio, TX
7:00 pm
TV: NBA TV/FSSW - Radio: 1200 WOAI
Starters
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
Advanced Stats
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 10.

Line in Vegas: Spurs by 8.

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.

Get your San Antonio Spurs tickets from Daniel Farias with Spurs Sports & Entertainment:

Tel: 210-444-5607 | dfarias@attcenter.com

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