Who's to blame for the 22 Spurs turnovers in Game 2?

Chris Covatta

Did Dallas suddenly become a defensive juggernaut or did the Spurs suffer from self-inflicted wounds?

The Spurs officially turned the ball over 22 times, leading to 33 easy points for the Mavericks. The Spurs didn't show up at all in Game 2. They missed free throws, played soft defense and mentally were simply absent. I do not think there's much to take away from this game. The Spurs suffered from a plethora of self-inflicted wounds and bled out. The only thing that concerns me heading into Game 3 is the popular theory that Dallas' defense is suddenly elite. If that's true, then the Spurs might never be able to take full control of this series.

Watching the game, I thought most of the Spurs' turnovers were unforced, but my twitter timeline seemed to disagree. With the help of MySynergySports.com, I re-watched the Spurs' 22 turnovers and took notes. Here's a look at each one to help us decide if the Mavericks' defense should be praised or the Spurs should be blamed.

Fair warning: I am a biased fan and do not try to pretend that I'm not. I blog because I enjoy writing and love the Spurs. I am not an aspiring writer. So as I describe each turnover doing my best to be objective, realize that  this is a subjective exercise and will therefore slant heavily in the Spurs' direction.

1st  Quarter

1.)  11:01 Danny Green tried to hit a cutting Kawhi for a back door layup. The pass was easily intercepted. Now, was it the Mavericks' defense that caused the turnover or the Spurs' sloppiness? In my opinion, this was just a careless pass by Danny Green. I'll classify this as 'sloppy.' The Spurs were careless and the Mavericks were in position to take advantage. We'll define 'sloppy' as a turnover that ultimately should have never been committed by the Spurs, but  one that the Mavericks do deserve some credit for being in the right place at the right time.

2.)   8:25 Kawhi skied for an offensive rebound. He landed in traffic, came down off-balance and for some reason forgot to dribble the ball. Traveling was called. To me, this should be classified as 'unforced.' I do not think the Mavs did anything to force this turnover.

3.)   7:26 Danny received a hand-off from Tim and drove directly into a triple team. His desperation pass was picked off by Marion. I'll give this one to Dallas. We'll call it 'forced' because Dallas' defense was mostly responsible for creating the turnover. (Already we've defined my three turnover categories: sloppy, unforced and forced. How convenient.)

4.)   5:04 Manu drove from the top of the key and help-defender Marion reached in and slapped the ball off Manu's leg. This is a close one. I'm going with sloppy. Manu was careless with the ball and Marion was in position to take advantage.

5.)   4:06 Marco faked a three and his defender went flying by. Marco then walked with the ball. This was unforced to me. Dallas chased him off the three-point line, but that shouldn't have caused Marco to walk.

6.)   2:28 Jeff Ayres set an illegal screen because he is terrible at everything. This was unforced. Why is Pop playing Ayres? In Game 1, Pop played Bonner and it went predictably poorly. So in Game 2, Pop decided to go with Ayres. We do not need to play a fourth big in the playoffs. I thought we collectively decided this at the end of the regular season. Clearly, Pop is behind on his PtR reading.

7.)   1:51 Monta Ellis switched onto Boris at the top of the key. Boris backed him down into the paint and lost control of the ball. I will call this forced but I really want to go with sloppy because it's DeJuan and Monta, not exactly a fortress of defense, and Diaw was fouled on this play. It just wasn't called.

8.)   :10.6 Manu drove in and just lost the handle. The ball flew out of bounds unforced, and that's your eighth turnover of the first quarter.

2nd Quarter

9.)   9:51 Manu and Tiago ran a pick and roll. Manu tried to force a pass without a window and it's easily intercepted. On the one hand, it's a sloppy play by Manu and a terrible read. On the other, the Mavs clogged the lane to force the turnover. We'll go with sloppy because in my opinion, Manu was careless and this pass shouldn't have been attempted.

10.)  9:28 Patty missed a three and Manu came flying in for the offensive rebound. His momentum was already carrying him out of bounds and a push by his defender forced him to get rid of it before he wanted to. The Mavericks intercepted the ball. Popovich was irate at this missed call, by the way. The Mavericks' defense did not cause this turnover. It was more the basketball gods than anything. Tie goes to sloppy.

11.)  8:30 Boris Diaw was at the top of the key and tried to force a pass to Duncan, who was posting DeJuan at the free throw line. It's a terrible angle for the pass and the spacing was all wrong. Blair reached in and stole the ball, but it's definitely a careless decision by Diaw. Sloppy.

12.)  8:13 Tony drove to the bucket on a fast break and Monta flopped and was rewarded. This was just a bad call by Danny Crawford. We'll give it to the Mavs, though. Forced.

13.)  6:00 Tony tried to force a pass to a cutting Tiago. It never had a chance. Poor decision by Tony. Sloppy.

14.)  3:59 The Spurs were down ten and getting a little desperate at this point. Tim grabbed a defensive rebound and took a few dribbles down the floor hoping to create an easy transition opportunity. Unfortunately, his ill-advised outlet pass was easily picked off. This was just a poor decision by Tim. The Mavericks played the passing lane, but Tim should have known better. Sloppy.

3rd Quarter

15.)  10:04 I think at this point Kawhi realized that he was having a terrible game so he tried to make something happen. Kawhi got caught in the air without anywhere to go with the ball, and his pass/shot was caught under the basket. Sloppy decision. I tweeted about Kawhi nonstop last night: the Spurs absolutely cannot afford to have Kawhi get in foul trouble. He needs to be smarter out there. Kawhi's second foul was patient zero of this mentally absent outbreak. It changed the complexion of the game and limited Pop's options. The Spurs can't be the Spurs if Kawhi's saddled with fouls.

16.)  6:57 On a fast break, Tony found Tiago filing the lane for a seemingly easy layup. Tiago fumbled the ball and it was taken from him. Unforced.

17.)  6:47 Either Tim Duncan or Tiago Splitter was called for offensive three seconds. I watched the play four times and neither player was in the lane for three seconds. It was a bad call, but the Mavericks did force the Spurs to scramble by playing great help defense. Tie goes to sloppy.

18.)  3:40 The wheels were coming off at this point. Manu overthrew a rolling Diaw by a mile. Diaw was open and Manu wasn't being pressured. Unforced.

19.)  1:09 In a play that summarized the kind of night it was for the Spurs, Manu found himself with the ball and Blair defending at the top of the key. Manu made a careless move and Blair poked the ball loose. it felt like the entire Spurs squad ran past Blair as he waddled to the basket. The ball was knocked around and somehow Blair found it under the basket and laid it in. Blair reached in and won the lottery. It was his only hope of stopping Manu and it worked. I'm giving it a rating of sloppy since any team that counts on sustained defense from Blair is only setting themselves up for disappointment.

4th Quarter

20.)  9:16 Marco drove in and lost the handle. Unforced.
(As I typed his name just now I thought, 'Marco has clearly been the worst player in the series.' I then thought, 'I bet he's been the worst player in the playoffs.' Turns out, I was correct. For players averaging more than 20 mpg, Marco has the worst net rating in the playoffs at a whopping -43.7, OffRtg of 88.2 and DefRtg of 131.8. Funny enough, Gary Neal comes in second to last place with a net rating of -39. So don't miss Gary too much. To be fair, I thought I'd decrease the minutes played constraint to greater than 15 instead of 20.  Two players shot ahead of Marco: Boris at -52.8 and Patty at -45. I'm tired of this game. I'm going to stop playing.)

21.)  8:54 Patty was called for an illegal screen. Whatever. Unforced.

22.)  6:12 Tony forced a pass to a cutting Manu. The passing window didn't exist and it was picked off. Sloppy.

Well, that was totally depressing. Your official turnover tally is:

3 forced turnovers
8 unforced turnovers
11 sloppy turnovers

As I suspected, the Spurs doomed themselves in the turnover department with little assistance from Dallas. No matter what the national pundits or bloggers tell you, Dallas did not suddenly become an elite defensive team. It's not in the realm of possibility.

Shawn Marion is still a competent defender, but he's 35 years old. Samuel Dalembert can get in the way, but he's in no way an intimidating rim protector. Jae Crowder seems athletic enough to defend well, but he's done nothing impressive. And that concludes the tour of the Maverick's average defenders. Dirk can't guard anyone. Monta is too small. Vince is too old. Jose might as well not cross half court. Devin isn't a defender. And we all are very familiar with Blair's potential defensively.

It's all on the Spurs. They need to show up in Dallas and play well. The Spurs are in complete control of their own destiny. It's on them to shake this funk off, take care of the ball, hit free throws and play intelligent basketball. We'll see what happens Saturday.

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