Game 6 Preview: San Antonio Spurs @ Dallas Mavericks

Chris Covatta

The Spurs have taken everything the Mavs have thrown at them this series and they have overcome it. They look to move on to the Western Conference Semis with a victory in tonight's Game 6.

San Antonio Spurs @ Dallas Mavericks

American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
May 2, 2014, 7:00 PM Spurs Time
TV: ESPN/FSSW - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI

The Spurs are one win away from moving past the pesky Dallas Mavericks and on to the Western Conference Semifinals. I call them pesky because their shooting ability and athleticism allows them to stay within an arms reach of tying the game at all times, making it seem as if no lead is safe. That, and one of their players kicked one of our players in the head.

Game 6 is the first "must-win" contest of the series for either team, and it will be interesting to see how Dallas will play with their backs against the wall. As I watched the posture of the Mavs walking off the court at the AT&T Center after Game 5, I saw a team who looked physically and mentally gassed. What the Spurs did to them on Wednesday night was tactically beautiful. The pick-and-rolls were flowing, the turnovers essentially disappeared (5 for the evening), and the points in the paint were heavily one-sided in favor of San Antonio. By the looks of the way the Spurs' played and the intensity of the players, you would have thought Game 5 was a blowout. A second look at the scoreboard would reveal that it was only a 6-point victory for San Antonio, which is a margin that's proving to be substantial when considering what else is going down in the Western Conference.

Dirk Nowitzki is a big reason why that Game 5 victory was so close. He scored 26 points with 14 of them coming in the fourth quarter. Dirk played the way you would've expected him to play all series. The difference between Wednesday and the prior four games wasn't only that his shots were falling. His intensity was at a peak. You could clearly see him working hard down at the block, demanding the ball, and sinking his quintessential "Dirk" shots that look like they're going to hit the rafters before coming down. It was also clear he wasn't happy with the officiating as he motioned that he was getting hit on the arm on every shot he took. That was a Dirk-type of performance that the Spurs tried to hold off for as long as possible.

But despite Dirk's effort on Wednesday, there's an attitude that I'm getting a whiff of from both fan bases that it's too little, too late. What the Mavs were able to do to the Spurs in the first few games impressed everyone. Dallas looked to pull out all of the stops heading into the series against the Spurs and much has been written about Rick Carlisle's tactical beauty against San Antonio. The Mavericks schemed their way into some momentum and wins, and it took a large supporting cast to do it. But where we stand, now, looks like they've run out of ideas. The Spurs have withstood their strategy, their athleticism, shooting, and finally Dirk's superstar ability. San Antonio has seen the gamut of Dallas Mavericks tricks, and it appears as if there is nothing else up their sleeves.

While Dallas seems to have nothing left in tank, the Spurs look like they are just now getting comfortable. San Antonio had five different players score over 15 points in Game 5, and four players record over five assists. The only starter not scoring in double digits in that game was Danny Green, but still went 2-2 from behind the arc (his only two shots) and made some impressive impacts on the defensive end. It took a little while, but the Spurs showed postseason form on Wednesday.

So as we head into Game 6, which very well could be the Mavericks' last of the season, we need to remember how much of a fight Dallas put up in this series. This Western Conference is not easy and for any team to move on to the next round is saying a lot about that squad. The Spurs have sat back and watched what the Mavericks have thrown at them. The adjustments have been made, picks have been rolled, babies have been birthed, and the result is the team we knew we'd eventually see.

All that stands between the Spurs and a new foe is one more victory. For the players' sake of rest, I don't want to see this series drag on to a seventh game.

Matchup to watch: Tiago Splitter's play in Game 5 blew me away. I've seen him score that many points and dish that many assists before, but I cant remember seeing him do both of them so smoothly, comfortably, and on this big of a stage. Splitter looks like he's realizing what he is capable of at the very right time. I know the offense doesn't call for him to do much, but his ability to finish strong at the rim is another element to the starting rotation that becomes a threat for other teams. He's going to have to be solid against Dirk tonight, who's probably going to go out with guns blazing trying to save his team from an earlier vacation than desired. Seeing Nowitzki's intensity on Wednesday showed that he's ready to put his team on his back and carry them to the next round.

Game 6, Western Conference Quarterfinals, 2014 NBA Playoffs
vs
Regular Season: 49-33 (26-15 home)
Playoffs: 2-3 (1-1 home)

Regular Season: 62-20 (30-11 road)
Playoffs: 3-2 (1-1 road)
May 2, 2014
American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
7:00 pm CST
TV: ESPN/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 4.

Line in Vegas: Spurs by 3.

As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and you can get your San Antonio Spurs tickets from Daniel Farias with Spurs Sports & Entertainment:

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

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