Cancel your Sunday plans. We've got a Game 7.
The Mavericks held off a late San Antonio Spurs run to push this first round Western Conference series to a seventh game by winning a straight up batty game, 113-111. This will be the first time a first round series has gone to a Game 7 in the history of the Spurs franchise. San Antonio and Dallas are the fifth series to schedule a seventh game this weekend, while Portland and Houston currently play as I write this recap to determine if they'll become the sixth.
These playoffs, man.
This game only added to the craziness that has already existed this postseason. There were lead changes in the final minutes, guard battles, one team almost giving the game away, and all of the other symptoms of the 2014 NBA Playoffs insanity. The only thing missing was overtime.
Right from tipoff both teams started the game hot, combining to go 15 for their first 20 shots. For San Antonio, Danny Green lead the way early, shooting 5-5 from the field (1-1 from 3PT, 1-2 FT) totaling 12 points in the first quarter. While Green has looked hesitant (and sometimes even non existent) on the offensive end throughout this series, he found his rhythm and confidence tonight. He would finish the game with 17 points and going 7-7 from the field.
San Antonio's defense did not start as hot as their offense, though. Players were having trouble recovering from screens and allowing easy buckets in the paint. The Mavericks outscored the Spurs 18-8 in the painted area in the first quarter alone. This helped Dallas to a 34-26 lead at the end of the 1st quarter.
The second quarter showed the Spurs tightening up their defense with some double-teaming and a whole lot of persistence, which lead to seven Mavericks turnovers compared to just one in the first quarter. The Spurs were able to go on a 11-2 run in order to take the lead, but Dallas closed out the half going on a 10-5 run of their own. The Mavs went into the locker room with a 58-52 lead.
It should be noted that after having a hot 1st quarter, Danny Green did not take a shot in the 2nd quarter. Green still lead the Spurs in scoring, though, while Dirk lead Dallas with 12 points of his own. Manu Ginobili was scoreless and took only 2 shots in the first two quarters.
The Spurs came out of the break ready to pounce, and after a bank shot from Duncan with just under 9 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter, San Antonio retook the lead, 63-62. They began the half going on an 11-4 run. The Spurs also did a great job of slowing down the pace of the game in the 3rd, which appeared to throw Dallas off their offensive game. The Mavericks have shown all series long that they have the ability to score buckets quick and gain momentum doing it, but San Antonio successfully put a stop to that after halftime. The Spurs outscored Dallas 29-18 in the 3rd quarter, giving them the lead 81-76 as they headed into the 4th.
The Silver and Black quickly achieved their highest lead of the night, 83-76, in the 4th quarter after two Tiago Splitter free throws following a foul. It can't be overstated how impressive Splitter was tonight, even after how great of a series he's had so far. This guy is figuring everything out at the right time and it's a big reason why the Spurs were able to stay in this game. We know what his defensive impacts are, especially when it comes to guarding Dirk, but it's his toughness and aggressiveness underneath the basket on the offensive end that is really garnering some attention. Splitter was able to get to the line 12 times and knock down 11(!) of them, which is a percentage that does not reflect his regular season average. He finished the game with 17 points, which is a postseason career high for him.
That six point lead would quickly be deflated to one after a couple threes from Vince Carter and Jose Calderon on back-to-back possessions with just over 10 minutes to go in the game. It was at this point in the game that Tony Parker decided to take over the Spurs' offense and attempt to personally transport his team to the second round. Much had been said about Tony disappearing late into games prior to Game 5, but his performance since then has been exactly what we've been looking for. He scored 13 4th quarter points in tonight's game, which became part of a guard battle between him and Monta Ellis.
Both Ellis and Parker duked it out over the final five minutes of a game. The Spurs' advantage was cut down to 1 point after a Dirk bucket, and on the ensuing Mavs possession Monta hit a three pointer to reclaim the lead, 94-92, with 4:57 to go in the game. Ellis went on to lead an 8-2 run for Dallas to put them up 102-94 with 2:55 left, but after a Boris three pointer and a couple of foul shots by Manu, the Mavericks lead was cut to 5 only 30 seconds later.
Parker and Ellis would continue to get buckets, with Tony being able to pull the Spurs within a point of Dallas with 49.4 seconds to go. Carter would get a couple of foul shots and DeJuan Blair would be able to knock down two from the charity stripe as well after an intercepted inbounds pass to Parker occured. This pushed the Mav lead to 109-105 with just under 30 seconds to go in the game.
Kawhi Leonard would attempt a quick shot on the ensuing possession that rimmed out, eventually falling into the hands of Blair, again, who would then be fouled, again, with 23.7 seconds to go. Blair pushed the lead to 111-105.
Danny Green was able to hit a quick three after that, followed by two Ellis free throws, followed by another three by Patty Mills, which cut the lead down to 2 points with 7 seconds to go. After the shot by Mills, Ellis attempted to avoid getting fouled in order to run out the clock, but made the odd decision to throw the ball cross court and out of bounds underneath he Mavericks' basket, giving possession to the Spurs with 1.3 seconds remaining.
It wasn't obvious at the time, but the following inbounds play by the Spurs happened while six players were on the court. The ball was quickly hit out of bounds before anyone on the officiating staff caught it, leaving just 0.4 seconds remaining.
The four tenths of a second was not enough for Patty to get a good shot off, and the Spurs had to walk off the court at the American Airlines Arena as the Mavs celebrated their Game 6 victory, 113-111.
Tony Parker lead the scoring for the Spurs with 22 points and 6 assists. Tim Duncan had 16 points and 9 rebounds in the game, while Patty Mills put up 10 points. Manu Ginobili had a quite 6 points on the evening. The San Antonio starters outscored the bench 86-25. Monta Ellis lead the Mavs with 29 points while Dirk had 22 of his own.
Game 7 is scheduled for Sunday afternoon, though the time is uncertain until the finality of the Portland-Houston game.
For the Dallas Mavericks' perspective, visit Mavs Moneyball.