Western Quarterfinal Vs. Dallas: Spurs 119, 96 Spurs win series 4-3
Coming into an unexpected Game 7 against the upstart Mavs, there was a lot of anxiousness and much gnashing of teeth. After all, how could there not be? Not only had Dallas won Game 6, looking practically unstoppable offensively, but they'd already blown the Spurs out once on their home floor in Game 2 and outplayed them for much of Game 1. There was legitimate fear that they could pull off a repeat of what happened in 2006, where they won a Game 7 on the road to knock out the defending champs.
Let's see what your favorite Spurs blogger had to say about it...
At the risk of looking like a complete idiot, my hunch is that the Spurs will play their best game of the series on Sunday. They're going to come out angry and their energy and aggression levels will be noticeably different. If anything, I worry they'll be too hyped up, but I trust they'll follow Duncan's lead and pound it inside early and often. I expect the Spurs to dominate inside on both ends and the only way the Mavs will stay in the game is if they get hot from outside or there's foul trouble to the notables. Off the bench I expect Ginobili to be a man possessed and for the Spurs to take advantage of Blair's over-eagerness. -Erler, Game 6 recap
I swear, it's like I'm some kind pot-bellied basketball warlock. If only there was a way to monetize these powers o' mine. (I was one Paul Pierce block from nailing all eight first-round series too, but it's just as well the Nets won since they're more liable to make Miami sweat in round 2.)
Anyway, what can you say about a Game 7 that was so one-sided? It was fitting that we had a game like this on May 4th, a.k.a "Star Wars Day," because like the Thunder did on Saturday in their Game 7 against Memphis, the Spurs went into "fully operational Death Star," mode and just blew the Mavs off the floor. I predicted the Spurs would come out annoyed and angry for even having to be extended to the limit by the Mavericks and they did, the "Big Three," in particular. Tony Parker looked as fast and healthy as he has in months, and had one fewer free throw attempt in the game (13) than he had in the first six combined (14).
Curiously, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle didn't seem to have the sense at all that Parker was primed for a big game because he had Jose Calderon on him from the beginning instead of Shawn Marion, who had drawn the defensive assignment for most of series. There had been times where Carlisle felt comfortable with Calderon or guys like Devin Harris in the second halves against Parker, once he sensed that the Frenchman was fading, but in the first half it was always Marion. Not in Game 7, though.
My guess is that "The Matrix," suffered some kind of undisclosed injury, preventing him from being able to check Parker. Marion played the opening six minutes and then just 7:41 the rest of the way for the first three quarters, before some garbage time duty in the fourth quarter. A definite break for the Spurs.
Manu Ginobili, meanwhile, coming off a brutal Game 6, was an animal Sunday afternoon, like we all knew he would be. It was the fourth Game 7 of his career and he's always been one of the Spurs three best players in these games. Gino took advantage of the Mavs' switching defense to get isolated on Dirk Nowitzki and was merciless in taking the gigantic German to the hole time and again. He finished with 20 points on just seven field goal attempts, feasting on nine trips to the line himself.
When Manu wasn't scoring he was either finding Tim Duncan for easy points on the pick-and-roll or swiping the ball from the beleaguered Mavs. His six steals were a postseason career-high and only the fifth time in his career he snatched so many. He had eight in a memorable nationally-televised game in 2008, where he just drove the Lakers insane despite not being able to throw it into the ocean.
Most of Duncan's buckets were right at the rim, but he did hit one jumper and I especially enjoyed the way he punished Vince Carter with an elbow to the mug while scoring a bucket after Vinsanity had switched up on him. Here's what I thought of your Game 3 shot, little fella.
Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green were aggressive in looking for their shots and weren't content to be wall flowers to the Big Three in this deciding game. That's good. That's what we want. They'll need to keep that up if the Spurs are to get where we want them to go.
Tiago Splitter didn't have nearly the impact in this game, but that was by design. A desperate Carlisle played a ton of small ball, with Nowitzki at center and four guards. It worked for a bit, with the Mavs cutting the lead to 14, but then Pop countered with Diaw as his only big and the lead quickly grew once more, with Parker and Ginobili slicing Dallas up and Leonard and Green hitting from outside.
Boris Diaw didn't hit any dramatic game-winners or anything --it's kind of hard to in a 30-point thumping-- but he probably had his best all-around performance of the series in Game 7, with seven boards in 26 minutes and five helpers to go with his eight points. Diaw's importance will rise as these playoffs go along.
It took seven games, but the Spurs finally resembled the team they were over the second half of the season, the ones who earned home court advantage. I'm just glad they won because I really wasn't emotionally ready for the season to be over before "Cinco de Mayo." An elimination game much sooner than I thought it would.
Thankfully, we probably won't have to face another one for at least a week.
Manu was brilliant in Game 7, but flops like the one he drew against Marion in the first quarter do not help Ginobili's reputation with the refs, commentators or fans. That was awful. The makeup calls that followed were the most predictable things ever. He got hit with a charge on Carter who was not only moving but slid his shoulder into Ginobili and then got called for a bogus foul on the other end on Nowitzki.
At least Pop learned his lesson from Game 6 and didn't take Gino out with those two fouls and the Spurs benefited from it.
Still, flop better, Manu. That one was a CP3 special.
There was a play early in the fourth quarter where Nowitzki got tripped up on the way back down the floor by Patty Mills, who was playing like a maniac all afternoon. I swear Dirk had a look on his face like he was weighing the pros and cons of beating the hell out of Mills right then and there in front of everyone. I'm kind of on his side on this one. Mills was way too jacked in a 30-point game in the fourth quarter. Settle down, guy.
DeJuan Blair had a decent series. He also stared at the Spurs bench after whacking Ginobili in the face. He's a clown and I haven't spent one second thinking, "I wish we still had him." Enjoy the off-season, DeJuan.
Your 3 Stars:
3) Tim Duncan (7 pts)
2) Manu Ginobili (14 pts)
1) Tony Parker (12 pts)