San Antonio Spurs @ Dallas MavericksAmerican Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
April 10, 2014, 7:00 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI
This is the time of year that I'm happy to be a Spurs fan. San Antonio is well coached and well oiled enough to take care of the "April playoff push" before April even comes around; back when the playoffs seem like a lifetime away for other teams. The Spurs are like those high school seniors who applied for early admission into college and got in. They're now getting to watch their classmates stress out over their final semester.
Quite a few teams are still jockeying for playoff positions. Last night the Clippers and Thunder battled it out for a stronger grasp onto the 2 seed, Memphis had to face Miami as they fight for the 8th seed, and Indiana sat their starters in, what looked to be, an effort to get over their funk to usurp the Heat's top spot in the East. These were the situations that occurred in just one night. The bloodbaths will continue, nightly, for another week.
Another gladiator in this playoff-spot fight to the death is the Dallas Mavericks, who have made a strong push lately by winning 4 games in a row and 7 of their last 10. They're currently entrenched in a three-team Royal Rumble with the Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies for the 7th and 8th seeds, with one team ultimately being left out. What will add even more drama to this rush for the final playoff spots is the fact that Dallas, Memphis, and Phoenix will all play each other one more time in this final week before the season wraps up. That's crazy.
The Mavericks' latest win came on Tuesday where they beat the Utah Jazz, 95-83. What seems evident is that they are coming into games knowing the importance of another tally in the win column. Against the Jazz, Dallas came out on fire, essentially making an attempt to win the game in the 1st quarter. They shot 16-17 from the floor in the 1st.
So.... here's the Mavericks' first quarter shot chart vs. the Jazz... pic.twitter.com/SgeiSJZKUB— Eye on Basketball (@EyeOnBasketball) April 9, 2014
What followed was a showing of the Mav's offense going into hiding. After their explosive 1st quarter in which they scored 39 points, Dallas only mustered 56 points the rest of the game. Those 56 points in the final 3 quarters aren't going to cut it as they fight for their playoff lives over the next few days.
Tuesday brought another victory for the Mavericks organization, as well: Dirk Nowitzki passed Oscar Robertson for 10th on the NBA all-time scoring list (26,714 points). This guy has been my favorite non-Spur to watch over the past few seasons because of how consistently smooth and lethal his shooting is. If he stays healthy, he could pass Hakeem's points total (26,946) early next season.
Something that is pretty evident right now, though, is that the Spurs are a pretty good team. I would hate to be a team that faces us in the final week of the season as they try to lock up a playoff spot, but sadly that's exactly what's next up for Dallas. The good news for them is they have very winnable games to finish off the season. Hal Brown, over at Mavs Moneyball, writes an excellent column called Statsketball in which he dives into the metrics and statistical analysis going on around the league. In his latest post, he calculates the win percentage of the rest of Dallas' games and finds that they have over a 50% chance in each of their upcoming games to come away with a win. You know, except the Spurs. By his calculations, San Antonio has a 63.3 percent chance of leaving Dallas with a victory. He writes:
I've said this before (heck, I said this last edition), but the Spurs are just so, so, so, so good. My model had the Mavericks winning with only 34.7% odds, astoundingly low for a one game calculation...
Take that in for a second: assuming that the bench players play for half the game, the Spurs will still beat the Mavericks in 2 out of every 3 games according to the math. That's just ridiculous.
It's clear that one of the best things going for the San Antonio Spurs right now is that they don't have to face the San Antonio Spurs as they battle for a playoff spot. The Mavericks, Grizzlies, and Suns are not so lucky.
That being said, San Antonio will be without Tony Parker for another game. I wouldn't be surprised if Manu Ginobili sits as well, as he had to leave the Minnesota game early due to a calf contusion (too much Frogging, I'm sure). With both out, it will be up to Patty to get the offense going. He'll be facing Monta Ellis, which could be an really fun battle if both start feeling it early in the game. Because we've seen where Patty can take us, though, I feel confident that the Spurs will ride out of Dallas with a win and another game closer to clinching the number 1 seed.
Matchup to watch: This Dallas crowd loves them some Dirk and are going to be clamoring for him to add to his all-time point total. Because I see Timmy only playing a few minutes, it's going to be up to Boris Diaw to try to contain him the majority of the game. If the Mavs expect to come away with a win, it's going to be because of Dirk's ability to make buckets. No one else can change this matchup more than him.
Mavericks perspective available at Mavs Moneyball.
Game prediction: Spurs by 7.
Line in Vegas: Mavericks by 2.
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.
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