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Game 4 Preview: San Antonio Spurs @ Dallas Mavericks

The Spurs look to bounce back one game after a heart breaking loss to even the series at 2-2.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs @ Dallas Mavericks

American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
April 28, 2014, 8:30 PM Spurs Time

Vince Carter's corner three at the buzzer of Game 3 became more than a playoff game-winner for the media. It morphed into a symbol of the current state of the Western Conference Playoffs; a metaphor for the uprising of the lower seeds over their higher seeded foes. Carter's three was the Grizzlies winning two of three consecutive overtime games against the Thunder. That shot was LaMarcus Aldridge's inability to miss from mid-range and destruction of the Rockets. That buzzer beater became the Warriors fighting back after getting beat by 40 to eventually evening up the series. No higher seed is safe in the Western Conference, and Vince Carter's three to sink the top-seeded Spurs became the poster child of the playoff underdogs.

But beneath the collective sorrow and anger that filled all of our souls on Saturday at around 6:15 p.m. Central Standard Time, there is a general truth existing within all of sports that I hope the San Antonio Spurs, the Dallas Mavericks, and all of us fans come to realize.

This truth is that Carter's three will be erased from anyone's memory if the Spurs simply go out and win the series, starting with Game 4 tonight. Those of us that watch sports love exciting endings to games, where certain amazing plays occur that have huge implications. These events become part of the highlight reels that are shown year after year, season after season. But if those plays don't ultimately come from the victor of the game, series, or championship, ultimately not being enough to push that specific team to the top, then it's as if it never happened. A couple of the most recent examples of this are the two four-point plays that Oklahoma City had in back-to-back games that sent both into overtime. ESPN would have had at least 5 hours of SportsCenter and a few episodes of Sports Science specifically dedicated to Kevin Durant's and Russell Westbrook's crazy threes with the foul, but alas, the Grizzlies were able to win both games thus nullifying the pageantry of the shots. Sure, we still saw highlights of both go down, but not to the extent that would have been if those were OKC wins. It's all about how these plays fit in to the final result.

San Antonio aims to change this series' final result as they try to even up the series in tonight's Game 4 in Dallas. While the end result was the same, the Spurs didn't bring the same offensive struggles to Game 3 that they had in Game 2. That being said, their defense is leaving much to be desired. Their transition D looked incredibly slow while their half-court scheme remained porous. Everybody knew this Mavericks team had a pretty good offense, but San Antonio's defense is making them appear better than they were this season. I don't see this being the Spurs' downfall much longer, based purely on the fact that they've got NBA Coach of the Year on their side.

The Dallas Mavericks have thrown a few curveballs San Antonio's way so far this series, and Rick Carlisle deserves a great deal of credit for doing the job he's done. As we head into Game 4, though, I don't see the Mavs getting by with much more. The Spurs have enough experience on their side to have already gotten over the heartbreak of Game 3. Evening up the series before heading back home for a game is immensely important, and I believe every player wearing Silver and Black know this. The time to remind Dallas why they're the 8th seed begins tonight.

Matchup to watch: Tiago Splitter has been a beautiful beast guarding Dirk this series. It was unanimously written that the Mavs cannot win this series without Nowitzki playing out of his mind, and I still hold this to be true. Splitter has prevented Dirk from a lot of movement with the ball, making him settle for his fade aways. I believe this matchup will still be the difference in how the rest of this series plays out.

Game 4, Western Conference Quarterfinals, 2014 NBA Playoffs
Regular Season: 49-33 (26-15 home)
Playoffs: 2-1 (1-0 home)

Regular Season: 62-20 (30-11 road)
Playoffs: 1-2 (0-1 road)
April 26, 2014
American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
8:30 pm CST
TV: TNT/FSSW - Radio: 1200 WOAI
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 4.

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 |