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Game 5 Preview: Dallas Mavericks @ San Antonio Spurs

With the series now tied, 2-2, it's going to be how well the Spurs can recover from a rocky first few games that decides whether they take the series lead in Game 5.

Ronald Martinez

Dallas Mavericks @ San Antonio Spurs

AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
April 30, 2014, 6:00 PM Spurs Time

With 6:40 to go in the 2nd quarter of Game 4, Leonard overcommitted attempting to steal a pass coming into Vince Carter at the top of the key. Seeing his defender blur by, now a few feet behind him, Carter had an opening and decided to take it to the rim. Tim Duncan stepped up to help defend the loose ball handler, but Vince was able to get the shot off.

Two games prior, Kawhi had one of the worst performances we had seen from him... ever, maybe. He earned three early fouls, looked sluggish on both ends of the floor, and then forced some rocky 4th-quarter ball penetration on offense in an attempt to make up for his previous three periods of play. Kawhi's struggles looked to be just a part of the overall precarious misfirings of the San Antonio Spurs team in the first three games of the playoff series. The team hadn't seemed quite comfortable yet, reacting to what Rick Carlisle was throwing at them rather than being proactive with their approach at both ends of the floor.

But that play in which Kawhi overcommitted on Vince Carter ended with an astounding recovery. Even as he saw Timmy picking up his man in the paint, Leonard decided that he needed to be the one that ended this particular possession. Go check out Chris Itz's post on the play if you're fuzzy on the details, but as Carter puts the shot up over Duncan, Kawhi comes out of nowhere and Hulk-handed swats his shot into the crowd. It may have been the camera angle, but from what I can choose to remember, his fingertips looked even with the top of the square on the backboard as he rejected the shot.

That play, the defensive miscue, the poised recovery, the authoritative rejection, will need to become a symbol for what this Spurs team does to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 and throughout the rest of this series. That sequence of events, just as the win in Game 4, gave San Antonio life. It gave us an image of what this team has done to the league since October, and reminded us of how exciting execution can be.

To show how the mindset of execution and winning can instantly re-infect a team, we need to look immediately after Leonard's block to Patty Mills' rebound. I mentioned earlier that Kawhi sent Carters' shot into the crowd, but it wouldn't stay there. Mills sprinted after the blocked shot as it headed out of bounds, determined to save it, needing to eliminate any chance this monster swat merely lead to a Dallas inbound play. Patty dove after the ball, scooped it, slung back inbounds to Tony Parker, and landed in the third row amongst a sea of royal blue-clad fans.

Leonard's awesome play led to Patty's awesome play, much like the Spurs' Game 4 win will need to lead to another in Game 5. The rejection of Vince Carter's shot on Monday night will hopefully be a theoretical and mental rejection of Vince Carter's shot in Game 3, along with the series momentum it could have created.

Everything the Spurs have worked for is still very much in their grasp. It just all starts with the recovery.

Matchup to watch: "We'll see how he is tomorrow," is what Pop said about Tony Parker's ankle yesterday. He has a grade 1 sprain and is listed as day to day. Aside from the ankle, Parker has been absent and it's becoming worrying. His energy on offense is low, his decisions with passes have been either very telegraphed or questionable. Going back and watching his turnovers from Games 3 and 4 show a man who is slow to react. This Spurs team cannot be the same ones we saw during the season without Parker being the smooth operator he was before the playoffs. Where this is really evident is in the second half. Parker can get some open looks and create penetration early in games, usually racking up his points in the first 2 quarters, but appears to take his game down a notch as it gets deeper into the game. I don't think this is an endurance issue, but I'm afraid that's the only excuse I want to accept. I'd rather have Tony running out of gas instead of him losing focus or desire.

Game 5, Western Conference Quarterfinals, 2014 NBA Playoffs
Regular Season: 49-33 (23-18 away)
Playoffs: 2-2 (1-1 away)

Regular Season: 62-20 (32-9 home)
Playoffs: 2-2 (1-1 home)
April 30, 2014
AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
6:00 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 6.

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 |