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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks

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The Spurs head up I-35 to take on division rival Dallas in the first night of a back-to-back.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs @ Dallas Mavericks

American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
February 5, 2016, 8:30 p.m. Spurs Time
TV: ESPN Radio: WOAI 1200AM

After a strong start that shook free the notion they were last summer's losers, the Mavericks have fallen back to earth some. They've dropped 11 of their last 20 since blowing out Golden State on December 30th and have really struggled against the better teams in the league.

Injuries in their backcourt don't help, of course, and Dallas may be again without Deron Williams (hip) and Devin Harris (toe), whose absences have been felt in the last couple of games (Update: Williams will play; Harris won't). Coach Rick Carlisle has found himself in the Popovichian paradox of needing to win whilst keeping his brittle core intact. That effort has included resting all starters when necessary and making players like Salah Mejri into quasi-household names.

Speaking of injury, it looks like Tim Duncan will sit out another one. It's a shame for a number of reasons, not least of them being we only have so many chances to see him and Dirk share the floor. Missing as well will be Manu Ginobili after news of the surgery required after taking a Ryan Anderson knee to the groin on Wednesday night. There's never an ideal time for injury (especially one of that nature), but the week off over the All Star break does make it a bit easier to stomach. Plus it gives the Spurs' young wings a bit more time to develop.

The Spurs should be able to take care of business without Duncan and Manu tonight, but Dallas is a decent defensive team by most metrics and a win will take a strong effort on both ends. Their starting five pits four dangerous shooters around a capable and cunning passer in near-All Star Zaza Pachulia, giving them the ability to reel off a run in no time at all.

Advantages at most positions and a deeper, more versatile bench give the Spurs an edge I don't think a thin Mavs team can overcome, though. If San Antonio defends the three-point line well and works the offense around its two All Stars, it should come out of Dallas with a win.

Matchup to Watch: Aldridge is playing some of his best basketball as a Spur, Dirk is on the same infinity serum as Duncan, and neither guy will be in any particular rush with the ball in his hands. I can think of worse things than watching LMA and Dirk trade off one-footed fadeaways in a game where neither team can really afford another injury.

San Antonio Spurs (41-8)

Dallas Mavericks (28-24)

American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas

February 5, 2016

8:30 PM CST

TV: ESPN

Starters

Tony Parker

PG

Deron Williams

Danny Green

SG

Wesley Matthews

Kawhi Leonard

SF

Chandler Parsons

LaMarcus Aldridge

PF

Dirk Nowitzki

David West

C

Zaza Pachulia


Game prediction: Spurs by 9.

For the Mavericks fans' perspective, visit Mavs Money Ball.

As always Tony must dominate Fisher.