And with that, the regular season is over. The Spurs rested most of their rotation players but still managed to beat the Mavericks 96-91 to finish with a 67-15 record, the best in franchise history. Boban Marjanovic led the way with a career-high 22 points and 12 rebounds while Raymond Felton finished with 22 of his own in the losing effort.
The game itself was meaningless to the Spurs, as they had the second seed locked up. Gregg Popovich gave Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, David West, LaMarcus Aldridge and Tim Duncan the night off and trotted out the team's 19th different starting lineup of the season. Surprisingly, the Andre Miller - Danny Green - Kyle Anderson - Matt Bonner - Boban Marjanovic unit did well to start the game. It wasn't until late in the first that the Mavericks got the lead.
Things weren't looking good for the Spurs' B team in the second quarter. They were keeping pace for most of the frame but they couldn't close the half strong. Dallas caught fire from beyond the arc going against a zone defense, connecting on six three-pointers. Turnovers also cost the Spurs against a Mavericks team that, without having a single point in the paint in the period, led by 18 points at the half.
That's typically the type of situation in which Pop would give his starters a couple of minutes to show some fight and then empty the bench. On Wednesday, however, there were no subs waiting to take over. The JV fought its way back into the game, as Dallas faded. The Spurs went inside to Boban Marjanovic, who feasted in the paint, while the perimeter looks that were falling early started to miss for the Mavericks. Going into the fourth quarter, San Antonio was only trailing by two.
Dallas needed the W to have a shot at the fifth seed, which explains why Rick Carlisle kept his starters in the game. Alas, it was all for nothing. The Spurs put together another solid 12 minutes and kept the game close. Then late in the fourth quarter they executed better and got the upper hand. A couple of desperation three-pointers fell for the Mavericks, which added some suspense to the game. Ultimately that wasn't enough to power a comeback.
The Spurs ended the season with a win and will have a healthy roster going into the postseason. The Grizzlies await in the first round. Bring on the playoffs.
- The only thing that mattered about this game was that Boris Diaw was active after missing three straight games with injury. He returned against Dallas and logged 20 minutes. Hopefully the time off before the first round will help him heal completely. No one else got hurt, so that's great as well.
- Boban! Marjanovic led all Spurs in minutes with 37 and had career highs in points and rebounds. He's been a pleasant surprise this season. At this point, it wouldn't be shocking to see him get some playing time in the first round, to keep Duncan fresh.
- With Patty Mills and Danny Green having quiet games, Danny Green had the best performance out of any of the players that are typically in the nine-man rotation. Danny had 12 points and did a little bit of everything. Not a bad way to close a disappointing season for Green.
- At the time, I thought Kevin Martin and not Andre Miller was the better waiver wire addition. It's not turning out that way. Miller, for all his obvious limitations, seems to fit better. Martin is a drain when he's not scoring. He could still explode during a random playoff game and give the Spurs an edge but I'd be surprised if K-Mart gets rotation minutes.
- Kyle Anderson, on the other hand, keeps showing promise. He finished the game against the Mavericks with 15 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and five steals. He made some timely buckets late, too. Jonathon Simmons also had a strong game, contributing 19 points and seven rebounds. These playoffs might not be for these two but the Spurs will have wing depth next season.
- Matt Bonner had two three-pointers. He had only hit more than one outside shot two times this season. The Red Mamba is getting into playoff mode.
For the opponent's perspective, visit the wonderful Mavs Moneyball.
The Spurs will face the Grizzlies in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Memphis made it to the postseason despite losing 15 of their last 20 games. They have lost Mike Conley and Marc Gasol to season-ending injuries and traded away Courtney Lee, so these are not the Grizzlies you remember from past seasons. On paper, they are the best first round matchup in the West, as they are too ravaged by injuries to field a truly competitive team.
That being said, they have scrappy players and nothing to lose. Any roster that includes Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, Matt Barnes, Lance Stephenson and Chris Andersen is going to compete They also have some young, athletic front court players in their bench in former Spur JaMychal Green and rookie Jarell Martin. San Antonio, which swept the season series, should have no trouble getting past them. But the Grizzlies are not going to make it easy on them.
First round schedule
Game 1: Sunday, April 17, 7 p.m. CST. AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX. (TNT)
Game 2: Tuesday, April 19, 8:30 p.m. CST. AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX. (TNT)
Game 3: Friday, April 22, 8:30 p.m. CST. FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN. (ESPN)
Game 4: Sunday, April 24, 12 p.m. CST, FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN. (ABC)
Game 5 (if necessary): TBD, AT&T Center, San Antonio TX.
Game 6 (if necessary): TBD, FedEx Forum, Memphis TN.
Game 7 (if necessary): TBD, AT&T Center, San Antonio TX.