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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Dallas Mavericks

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The good guys host their in-state rivals to the north, who are missing a familiar Euro big man and starting an unfamiliar one.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs host the new-look Mavericks tonight. Dallas is on the second game of a back to back after losing to Utah at home yesterday, while San Antonio is in the last game of a 3-game home-stand.

October 29th, 2018 | 7:30 PM CT
Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI
Spurs (3-2) vs. Mavericks (2-4)

Spurs Injuries: Dejounte Murray (knee), Lonnie Walker IV (knee), Derrick White (heel)
Mavericks Injuries: Dirk Nowitzki (ankle), Devin Harris (hamstring)

Changing of the Guard

With sensational rookie Luka Doncic leading the attack, DeAndre Jordan protecting the paint and throwing down dunks, and Dirk out, this Mavs team, along with the rest of the league, is playing faster and shooting more threes than ever before. While Dallas is only shooting 32.9% from three, they're taking 38 per game, 5th most in the league.

Per Cleaning the Glass, the Mavs are one of only three teams scoring more points per 100 transition plays than the Spurs, though like the Spurs, they’re near the bottom of the league in number of transition plays. That’s a problem for the Mavs, because their halfcourt offense has not been particularly good so far. They rank 22nd in the league in points per 100 halfcourt plays.

Still, for a team starting a rookie and missing a legend, the Mavs have been a revelation thus far, possibly even showing signs already of developing into a playoff team much sooner than expected.

Coaching Legends

Coach Gregg Popovich is the longest tenured NBA coach by far. In fact, Erik Spoelstra, of the Miami Heat, and Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, are the 2nd and 3rd longest tenured coaches, each having been with their teams since 2008, and neither has been in the seat half as long as Coach Pop.

In the 10 years Carlisle has been just up I-35, he and Coach Pop have been at the wheel for some legendary showdowns, including the Mavs pushing the eventual 2014 NBA champion Spurs to a game 7 in the first round.

This matchup comes with far lower stakes, as both teams sit somewhere between the edge of the playoffs and a low lottery position. Each is attempting to map its way back to contending for a championship, though they’re on two completely different roads to get there. Regardless, Pop and Carlisle’s teams always compete, and tonight will be no different.

Starting Five

The Spurs are still in search of an effective starting five, after trying Dante Cunningham and Davis Bertans alongside Bryn Forbes, DeMar DeRozan, and LaMarcus Aldridge on Saturday. That lineup wasn’t able to keep up with the Lakers deep cast of ball handlers and wings, so the Spurs switched Davis for Rudy Gay to begin the 2nd half. The change appeared to help, as that group did a much better job against L.A.’s starting five. In 24 minutes so far, Forbes, DeRozan, Gay, Cunningham, and Aldridge are +8. That’s not bad given that the team as a whole has been outscored by 24 points.

Even if Pop isn’t ready to commit to using only one big at a time, that lineup has a good shot of tipping off against Dallas. DeAndre Jordan is the Mavericks only starter over 6’8” right now, so playing another wing in place of the 2nd big makes sense, at least from a matchup perspective, even if it isn’t a long-term trend.

Luka

Ought to be another fun game.


Vegas odds: Spurs by 7

Game Prediction: Spurs by 5

For the Mavs fans’ perspective, visit Mavs Moneyball.

PtR’s Gamethread will be up this afternoon for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed.