The regular season has come to a close with a 105-94 Spurs win over the Dallas Mavericks in what was also the last game of Dirk Nowitzki’s career. After the Spurs dominated the first half, a couple of Mavs runs in the second half gave them a minor scare before the young guards came up big to secure the win and the 7th seed in the West.
LaMarcus Aldridge led the Spurs with 34 points on 15-21 shooting, and three other starters scored in double figures. Nowitzki played 31 minutes and scored 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Mavs in his finale.
- Despite extremely short notice, the Spurs had a heartfelt video tribute ready for Dirk ahead of what is the final game of his career, and he completely broke down in tears. While he got some tributes at opposing arenas throughout the season just in case, there’s something extremely fitting in how the Spurs are the only team who got to give him one knowing this was it, especially considering what a huge rivalry they had and the tiny fact that he played more road games here than anywhere else. It will always be fun remembering the good old times of Dirk vs, Timmy, when big men dominated the league and offense generated out of the post.
- The Spurs literally had zero “rest” games this season. Somewhere in his deep, dark dungeon, David Stern is displaying an evil grin.
- Aldridge wasn’t messing around in this one, nearly outscoring Dallas by himself with 14 points in a first quarter that the Spurs won 30-16. In an odd twist, the Spurs were the ones who played loose and free early while the Mavs — who were without ROY candidate Luka Doncic (among others) — looked tired and/or pressured to win for Dirk.
- Or maybe the Mavs were playing loose - 23 of their 47 first half field goal attempts were threes, and only 4 went in. That’s not something anyone who isn’t the Rockets does when there’s something to play for. In fairness, the Spurs only shot 3-15 from three in the first half but still led 57-37.
- It took until his fifth attempt, but Nowitzki finally hit two threes early in the third quarter and got nice applause from both Spurs and Mavs fans alike (and there were plenty of the latter in the building). That really got the Mavs loosened up as they went on a 10-2 run, leading to a Pop timeout.
- The Spurs had built the lead back to up to 18 early in the fourth, but again the Mavs wouldn’t go away, this time with a 13-0 run spearheaded by a Salah Mejri block of a Rudy Gay dunk attempt. That’s when “Big Moment” Derrick White came back in, hitting a three and lay-up to get the Spurs on a 7-0 run and create some separation again. He has shown a knack for taking over when the Spurs need it throughout the second half of the season, which has been a big development for this team.
- Bryn Forbes also had his own 7-0 run to get the Spurs back up by 17 by four-and-a-half minutes left, and that was all the Spurs needed to close out the win. The two young surprises of the season getting the Spurs back on track in a big game is just another reason to love this team.
- In a hilarious final moment, Pop could be seen telling Drew Eubanks to back off and let Dirk have his final shot before being subbed out. Eubanks didn’t hear, but fittingly Dirk still hit a well-contested, one-footed fadeaway — his signature move — much to the delight of an applauding Pop and the entire crowd.
- With both this win and the Thunder defeating the Milwaukee Bucks, the Spurs are officially locked in as the 7th seed in the West. Their opponent will depend on the outcome of the Nuggets — Timberwolves game. Simply put, if Denver wins, they will be the Spurs’ first round opponent. If they lose, it will be the Houston Rockets.
For the Mavs fans’ perspective, visit Mavs Money Ball.
That wraps up the regular season! We’ll know where the Spurs are heading for the first round of the playoffs soon enough, so stay tuned!