Mar 17, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker (9) drives to the basket as Dallas Mavericks shooting guard Vince Carter (25) and power forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) defend during the fourth quarter at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeated the Spurs 106-99. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE

Scouting the Dallas Mavericks: Spurs aim to tie season series

Offensive rating: Spurs – 105.8 (4th), Mavericks – 100.0 (21st)
Defensive rating: Spurs – 101.9 (17th), Mavericks – 97.8 (5th)
Pace: Spurs – 94.3 (11th), Mavericks – 94.1 (T-13th)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
TV: FSNSW
Radio: WOAI-AM 1200, KCOR-AM 1350

Three things to watch

Shot selection. Although the Dallas Mavericks are 2-1 in the season series, their shot selection has been poor. The Mavs have taken the Spurs bait into shooting a lot inefficient, long 2s rather than shots at the rim. Not only have they given up slashing to the rim, the shots they have taken were converted at a strikingly below-average rate. They are generally one of the most frugal teams from 16-23 feet but they have taken 27 per game against the Spurs. It just happens that they’re making these at an abnormal level (.444 field goal percentage). Don’t expect for them to continue making these shots at such a gaudy clip.

Lineup combinations. One of the beneficial facets of the Richard Jefferson deal was the added positional flexibility that Jackson offers us. Other than spot up 3s and limited, mediocre defense, RJ didn’t provide much. His role was finite and that lack of flexibility hampered the Spurs lineups. Now that Captain Jack is here, Gregg Popovich has gotten more creative with his lineups (expect more quirky lineups like Parker-Manu-Green-Kawhi-Duncan). Remember, old-school positions are completely arbitrary. Skill sets (creator, distributor, slasher, scorer, rebounder etc) are inherently more valuable. Players like Jackson, Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green are capable of filling multiple roles on the team and, therefore, give themselves more opportunities to make an impact on the game. This flexibility gives Pop the leeway to exploit as many mismatches without circumventing the defensive side of the ball. We want them to adjust to us, not the other way around.

Guarding Dirk. Who will gets Dirk? Expect Dirk to be defended by almost any conceivable Spur 6’5″ and taller until Pop is happy with the defensive intensity. DeJuan Blair and Matt Bonner don’t seem to play Dirk well out on the perimeter so I’d like to see more of Kawhi and Jackson defending Dirk tonight. In their last game against Minnesota, Pop allowed Kawhi and Jackson to alternate guarding power forward Kevin Love. Love notched another double-double but did so by shooting 5-13 from the field. I’m really excited of the potential small ball offensive lineups with Jack and Leonard at the 4. Adequate defense is imperative though if we want to maximize our flexibility. The Spurs have so many shooters and slashers that (theoretically) fit together seamlessly. Let’s see what transpires.

Final verdict. Spurs by four. I’m not too confident about this one, but I feel that this series is destined to be tied at 2-2. The Spurs have played the Mavericks pretty well this year and I don’t think a 1-3 record is realistic. Plus, we are at home. So there.

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Tags: Dallas Mavericks Danny Green DeJuan Blair Dirk Nowitzki Gary Neal Jason Terry Kawhi Leonard Manu Ginobili Matt Bonner Richard Jefferson San Antonio Spurs Stephen Jackson Tim Duncan Tony Parker

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