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.
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.