NBA Playoffs: San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks Position Breakdown

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Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs: A classic NBA rivalry resumes on Sunday, April 20th.

Kids at home better postpone their Easter Egg hunts because this potentially could be the last time Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan, two living legends, may ever go head-to-head on the hardwood again.

According to Tony Parker, that’s not the case: He thinks Manu Ginobili and Duncan will finish out their current contracts with the Spurs.

Regardless, let’s breakdown this Texas showdown for each teams’ five starters.

Before Sunday’s game, I will release a bench and coach breakdown.

**All stats from NBA.com

Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Point Guard

Two of the top international point guards will be starting in this matchup. Let’s simply start with a basic, statistical breakdown between these two foreign ambassadors.

Tony Parker: 16.7 PPG, 5.7 APG, 2.3 RPG, .499 FG%, .373 3P%, .811 FT%

Jose Calderon11.7 PPG, 4.7 APG, 2.4 RPG, .456 FG%, .449 3P%, .825 FT%

Although I’m not usually one to say which player is better by their stats alone, these stats pretty much sum it up.

Parker remains a mastermind in the open court and dominates the pick and pop alongside Duncan. Calderon will struggle to stay in front of Parker, which should let TP carve up the defense or shoot his knock-down elbow jumper.

As long as Parker contests anything Calderon hoists up from long range, then the Spaniard shouldn’t be too much of a factor throughout this series.

Calderon’s struggle against the Spurs all season will surely magnify in the first round.

Edge: Parker

Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Shooting Guard

There is no need to relay each player’s 2013-14 season stats for this particular matchup—it’s fair to say that Monta Ellis will have a substantial amount of more eye-popping stats than Danny Green.

Green will have to play lockdown defense against Ellis.

Once the ex-Golden State Warrior starts getting hot, he starts playing basketball on an entirely different level. Green has good size and length to maintain Ellis and is relatively decent when it comes to quickness and speed, but Ellis is certainly a notch ahead of him in that department, especially on the fast break.

Ellis seems to get a nice, flowing rhythm against San Antonio, putting up over 21.0 points per game on .486 percent shooting. It’s safe to say Green won’t be completely shutting him down, but, hopefully, Pop can help him (with some yelling) to minimize any scoring outbursts by Ellis.

Offensively, all the old Spurs can pray for is that Green catches on fire with that shooting touch he found to start the 2013 Finals. In all honesty, though, I would rather him save that for a more difficult series (Houston Rockets or Oklahoma City Thunder).

Edge: Ellis

Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Small Forward

There’s an interesting situation with this match up: Neither Kawhi Leonard nor Shawn Marion will be constantly rotating and switching who they guard.

These two particularly similar players will be the carrier for their respective team’s defense, especially on the perimeter, and expect each to pull down more boards than they usually do.

Although Marion is still both a great defender and rebounder, he’s a shell of his former playing days, especially offensively. He reamins a huge key to this Mavs team, but at age 35, it isn’t reasonable to expect anything extraordinary coming from The Matrix these playoffs—he can’t create an open shot for himself, and he isn’t the high-flying acrobat he once was with the Phoenix Suns.

Leonard, on the other hand, is riding high and on the uprise of his career. He also tends to play his best basketball when the NBA playoffs come around. In the month of April, he saw his numbers rise alongside his minutes. Through nine games, he averaged 15.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.8 steals while shooting over 54 percent from the field.

Both players will do what is necessary for their team, but everyone will notice Leonard’s presence throughout the series.

Edge: Leonard

Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Power Forward

Two of the greatest power forwards to go up against one another in a series for potentially the last time, the history between these two cannot be properly expressed in short.

Everyone take a moment and appreciate having these two players in our lifetime.

Duncan, at age 37, and Nowitzki, at age 35, still put up incredible numbers. I may have mentioned it’s not smart to expect such productive play at these ages, but these two defy any kind of NBA logic.

Dirk Nowitzki: 21.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 2.7 APG, .497 FG%, .398 3P%, .899 FT%

Tim Duncan: 15.1 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 3.0 APG, .490 FG%, .731 FT%, 1.9 BLKPG

It’s incredible how close Nowitzki was to joining the 50-40-90 club, once again, even at this late stage in his career.

The offensive edge has to go to Nowitzki—the man can flat out take over a game whenever he wants. He has perfected that fadeaway off the post up since the beginning of his career (something that Kevin Durant has now stolen), and the ball seems to always slip through the net with ease. Duncan probably won’t even be getting the majority of the time guarding Dirk because it will most likely be split between him, Leonard, Tiago Splitter and Boris Diaw.

Nowitzki managed to only put up 18.5 points per game against the Spurs this season, but, as we know, playoff ball is a different kind of game for the German.

Duncan is averaging the same stats as Nowitzki in the team’s season match ups, but the Spurs aren’t as dependent on their legend for offense. Still, though, anytime the Spurs are down by a decent amount in the second half, I can guarantee that Duncan will take over in the post. It has happened before and, certainly, can happen again.

Defensively, Duncan undeniably gets the nod. It plays in his favor, too, that the Mavs aren’t the most athletic team. This allows Duncan’s weak side presence to become more noticeable. His stellar defensive IQ and length makes him such a great defender even this late in his age.

Everyone knows Nowitzki isn’t known for his defense, but, again, he makes up for it with his range and length on offense.

Each player has an advantage on one side of the floor, so I am going with a push here; but no one likes a push, so y’all decide the winner.

Edge: Push

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Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Center

These two might be the least exciting starting centers in the NBA. Their job is, literally, to clog the paint, play strong post defense, and grab as many rebounds as possible.

Neither are there to score buckets, especially judging by their points per game.

Tiago Splitter: 8.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.5 APG, .523 FG%

Samuel Dalembert6.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.2 BLKPG, .568 FG%

Splitter only allows players to shoot just 44.1 percent at the rim, which is the best on the Spurs. Dalembert allows players to shoot 52 percent at the rim.

Dalembert might average more blocks, but Splitter is the slightly better post defender. Furthermore, Splitter has a minuscule amount more of an offensive impact compared to Slam Sammy.

However, don’t underestimate Dalembert because he’s still a vital part to the Mavericks, and they will need him to supply some of his best defense to have a chance against the Spurs.

Edge: Splitter

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