San Antonio Spurs: Q&A with The Smoking Cuban Ahead of Mavs Game

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The San Antonio Spurs look to remain perfect at the AT&T Center as their instate rivals the Dallas Mavericks head into town Wednesday night.

Monday night, the Spurs won their third-straight game after defeating the Phoenix Suns in what possibly was the sloppiest games this season. For the Mavericks, they are coming off of a 110-96 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night.

I reached out to Jay Knodell, editor at The Smoking Cuban, to talk about the game as well as the 9-5 start to the Mavericks season.

Apr 23, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks player Dirk Nowitzki (right) talks to San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) in game two during the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. The Mavericks won 1192. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

1. The Dallas Mavericks are off to a 9-5 start. Is this the kind of start that you were expecting?

Not exactly. While I thought Dallas was being overlooked by the national media to a certain extent, I didn’t foresee Wesley Matthews, Chandler Parsons, and JaVale McGee all playing before December and I couldn’t have predicted that Zaza Pachulia would be such a double-double machine.

The fact that the Mavericks have been able to play well despite the conservative, and correct, approach with those coming back from injury bodes well for them down the road when everyone is 100%.

2. The San Antonio Spurs are known for their defense. What do you feel the Mavericks have to do in order to gain an edge on the offensive end?

It’ll be tough. San Antonio plays really good team defense. I think it will come down to what Deron Williams is able to do against Tony Parker. Williams has been playing really good basketball recently, and the Mavericks will need him to win that matchup. Look for the Mavericks to put him in the post against the smaller Parker where he can score or find spot up shooters.

The Mavericks will also need to create second chance opportunities. Zaza Pachulia and Dwight Powell work tenaciously, and Dallas will need to make the most of any extended possessions.

3. One of the best rivals in basketball I would say. Do you see Kawhi Leonard defending Dirk Nowitzki? If so, how much of an impact do you think he will have on his shots?

I expect Gregg Popovich to mix things up in regards to defending Dirk, so there’s a great chance Leonard will spend some time on him. At this point I don’t really see anyone impacting Nowitzki’s shots, but that’s because Dirk is picking his spots and the few closely contested shots he is taking he’s been knocking down. Kawhi can make it tough on him and perhaps limit his touches, but with his size, skill set, and the multitude of ways Rick Carlisle can get him the ball the 37-year old remains an extremely dangerous offensive player even in the late stages of his career.

4. The Mavericks are number two in the Southwest Division behind the San Antonio Spurs. With the newest editions to the Spurs roster, how do you feel the Mavericks stack up

Frankly, the only teams that can realistically stack up with the Spurs right now are the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. That’s not to say that the Mavericks can’t get there by season’s end, though. Chandler Parsons and Wesley Matthews have been great in spots, but they are both clearly not up to speed yet. When they get there the Mavericks will be a tough out. And if JaVale McGee stays healthy he could be a difference maker. With Zaza and Dirk playing well, the improvements of Dwight Powell, and the floor stretching presence of Charlie Villanueva, adding a player like McGee to the rotation negates a lot of the advantage San Antonio has in the front court. Everywhere else, with a healthy roster, the Mavericks match up pretty well.

5. Deron Williams was a huge pick-up for the Mavericks coming from the Nets. Do you feel he will be key going up against Tony Parker for the Mavericks to have a chance to beat San Antonio?

I talked about it a little before but Deron Williams will absolutely be key. First of all, with Dallas being on the second night of a back-to-back, he may be leading a shorthanded team. But even if he’s not the Mavericks need him to win his matchup with Tony Parker. Williams has the size to score on Parker inside or force him to the bench with foul trouble, and that may play a role. He’s averaged about 20 points and 7 assists his last three games and I imagine the Mavericks will need something similar out of him to get the win.

Next: Spurs' Big 3 Welcoming Change To Roles

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