In the first round of the 2014 Western Conference playoffs the first seeded San Antonio Spurs take on the eighth seeded Dallas Mavericks. In a series right from the early to mid 2000’s, the Spurs hold a 4-0 lead in the regular season series. This has a great chance to be my favorite match up in the playoffs, mostly because there is a very good chance this is going to be the last playoff match between Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki. Even if this isn’t the last postseason showdown between these two all-time great players, this should be an extremely interesting and fun series.
Spurs Keys to Victory
Continue to Execute – This is one of the best offenses in the NBA, posting 110.5 points per 100 possession good for 7th in the NBA. The key to that efficient offense is execution. The Spurs are one of the best coached teams we’ve ever seen and it’s no surprise Greg Popovich has been in the running for coach of the year this season. If the Spurs execute, they shouldn’t really have much of an issue scoring against this Mavericks team they are allowing 108.7 points per 100 possessions good for 22nd worst in the league.
Play sound defense – Dallas has been just as good as the Spurs on offense this season if not better, by posting 111.2 points per 100 possessions good for 3rd in the NBA. If the Spurs are to win this series, they need to play good defense against this Mavericks team. Make no mistake this is a good Spurs defense, they hold opponents to an efg% of 48.6 good for fourth in the league.
Containing Monta Ellis – He’s having one of the better years in his career under Rick Carlisle, with slight improvement in his efficiency and his playmaking. A huge part of what makes the Mavs go on offensive end is Monta’s ability to drive and kick. He’s a great ball handler with an extremely quick first step, routinely beating defenders at will causing defensive to help. The difference this season is that Ellis has been making them pay. The Spurs will have to find a way to keep Monta from having it all.
Mavericks Keys to Victory
Dirk! – This series just like every playoff series the Mavs have played since drafting Dirk in 1998 revolves around the 7-footer. Even in his advanced age the Mavs still rely heavily on Nowitzki and he is still able to come through for the Mavs. This season Nowitzki has posted an efg% of 54.8 and a TS% of 60.3% both of which are his best in the last few seasons. Dirk is going to need to continue his strong play in the playoffs if the Mavs are going to have a chance.
Devin Harris – I love Jose Calderon as much as the next person but to put it simply you can’t have him and Monta Ellis share the court together. Calderon may be the better offensive option because of his ability to space the floor and hit shots, plus the numbers back a Calderon/Harris back court over a Ellis/Harris back court. Monta does bring the driving ability that Calderon lacks and is a much more gifted score than Harris so it makes for an interesting dilemma for head coach Rick Carlisle.
Play some defense – Let’s not kid ourselves, this Mavericks team is not going to be a good defensive team with this unit. It’s just not going to happen, they don’t have the personnel to do so. Rick Carlisle, a coach with a defensive background,expects his team to get stops on a consistent basis but if this unit can get enough stops they could even make this a series.
This series is likely going to end in a sweep for the Spurs so enjoy watching Duncan versus Dirk for what could be the very last time.