I can remember a time when games against the Mavs were fun, exciting, and competitive. Alas, this Mav roster is all-star caliber, if the year is 2006. Elton Brand, Shawn Marion, Vince Carter, Dirk: this team could have won a title then. But now, their parts don’t quite fit together so well and it’s tough for them to stop good offensive teams and find enough non-Dirk scoring to win. They’ll be tougher January 25th when Dirk is healthier, but the Spurs have shown twice that they get the offense they want against Dallas.
Song of the Game: The Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”
I will confess to being really wrong when I wrote that the Spurs would see a much tougher Mavs team tonight after the 38-point drumming they took last week. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The Mavs played better for about a half and seemed determined to prove that first game was an aberration. But round two ended almost as badly as round one did and it reminded me of this song, mostly for the line I used in the title. I’m not what you’d call a big classic rock fan – I much prefer the newer indie stuff – but this is a song and album I go back to frequently. You can keep your Rolling Stones and Beatles; I’ll rather listen to The Who make rock-anthem magic over and over again.
Play of the Game: Manu-Splitter Pick-and-Roll
Yeah, you know the one. With the one-handed spinner pass only Manu could make and the soft touch from the glass only Splitter could finish. Marion, who was the back rotation defender, was way late and ended up in no man’s land, unable to either stop the pass or cut Splitter off. The two defenders uptop played that pick-and-roll about as badly as you could, but Manu threaded a brilliant pass that bounced up to Tiago’s shoulders and gave him a great chance to finish. Beautiful basketball.
Trending Up: Manu and Tony
Speaking of Manu, I chastised him for his play in the Rockets game earlier today and he was amazing SuperManu tonight. He kept doing Manu things all night, instead of trying for the homerun ball on every play. A great bounceback performance.
I can’t get out of this post without mentioning how well Tony is playing right now and has been all season, except for short stretch on the brutal November road trip. His PER is up to 14th in the league overall and 2nd amongst point guards. I keep hearing these ridiculous top 5 point guard conversations on ESPN (and other places) and TP rarely makes the list. Name me 5 point guards you’d rather have than Tony. I think it’s a short list: Chris Paul (who I can’t stand because of his punky attitude). I hope Tony starts to finally get some credit. Or maybe I hope he doesn’t and keeps quietly playing at an insanely high level.
Trending Down: Bench Ball Movement
I tweeted during the game that I think the bench is missing Gary Neal. In the first half, the bench ball movement was stagnant and that’s one thing Gary does well. When he gets a pass, it’s either a shot, a drive, or another pass almost instantly. I think that’s one of the reasons he’s earned Pop’s trust on the floor. The ball keeps moving and that ball movement becomes infectious. The bench is missing that now – too much dribbling and not enough swinging the ball from side-to-side.
Oh, good grief. I’m starting to sound like Sean Elliott. Please kill me.
Stats of the Game: 40% / 25 minutes
1. The Spurs held the Mavs to 40% shooting for the game. That never would have happened when Dirk was at his prime.
2. 7 Spurs played over 25 minutes tonight, including all 5 starters, with Tony leading at 33. Doesn’t bode well for a back-to-back.
I’m totally ready for Bill Land and Sean Elliott to stop telling Bobo to shoot the ball. Boris is who Boris is. Yes, there are times when you would like for him to look at the rim more, but his sublime passing gives you at least two easy buckets every single game. And I don’t think you get one without the other.
By way of Brooklyn preview, I won’t be able to do one tomorrow (nor recap the game until Tuesday), so I’ll just say that I expect the Spurs to win handily against New Jersey. And I expect the damage will be done by a Spurs bench that will simply crush the Nets second team. You can also expect to see lots of small-ball both ways, as Kris Humphries may still be out and the Nets start Gerald Wallace at 4. The only bench bigs are Andray Blatche and Reggie Evans.
The Spurs defensively will probably try to corral Deron Williams and let Joe Johnson shoot long 2s all night if he wants to. But they must focus on transition defense, because the Nets can run a little.
As a reminder, we turned off the comments, but you can always hit me (@BartTBF) or Wayne (@WayneTBF) on Twitter. We enjoy interacting with all of you during the games there also. One of us is almost always live-tweeting during the action, so follow along, especially if you like to see Wayne grade the refs before the game starts!