Even if roles reversed, with the Mavericks defending better
than the Spurs and the Spurs scoring better than the Mavericks, this night of
basketball should be a great one to watch.
When the Mavericks were breaking up at their shootaround
today, they lightened things up with a half-court shooting competition.
Everybody who shot had to put up $100. When they went 10 minutes or so with
nobody connecting, the game was ended without a winner.
Interestingly, tonight it will likely be the Spurs heaving
the ball up from long range more than the Mavericks. They are using the 3-point
shot as a much stronger weapon than in the past. And Tim Duncan is averaging
only 13 points per game.
These Spurs are evolving, clearly. But you don’t get
to 13-1 in this league without doing something – a lot of things,
actually – right.
“They’ve played extremely well and they’ve
had a favorable schedule they’ve taken advantage of. And theire
team’s gotten better,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. “This
is a great rivalry. We’ve had some tough games here. We’ve had some
great games here. You got to love the challenge of coming in here.’’
So just how different do the Spurs look?
“(Manu) is having a career year scoring that could
very easily hold up in the long term because of the style, they’re
playing a lot faster and pushing the ball,’’ Carlisle said. “They’re
a great pick-and-roll team. They have a lot of things you have to deal with.
Their 3-point ability is going to test your man defense and your zone. Right
now, they’re the best out there.’’
And in case you think Duncan isn’t a factor anymore,
don’t worry. He’s still there.
“Down the stretch, he’s going to touch it in the
post and you better have some scenarios to get the ball out of his hands
because he can still beat you,’’ Carlisle said.