This is a playoff series between two heated Texas rivals. I’m thinking this could be an upset in the first round if the Mavericks don’t bring their A-Game every night. Here is a closer look at the matchups in this series:
Point Guard: Tony Parker is going to play big minutes in this series as he’s back from his broken hand. Parker played in 56 games (50 starts) for the Spurs this season and he averaged 30.9 minutes, 16.0 points, 2.4 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game. He is not a pure point guard like Jason Kidd but he plays big when the games really count in the post season and he has the rings to prove it.
Jason Kidd is one of the best point guards in NBA history but he’s starting to slow down a bit. He played in 80 games (all starts) for the Mavericks this season and he averaged 36.0 minutes, 10.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 9.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game. He is tougher around the basket than Parker is.
Shooting Guard: The Spurs will likely use Manu Ginobili in the starting lineup in this series. He will pose a couple of problems for the Mavericks as he’s smaller and faster than Caron Butler is. Ginobili played in 75 games (21 starts) for the Spurs this season and he averaged 28.7 minutes, 16.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game. He has never seen a big shot that he didn’t want to take in his career.
Caron Butler is a solid defensive player and he should have little problem posting up Ginobili down low. Butler played in 27 games (all starts) for the Mavericks after coming over in a trade with the Wizards and he averaged 34.4 minutes, 15.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game.
Small Forward: Richard Jefferson is likely going to start at small forward for the Spurs in this series. He got benched for a while but he picked up his game instead of sulking on the bench. Jefferson played in 81 games (70 starts) for the Spurs this season and he averaged 31.1 minutes, 12.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. Jefferson is better than that and the playoffs is the reason they traded for him.
Shawn Marion is starting to slow down a bit as a player. He does all of the little things the Mavericks need to win games. Marion played in 75 games (all starts) for the Mavericks this year and he averaged 31.8 minutes, 12.0 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.
Power Forward: This will be the matchup to watch in this series. Tim Duncan vs. Dirk Nowitzki. Duncan still has a lot left in his gas tank. He played in 78 games (77 starts) for the Spurs this season and he averaged 31.3 minutes, 17.9 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.5 blocked shots per game. I think the Spurs are going to keep Duncan on Nowitzki all of the time defensively which will be fun to watch.
Dirk Nowitzki is still an incredible player to behold. He can shoot like a guard but he’s tough enough to go into the paint and rebound too. He is like a modern day Larry Bird (minus the titles). Nowitzki played in 81 games (80 starts) for the Mavericks this season and he averaged 37.5 minutes, 25.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. Look for the other Mavericks players to benefit if Duncan comes out of the paint to guard Nowitzki in this series.
Center: Antonio McDyess will likely start at center for the Spurs in this series. He played in 77 games (50 starts) for the Spurs this season and he averaged 21.0 minutes, 5.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. McDyess will likely play around half of the game focusing on defense and rebounding.
Erick Dampier will get the call for the Mavericks. He played in 55 games (47 starts) for the Mavericks this season and he averaged 23.3 minutes, 6.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 0.6 assists and 1.4 blocked shots per game. Dampier should be motivated now that he is back in the starting lineup.
BENCH: The Spurs have a pretty solid bunch coming off the bench for them in this series. George Hill will likely get the most P.T. of this bunch. He can play either guard spot. Hill played in 78 games (43 starts) this season for the Mavericks and he averaged 29.2 minutes, 12.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. DeJuan Blair will also get a lot of P.T. in this series. The rookie played in 82 games (23 starts) for the Spurs this season and he averaged 18.2 minutes, 7.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game. Matt Bonner will also get a lot of P.T. in this series as he is a big man with a nice outside shot. Bonner played in 65 games (8 starts) this season for the Spurs and he averaged 17.9 minutes, 7.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.0 assist per game. Roger Mason and Keith Bogans are both small forward/shooting guard types who will also likely get some minutes in this series.
Jason Terry is a great offensive player off the bench for the Mavericks. He played in 77 games (12 starts) for the Mavericks this year and he averaged 33.0 minutes, 16.6 points, 1.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game. I look for him to have a good series for the Mavericks. Brendan Haywood will likely play around half of the game at center in this series. He played in 28 games (19 starts) for the Mavericks this season averaging 26.5 minutes, 8.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and 0.9 assists per game. Jose Juan Barea, Rodrigue Beaubois, DeShawn Stevenson and Eduardo Najera could also get some P.T. in this series.
Coach: Gregg Popovich is a big time basketball coach. He led the Spurs to a 50-32 record (61%) this season. Popovich has a 14-year record of 736-362 (67%) as the Spurs’ head coach during the regular season. Pop has a 102-63 (61.8%) record in his post season career with the Spurs and he has led them to 4 NBA Championships. He will be ready for this series.
Rick Carlisle led the Mavericks to a 55-27 record (67.1%) this season. He now has a two year record of 105-59 (64%) with the Mavericks. He is 5-5 (50%) in his post season career with the Mavericks. Carlisle is a good basketball coach so I look for him to have his team ready for what awaits in this series.
PREDICTION: I think the Spurs are going to be highly motivated for this series. I think they will upset the Mavericks in a 7 game series for the ages.