Four-Pointer: Previewing the San Antonio Spurs

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a few recent losses, the San Antonio Spurs sport one of the best records in the league as they come to Dallas to face the Mavericks.

What has San Antonio done lately?

The Spurs have lost three of their last six games, including a 111-98 loss to the Houston Rockets at home on Christmas Day. Losses with this frequency are not common for San Antonio but, for the sake of the Spurs, at least they are coming early in the season.

Tonight will be the second night of a back-to-back for the Spurs. Usually, that means a team will be gassed but San Antonio has won six of the eight games they have played with zero days of rest. They will be hungry.

What stat, player or fact might surprise you about the Spurs?

San Antonio is one of the best shooting teams in the league. This includes 3-point shooting. However, this shouldn't surprise anyone. They have been a highly efficient and effective time for some time now. What is surprising is who is leading the 3-point charge for them.

Marco Belinelli, who has been a journeyman for much of his career, has found a comfortable groove with the Spurs. So much so that he is trading off with Kyle Korver for the best 3-point shooting percentage in the league. His play has impressed the coaching staff so much that he has found himself in the starting lineup recently.

Oh, and the Spurs have the best scoring bench in the league. So there's that.

Which San Antonio player might be due for a big game?

The aforementioned Belinelli. Dallas already has a problem locking down shooters so slowing down the Spurs will prove to be a problem all over the court. Belinelli is simply on fire right now and with the way the Spurs move the ball on offense and are generally crafty he will see plenty of open looks. Obviously, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker will draw much of the attention of the Mavs' defense. What am I saying? All of the Spurs are dangerous.

Anyway, Dallas' defense will be scrambling. Beinelli's shooting will make them pay.

Not only that, but Belinelli plays better on the road. He scores 10.6 points on the road as opposed to 9.8 at home. While he shoots the 3-ball worse on the road (47.9 percent), Belinelli is still shooting the deep ball at an insane rate. Overall, he connects on 52.1 percent of his shot attempts on the road. This would be an appropriate place to make a "road warrior" reference. Sorry.

What do the Mavs need to do to be successful against the Spurs?

This could be a very, very long list. Let's shorten it, shall we? First off, the Mavericks need to defend. Since they won't do that, they need to get to the free throw line.

The Spurs are extremely disciplined and commit the second fewest fouls per field goal attempt (.169) in the league. Dallas is the third best free throw shooting team in the NBA. At times, though, it seems like the Mavs do not attempt to exploit their advantage at the line. Monta Ellis, especially, needs to create dribble penetration and look for his own shot at the rim and to draw contact.

Dirk Nowitzki needs to draw contact as well. San Antonio will toss a lot of different defenders his way. Leonard, Tiago Splitter, Boris Diaw, and others will spend time guarding Nowitzki. Dirk needs to work low and try to get to the rim more so than normal. The Spurs will not catch Nowitzki's elbow often when he squares up for an off-leg jumper. They aren't the Rockets.

Brandan Wright also needs to work inside like he usually does. It will be tough going for him, though, against the San Antonio's strong frontline.

Just get to the line, guys. And maybe get some rebounds.

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