Four-Pointer: Previewing the San Antonio Spurs

Soobum Im-US PRESSWIRE

Our old friends in Central Texas are doing what they always do.

What has San Antonio done recently?

Since the start of the New Year, the Spurs have dealt with a seemingly never-ending wave of injuries, as Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, Tiago Splitter and Danny Green - 4 of their 5 starters from last season - have all been lost for significant amounts of time. As a result, San Antonio has snuck under the national radar more than usually do, but nevertheless, as usual, Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan have been able to conjure up some magic and keep the Spurs atop the Western Conference. They are 9-3 in the month of February and 1.5 games behind Oklahoma City for the No. 1 seed.

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

They have been getting yeoman's work from Boris Diaw, whom they rescued off the scrap-heap from the Charlotte Bobcats in the middle of last season. Generously listed at 6'8 250 and never a player you could accuse of being in peak physical shape, Diaw has nonetheless remained an effective player on both sides of the ball into his 30's. His most useful role tonight could be as a pest for Dirk Nowitzki, as Diaw has become an unlikely defensive stopper, even giving LeBron James trouble at times in last year's NBA Finals.

Which team stat might determine the game?

The Mavs and Spurs are mirror images, on the offensive side at least, in that both teams like to spread the floor, move the ball and run a lot of continuity. San Antonio is No. 1 in the NBA in three-point shooting at 39% while Dallas checks in at No. 8, shooting 37.7% from beyond the arc. For both teams, the number of open three-point shots is a good indication of how much the ball is moving and how successful they are at getting out in transition and getting open looks. The team with more three-point makes tonight could have a substantial edge.

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

Dallas needs to take something away from them on offense - whether it's Duncan scoring in the paint, Parker scoring off the dribble or their shooters spotting up along the perimeter. There's no way that a defense as inept as the Mavs is going to shut-down the Spurs potent offense, regardless of who they have on the floor. The key for Dallas is finding one part of the San Antonio offense they can live with and trying their hardest to make everything else difficult. If the Spurs are executing on all cylinders and clicking in the half-court, it could be a long night.

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