I'm being informed that this is not a situation in which reversion to the mean is an applicable concept. Great. No problem. Nooooo problem.
The Mavs kicked off their season series against the Spurs by losing 116-107 round about Christmas thanks largely to a 5-5 three point shooting night from Danny Green and the fact that Tony Parker and Tiago Splitter lived at the free throw line because the Mavericks can't guard either of them and their apartment has been tented for fumigation.
Dallas really ramped things up by losing early in the new year, January 8, 112-90. In this exciting contest, the Spurs actually did not get very much from the three-point line and instead relied on Tony Parker's 25 points on 10-15 shooting, as well as 6-9 from Marco Belinelli and 4-10 from Patty Mills. This is the bad news, which we'll get to pretty soon.
Dallas really kind of hit their stride on March 2, losing an exciting 112-106. Once again, Tony Parker -- would you believe it -- went 10-15 from the floor for 22 points. Tim Duncan and Manu threw in 17 and 15 respectively, primarily through living at the line, both because the Mavs can't guard either of them and their apartments were getting repainted.
Finally, Dallas broke through and lost 109-100 on April 10 despite Tony Parker sitting out, thanks to 6-11 three-point shooting from Patty Mills and 5-9 from Danny Green, resulting in 26 and 15 respectively, to go along with Tim "Dunkaroos" Duncan putting up 20-15 on 7-12 shooting. Nobody really lived at the line. Everybody's apartments were pretty okay, though Boris is in the market for a new one.
In these contests, the Mavs have been out rebounded 38-32, 55-32, 46-43 and 48-43.
These are the reasons the Mavs may possibly regret not getting a single (*#@#@ D-board in overtime, and therefore losing by one point to the Memphis Grizzlies. It'd be easy to say, you know, the Mavs suck at guarding the three-point line in the best of circumstances, the Spurs offense is the best in the league at getting open three-point looks, bingo-bango. But the thing is, if the Spurs don't make a lot of threes it's because they're doing the other thing they do, which is Tony Parker, Tiago Splitter and Tim Duncan.
And honestly? Just between us pals? It could have been a lot worse. Danny Green, shooting 42% from three, only went off in two of the four games this season. Marco Belnelli is shooting 49% from three this season...and is 4-14 against the Mavs so far.
So this is not the coolest matchup. Not the coolest. But it's okay. It's okay man, I got ya.
The playoffs bring two new factors for the Mavericks. First, if you're Rick Carlisle, you know, you obviously gameplan for every game but you're probably most interested in making sure your guys play well game TO game so you don't reinvent the wheel. Rick is the only guy who has figured out to beat the new look Heat in the playoffs, and it's not a coincidence.
If you look at his only playoff series since then, you'll remember it was a sweep, but you'll also remember that three games could have gone either way. Allow me to remind you that this was the Mavs starting lineup:
- And bringing Vince and Delonte off the bench.
As I always say when it comes to Rick: rank sorcery. And again, not a coincidence. You give a really great coach a week where they know they're going to play the same team over and over again, you know, they're going to figure some things out. Of course, as the honorable Lloyd Benson might say, "I knew Scott Brooks, and Gregg Popovich, you are no Scott Brooks."
The other thing is Playoff Dirk. We don't know exactly what Playoff Dirk looks like right now, but this is coming off basically a 50-40-90 season and it's that time when he starts shooting 20 shots a game and that is pretty sweet.
The ingredients for an upset are therefore as follows:
Voodoo dolls and protecting the three point line
The Mavs have a chance in any game where the Spurs don't go crazy from three. Whatever magic is keeping Belinelli from performing his best against the Mavs must be kept up, and I'm assuming it involves voodoo dolls and I'm comfortable with that. Danny Green must be contained. May I suggest trash talk, along the lines of "Danny Red is way better than you, man" and "I bet if your name were Daniel Green, people wouldn't think you were such a total loser."
Limiting free throws
The Mavs have a chance in any game where they keep the Spurs from living at the stripe. The Spurs are so dangerous because they hit you outside with the three-point barrage and inside with the Big Three + Tiago. The problem is that the Mavs rotate like celestial objects, slowly and with gravitational perturbations caused by the presence of other massive bodies. Once upon a time the Mavs won a game against the Suns in the playoffs by letting Steve Nash score 50. Maybe they should just let Tiago score or something. How bad could it be?
Once upon a time (2009-2010), the Mavs beat the Spurs in a playoff game when Dirk went 12-14 from the floor and 12-12 from the line. That would be helpful!
Some sort of like black hole appearing on the court which like imprisoned a bunch of Spurs players in a dungeon dimension of some kind? That might help?
The Mavs offense has not had much problem against the Spurs. Having even less problem is probably their only chance to win.
Calling Tim Duncan and Tony Parker and Manu like 30 times a night to ask them if their refrigerators are running.