Four-Pointer: Previewing Mavericks vs. Spurs, Game 2

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs stole Game 1 when the Mavericks' shots stopped falling in the fourth quarter. Dallas needs to even the series before returning home to the AAC. Does Rick Carlisle have another trick up his sleeve?

What's the biggest matchup to watch?

As with Game 1, the biggest match-up in this game will be the coaching duel between Gregg Popovich and Rick Carlisle. Carlisle's defensive scheme in game one held the Spurs to 17.6 percent shooting on three-pointers. He did this by having his players switching constantly. This led to mismatches that often favored the Spurs' ability to score inside. Obviously, Carlisle was willing to concede these points to limit the ability of the bevy of spot-up perimeter shooters. Danny Green and Marco Belinelli didn't even score.

Popovich, who just won Coach of the Year honors, will have a few tricks up his sleeve in order to free up his shooters. What there are is anyone's guess at this point. He will also have to counter the schemes that Carlisle will use to free up Dirk Nowitzki and get him going.

It's like a chess match only both coaches are IBM's Watson.

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

This space will be reserved for Tony Parker and Tim Duncan throughout the series until further notice.

Which Mavericks player might be due for a big game?

Devin Harris led the Mavericks in scoring in Game 1 with 19 points after several early misses. It would seem appropriate that the Spurs plan to limit Harris' success so he may not be as effective in Game 2. It seems as though Nowitzki will not be held in check for two games in a row. He doesn't have to lead the team in scoring in order for the Mavs to be successful but he must shoot better than his 4-14 effort on Sunday. If he breaks out, it will allow his teammates more opportunities to score with San Antonio's defensive effort zeroing in on Dirk.

Monta Ellis should also be more assertive. Usually, when he has a poor shooting game his assist numbers are good. They were not on Sunday. Ellis needs to be a more active passer if the Spurs continue baiting him into long two-point jumpers.

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

Dallas needs to continue to switch on picks so San Antonio's three-point shooters do not get clean looks at the basket. As mentioned above, Pop will have something ready to counter this but it was so effective in the first game, it, or a variation of it, should remain in the Mavericks' game plan.

The Mavs will probably have to just live with the Spurs scoring in the paint. Dallas just needs to limit the number of fouls they commit when San Antonio gets to the rim. No reason to send them to the line when they are getting an easy lay-in.

Further, a lot has been made about whether Harris should get the starting nod over Jose Calderon. Calderon was held in check in Game 1, scoring just seven points. Carlisle has long stated that it doesn't really matter who starts, it's who gets the minutes. Harris got the minutes. Besides, starting him would separate him from playing time with Brandan Wright. Harris and Wright have a great on-court chemistry and Dallas' bench production is a major reason that the team's offense is as potent as it is. I don't think Carlisle is going to try and fix something that isn't broken. Then again, I don't know what to expect and that's why I watch.

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