Four-Pointer: Previewing Mavericks vs. Spurs, Game 3

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The series shifts to Dallas as the Mavericks look to get their first home playoff win since the 2011 title run.

The series is tied 1-1. What in the world is going on right now?

I'm probably the worst person to answer this as I was pretty positive the Mavericks would get swept. Nine straight losses and most of them ugly for Dallas, this whole match up just felt disgusting to consider. Then game one happened and the Mavericks looked like the better team for 41 of 48 minutes. Of course the Mavericks Mavericked and I convinced myself that San Antonio just had an off-game. Game two rocked my worldview. Dallas dominated San Antonio, playing sharper on offense and playing really fantastic defense. The Mavericks have forced the Spurs to use all of the shot clock frequently and the machine that is their offense has yet to heat up.

Of course, Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis have shot 33% and 35% respectively during both these games as well. I've watched nearly every minute of Maverick basketball this season. I have no idea what to think or feel or predict. What I do know is that this has been a whole lot of fun.

What's the bigger story: Dirk's shooting woes or Tim Duncan's game two ineffectiveness?

Tim Duncan did not look like himself. Tim Duncan is also 38 freaking years old. So trying to predict what's normal for him is probably stupid. I suspect Duncan has a bounce back game and that the Spurs look to involve him earlier in the offense. This story feels minor until he has two bad games in a row.

That means all eyes will be on Dirk Nowitzki. There's been a lot of talk about the defense of the Spurs which I get, but is also a bit overblown. The Berlin Tall has simply missed a lot of shots. There is hope though:

So I expect a monster Dirk game. How that affects the rest of the offense could be a lot of fun.

So how has Dallas outplayed San Antonio through two games?

I'm spit balling here, because I'm not a coach or a paid analyst, but it really boils down to this: Dallas is forcing the Spurs stars to beat Dallas. For all the talk about a "Big 3" down south, the biggest strength of San Antonio is their depth. Though they aren't vastly talented through the end of the bench, every player seems to have a firm grasp on his role and that allows them to flourish in the system. With Dallas switching just about every single screen there haven't been the open looks from the corner that the Spurs got in the regular season. That's not to say they won't be there in the future, but when your choice is a two point shot from Tony Parker or a three pointer from Danny Green, the Mavericks have decided to allow Parker or Manu or Duncan to beat them. Kawhi Leonard has looked a mess too and his role as glue guy can't be understated. The Mavericks need to keep the Spurs' offense off-kilter as long as possible.

The other side of the ball is even harder to understand, as the Spurs have a good defense and the Maverick offensive stars have been marginally effective at best. Devin Harris is earning money with every shot attempt and Vince Carter continues to prove his worth. If Monta or Dirk can get it going even a little bit, then Dallas has a real shot at taking a tie or even a lead back to San Antonio. It feels crazy to write that.

Any concern about it being a day game, again?

Yes. Dallas has played two day games in 2013-2014. The first was in January against Cleveland and the Mavericks looked like crap, but they managed to win because the Cavaliers are hot garbage. The second game was last Sunday and we saw how crappy the boys in blue started off.

There's a lot of momentum involved in basketball, so if Dallas gets off to at least a tepid start offensively, I'll feel pretty good. These guys operate based off of routines and day games don't fit that MO. It's not like the Spurs are any younger either, so we'll see how this all goes.

MFFL!

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