SAN ANTONIO SPURS (63-22)
at DALLAS MAVERICKS (51-34)
NBA Playoffs – Western Conference First Round
Game 4 – Dallas leads series 2-1
Tip-off: Monday, 9:35 p.m. ET
Line: San Antonio -4, Total: 203
The Spurs look to avoid a 3-1 series hole in the first round against the Mavericks when the in-state rivals go head-to-head in Monday night's Game 4.
A last-second three-pointer by Vince Carter gave Dallas a 109-108 victory as a 3.5-point home underdog on Saturday night and instantly flipped the momentum in the series. While San Antonio shot an impressive 54.3% from the field in the contest, it could not put away the Mavericks as they hit shot after shot to stay in the game late, netting a solid 51.2% FG themselves. In the end, the tipping point for Dallas was its three-point shooting (9-for-23, 39.1%) and a playoff career-high 29 points from SG Monta Ellis. Even with the Game 3 defeat, the Spurs still have the NBA's best road record at 30-12 SU (71%) and are a strong 25-17 ATS (60%) away from home. Meanwhile, the Mavs moved to 27-15 SU (64%) in front of their fans, but are just 18-24 ATS (43%) at American Airlines Center. The last two Dallas victories have gone against all odds, as this team barely made the playoffs (one game ahead of ninth-place Phoenix) and had lost its previous 10 games against San Antonio SU (3-7 ATS). With that said, the Spurs hold an 11-4 SU record (9-6 ATS) going back three seasons now, including 4-3 SU (5-2 ATS) when playing the Mavs where the Over is 6-1 in those seven contests. San Antonio seems to be in line for a bounce-back victory on Monday night, as it has gone 45-26 ATS (63%) when playing only their second game in five days over the past three seasons and are 17-4 SU (12-9 ATS) after an SU loss during this 2013-14 campaign. On the other hand, Dallas is 26-12 ATS (68%) when playing six or fewer games in 14 days over the past two seasons and is 46-29-1 ATS (61%) as an underdog during this timeframe. Even after a long and grueling season, each team comes into this game with no significant injuries.
The Spurs were the least selfish team in the league during the regular season, leading the NBA with 25.2 APG and committing just 14.1 TOPG, but so far this series, they have only 19.0 APG and 16.3 TOPG. But San Antonio also made an impressive 48.6% FG (2nd in NBA) and a league-best 39.7% threes during the regular season, and has continued the hot shooting in the postseason with a 49.1% FG clip (best among 16 playoff teams) and a solid 34.5% threes. PF Tim Duncan (20.0 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.7 BPG in the playoffs) had his second 20-point performance (22 points) on Saturday while adding five rebounds and three blocks, and is leading the team so far in scoring this postseason. On Monday he'll play in his 215th career playoff game where he is averaging 21.8 PPG (50% FG), 11.9 RPG and 2.4 BPG. PG Tony Parker (17.3 PPG, 5.0 APG in the playoffs) had an uncharacteristically high four turnovers in Saturday’s contest, but is shooting an impressive 52% from the field over the first three games in this series. Just like Duncan, Parker has played his fair share of postseason basketball (176 games, 168 starts) and has put up 19.1 PPG (46% FG) with 5.3 APG when it matters most. SG Manu Ginobili (18.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 4.0 APG, 1.7 SPG in playoffs) had a subpar Game 3 with just 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting. He did contribute plenty in other areas though, grabbing five rebounds while dishing out five assists and stealing four balls. C Tiago Splitter (9.3 PPG, 9.7 RPG in playoffs) had a double-double (14 points, 13 rebounds) on Saturday to help give his team a significant 50-38 advantage in points in the paint.
The Mavericks have performed tremendously in this series despite their superstar PF Dirk Nowitzki (15.0 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 1.0 BPG in playoffs) failing to score more than 18 points in any of the first three games. He scored 18 on Saturday, his highest so far, while going an efficient 7-for-13 from the field and grabbing seven rebounds. He’s always played well in the 131 career postseason games he’s been in, averaging 25.7 PPG (46% FG) to go along with 10.2 RPG and 1.1 SPG. SG Monta Ellis (20.3 PPG, 1.7 SPG in playoffs) also had his best performance of the series in Game 3 with 29 points on 12-of-22 FG (3-of-7 threes), three assists and only one turnover. Ellis had struggled with his shot in San Antonio while being defended mainly by Kawhi Leonard in the first two contests, making only 12-of-34 FG (35%) and 1-of-6 threes. His strong play should continue, as Ellis netted 21.3 PPG (49% FG) with 5.5 APG in the four regular-season games against the Spurs this season. SF Shawn Marion (12.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.3 SPG in playoffs) scored just nine points on Saturday while having a nice all-around contest otherwise (6 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 block, 1 steal). He has played 99 career postseason games between the Suns and Mavericks, averaging 15.1 PPG (46% FG), 9.2 RPG, 1.3 SPG and 1.3 BPG. Dallas was also able to capture the series lead thanks to the play of C Samuel Dalembert (6.3 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 2.0 BPG in series) and PG Jose Calderon (11.7 PPG, 5.3 APG in series). The big man finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in Game 3, while the floor general chipped in 16 points (7-of-10 FG), nine assists and a game-high +14 rating.