DALLAS MAVERICKS (51-35)
at SAN ANTONIO SPURS (64-22)
NBA Playoffs - Western Conference First Round
Game 5 - Series tied 2-2
Tip-off: Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. ET
Line: San Antonio -6, Total: 198
A tightly contested first-round series between two in-state rivals heads back to San Antonio on Wednesday as the Mavericks look to continue their upset bid against the top-seeded team in the NBA.
The Spurs looked as if they were finally going to grab the reigns and take control of this series in Monday night's Game 4 with a 14-point lead going into halftime, but Dallas stormed back as San Antonio escaped with a narrow 93-89 victory as 4.5-point favorites. The Mavericks' late effort could not overcome their poor shooting performance both from the field (38.1% FG) and from the foul line (64.3% FT). The Spurs key factor in this game was their ability to get plenty of production from their bench, and as a unit they put up 50 points with Manu Ginobili, Boris Diaw and Patty Mills all scoring in double-digits. While the bench had the majority of the points in the game, San Antonio spread out its rebounding with three starters getting double-digit boards. Monta Ellis once again led the Mavericks in points (20) and Dirk Nowitzki failed to break the 20-point mark for the fourth straight game. Playing at home is safe haven for San Antonio as the club has gone 33-10 SU there with a subpar 20-23 ATS record. Dallas has now gone 24-19 SU (29-14 ATS) when playing on the road this season. The Spurs dominance over the Mavs coming into this series was well documented, as they had won nine straight games SU (7-2 ATS), but have split the first four games of this postseason while going 0-4 ATS. Dallas will need to try and keep San Antonio’s efficiency to a minimum in the next few games, as it is shooting an impressive 48.2% from the field so far in the series. Since 1996, the Mavericks have gone 92-56 ATS (63%) on the road when playing four or less games in 10 days, but still could have trouble, as the Spurs are 29-19 ATS (60%) after playing four consecutive games as the favorite this season. PG Tony Parker (ankle) was injured in Game 4, but is probable to start for San Antonio on Wednesday night. The only absence for Game 5 will be Dallas PF DeJuan Blair who was suspended for kicking Tiago Splitter in the head during Monday's loss.
Dallas has not displayed a very potent offense thus far in the playoffs, averaging 99.0 PPG on just 44.9% shooting. PF Dirk Nowitzki (16.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.0 BPG, 1.0 SPG in playoffs) is having his own personal scoring issues, as has not eclipsed 20 points thus far in the series while shooting just 25-for-65 from the field (39% FG). Another surprise for Nowitzki is his free throws, and after shooting 90% from the charity stripe in the regular season, he has made just 72% FT (13-for-18) over these four games. SG Monta Ellis (20.3 PPG, 1.8 SPG in playoffs) has led the team in scoring in each of the past three contests while scoring more on volume than efficiency, as he is taking 19 shot attempts per game and making them at a subpar 39% clip. He has been a pest on the defensive end as well, getting at least two steals in 3-of-4 games so far. C Samuel Dalembert (5.5 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 1.8 BPG in playoffs) has taken just 15 shot attempts in the series (47% FG) while being a force on the boards and getting at least one block in each game. PF DeJuan Blair (5.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.5 SPG in playoffs) put up a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds) in just 16 minutes on the floor before being ejected from the game for his ill-advised kick. PG Jose Calderon (12.0 PPG, 4.8 APG in playoffs) has been the club's top ball distributor and has made 7-of-13 three-pointers in the series.
The Spurs have allowed the Mavericks to continue to come back in this series and would be looking to wrap up the series win on Wednesday if not for the last second three-pointer by Vince Carter to win Game 3. PF Tim Duncan (18.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.5 BPG in playoffs) had a double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds) in Monday night’s win while going just 6-for-16 from the floor. His point production has been inconsistent so far in the postseason, with 22+ points in two of the games, but fewer than 15 in the other two contests. PG Tony Parker (15.5 PPG, 4.5 APG in playoffs) had his worst game of the first round Monday night, hitting only 5-of-14 shots while getting 10 points and having more turnovers (4) than assists (3). He will need to attack the basket more in order for the Spurs to earn a comfortable victory, as he has not shot a free-throw in the past two contests. SG Manu Ginobili (19.8 PPG, 4.3 APG, 4.0 RPG, 1.5 SPG in playoffs) led the team with 23 points on 7-of-14 shooting off the bench in Game 4 and has been the MVP for the Spurs so far in the postseason. He has shot between 10 and 14 field goals in each game, but really earns his points from the free-throw line. He has already taken 28 shots (79% FT) from the charity stripe in the four games; including going 8-for-11 on Monday. PF Boris Diaw (8.0 PPG in playoffs) also had a big game off the bench in the victory, getting 17 points while making 3-of-6 shots from behind the arc.