The surprising San Antonio Spurs have defeated the Dallas Mavericks 92-89 to go up three games to one in the best of seven series. The Mavericks came into the series as the second-seeded team in the Western Conference, while the Spurs were seeded seventh. After defeating the Spurs in Dallas in the first game of the series, the Mavericks are now one game away from being eliminated from the 2010 NBA Playoffs. The Spurs have won three straight since a fierce verbal challenge was issued from Spurs coach Gregg Popovich after their listless game one performance. It was after that game that Popovich called out some of the Spurs supporting players questioning their effort and intensity. Apparently, the entire Spurs team took the message to heart. Since that time, the veteran Spurs have played with the same poise and focus that led them to NBA titles in 2007.
Supporting Cast Step Up
San Antonio’s “Big Three” of Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili, did not have their customary strong performances as the Mavs did a good job of defending them. Tim Duncan, celebrating his 34th birthday, was held to just four points on 1 of 9 shooting. An injured Manu Ginobili, who wore a bandage across the bridge of his nose, shot 4 for 16 scoring 17 points. and point guard Tony Parker was held to 10 points. It was the newly acquired Spurs who stepped up their games and defensive intensity, making big shots and forcing Dallas into a three games to one hole. The Spurs received a huge game out George Hill, who was 11 of 16 from the floor, while Richard Jefferson scored 15 points and Antonio McDyess had 10.
Marked By Physical Play
If Game 4 is any indication, Game 5 on Tuesday night in Dallas may turn out to be a very physical affair. Both teams were testy during a competitive third quarter as Dallas came back from a 14 point deficit. At one point, Dallas’ Eduardo Najera hooked Manu Ginobili around the neck during a drive to the basket, causing Ginobili to fall hard to the ground. Najera was ejected from the game, as Popovich had to be restrained from going onto the court by assistants.
Mavs Are in a Hole
There is reason for the favored Mavericks to be frustrated. This series reminds some of 2007 when the top-seeded Mavericks were eliminated from the NBA playoffs by eighth-seeded Golden State. The favored Mavericks do not wait to see history repeat itself. The Mavericks have a day to re-focus and make adjustments as they return to their home arena for Game 5. It shoud turn out to be another exciting Game 5 between these inter-state rivals in Dallas on Tuesday night.
Caron Butler and Dirk Nowitzki each scored 17 points for Dallas.