NBA Playoffs Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Dallas Mavericks

The playoffs are here and we have another Spurs and Mavericks playoff match up.

How the Mavericks Got Here: The Dallas Mavericks made the playoffs by beating the teams down the stretch and playing with a sense of urgency. The Mavericks were in a battle for the last two playoff spots with the Phoenix Suns and the Memphis Grizzlies. The Phoenix Suns were the odd team left out after an awesome season. The Mavericks made some pretty decent moves this off-season when they signed Monta Ellis and lost out on the Dwight Howard sweepstakes. The Mavericks played better defense throughout the season, while also getting the often reliable production from Dirk Nowitzki on their way to the 8th seed in the Western Conference.

Jan 8, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks player Dirk Nowitzki (41) takes a shot over San Antonio Spurs forward Boris Diaw (left) during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

How the Spurs Got Here: The San Antonio Spurs are back in the #1 seed in the Western Conference and are the favorite to go back to the NBA Finals and avenge the lost to the Miami Heat in last years Finals. If I could say anything, they are hoping Ray Allen isn’t on the other side. The Spurs have been battling injuries but with their big three in tow of Manu, Tony, and Duncan, they are right back in the pole position to win an NBA Championship. The Spurs have the best record in the NBA and will have home court advantage throughout the playoffs.

Players To Watch on the Mavericks: The obvious choice is the Dirk Nowitzki. The Mavericks will only go as far as Dirk takes them. He will have his hands full with guarding Tim Duncan, but Duncan will also have to work on the defensive end of the floor. Monta Ellis is also another player to watch. He will have to beat the pressure of Danny Green, but he will also have to bring his scoring punch to the party. With Monta and Dirk playing the two man game, they can run a pick-and-roll game that can get the Spurs in serious trouble. Another key player to watch for in this series is Vince Carter. He is their 6th man and his scoring off the bench will come in handy if the starters are struggling to get points.

Players To Watch on the Spurs: Tim Duncan is one player everyone should keep their eye on. I know that last year’s Finals will have him motivated to get back, and the rest of the Spurs will follow his lead and focus. Duncan is not the player he once was, but he is still one of the best power forwards in the league–now and all-time. You can never stop greatness. Tony Parker will have a field day against the Jose Calderone match-up because he will be living in the paint. The biggest new star in San Antonio is Kwahi Leonard. He has to put on a showing much like the one Paul George put on in last year’s playoffs. His defense will be needed more than his scoring, but if he can average 17 points a game, you can count this series to the Spurs in an easy fashion.

Why the Mavericks Will Win: The Mavericks will need a bit of help from the Spurs to win this series. They will of course need a huge series from Dirk, but they will also need a huge series from Monta Ellis as well. Their team defense will have to play together and sound, because the Spurs do not beat themselves. The bench will also be a factor, as Vince Carter and Brandon Wright will have to come through in stretches as well.

Why the Spurs Will Win: The Spurs have more than enough to win the series in 4 four games. Now if they actually want to win the series period, they will have to first contain Dirk Nowitzki. The Spurs may choose to stop the other players on the team and allow Dirk to take any shot he wants because he will get it anyway. If they hold the rest of the team to under 30 points total, however, they might have an easy series heading into the second round.