Dallas’ victory over San Antonio on Saturday night was important for myriad reasons, not the least of which was proving that the team could win on the road, in the playoffs, and with Dirk Nowitzki not at his best.
Certainly, it’s reassuring to know that the Mavericks’ bench poses a palpable threat even in a hostile environment like San Antonio.
However, this should not be a model game-plan going into Game Two on Monday night in San Antonio. Of course, this wasn’t really the model in Game One, either, though it became such as Dirk was whistled for three early fouls.
The point, more or less, is that Nowitzki can not have a down series if Dallas has any chance of winning; as has been pointed out tirelessly in the wake of Saturday’s win, San Antonio lost its opening playoff game in 2003, 2005 and 2007, just to go on to win the championship. This is still a very dangerous team.
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The same, really, could be said for San Antonio. Tim Duncan
played his usual, boring, and patently devastating brand of playoff basketball in Game One, but Tony Parker
was more or less silenced by Jose Barea and company, at least in the fourth quarter when it mattered.
But one can’t count on the likes of Tony Parker having another bad game, let alone a bad series of games; the same, I’m glad to say, can be said for Dirk.
Nowitzki had a league best streak of 25 games of 20 or more points scoring coming into Saturday, before San Antonio suffocated the big German, holding him to 19.
Of course, this uber-attention played no small role in Dallas’ diverse scoring attack, as five other Mavericks ended up with point totals in the double digits; this is basketball that would make Karl Marx smile.
But regardless of fouls, double-teams or anything else, Dallas must be able to count on the 31 year-old German down the stretch; namely, the Mavs were 4-11 this season in games in which Nowitzki failed to score 20.
But considering Nowitzki’s playoff history, the smart money says he’ll find his groove one way or another, and it will most likely come sooner than later.
With a 1-0 series lead heading into San Antonio on Monday, now would be a pretty good time.