What seemed to be one of the best rivalries in the NBA for a while is now quite on sided as the San Antonio Spurs pick up their ninth consecutive win over the Dallas Mavericks (109-100) and on the way setting a new franchise record for wins on the road in a season (30) not to mention moving a step closer towards clinching the top spot in the West.
It didn’t come without its worrying moments. Early in the game Tim Duncan seemed to hyper-extend his knee which sent him to the locker rooms for some treatment. However, he returned only to get called for a technical foul after arguing with the referees after he thought he was fouled while turning the ball over. The anger seemed to work well for him, scoring 20 points to go with his 15 rebounds, including four on offense.
The MVP of the moment was Patty Mills in something of a breakout season for the young Australian, starting for only the second time this season while Tony Parker didn’t play at all. Mills scored 26 points, and led the Spurs on their big runs, especially in the third quarter, as they turned a small half time deficit into an 11-point lead by the time the quarter was over. He felt more than slightly confidence, taking 25 shots in the process (hitting only 36%) but with six assists and six 3-pointers, that was forgivable.
Kawhi Leonard could give Mills a run for his money when it comes for this specific game honor’s of “the best.” He had 16 points and 16 rebounds, tormenting the Mavs on both ends of the floor with his power, movement and defense. The Spurs needed a bit more minutes from their key players than what we’ve grown accustomed to: Duncan spent 39 minutes in the game, Leonard played for 37. It was the right bet to make, bringing them one game closer towards a little bit of rest to end the season.
The Spurs need one more win, or an Oklahoma City Thunder loss, to make it another season on top of the Western Conference. Then Popovich can start resting his key players without having to be worried, and simply look at the playoff battle the Dallas Mavericks are in to figure out who the Spurs play in the first round.
At 48-32, the Mavs are 8th in the West with four teams battling for spots 6-8. The Golden State Warriors aren’t in good shape but their 48-30 record should be enough to pull them through. The Suns follow at 47-31, the Mavs are 8th as we mentioned and the Grizzlies are ninth right now at 46-32. The Dallas host the Suns who play there a night after playing in San Antonio.
But back to the Spurs, who continue to look great and deadly. They hit 16-of-34 from beyond the arc. The Mavs aren’t exactly a very good defensive team, but still, their inability to even make some kind of formidable stop makes it quite worrying about their prospects in the playoffs, if they even make it. San Antonio have turned a great rivalry into one of their most predictable games of the season, even when Tony Parker, presumably the team’s best player, isn’t even dressed to play.