For the second time in seven days, the San Antonio Spurs made mince meat out of their previous biggest rivals. Tony Parker is as excellent as he’s been all season. Manu Ginobili, after a very disappointing start is playing like an All-Star again in minimal minutes. Tim Duncan? He’s just a reliable double double machine, like nothing has changed.
Dirk Nowitzki? It’s going to take some time before he even finds himself in the starting lineup. He finished with 8 points and 5 rebounds on a 3-9 shooting night. He even threw an air-ball, to add another misery maker for Mavs fans this season, seeing their team lose their ninth game in the last 10 games. Four games into the season, and we’re still waiting for Nowitzki to score in double digits.
On the other side of this Texas rivalry, things are much peachier, healthier and smile inducing. The San Antonio Spurs are on a five game winning streak, winning three of the last four by at least 20 points. They beat Dallas by 38 a week ago. Yes, quite a polar opposite between these two teams that ran neck and neck for most of the last 10 years.
While the Mavs’ system has been rebuilding and retooling with veteran free agents for the last couple of seasons, the method is quite the opposite with the Spurs. Few changes, and no big names except for the familiar ones, that have been here forever. Tony Parker blowing by opponents, finishing with 21 points and 9 assists against the slow and depressing-to-watch Dallas Mavericks. He has 19.2 points and 7.3 assists per game this season.
Another reason the Spurs have gone on another winning streak isn’t just the comfortable schedule. Manu Ginobili has been the Manu of old over the last few games. Since missing the loss against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Ginobili has averaged 15.3 points, including two games of above 20 in these last two wins. He finished with 20, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in 25 minutes against the helpless Mavericks.
What about Duncan? As solid as ever. He doesn’t even need too many minutes on the floor to get his 16th double double of the season, scoring 18 points and 10 rebounds. The quickness in his legs is back, and so is his ability to handle a bit more size and speed in the middle. He does get tired more quickly than 4-5 years before, but everyone around him says that Duncan hasn’t looked this fresh in quite some time. He’s averaging 17.8 points and 9.9 rebounds this season.
When their big three is so good, what else do you need? It makes things so much easier for the rest of the supporting crew. Danny Green wasn’t lights out from beyond the arc as he’s been over the past few wins, but he did knock a couple of three pointers to finish with 8 points. Tiago Splitter was the double figures guy this time, finishing 13 points and 6 rebounds, even making 5-6 from the line, probably the biggest Achilles heel in his game, which is improving with every passing month.
Championship caliber team? The Dallas Mavericks, despite their ambitious owner, couldn’t be further from that, and are actually marching in an opposite direction. The Spurs? Too soon to tell, and there has been contradictory evidence to that fate this season. Maybe now, that Ginobili is functioning like he should be, we can be more certain about determining where they end up this season.