All of the adjustments and “tricks” the Dallas Mavericks managed to pull off during a wonderful series didn’t matter in game 7, as the superior San Antonio Spurs showed their true worth with a 119-96 win thanks to a huge night from Tony Parker, advancing to the conference semifinals.
The difference in this game, as with the other wins for the Spurs in the series, was their ability to score on drives and get into the lane. They had 33 points on such plays, including 17 from Tony Parker who had a game-high 32 overall. The Spurs were averaging 30.3 points on drives in their wins and only 9.7 with a 36.1% success rate in their losses, when the Mavs were able to take away or at least handle the movement and passing that comes from Tony Parker.
And while we’re trying to make it seem that defensive adjustments and ones on offense made the difference in this series, maybe seeing how well Parker did in game 7, his best in the series, teaches us about what really makes the Spurs tick. Their biggest win prior to game 7 was by only six points. Suddenly Parker goes off right from the start, and we once again see the difference that was so evident and clear during the regular season.
Parker managing to beat traps and double teams meant everyone shooting better. The Spurs hit 56.8% of their field goal attempts and 41.6% from beyond the arc. Manu Ginobili helped out with 20 points and Danny Green, for the second consecutive game, managed to get plenty of open looks, and that usually spells disaster for the opposition, as Green scored 16 points on 5-of-7 from the field, including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.
Green got a lot more of Monta Ellis this time and the Mavs weren’t able to shake those long arms off their most athletic and versatile scorer. Ellis had only 3-of-11 from the field to finish with 12 points. Dirk Nowitzki did do better, but only slightly, to finish with 22 points on 8-of-21 from the field. The Mavs tried different lineups, but they weren’t able to force the Spurs into mistakes, which meant no transition game, and their defense looked like it did during the regular season.
This is how we expected to see San Antonio in the playoffs. It might not be a 23 point difference between them and the Mavs, but there’s certainly a huge gap of talent and execution between the two teams. Game 7’s at home aren’t always about the quality of basketball but often have something to do with what teams and players are made of. The Spurs showed they have what’s necessary on both accounts.
It’s off to meet the Portland Trail Blazers, a team that has been able to show their ability of making defensive adjustments, but are probably a better matchup for the Spurs than the Rockets would have been. Chasing around Damian Lillard, keeping tabs on LaMarcus Aldridge and trying to deny some crazy 3-point streaks isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but if the regular season is anything to go on at this point, the Spurs have what it take to find an answer to all of that.