Heading to Big D is no big deal for veteran Spurs
SAN ANTONIO — After several days of sunshine, Thursday morning was overcast here. Gloomy, one might say.
Inside the Spurs’ practice facility, though, the mood seemed, if anything, upbeat, despite the 113-92 home whipping No. 1 seed San Antonio took from No. 8 Dallas in Wednesday’s Game 2.
If the Spurs are concerned about going to Dallas for Saturday’s Game 3 with the series tied 1-1, it didn’t show in their faces, mannerisms or comments. This, after all, is a San Antonio team that forged an NBA-best 30-11 road record this season, including 2-0 at American Airlines Center.
“We like to play on the road,” point guard Tony Parker said. “We like that road mentality. We create that in February when we’re gone forever.”
Parker was referring to the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo’s annual takeover of AT&T Center, which this season sent the Spurs packing for nine straight games.
“We’re not afraid, obviously, to go on the road,” he continued. “We know if you want to go far in the playoffs, you have to win games on the road.”
In last season’s Western Conference semifinals, the Spurs edged Golden State, 129-127, in Game 1 in San Antonio, then lost Game 2 at home, 100-91.
When the series shifted to Oakland, San Antonio won Game 3, 102-92, seizing back momentum of a series it won in six games.
“Similar situation,” Parker said. “So, hopefully, we can do the same.”
An even-keeled approach that comes from having a veteran lineup gives the Spurs confidence that they’ll improve on their performance from Game 2, when 24 turnovers led to 33 Dallas points.
That isn’t to be mistaken as a false sense of security. While some Spurs fans might be on the verge of panic, recalling No. 1 seed San Antonio falling to No. 8 seed Memphis in six games in 2011, coach Gregg Popovich on Thursday matter-of-factly explained the Game 2 loss thusly:
“I thought their intensity was better. I thought their physicality was better. Their emotion, their focus, their attention to detail ... in all those regards, I thought ours was poor. And they ended up with the win.
“So I credit them for that, obviously. We did not come with the same passion and focus that they did.”
Some have credited the Mavericks’ switching defense for limiting San Antonio’s 3-point shooting potency. It’s true that after going 42-of-97 on 3s while winning all four regular-season meetings, the Spurs went only 4-of-17 in Game 1.
In Game 2, though, the Spurs shot 10-of-20 from behind the arc. In reality, the Mavericks found other ways to limit San Antonio, namely by holding Parker to 12 points, Tim Duncan to 11, Kawhi Leonard to six — and by forcing many of San Antonio’s turnovers.
“The fact is we had 24 turnovers,” Popovich said. “We shot 50 percent for the game, and basically doubled the number of free throws they shot [29-16]. We shot 50 percent from 3, and we lost the game. So you have to figure out why, and when you give the ball back 24 times that’s not good.”
Mavericks forward Shawn Marion primarily has been given the assignment of slowing 6-3 Parker, but Parker shrugged when asked what effect Marion is having, pointing out that Marion’s been guarding him since his Phoenix days.
Parker said Marion is going under every screen set for Parker, basically giving him unlimited 20-footers if Parker so chooses.
“It’s just me finding that balance to not be too aggressive and at the same time keep everybody involved,” Parker said.
“Today Pop told me if I have to shoot 25 times, I have to shoot 25 times. If that’s what they’re going to give me and go under the pick-and-rolls, that’s what I have to do.”
With NBA's best road record, heading to Big D is no big deal for veteran Spurs | Dallas Morning News
The Mavericks’ road record was darn near as good as their home record in the regular season. They won 26 times at home and 23 times away. That lack of dominance at American Airlines Center is why they were a No. 8 seed and why they are locked in what is setting up as an epic battle with the top-seeded Spurs in the first round.
It’s also why Nowitzki is fretting.
“I’m a little worried going home,” he said. “I’d rather play Game 3 here [in San Antonio], I guess. We’ve got to figure it out at home. We can’t relax. That’s the main thing.”
Unsafe at home? Mavericks' inability to 'figure it out' at AAC has Dirk Nowitzki fretting | Dallas Morning News
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