By all standards, the Dallas Mavericks wildly overachieved in their first round series with the San Antonio Spurs. Facing the top-seeded Spurs, Dallas kept San Antonio off balance, even holding a 2-1 series lead after Game 3. In the end, however, the Mavericks found themselves on the wrong end of a lopsided contest.
Falling 119-96 on Sunday, Dallas was never really in the game. After the Mavericks took their only lead at 2-0 on a Dirk Nowitzki bucket, the Spurs raced out to a 30-16 lead that proved to be too difficult to overcome. It got uglier from there as the lead ballooned to 29 in the second quarter. Scoring 68 points in the first half, San Antonio made things look embarrassingly easy.
Comparing it to the rest of the series, Game 7 was really an anomaly. Save for the Mavericks’ 113-92 rout in Game 2 on the road, the games were all extremely close. Game 3 was decided by a single point and Game 6 by two points. The other three were decided by no more than six points. These two teams were more evenly matched than their seeds suggested until that final contest.
Losing a game by 23 points can never be attributed to any one thing. However, if you want a place to start, you should merely take a look at the production of the Dallas starters.
Brought over from Milwaukee in the offseason, guard Monta Ellis had a solid first season in Dallas, averaging 19 points and nearly six assists per game. On Sunday, though, he was largely MIA, shooting only 3-of-11 from the field for 12 points to go along with two rebounds, two assists, and two turnovers.
Shawn Marion contributed a meager five points and two rebounds – both far below his season averages. Ditto for Jose Calderon, whose four points and four assists weren’t nearly enough for someone playing 29 minutes. Samuel Dalembert managed to grab six rebounds at center, but could only play for eight minutes. All told, those three starters provided a total of 11 points (on 5-of-16 shooting), 11 rebounds, and five assists.
Even Dirk Nowitzki didn’t have a great game by his standards. Dirk managed a solid 22 points and nine rebounds, but was on the court the majority of the time giving him a horrific +/- of -30. His 8-of-21 performance from the field also meant he was significantly more inefficient than normal.
All told, getting more offense from the starters may still have resulted in a loss. The Spurs were red hot from the field, shooting 57 percent from the floor, and San Antonio would likely beat any team in the league with that effort. Still, a little more from Dallas’ starting lineup could have made for a better game and kept things closer down the stretch.