The second-seeded Dallas Mavericks and seventh-seeded San Antonio Spurs will remain in the Lonestar State for the first round of the 2010 NBA Playoffs as the bitter in-state rivals square off in the postseason for the third time in the past five seasons. The best-of-seven series begins Sunday, April 18, in Dallas.
The Regular Season
Records: Dallas finished the regular season with a 55-27 record; San Antonio went 50-32.
Season series: Dallas won the season series 3-1, including a 96-89 victory in the season finale on Wednesday night, in which the Spurs chose to rest stars Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. San Antonio won the first game between the teams, 92-83, on Nov. 11, and the Mavs took the next two games – 99-94 on Nov. 18 and 112-103 on Jan. 8 – before winning on Wednesday.
(All times Eastern)
Game 1: Sunday, April 18, San Antonio at Dallas, 8 p.m.
Game 2: Wednesday, April 21, San Antonio at Dallas, 9:30 p.m.
Game 3: Friday, April 23, Dallas at San Antonio, 9:30 p.m.
Game 4: Sunday, April 25, Dallas at San Antonio, 7 p.m.
Game 5: Tuesday, April 27, San Antonio at Dallas, TBD (if necessary)
Game 6: Thursday, April 29, Dallas at San Antonio, TBD (if necessary)
Game 7: Saturday, May 1, San Antonio at Dallas, TBD (if necessary)
The Texas teams are facing each other in the playoffs for the third time in the past five years. The Mavs beat the Spurs 4-1 in the first round last season before losing to Denver, 4-1, in the Western Conference semifinals. Dallas also defeated San Antonio in 2006, winning 4-3 in the conference semifinals before finishing as runner-up to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. San Antonio last beat Dallas in a playoff series in the conference finals in 2003, en route to the first of three NBA championships in a five-year span; the Spurs added titles in 2005 and in 2007.
San Antonio won at least 50 regular-season games for the 11th consecutive season and the 12th time in coach Gregg Popovich’s 13 seasons. Duncan remains the team leader, with 17.9 points and 10.1 rebounds on 51.8 percent field-goal shooting per game. Ginobili moved into the starting lineup this season and is scoring 16.5 points per game. Point guard Tony Parker, recently back from a broken hand, averages 16 points and 5.7 assists per game. George Hill averages 12.4 points a game and has been a big part of the Spurs’ success this season, but his status is uncertain after he aggravated a previously sprained ankle during the regular-season finale on Wednesday. Richard Jefferson is the other double-figure scorer at 12.3 points a game. Antonio McDyess is a solid contributor at center, and rookie forward DeJuan Blair has appeared in every game for San Antonio, averaging 7.5 points and 6.2 rebounds and finishing the regular season with a 27-point, 23-rebound performance against the Mavs.
Dallas has topped 50 wins each of the past 10 seasons under three different head coaches. The Mavericks reached the conference semifinals in 2009, Rick Carlisle’s first season as their coach, and clinched the No. 2 seed this season with Wednesday’s win over the Spurs. Power forward Dirk Nowitzki leads the team with 25.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Point guard Jason Kidd, at 37-years-old, remains a triple-double threat, averaging 10.2 points, 9.1 assists and 5.5 rebounds a game. Shooting guard Caron Butler scores 15 points a game, and fellow starter Shawn Marion averages 12 points and 6.4 assists. Erick Dampier (7.4 rebounds) and Brendan Haywood (7.1 rebounds) split time at center. Jason Terry provides the biggest spark off the bench, with 16.7 points and 3.8 assists per game. The Mavericks added fan-favorite Eduardo Najera in a January trade, and his hustle play has been a big boost. Jose Juan Barea and Rodrigue Beaubois have both had success sharing time as Kidd’s backup.
The Bottom Line
It’s difficult to glean anything from Wednesday’s regular-season finale, with San Antonio resting stars. Injuries could play a big role, especially if Hill is hampered at all. Dallas is the favorite to win, if only because it holds home-court advantage and beat the Spurs three out of four times in the regular season.
NBA Playoff Matchups, ESPN
Playoffs 2009, NBA
San Antonio Spurs Franchise Index, Basketball-Reference
Dallas Mavericks Franchise Index, Basketball-Reference