Friday Morning Mavs Donuts: 'Scare Tactics'

The Mavs are an eighth seed putting a scare into a top-seeded Spurs team that is suddenly on the low end of the momentum teeter-totter in this series? The next test: How those same 'scare tactics' can be re-applied in Saturday's Game 3. 'Odds & Trends' in Friday Morning Mavs Donuts:

DONUT 1: Odds & Trends …

The Dallas Mavericks should be up 2-0? That's an unhealthy way to look at it.

The Mavs are an eighth seed putting a scare into a top-seeded Spurs team that is suddenly on the low end of the momentum teeter-totter in this series?

There you go.

Here, let's use Mavs Donuts to study some of the Odds & Trends from Dallas' 113-92 Game 2 win on Wednesday in search of their application for Saturday afternoon's 3:30 p.m. start of Game 3 at the AAC ...
DONUT 2: The best of Devin …

With his 18-point effort in Game 2, Devin Harris has now scored at least 18 nine times in his playoff career. Seven of those have come as a member of the Dallas Mavericks … and seven have come against the Spurs (though not the same seven he's been with the Mavs, two came while he was with Utah).

"It's good for our confidence and our morale," Devin said of the win, talking like a team leader. "We believe we can beat this team. Obviously, they'd beaten us 10 straight times or whatever. It's good to get one."

Harris is as fearless as he's always been -- physically and mentally -- but now instead of the gutsy kid who helped Dallas to the Finals that first time around, he's got skins on the wall. ... and he talks like it.

DONUT 2: Winning at the line …

It's a trademark of both these clubs; they win games at the free-throw line. Dallas does it with one of history's most unusual scoring threats in Dirk, a 7-footer who annually is among the league leaders in free-throw percentage. San Antonio does it by convincing the NBA to let Duncan and Ginobili carry whistles. (Joke. Kinda.)

In Game 2, the free-throw line was in play. The Spurs attempted 13 more free throws than the Mavs (oh-oh!) but made only three more (whew).

And if you want a cure for what's ailed Dallas when its lost all those 14- and 17-point leads over the course of the season (something that didn't happen Wednesday)? Get your due at the line.

DONUT 3: Picking poisons …
Manu went nuts in Game 2 with 27 points on 9-of-12 shooting.

But Dallas' game of "Pick Your Poison'' as it related to the Mr. Inside/Mr. Outside of Parker and Duncan somehow freed the Mavs to pick both poisons. ... and swallow them smiling.

After combining for 48 points on 21-of-36 field goals (58.3 percent) and two turnovers in Game 1, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker combined for 23 points on 9-of-15 field goals (60.0 percent) and four turnovers on Wednesday.

Timmy managed just 11 points on five shots. Parker was hot early but scored just six in the final three periods.

What's odd there is that in terms of personnel matchups, San Antonio earned some advantages.

Early in the game, the Spurs screened in ways that allowed Parker to be covered by Dirk. Dallas survived.

Shortly after that, Wright climbed into foul trouble, forcing Blair into the game to play center opposite Duncan. Dallas survived.

DONUT 4: Winning the paint …

The Mavs never, ever, ever beat San Antonio on the boards. (But wait! It happened here, just barely, 35-32.) Still, there is another way or three to win inside.

Dallas outscored the Spurs 44-28 in the paint.

Dallas outscored the Spurs 14-9 in second-chance points.

Dallas outscored the Spurs 17-12 in fast-break points.

DONUT 5: The Ratings Game …

In our All-Access Game 2 coverage we noted that, small sample aside, Dallas after two playoff games have the third best defensive rating in the playoffs (98.7), trailing only the Heat and Clippers, tied at 98.6.
Now, how about an offensive-rating number?

In Game 2, Dallas boasted the second-highest single-game offensive rating of these playoffs so far: 121.5.

Only the Clippers 134.8 offensive rating in a 40-point blowout of the Warriors has been higher.

Trying to sustain elite-level work on both ends is a challenge ... but it's what series winners do. And you don't have to remind Rick Carlisle to stay firm in this regard.

We're in this thing to win,'' Rick said. "We're not in it to get a split and feel happy.''

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DONUT 7: Value the ball …
San Antonio's 15 first-half turnovers are the most the Spurs have committed in the first half in the past five seasons, playoffs included. Their 24 turnovers in all led to 33 Mavs points.

Meanwhile, only one Mavs player had more than a single turnover and that was Devin with just two.

Word from San Antonio is that Pop's entire film session with his players was nothing but review of those 24 TOs.

DONUT 8: The game of adjustments …

"We are mixing things up a lot and doing a lot of things we really don't want to do because they are such a potent team,'' Carlisle said. "It is a monumental task."

We think Rick is very sincere in his "Coach of the Century'' praise for Pop. But he's playing possum here. The Mavs are "mixing things up'' from game to game because ...

That's how wise coaches stay ahead in basketball chess. Mavs fans know this. We've seen it first-hand with this franchise in a pair of Finals appearances. David Lord with the historical breakdown of this trend and the "Urgency Meter.''

DONUT 9: Helping hands …

With Devin carrying the bench scoring load once more, Vince Carter was relatively quiet in Game 2 with eight points and two assists. But of course, "Be Ready'' meant guys like DeJuan Blair coming out of mothballs to contribute.

San Antonio's supporting cast, meanwhile, has been lousy. All the "other'' (meaning not Duncan, Parker or Ginobili) have shot 24-for-72 from the floor this series (33 percent).

And 33 percent is an important number in the helping-hands department for Dallas, too.

That's Dirk's series shooting percentage after two games.

There is something to be said for the Mavs doing things in such an efficient offensive manner without Dirk being Dirk; that hasn't been much of an option around here since Nash and Fin were alongside.

So we'll look at this as a plus. The promise of him busting out of his two-game, 26-point total is Dallas' grandest hope of staying competitive -- or even in charge -- of this series.

Only 15 players in NBA history have more playoff points than Dirk. His career playoff PER of 24.5 is top-10. His status as a 25/10 playoff guy is ...

Coming. It's coming.

DONUT 10: Quotable …

"It feels great, but it's nothing to celebrate. It's one win to one. If we work and keep playing as a team, we will be able to get another one in the third game." - Rick Carlisle

DONUT 11: The series …

Here's the rest of the schedule for the first-round playoff series between the Mavs and Spurs:

*G3 - Saturday SA at Dallas 3:30pm TNT
*G4 - Monday April 28 SA at Dallas 8:30pm TNT
*G5 Wednesday April 30 Dallas at SA TBD
*G6 (if) Friday May 2 SA at Dallas TBD
*G7 (if) Sunday May 4 Dallas at SA TBD will be in the gym with the Mavs all weekend. Stay with us for our 14th year offering the most complete coverage of the Mavs anywhere!

DONUT 12: The Final Word …
Are the Mavs suddenly better than the Spurs? Nah. It doesn't work that way. Playing similar schedules, one team won 49 and the other 62. And head-to-head, one team ... well, you know.

But can Dallas match the Spurs' BBIQ? Can their talent - not really all that inferior to the Spurs' -- be matched by the guile and want-to that is truly San Antonio's trademark?

"We had that persistence that you need to have,'' Carlisle said. "And you need to have it because you're going to get hit with things that are going to challenge your emotional strength.''

That next challenge is almost here.

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