Staying Alive: Spurs Squeak by Mavs, Avoid EliminationThe San Antonio Spurs dodged two bullets--a jumper by Jason Terry and a tip attempt at the buzzer by Dirk Nowitzki--to beat the Dallas Mavericks 98-97 in game five of their series. Dallas still leads 3-2 and can eliminate the Spurs by winning game six in Dallas. The Spurs are trying to join the handful of NBA teams that have come back from 3-1 deficits to win a playoff series. It has not been done since...the first round this year, when Phoenix beat the L.A. Lakers. Like Phoenix, San Antonio has the advantage of playing two of the last three games of the series at home. The Spurs lost two close games in Dallas, so the defending champions have to feel confident about their chances to force a game seven in San Antonio.
Tim Duncan had it stuck on automatic, as Jim Durham would say--he made his first 12 field goal attempts and finished with 36 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots. Nowitzki had 31 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Duncan does not seem to be bothered at all by the nagging foot injury that slowed him down for most of the season. The scary thing for San Antonio is that despite Duncan's tremendous performances in this series they have lost three games. A big problem for the Spurs in this year's playoffs has been their uncharacteristically poor execution of inbounds plays late in close games. They lost one game to the Sacramento Kings and two games to the Dallas Mavericks largely because of turnovers in such situations, which is very odd for a veteran, well coached team that has won three titles in seven years. Another concern for the Spurs is the tremendous difficulty that they are having with containing the Mavericks' dribble penetration. Still, I would not bet against the Spurs finding a way to win in Dallas and then closing out the series in San Antonio.
posted by David Friedman @ 2:57 AM