The Spurs finished the regular season with the best record in the league, but matching up against the Mavericks in the first round was thought to be no easy task.
Dallas has Dirk Nowitzki playing at an All-Star level, and boasts a balanced offense that was tied with the defending champion Heat for the second best in the league per 100 possessions.
The difference in this series was supposed to be the defense, a statistical category where San Antonio shines but where the Mavericks were below the league average. That proved to be true in Game 1, where the Spurs held Dallas to just four points over the game’s final 7:45 to secure a 90-85 victory after trailing for much of the fourth by as many as 10 points.
Dallas overcame a very slow start to compete in this one. The Mavs managed just 12 first quarter points on 5-of-20 shooting, but managed to get back into it with a big second quarter, thanks to 10 points from Devin Harris off the bench. But despite the resiliency from Dallas, the brilliance of Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, along with the tremendous San Antonio defense down the stretch proved to be too much.
Duncan finished with 27 points and seven rebounds in almost 38 minutes, and scored nine of those points in the final period after leaving the game midway through the third with what appeared to be a knee injury. Parker did his damage primarily in the first half where he scored 17 of his 21 points, but also had a killer spin move late that gave his team the lead for good.
The final tally on the run that the Spurs used to close the game was 19-4, and as usual, it was surgical in its precision. This was a game that was there for the Mavericks to take, but Dallas was doomed by its slow start and uncharacteristically dismal finish.
The Spurs, as they’ve been for the last 17 seasons, remained consistent.