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.
The Los Angeles Clippers had a rough go of things against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday. Up by 18 with more than five minutes to go, LA blew their lead and were left to watch as the Kings sealed the game late.
The final possession for Sacramento came on a missed corner 3-pointer by Clippers guard Jamal Crawford. The Kings got the outlet pass out on the rebound, but Ben McLemore took it to the rack and missed. That’s when Willie Cauley-Stein stepped in, cleaned up the board, and put the game-winning shot home with less than two seconds left.
Los Angeles lost in spectacular fashion, and became the only team this season to lose given their game situation.
Here’s a compilation the NBA put together of Sacramento’s epic comeback:
Meanwhile, Chris Paul called it the worst regular season loss of his career.
The Clippers peaked too soon. Like, the first 20 games of the season too soon.
Russell Westbrook had yet another triple-double on Sunday. The Oklahoma City Thunder star notched 13 assists in the loss to the Houston Rockets, 137-125, and one of them came on a nifty pass to teammate Victor Oladipo.
The play happened with the Thunder on the fastbreak early in the third quarter. Westbrook was moving from left-to-right across the middle of the floor with the ball while Oladipo streaked down the right wing.
With the Rockets defense collapsing, Westbrook reached halfcourt and fired a bounce pass that sliced through the opposition.
Oladipo finished with the clean dunk.
Still not sure it beats this one, but I think we’ll have to compare once the season comes to a close.
The race between James Harden and Russell Westbrook for the 2017 NBA MVP has narrowed to a two-man race toward the end of the season. The Oklahoma City Thunder star is averaging at triple-double this year, and the Houston Rockets guard is doing things nobody has ever done on a basketball court before.
It’s a tough decision to decide between them, so much so that even former Los Angeles Lakers great and 2008 NBA MVP Kobe Bryant can’t do it.
Speaking on ESPN on Sunday, Bryant said he thought the league might have to just bite the bullet on Westbrook vs. Harden.
“We might see our first co-MVPs this year,” said Bryant.
That would be a huge step for the league, but I’m not entirely sure they would do it. There have been co-NBA All-Star Game MVPs in years past, but never league MVP.
Still, can you decide between Russ and Harden? The Mamba can’t.
Houston Rockets center Nene is from Brazil, but on Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunder the South American native went full euro.
On a fastbreak possession, Nene took on Thunder big man Enes Kanter near the rim and absolutely shook him with a nasty eurostep.
The play was so good that it forced Oklahoma City to call a timeout as James Harden and the rest of the Rockets bench met Nene on the court to celebrate.