San Antonio Spurs: Game 6 preview

After playing out of a frightening 2-1 series deficit, the San Antonio Spurs are sitting pretty.  With a now 3-2 series lead after a quick bounce-back from Vince Carter’s monstrous game 3 dagger, the Spurs are only one win away from the second round.

The Spurs didn’t look quite like themselves at times during the series, but the cylinders of the well-oiled machine that is San Antonio’s offense have finally begun firing again.

Breakdown

It was tough in the beginning of the series, but San Antonio seems to have figured out how to attack the confusing Dallas defense.  Dallas was one of the worst defensive teams during the regular season, but were able to concoct some schemes come the playoffs that really messed with San Antonio’s heads.

Dallas’ defense is based heavily around hedging and switching screens, forcing mismatches that clog up San Antonio’s movement-based offense.  This has forced Tony Parker into either taking open mid-range jumpers or making a quick pass down to the post where a mismatch now sits.

The problem that San Antonio faced with this was Parker’s overall decision making.  He would make three or four open jumpers in a row, then immediately switch to trying to thread the needle into the post, resulting in turnovers galore and fastbreak scores.

In recent wins, however, Parker has proven to be making much better decisions.  Rather than settle for the jumper, he has made it a point to reset the offense (now with a big guarding him), opening the floor up for other motion options or better-spaced post ups.

Unless Dallas figures out a way to force Jose Calderon or Monta Ellis to work through screens to stick with Parker, San Antonio’s potent offense should be enough to overcome any offensive outburst that Dallas may have waiting on the other end.

The Difference

Points in the paint have killed Dallas.  Samuel Dalembert and Brandan Wright just aren’t the powerful forces that a team needs in order to keep San Antonio out of the paint.  The game will most likely come down to the performance of Tiago Splitter and Boris Diaw, and how much of a post-move pounding they will lay on the Dallas bigs.

Check out the shot charts for San Antonio’s wins (shot performance on the left, distribution on the right).

Shotchart 1

spurs distribution

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though they’re only shooting 45% from the field in these wins, the bulk of the production is coming within the 8-foot circle displayed around the basket.  The ball is getting down low to the basket, and the bigs aren’t being threatened enough by Dallas’ defenders, giving them lay-ins left and right.

Prediction

It will be tough to come into Dallas for this one game and leave with a second round birth.  Dallas’ faithful will stand true to their motto of being “rowdy, proud, and loud,” but San Antonio has the momentum and the knowledge necessary to close out a series.

Expect a close game, but expect San Antonio to edge out a victory and secure a series with Houston or Portland. Tune into ESPN at 7 pm CST for the game 6 matchup.

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