NBA Basketball
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85
Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Dallas 12 32 21 20 85
San Antonio 21 22 22 25 90
90
10:00 AM PT11:00 AM MT12:00 PM CT1:00 PM ET17:00 GMT1:00 10:00 AM MST12:00 PM EST21:00 UAE19:0013:00 ET12:00 PM CT16:00 , April 20, 2014
AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas  Attendance: 18,581

Mavericks-Spurs Preview

According to STATS
According to STATS

Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs

  1. San Antonio swept the season series from Dallas this season (4-0). Overall, the Spurs have won nine straight regular-season games against the Mavericks. This will be the sixth time these clubs have met in the postseason, with the Spurs having won three of the five previous series (last met in 2009-10 playoffs, San Antonio winning the first-round series 4-2).
  2. Dallas has gotten off to fast starts to games this season. They averaged 27.4 points on 48.9 percent overall and 40.4 percent from three-point range in the first quarter of games. Those ranked third, fifth and third in the NBA, respectively. The Mavericks have won seven of their last 10 overall road postseason contests, but have dropped their last three in San Antonio.
  3. The Spurs averaged 105.4 points per game this season, their highest scoring average since 1994-95 (106.6). San Antonio went 36-1 this season when scoring 106 or more points, compared to 26-19 when it scored 105 or less.
  4. Monta Ellis has a career 19.4 scoring average in the regular season. But he has put up just 9.7 points in 15 career postseason contests. Ellis played well against the Spurs this season, averaging 21.3 points and 5.5 assists while shooting 48.6 percent.
  5. Tony Parker shot 58.5 (83/142) percent in the fourth quarter of games this season, which ranked fourth in the NBA (minimum 80 FGM). Dallas' Brandan Wright actually led the league, shooting 70.8 (80/13) percent in the fourth quarter.
  6. Tim Duncan averaged 18.1 points and 10.2 rebounds per game in the 2012-13 postseason. It was the 11th time he averaged a double-double in a single postseason. Duncan had a double-double in three of his four games against the Mavericks this season.
(AP Photo/Lance Murphey)

By JON KRAWCZYNSKI

AP Basketball Writer

(AP) -- While San Antonio Spurs steamrolled toward their fourth 60-win season in 11 years, coach Gregg Popovich was asked if there is a secret formula for the franchise's almost unfathomable run of excellence.

"Yes there is," said Popovich, in typical deadpan fashion. "Get the No. 1 pick in the draft every 10 years and make sure that it's a franchise player. That's the formula. That's how lucky you have to be. You've got David (Robinson) for a decade and then Timmy (Duncan) comes. Well, I think most anybody could build around that."

Of course, Popovich is oversimplifying. What the Spurs have created is a program unlike any other in the league, one built on the willingness of three stars to take less money, band together and establish a culture and a pecking order under their no-nonsense coach.

"Everybody knows their secrets," Minnesota Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said. "It doesn't do you any good, though."

The Spurs finished with an NBA-best 62-20 record, wiping out last season's heart-breaking loss in the NBA Finals in emphatic fashion. Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are back for another run, and standing in their way is another one of the league's most enduring forces.

In his 16th season, Dirk Nowitzki has enjoyed a renaissance, averaging 21.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and shooting 49.7 percent from the field to lead the Dallas Mavericks back to the playoffs. That patented one-legged step-back jumper is as dangerous as ever. He's battled Duncan for 16 years now, and one more matchup should be a thriller.

"This is a treat for people that appreciate NBA basketball and the history of the game," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "And you've got two guys whose love and respect for the game is so high and their work ethic and standards are so high. They've kept it going in their mid-30s as well as anybody I've ever seen."

Here are five things to watch in the series, which begins on Sunday in San Antonio:

COACHING CLASH: The series features a matchup of two of the best coaches in the league in Popovich and Carlisle. The moves and counters from the opening tip of Game 1 will be fascinating to watch, and the postgame interviews of two men completely comfortable in their own skin should be almost as entertaining.

"Those little adjustments with coach Pop and Carlisle, those in-between games, trying to adjust something," Nowitzki said. "It's just a fun time."

SPURS DOMINANCE: The Spurs have won nine straight games against their in-state rivals. Parker's penetration has given the Mavericks' porous perimeter defense fits and generated easy layups or wide-open 3-pointers for the Spurs offense. On defense, the Spurs have Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter and even Kawhi Leonard to throw at Nowitzki.

"We've got to pick up our game," Carlisle said. "We haven't played well against these guys. It's pretty clear from the results and the stats. We've got to bring a better game."

RESTED VETERANS: As usual, Popovich did a masterful job of navigating the grind of an 82-game season and limiting the wear and tear on his aging Big Three. The Spurs didn't have a single player average 30 minutes a game this season, meaning everyone should be rested and ready for another deep run.

LEONARD'S EMERGENCE: One could argue the Spurs no longer have a Big Three, but a Big Four. Leonard has delivered a career season and is the heir apparent to Duncan's throne. The Spurs are 54-14 when Leonard plays this season.

"He really made a big step forward in the last two months of the season and hopefully he keeps getting better for the playoffs," Ginobili said.

X-FACTOR: Monta Ellis. The mercurial guard has reinvented himself in Dallas as a slightly more efficient scorer. When he gets rolling, he's tough to stop and that may represent the Mavericks' only chance at an upset.

AP Sports Writer Schuyler Dixon in Dallas and freelance writer Raul Dominguez Jr. in San Antonio contributed to this report.

Updated April 19, 2014

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