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April 22, 2010
Playoff Prospectus
Seems Like Old Times for the Spurs

by Bradford Doolittle

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San Antonio 102, at Dallas 88

Pace: 83 possessions

Offensive Ratings: Spurs 123.2, Mavericks 106.3

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban talked of his long-standing hatred of the Spurs during the lead-up to Wednesday's game two. His anti-Spurs' emotions were probably boiling over after his Mavericks fell victim to a San Antonio team that must have looked awfully familiar to NBA fans. The Spurs big three--Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili--combined to score 64 points. They were supported by another throwback performance, by Richard Jefferson, who scored 13 of his 19 points during a 1.66 points-per-possesion, second-quarter breakout by the Spurs. San Antonio led the entire game and by as many as 20 points, evening the series as they head home for game three on Friday.

The Mavericks mounted a comeback that began roughly midway through the third period and managed to close within five points after a Jason Terry three-pointer with 6:56 to play. But Tim Duncan went to work on Dallas' Brendan Haywood after that, scoring San Antonio's next eight points over five possessions. Duncan scored 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting overall in the final frame; he had 25 points and 17 rebounds in the game. Itís a bit of surprise that Haywood played the entire fourth quarter in place of Erick Dampier in light comments by Dallas coach Rick Carlisle after the game citing the latterís defensive work. Dampier also had five of Dallas' 14 offensive rebounds.

The big surprise in the game was the ferocity with which the Spurs attacked the offensive glass. San Antonio had 16 offensive boards in the game, grabbing 36.4 percent of its own misses. The Spurs are of course famously averse to crashing the offensive glass and in game one, San Antonio retrieved just 20 percent of its own misses. The Spurs dominated the offensive glass even though DeJuan Blair, by far their best offensive rebounder, had only one rebound on that end in 11 minutes. The Spurs outscored the Mavericks 23-9 on second chance points in the game. While the Mavericks had just two fewer offensive boards, the Spurs limited Dallas to 3-of-14 shooting on second-chance opportunities.

All this said, much of what happened in Dallas on Wednesday boils down to the fact that one team had a hot hand and the other one didn't. San Antonio was 8-of-15 from three-point range, while the Mavericks hit just 36 percent on 66 two-point attempts. You wouldn't expect those percentages again going forward. You get the feeling that this series is just getting warmed up. Should be a great one.

at Orlando 92, Charlotte 77

Pace: 80 possessions

Offensive Ratings: Magic 115.2, Bobcats 96.5

We thought the top half of the Eastern Conference seedings might be top-heavy, but not this top-heavy. The four favorites are 8-0, with nine points being the smallest margin of victory. All four of the underdogs have struggled to score points and that was certainly the case for Charlotte. Wednesday's game two was played at a snail's pace, which combined with Charlotte's inability to crack the one-point-per-possession barrier to keep the Bobcats' point total well below the threshold of aesthetically pleasing. Just think what will happen if Dwight Howard can stay out of foul trouble. The Bobcats managed just 30 points in the first half.

Stephen Jackson again handily won his shooting guard matchup with Orlando's Vince Carter, but he got little help from his teammates on the offensive end. In the first half, Jackson scored 11 of Charlotte's 30 points, D.J. Augustin hit a couple of three-pointers that was about it. Charlotte posted a 71.6 Offensive Rating in the half, with 14 turnovers in 42 possessions. After the game, Larry Brown bemoaned his team's overall lack of aggressiveness in taking the ball to the rim and, indeed, the Magic's 24-13 edge from the line may have been the difference in the contest.

Charlotte's offense picked up in the second half thanks to some hot shooting by Jackson, fewer turnovers and better ball movement. However, the Bobcats had only one field-goal attempt off a fastbreak in the half. Brown does not coach a running style, but that's a little extreme--his team needs all the open looks it can get. Of course, Orlando put up a .645 eFG% in the second half, so the in the slow-paced game, running opportunties were rare.

Orlando has won both games fairly handily despite getting just 20 points in 56 minutes combined from Howard. In the postgame presser, Stan Van Gundy asked the question of why Howard doesn't get the star treatment, but his center just needs to do a better job of avoiding the ticky-tacky calls. As Brown noted, he doesn't really have to guard anybody on Charlotte--Nazr Mohammed, Tyson Chandler and Theo Ratliff are just not offensive threats. All Howard has to do is protect the rim. It's hard to imagine the Bobcats escaping the series without experiencing at least one monster performance from Howard. If it happens to come in Saturday's game three, this series may be over come next Monday.

G2: Orlando 92, Charlotte 77 (Magic lead 2-0)
CHA  14  16  25  22 - 77
ORL  18  23  34  17 - 92
CHA          Pace  oRTG  eFG%  oREB% FT/FGA  TO%  TCHS
First Quarter  20   69.0  .294  .273  .235  .296  2.70
Second Quarter 22   74.0  .500  .222  .143  .370  4.65
Third Quarter  21  121.0  .500  .400  .316  .194  5.37
Fourth Quarter 17  127.5  .656  .333  .063  .174  4.67
------------------------------------------------------
FIRST HALF     42   71.6  .387  .250  .194  .334  3.67
SECOND HALF    38  123.9  .571  .333  .200  .106  5.09
------------------------------------------------------
FINAL          80   96.5  .485  .306  .197  .263  4.34
======================================================
ORL          Pace  oRTG  eFG%  oREB% FT/FGA  TO%  TCHS
First Quarter  20   88.7  .433  .400  .333  .296  4.29
Second Quarter 22  106.4  .417  .222  .444  .093  4.42
Third Quarter  21  164.6  .750  .375  .389  .097  5.75
Fourth Quarter 17   98.5  .500  .222  .308  .232  2.90
------------------------------------------------------
FIRST HALF     42   97.8  .424  .316  .394  .191  4.36
SECOND HALF    38  134.5  .645  .333  .355  .084  4.33
------------------------------------------------------
FINAL          80  115.2  .531  .306  .375  .175  4.34
======================================================

G2: San Antonio 102, Dallas 88 (Series tied 1-1)
SAS  24  34  24  20 - 102
DAL  20  26  26  16 -  88
SAS          Pace  oRTG  eFG%  oREB% FT/FGA  TO%  TCHS
First Quarter  23  103.1  .375  .438  .250  .086  3.94
Second Quarter 20  166.1  .773  .286  .000  .049  5.35
Third Quarter  20  117.7  .500  .300  .500  .147  4.83
Fourth Quarter 19  107.2  .476  .364  .000  .161  3.96
------------------------------------------------------
FIRST HALF     44  132.6  .565  .391  .130  .069  4.65
SECOND HALF    39  112.7  .486  .269  .216  .075  4.38
------------------------------------------------------
FINAL          83  123.2  .530  .364  .169  .109  4.52
======================================================
DAL          Pace  oRTG  eFG%  oREB% FT/FGA  TO%  TCHS
First Quarter  23   85.9  .318  .308  .273  .172  3.58
Second Quarter 20  127.0  .500  .300  .238  .049  5.21
Third Quarter  20  127.5  .417  .400  .250  .049  5.95
Fourth Quarter 19   85.7  .389  .091  .111  .054  3.69
------------------------------------------------------
FIRST HALF     44  105.2  .407  .304  .256  .114  4.40
SECOND HALF    39  107.5  .405  .333  .190  .026  4.84
------------------------------------------------------
FINAL          83  106.3  .406  .286  .224  .085  4.61
======================================================

Follow Bradford on Twitter at @bbdoolittle.

Bradford Doolittle is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Bradford by clicking here or click here to see Bradford's other articles.

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