The San Antonio Spurs (30-14) and Dallas Mavericks (27-21) are set to square off in a Texas sized tussle tonight in San Antonio. Aside from this being one of the best rivalries in the NBA, for San Antonio, it marks the first game of a grueling part of their season.
The Spurs will kick off a back-to-back-to-back starting tonight against the Mavs. And if that wasn't enough, tonight's game also is the first of five games in six nights for San Antonio. This will be a true test for the Spurs and their aged core of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
And to make matters much more difficult for San Antonio, Parker will be out of action tonight due to a hamstring injury and Matt Bonner is a game-time decision. For Dallas, they will have forward Shawn Marion back in action after dealing with a sore left knee.
The Spurs and Mavs met this past Saturday with the Mavs wining 106-99 in Dallas. Dallas was led by Dirk Nowitzki with 27 points while San Antonio was paced by Duncan and Danny Green with 17 points a piece. Dallas never trailed in the last game versus San Antonio and used a 20-9 run in the third quarter and a 10-1 run in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
This will mark the last meeting between the two teams in the regular season with Dallas holding a 2-1 season series edge.
But as you get set for tonight's matchup, here are five things to watch for during the Spurs-Mavs game.
- Hope it is a low-scoring game. The Mavs are 14-1 when they score 100-plus points in a game this season and are 3-0 when they score 110-plus points.
- Bring the defense Spurs! Dallas is 7-0 this season when they shoot at least 50 percent from the field and are 14-0 when shooting better than their opponent on the road.
- If the Mavs score 60-plus points in the first half, it could spell trouble for the Spurs. Dallas is 5-0 on the season when they score 60-plus points in the first half.
- Watch out if Dallas is leading in assists. The Mavs have gone 26-1 in the last 27 games in which they have dished out 30-plus assists.
- Be weary of the Mavs bench. On the road, when Dallas' bench outscores their opponents bench, Dallas is 15-7.
Matchup to watch: Stephen Jackson vs. Dirk Nowitzki. They may play different positions but when Jackson is left to guard Nowitzki, he digs in and hands Dirk a hefty dose of solid defense. He pesters, and gets right into Dirk.