Before this series started, I predicted that the Spurs would win over the Mavericks in 6 games. On Thursday night, as the series moves back to San Antonio, the Spurs have the chance to do just that. But why did I post a question that might contradict my prediction?
The answer is simple. The Spurs had a great opportunity of finishing this series in five games in Dallas but failed to do it. With their season on the line, the Mavs did a great job of being the aggressor and played like a team with nothing to lose.
The Spurs on the other hand came out flat right from the start and conceded the game half way into third quarter instead of putting more pressure on a Mavericks team that was on the ropes.
As Manu Ginobili said after Game 5 "We're upset at the way we approached the game, it's something we'll learn from. I hope that's how we take Game 6, because we don't want to come here [in Dallas] for a Game 7."
That statement by Manu pretty sums up how this series might go, if the Spurs are not able to close it out in San Antonio. Then anything can happen in Dallas on Saturday. Something that the Spurs must avoid.
Winning game five in Dallas doesn't necessarily mean that Mavericks have turned the tide in their favor, but they did manage to stay alive and probably have the momentum going into Game 6.
Make no mistake about it, the Spurs are still in control of this series and have another chance of wrapping it up in San Antonio. But something was troubling in game 5. One team showed more resolve and hunger, while the other seems to go through the motions knowing that they'll live another day.
Nonetheless, the Spurs still have Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker -- the main core that has won three championships.
However, they'll need help to get it done. Richard Jefferson has to play the way he played in games two and four and George Hill has to stay solid.
Also, the Spurs should have a collective effort on defense to stop the Mavericks' balanced attack on offense.
For the Spurs to close out this series, they've got to have the right mentality and match the Mavericks' energy and level of play. They should impose their will as they did in games two, three and four.
In game five, the pace clearly favored the Mavs and the Spurs allowed it. Going back in San Antonio, the Spurs should focus on one thing; win and they'll advance to the next round and approach the game like it will be their last.
What do you think? Will the Spurs close it out in six games or will the Mavericks extend this series and force a game seven in Dallas?