The Spurs were once again the best team in the regular season. They finished the season top seven in the NBA in both offense and defense and No. 1 in net rating (8.1), via NBA.com/stats. They did that despite every single player averaging under 30 minutes a night.
The Spurs won 62 without anyone averaging more than 30 minutes. The best team of the regular season and the most rested for the playoffs.— Scott Howard-Cooper (@SHowardCooper) April 17, 2014
Tony Parker averaged nearly 17 points and Tim Duncan averaged 15 points, 10 boards and two blocks. Behind those two, seven other players averaged between eight and 12 points. This is a deep, balanced and playoff experienced team with weapons all over the floor. They also have Kawhi Leonard, who is poised to make more playoff strides.
Last playoffs, Leonard flustered opponent wings, grabbed offensive boards and knocked down open corner threes. His usage rate bumped up two ticks this season, per Basketball-Reference, so we'll see even more Playoff Leonard.
Dallas is one-track minded as it lives through its offense. The Mavs are tied for second with the Heat in offensive rating (109). The Mavericks are excellent from deep (38.4 percent, second in the NBA) and efficient shooting from midrange. Using a pick-and-roll heavy offense, Dallas plays to its strengths by letting Monta Ellis rip through gaps in the outstretched defense. Dirk Nowitzki was revitalized this year in Ellis' presence. The 35-year-old put up numbers (24 points and seven rebounds per game) similar to his MVP season.
If the Mavericks want to beat the Spurs, they must hope to do so on the offensive end. Dallas has almost no rim protection and was the ninth worst defense, surrendering 105.9 points per 100 possessions. That isn't going to change in the playoffs. They have to outgun the Spurs, if they want to have a chance.
TV schedule: TNT; 1 p.m. ET
Announcing crew: Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller and Jaime Maggio
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