Spurs and Mavericks

SAN ANTONIO SPURS

Record:  63-29, 1st in Southwest Division, 1st in Western Conference

Statistical Comparison:

Noteable:

2nd in opponent scoring (88.8ppg)
1st in ppg differential (+6.8)
4th in field goal %
3rd in opponent field goal %
2nd in three-point %

Others:

21st in the league in scoring (95.6ppg)
12th in rebounding
10th (tie) in assists
23rd in steals
6th in blocks
8th in turnovers
22nd in opponent turnovers

Additions:  
Eric Williams, Francisco Elson, Jackie Butler, Matt Bonner, Jacque Vaughn, Jamar Smith (R)

Subtractions:  
Rasho Nesterovic, Nazr Mohammed, Nick Van Exel, Sean Marks

Key Players

PG:  Tony Parker, Beno Udrih, Jacque Vaughn
SG:  Manu Ginobili, Brent Barry, Mevin Sanders
SF:   Bruce Bowen, Michael Finley, Eric Williams
PF:   Tim Duncan, Robert Horry
C:   Matt Bonner, Fabricio Oberto, Jackie Butler, Francisco Elson

Comments: What to say about the Spurs?  You know their key players by heart.  Everything that makes a difference they do well.  You might want to quibble with their scoring in this increasingly offensive-oriented age until you figure they've got the best point differential in the league.  They score enough.  They've got marvelous shooters, committed defenders, and really smart guys.  That's all you need to know about how good they'll be year after year.  This year will be no exception.  They've completely recycled their center corps and it looks weak-ish on paper, but they haven't had a real center since the Admiral left and they've done fine.  Besides, if they had a quality center nobody else would win...ever.  Their concession to the new flashy style is a bunch of deadly outside shooters.  Between that, Parker and Ginobili slashing, and Duncan's picture-perfect short game you're just not going to stop them.  Some people were writing the obituary of their style of play after Dallas finally squeaked past them last season.  Forget that...professional, well-rounded, and that damn good never goes out of style.

DALLAS MAVERICKS

Record:  60-22, 2nd in Southwest Division, 2nd in Western Conference

Statistical Comparisons:

Noteable:

3rd in ppg differential (+6.1ppg)
29th in assists
4th in blocks
5th in turnovers

Others:

9th in the league in scoring (99.1ppg)
7th in opponent scoring (93.1ppg)
7th in field goal %
10th in opponent field goal %
9th in three-point %
6th in rebounding
13th in steals
20th in opponent turnovers

Additions:  
Austin Croshere, Greg Buckner, Anthony Johnson, Devean George, Ndudi Ebi, Maurice Ager (R)

Subtractions:  
Marquis Daniels, Keith Van Horn, Adrian Griffin, Darrell Armstrong, Josh Powell, Rawle Marshall, Pavel Podkolzin

Key Players

PG:  Jason Terry, Devin Harris, Anthony Johnson
SG:  Jerry Stackhouse, Greg Buckner, Maurice Ager
SF:  Josh Howard, Devean George
PF:  Dirk Nowitzki, Austin Croshere, Pops Mensah-Bonsu
C:  Erick Dampier, DeSagana Diop, DJ Mbenga

Comments: I fully realize how fantastic the Mavs run was last year, but mark these words:  BEWARE THE CURSE OF THE P-POD! Seriously...though they kept their main pieces Dallas lost a lot of fringe players that made them at least quirky-good, if not downright presentable.  I don't know that Buckner or Croshere are good roster padding for an offensive team because both they and rookie Maurice Ager are likely to be sporadic.  The one pick up I really like is Anthony Johnson.  This team needs a true point guard badly, especially since you wonder what day Jason Terry will wake up and realize he's a semi-sporadic knucklehead again.  Nevertheless Dirk Nowitzki raises everybody on this roster one or two notches on the offensive end and it's still a lot of firepower.  Somehow I don't expect the finals run to repeat, but the team is solid all around and is clearly among the conference elite.  Only Phoenix and San Antonio have reasonable shots to match them.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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