Coach Gregg Popovich is a man of few words. However rare they may be, those words carry big weight with the San Antonio Spurs.
This was evident in the Spurs’ 109-103 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night. In a huddle in the second quarter, Popovich implored his team to “do what we do!” on offense. What the Spurs “do” on offense is pick-and-roll with the best of them, and that is exactly what happened in San Antonio.
The ball movement exhibited by the Spurs was textbook and precise all night. Tony Parker and Tim Duncan have perfected the high pick-and-roll in their careers and this was on display against the Mavericks. Duncan scored most of his points cutting to the basket from the free throw line after setting high screens. Watching Duncan dominate younger, more athletic forwards with fundamentals and determination is a thing of beauty.
The future Hall-of-Famers combined for 39 points on the night as the Mavericks looked confused by this simple offense. This confusion resulted in the rest of the Spurs bombarding the paint with Parker and Duncan. Tiago Splitter, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard sliced and diced the hapless Dallas defense, helping San Antonio score 54 points in the paint to Dallas’ 28. San Antonio only took 16 shots from behind the arc, as the long range guns stayed in the holsters.
This five-man frontal assault is exactly what the Spurs need for the rest of this series. Dallas was 20th in the NBA in points allowed this season and Wednesday night was a microcosm of why they have been reduced to a no. 8 seed. Trying to outscore the Spurs’ offense is a losing proposition. The Dallas defense could not handle the pick-and-roll, and their two-man offense is not enough to take on five players attacking the basket.
Owning the paint is what the Spurs “do” and Popovich has to be pleased. Look for the Spurs to advance after Friday night’s game.