It has the look of a series that will go the full distance. Tied a win apiece, the Spurs and Mavericks return to the hardwood on Friday night for Game 3 of their series at San Antonio's AT&T Center. Dallas never could get its offense going in the 102-88 Game 2 loss, due in part to an off night and slow start by Dirk Nowitzki. ESPN will have Friday's broadcast from the Alamo City beginning at 9:30 p.m. Eastern.
Richard Jefferson is moving on up, trying to help the San Antonio Spurs get a piece of the sky.
Jefferson went from zero to hero Wednesday night, responding with 19 points and seven rebounds to help the Spurs even their Western Conference first-round playoff series with the Dallas Mavericks at 1-1.
The question of how many games it will take Dallas to dispense with the old, tired Spurs has now been rendered moot, thanks to the Big Three of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker and a guy compared to Lassie after Sunday’s series opener.
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Dallas is probably taking comfort in the knowledge that Jefferson’s unlikely to once again play like his pants were on fire when the series shifts to San Antonio for Game 3 on Friday night.
The Mavericks seemed to be stunned when the Spurs didn’t roll over and go belly up on Wednesday after dropping the opener, 100-94.
Whereas San Antonio’s mid- and long-range jumpers had previously succeeded at a rate of only 38 percent, in the turnaround performance the Spurs made 19-of-40 (47.5 percent) of those same shots.
The Mavericks weren’t bad from long-range. But their percentage was far below San Antonio’s, which has been a kiss of death in the playoffs.
Teams that shot a better percentage from three-point land than their opponents are a combined 13-3. That doesn’t mean they made more triples than the losing team, but they shot it better.
Dallas now finds itself in the same position the Spurs found themselves in Wednesday, having to win a game that nobody thinks it can.
However, the Mavericks have been an outstanding road team all season. In addition, despite playing deplorable defense for 2 ½ quarters, Dallas sliced a 20-point deficit to five halfway through the fourth quarter.
Dirk Nowitzki needed 24 shots to get 24 points after being virtually unstoppable in the first game of the series. It certainly helped the Spurs’ cause that Nowitzki picked up a pair of fouls in the first few minutes of the game, sending him to the bench and spoiling his chance to get in an early groove again.
San Antonio played five of its last seven games on the road to finish the regular season. The Spurs have cashed 10 of their last 11 at AT&T Center following a road trip of seven or more days. They have also ‘covered’ eight of 10 at home and seven of nine on one day’s rest.
Dallas has cashed five straight on the road, six of seven with one night off and 11 of 15 following a double-digit home loss. The Mavericks had cashed four straight against San Antonio prior to Wednesday and they have grabbed the green in 12 of 16 meetings in the Spurs’ building.
These bitter rivals have ended on the low side at a 4-1-1 clip in the last six contests, though the ‘over’ has cashed in four of five at San Antonio.
The Spurs have jumped the number in their last five home games, while Dallas has dribbled ‘under’ at a 9-4-1 clip in its past 14 road ventures.
Most offshore books opened San Antonio as three-point favorites in Game 3, with the ‘total’ set at 193 ½.
Friday's game from Alamo City is set for a 9:30 p.m. ET tip on ESPN. Sister network ESPN2 will carry the Denver, Utah contest at 10:30 p.m. ET.