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Top-seeded Spurs begin title quest Sunday vs. Mavs
By: Freddy Wander - StatFox
Published: 4/20/2014  at  4:14:00 AM
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NBA Playoffs - Western Conference First Round
Game 1
Tip-off: Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET
Line: San Antonio -9, Total: 206.5

The top-seeded Spurs look to make it to the finals for the sixth time since the 1998-99 season when they open their playoffs at home against the Mavericks on Sunday afternoon.

Dallas squeaked into the playoffs, beating out the Suns by going 5-2 SU (4-3 ATS) over its final seven games of the season. The Mavs also performed really well on the road in their past five tries, winning four straight until they were defeated by the Grizzlies, 106-105 in overtime, as 2.5-point underdogs in their final contest. Dallas was swept in the first round by the Thunder in its last playoff appearance back in the 2012 postseason. San Antonio won the most games in the league this season, which included pulling off a 19-game SU winning streak toward the end of the season, but the club went just 3-4 (SU and ATS) in its final seven games. The Spurs were just one game away from winning their fifth championship when they lost the NBA Finals in seven games against the Heat last year. The Mavericks were 23-18 SU (27-14 ATS) this season when playing on the road, while San Antonio was an impressive 32-9 SU at home, but only 20-21 ATS. The Spurs dominated this series during the regular season with a four-game sweep and a 3-1 ATS mark. They have averaged 112.3 PPG over the four contests won the most recent meeting on April 10 by a 109-100 margin in Dallas as 1.5-point underdogs. They’ve manhandled the Mavericks over the past three seasons as well, going 10-2 SU (9-3 ATS) and have won seven straight games when hosting them at AT&T Center. Some trends that bettors may want to keep an eye on include the fact that Dallas is 19-3 ATS (86%) in road games since 1996 after two straight contests where it attempted 15+ free throws. Also, San Antonio is 14-2 ATS (88%) coming off a home loss over the past two seasons. The only injury to look out for in this game is that of PF Dirk Nowitzki (knee) who is considered probable for Dallas, as he has not yet missed any time.

The Mavericks put up the 8th-most points in the league this season (104.8 PPG) in part due to their 79.5% shooting from the charity stripe (3rd in NBA). Over the past five games of the season, they actually scored only 98.8 PPG (48% FG) but played solid defense, limiting their opponents to just 97.4 PPG (45% FG) in that same timeframe. Overall on the season, they gave up 102.4 PPG (11th-worst in league) to their opposition. PF Dirk Nowitzki (21.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG) was second in the NBA with an 89.9% mark from the free-throw line on the season, and had a big game (30 points, 5 rebounds, 4 blocks) in the season finale against the Grizzlies. He has been a beast over 128 career playoff games, averaging 25.9 PPG (46% FG) to go along with 10.3 RPG and 1.1 SPG, while putting up 18.5 PPG (48% FG) and 5.8 RPG in four games against the Spurs this regular season. SG Monta Ellis (19.0 PPG, 5.7 APG, 1.7 SPG) finished the season off with some great play, netting 23.6 PPG (48% FG), as well as 4.4 APG and 4.4 RPG, over his final five games. With 21.3 PPG (49% FG), 5.5 APG and 1.5 SPG against San Antonio over four contests this season, Ellis has done everything he could to keep his team from being swept. SG Vince Carter (11.9 PPG, 3.5 RPG) has provided the Mavericks with great bench minutes all season long but scored just 8.3 PPG over his final three games. He did do well against the Spurs in four games off the bench this season though, with 15.3 PPG on 45% FG.

The Spurs were once again one of the best offenses in the NBA, as they scored 105.4 PPG (6th in league) and shot an excellent 48.6% FG (2nd in NBA) and a league-best 39.7% threes. Their defense has also done well, allowing their opponents to score only 97.6 PPG (6th in league) this season, but has really struggled over the past five games, giving up an uncharacteristic 106.2 PPG (47% FG) in that timeframe. PG Tony Parker (16.7 PPG, 5.7 APG) has eased his way back into the rotation after missing two games to a back injury and has just 13.3 PPG with 2.7 APG over his past three contests. In his three games facing the Mavericks this season, Parker has scored 23.3 PPG (54% FG) to go along with 5.7 APG, and has plenty of experience in the postseason, averaging 19.1 PPG (46% FG) with 5.3 APG over 173 career playoff games (165 starts). PF Tim Duncan (15.1 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 1.9 BPG) continues to be a force as a 37-year-old, and also has a wealth of postseason experience, playing in 211 playoff games while averaging 21.9 PPG (50% FG), 12.0 RPG and 2.4 BPG. Dallas has not given him any trouble in his four starts against them either, as he has 18.5 PPG (51% FG), 12.5 RPG and 1.8 BPG. SF Kawhi Leonard (12.8 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.7 SPG) has also been strong in his four meetings with the Mavericks this season, tallying 12.8 PPG (50% FG), 9.8 RPG and 1.5 SPG.

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