CBS ‘Eye On Basketball’ takes a closer look at the 1st round playoff match-ups as the NBA Playoffs begin this weekend:
San Antonio Spurs (1) vs. Dallas Mavericks (8)
Analysis: Just for old time’s sake, we’re getting a good old-fashioned Tim Duncan-Dirk Nowitzki duel in the playoffs. The Spurs are 4-2 in playoff series against the Mavericks in the Dirk-Duncan era with the Spurs winning the most recent series in 2010. We’re getting two of the best perimeter attack teams in the NBA, who execute with incredible precision.
The biggest key to this series will end up being how the Mavericks’ big men play. Dallas has trouble on the boards and they’re a pretty bad defensive unit in most creations they have with their lineups. Can anybody step up to right the interior ship for Dallas or will Duncan and Tiago Splitter have their way inside and in the series?
Oklahoma City Thunder (2) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (7)
Analysis: After the Grizzlies announced their presence with authority on the playoff scene in 2011, they were outlasted by the Thunder in the second round of the playoffs in a pretty epic series. Last season, we got a rematch but this one was sans Russell Westbrook, which allowed the Grizzlies to take advantage of focusing on Kevin Durant defensively and making the rest of the team beat them.
SI’s Ian Thomsen on the mutual respect and bond between under rated Spurs PG Tony Parker and his coach Greg Popovich:
Some NBA coaches wouldn’t know how to say it. Some NBA stars wouldn’t know how to listen. Those people have nothing in common with Gregg Popovich and Tony Parker.
“Pop, he was like, ‘Are you going to shoot sometimes during the season?’ ” Parker recalled. “He was just messing with me. He was telling me he wanted me to be more aggressive.”
Parker had been shooting poorly as San Antonio headed out last week on a six-game trip through the East. Popovich knew what to say and how to say it: He has been coaching Parker for 12 seasons and knows how to criticize his point guard without doing harm to their relationship. Over the first four games of that road trip — all won by the Spurs — Parker was shooting 61.9 percent and averaging 26.5 points. The relationship with his coach continues to grow.