These first round series have been one of the most exciting and competitive first rounds (only one sweep) in recent memory, and that has given us plenty to choose from, both in terms of savvy plays and shabby plays. This week, we are going to look at how the Mavericks made great passing decisions that resulted in a wide open three-point look. On the shabby side of things, we are going to look at the San Antonio Spurs and their very uncharacteristic struggles with clock management in game three.

Dallas’ Two-Man Game

After a terrible 4th quarter loss, the Dallas Mavericks needed to do just about everything perfect to not only guarantee a win, but to boost their confidence. In the middle of the second quarter, we saw Jason Kidd make a terrific play in transition that resulted in a wide open three-point shot for his teammate:

The play starts with Jason Terry getting possession of the basketball and sprinting it out to the corner. Jason Kidd fills the wing and gets the kick-out pass. The Mavericks now have a two-on-one advantage with Gerald Wallace trying to defend both Jason Kidd and Jason Terry. Instead of taking the open shot, Kidd — who has been hitting shots this series — fakes the shot, selling the fake by bending his knees as if he is going to take the shot. This draws Wallace to Kidd, who then throws a pass to the wide-open Jason Terry. Terry is open in the corner, knocks down the three and gives the Mavericks the lead.

Spurs’ Poor Clock Management

After a Game 4 blowout, the San Antonio Spurs are trailing the Memphis Grizzlies three games to one. If they go on to lose this series, they are going to be pointing to one game — and one decision — in that huge loss as the point when things went bad:

Trailing the Grizzlies by three, the Spurs decided to not foul and go for the stop. They were able to force Zach Randolph into a tough shot, and secure the rebound with 6.6 seconds left. A timeout means the Spurs get the ball on the side to run a play designed by one of the best coaches in the game at drawing up plays late.

That timeout never comes. George Hill grabs the rebound and instead of calling timeout (or Gregg Popovich calling timeout) he sprints out of the block trying to rush up a shot. Eventually, the Spurs end up not getting a shot up.

In my opinion, there are three people to blame. Both George Hill and Manu Ginobili had opportunities to call timeouts. Hill when he first grabbed the rebound, Ginobili when he caught the pass. However, the person who is most to blame is Gregg Popovich, who should have called timeout as soon as the ball was in the Spurs’ possession.

He knew it even before the game ended:

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As soon as the ref gets away from Popovich, you can see him doing the double facepalm. this is yet another example why clock management is so important in the playoffs.

Until next time.