Fort Worth Star-Telegram Gil LeBreton column

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 23, 2014 at 8:37 am •  Published: April 23, 2014

Lineup changes?

Certainly. But somebody still is going to have to stop Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, among other San Antonio Spurs, and therein lies the never-ending problem for the Dallas Mavericks.

As Sunday’s Game 1 reminded, there are trade-offs in this first-round series against the Spurs. The Mavericks must pick their poison.

“They’re a good defensive team,” the Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki said after Game 1. “They’re not necessarily athletic and long, but they’re very smart.

“What they want to do is take you out of your comfort zone. If you like one move, they won’t let you get that one move.”

It’s not likely, therefore, that coach Gregg Popovich and the Spurs spent a lot of time this week worrying about whether the Mavs’ Rick Carlisle starts Jose Calderon or Devin Harris.

Calderon can shoot. Harris can drive. But on defense, neither of them can stay in front of Parker.

After the Mavericks struck for an 81-71 lead Sunday, much anguish was expressed over the team’s inability to score in the final 7:45.

San Antonio made 35 field goals Sunday. Twenty-eight of them came in the paint. Down by 10 points, the Spurs roared back, mostly with layups and little jumpers by Duncan, and that was that. Their longest shot in the final eight minutes was 13 feet.

Harris, on occasion, can be a good defender. But like most of the rest of the league’s guards, he can’t handle Parker. That’s going to take help.

Any suggestions on that?

Center Samuel Dalembert’s improved play helped to get the Mavericks into the playoffs, and he was expected to play an important role in the first-round series. But on Sunday, even with Dalembert avoiding foul trouble, he played only 17-plus minutes and had minimal impact on the outcome. The game seemed to be moving too fast for him.

Brandan Wright logged 26 minutes in the middle, scoring 11 points, but Duncan was his customary Hall of Fame self down the stretch.

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