Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 5/24/12

So much for that heated rivalry between the Mavericks and Spurs. Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki is picking San Antonio to beat the Thunder in the Western Conference finals of the NBA playoffs, and he lauded Gregg Popovich while doing so.

“I think San Antonio’s going to do it, just because they’ve got one more home game,” he said Tuesday on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s “Galloway & Company.” “They really came on strong late in the season and they snatched home-court advantage away from OKC. So, I got to think just by that there is a little slight advantage. But honestly, both teams are good enough to win on the opponent’s floor, so I would give a slight advantage to San Antonio, but, man, OKC is looking really good.”

Dirk praised Spurs coach Gregg Popovich for keeping his team among the best in the NBA.

“To me, he’s the best coach in the league, he’s a genius on both ends of the floor,” Nowitzki said. “The adjustment that he goes through — at the beginning they win all their championships with defense, and he saw where the game’s going; the game is going to free-flowing and more movement, you need basically four shooters on the floor at all times, and he’s the man, he made it all happen.”

Nowitzki went on to praise the team’s front office and their ability to find and develop draft prospects that other teams overlook. And unlike other players who claim they stop watching the playoffs once their team is eliminated, Dirk says he’s following things closely. It’s obvious he thinks extremely highly of the Spurs considering his team was swept by OKC.

This article first appeared on Larry Brown Sports and was syndicated with permission.

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