Originally written on Project Spurs  |  Last updated 12/30/12
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The matchup of the night for the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks game on the Mavs' homecourt is between Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki. This will be Dirk's 4th game back and he hasn't shot well, only hitting 32% of his shots so far (he went 3-4 in his first game back against San Antonio). He'll still be looking to find his conditioning on the court, but he'll still pose problems for the Spurs on the defensive end. If the Mavs decide to go with a small lineup and put Shawn Marion at power forward, that'll leave Duncan to guard the versatile Nowitzki. What Duncan Must Do On Offense: He has to try to slow the game down when the Mavs want to speed it up and look to speed it up when the Mavericks want to keep it slow. When the Mavs go small with Marion at the 4 position, that gives them the opportunity to run and cause the defense to break down with his versatile mindset and shooting. With Chris Kaman or Elton Brand in the game next to Nowitzki (or Shawn Marion at the 3 with any lineup), the Spurs become extremely quick and versatile in comparison and Duncan becomes one of the athletic bigs on the court. Tim Duncan must also stay active on the offensive end and force the Mavs to continually rotate, that'll help give his teammates open shots and making the Mavs use most of their legs. What Duncan Must Do On Defense: He must contain Dirk to the baseline if he's guarding him. Even though if Duncan isn't going one on one against Nowitzki, he'll see plenty of him on the court. Whether Tiago Splitter, Boris Diaw, or any other big on the team guard Dirk, he's so athletic and good that Duncan must be ready to give help defense when it's demanded of him. If he keeps Dirk away from the basket, it'll be a long night for the Mavericks on their own homecourt.
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