Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Play along: If one of these teams is going to the NBA Finals, will it be the Mavs or Spurs?
David Aldridge: I love the Spurs right now. (Emphasis on “right now.” See Question/Answer #1.) What they’re doing now that they haven’t been able to do, maybe ever during their run, is avoid those long scoreless streaks that put so much pressure on their defense to hold everyone under 90 every night. That’s hard to do in this era, with the rules and Duncan’s declining effectiveness. I know Pop thinks the D is mediocre, and maybe it is by San Antonio’s standards. But it can still be pretty good, especially if George Hill can stay healthy.
Steve Aschburner: Spurs. What we’re seeing in San Antonio isn’t just a start to the season anymore, it’s the season, period. That makes what the Spurs are doing all the more real, and it puts more onus on them to make sure this leads to something satisfying at the end. Beyond that, I just think they’re built better for the postseason and the competition out West. When a San Antonio team can win getting only modest (or less) production out of Tim Duncan, that team has plenty in reserve and ready options. Dallas is doing a great job, but we’ve been forced to choose and I choose Spurs.
Fran Blinebury: I like them both, but will give the very slight edge to the Spurs, especially if they can keep Tim Duncan’s minutes way down during the regular season in order to produce in the playoffs. Manu Ginobili deserves MVP mention and Tony Parker is healthy and on the attack. I like the way they are running more on offense and have a roster full of 3-point shooters that has been difficult to defend. While Dallas has already shown the depth of its team, the Spurs can still improve when they rookie James Anderson back onto the floor and rookie Tiago Splitter becomes more integrated into the rotation. What is already a great rivalry could climb to new heights with a playoff meeting this season.
Art Garcia: Wouldn’t it be nice if we had BCS standings in the NBA and both went if they finished 1 and 2? Scratch that idea. We don’t need another BCS. This is like choosing between modern-day Elizabeth Banks and Cocktail-era Elizabeth Shue. I’m going with the squad that’s playing the better defense. The one that has more of an inside presence. The one with the better power forward. Yes, in a complete role reversal, the Dallas Mavericks. (Toronto loss notwithstanding.)
Scott Howard-Cooper: Very slight edge to the Spurs because of their championship experience. They are more dependable that time of the year. But what a fun matchup if it comes to be. Dallas with improved interior defense, San Antonio with terrific guard play – good stuff.
Shaun Powell: Love what the Mavericks are doing defensively, and how Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki, men of a certain age, are ignoring physical logic. This is a very good team, a very veteran team, a very capable team. But, c’mon. You know Tim Duncan’s alarm clock is set to mid-April.
John Schuhmann: It would be an easy call if you just started watching the NBA on Tuesday. But I don’t think there’s a real clear answer. Both are top 10 on both ends of the floor. Dallas has been better defensively, while San Antonio has been better offensively. Dallas is deeper, while San Antonio has the stronger track record. I’ll give a slight edge to the Spurs, because they’ve got the advantage in the standings at this point, and I feel like they’ll end up being just as good as the Mavs defensively when push comes to shove.
Sekou Smith: With their history and this being an odd numbered year, the safe money is on the Spurs. They are leading the league right now. But my gut tells me this Mavericks team could make some bigger noise in the playoffs. Tyson Chandler changes the game for them in the middle, giving them the defensive backbone they’ve lacked in recent years. They are playing better defense and they have better depth than any other team in the Western Conference, Boston’s the only team that can go deeper into its bench.