After an impressive Game 1 start, the Dallas Mavs relapsed into defensive ineptitude and allowed Spurs point guard Tony Parker to torch them for 38 points and a blowout win in San Antonio. Erick Dampier came out the day after and proclaimed through the media that he was going to put Parker on the ground. Though it wasn't the wisest thing to say publicly, in my opinion the message was directed at his own teammates -- we need to step up and take responsibility.

Last night, the Mavs did just that. As good as their offense is, everyone knows that playoff basketball is about defense. And the road will only get tougher, if the Mavs cannot stop Tony Parker, what chance do they have against Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, or Lebron James? In order to stop the great players, it required a total team effort and smart defensive play, and I felt collectively the Mavs did that in stopping Parker. Here are few defensive highlights from the first half before Popovich pulled all his starters,

I felt that starting JJ Barea was the right move by Carlisle. He has the speed to stay with Parker as see in the one sequence. But the Mavs also had great help defense all-around from Dampier, Howard, JET, Kidd, and Dirk. I wanted to highlight this one play because I think it's just a smart defensive play. On the rotation, J Kidd is left to closeout on Parker. Instead of leaving his feet and flying at him, Kidd knows that Parker isn't really a 3-point threat. So he chops his feet and stays down, forces Parker to put the ball on the floor to beat him. Then he makes another great play by anticipating the spin move by Parker and keeping him in front, forcing Parker to travel,


I'm still sticking with my pre-playoff prediction that the Mavs will go on to win this series. How well they do beyond, against the Nuggets/Hornets, Jazz/Lakers, Blazers/Rockets, really depends on how well they play defensively. The Mavs have all the offensive abilities to score against even the best of defensive teams, but they need consistent defensive performances to win the Championship. Can they do it? Certainly possible, but it all depends on whether the whole team (players and coaches) can commit to it.

For a brand new video on defense, check out Seth Greenberg's DVD on closing out and Defense in Special Situations. Coach Greenberg is the head coach at Virginia Tech. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to discuss this and any of your favorite basketball topics.