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OutletPass
05-28-2003, 05:07 PM
San Antonio can't capitalize from line
By Terry Brown
NBA Insider
Wednesday, May 28
Updated: May 28
9:47 AM ET


The difference, right now, between the San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks is that Bruce Bowen could take a step forward at the free throw line while Nick Van Exel takes another step back and it still wouldn't change a thing.
In the two games Dallas has won in this Western Conference Finals, the Mavs have made 72 of 73 free throws. Meanwhile, in those same two games, San Antonio has made 55 of 86. "It's kind of crazy," Van Exel told the Washington Post of Don Nelson's hack-a-Bowen strategy. "It's kind of crazy to be put on the free throw line like that."

Bowen ended up shooting 4 of 6 from the line to improve, so to speak, to 21 of 40 in the playoffs. But what about hack-a-MVP?

Tim Duncan made only 5 of 12 from the free throw line as the Mavs came back from a 19-point deficit to win last night's contest and extend the series to sixth game.

Or hack-a-former-MVP?

David Robinson, the 14-year veteran, was 3 of 6 from the free throw line. "It gave us a chance to catch our breath, Nellie putting Bruce on the free throw line like that," Dallas veteran Walt Williams told the Post. "You could see the expression on their players' faces. It was like, 'Damn, here they go with that Hack-a-Bruce crap again.' "

Going into last night's game, the Spurs were out-scoring, out-rebounding and out-passing the Mavs while getting more steals and more blocks and shooting better from the field.

But the Mavericks had one statistical category in their favor.

During the regular season, Dallas shot a league-best 82.9 percent from the free throw line (second-best in league history), while the Spurs were the fourth-worst at 72.5 percent. In this series, the Mavs are shooting 83.4 percent. The Spurs are shooting 71.5 percent. Among the starting fives in the regular season, the Mavs starters shot 86.9 percent while their Spur counterparts shot 70 percent.

Even in the games it has lost in this series, Dallas has shot 80 percent from the line. If the Mavs are to force a seventh and deciding game, expect them to do it from the free-throw line, possibly setting a playoff record in the process. The record for team free-throw percentage in a playoff series currently is held by the Milwaukee Bucks, who shot 84.2 percent from the line against the Sixers in 2001.

It doesn't surprise Avery Johnson, a former Spur and current Maverick coach, at all. "We shoot more free throws (in practice) than any team I've been on," Johnson told the Austin-American Statesman. "We sincerely expect every free throw to go in."

And this is the result:

Four of the Mavs five starters have shot 84 percent or better from the line during this postseason, Dirk Nowitzki topping them all at 91.2 percent on 113 attempts before injuring his knee.
Eduardo Najera, Nowitzki's replacement on the court, is shooting 79 percent from the line and has the distinction of having the only missed free throw in those two wins.

Van Exel, Nowitzki's replacement in the boxscore, is shooting 73 percent, but you won't find a more clutch player on the entire roster.
Heck, Williams, the 6-foot-8, 3-point specialist who has been forced to play power forward, and even center, in this series, has yet to miss a free throw in the playoffs.

The Spurs, on the other hand, have only one player in their starting rotation shooting above 75 percent in the playoffs and only two players who average more than 10 minutes a game who are shooting above 77 percent.

"Nellie feels it's very important," Van Exel told the Ft. Worth Star Telegram of the Mavs strenuous free-throw shooting regimen in practice, "and I guess right now it's really showing and paying off for us."

LRB
05-28-2003, 06:43 PM
FT's win championship? i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif

mavsfanforever
05-28-2003, 07:57 PM
Choke job loses championships.

MavsFanFinley
05-28-2003, 10:02 PM
The hack a whoever has really disrupted the Spurs flow while giving the Mavs a chance to win.

It's just icing for the Mavs to nail their ft's and watch the Spurs choke on theres.