Spurs don't buy Nelson's 'experience is what we're after' line
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Dallas coach Don Nelson says it's experience he's after for his young Mavericks. An NBA title, he says, is out of reach.
San Antonio's Tim Duncan says Nelson is just talking.
"They're not here to get experience," Duncan said Friday as the Spurs prepared for an all-Texas showdown in the Western Conference semifinals.
"They're here," the All-Star forward said, "to win the series, just like we are."
The Mavericks, fresh off their stunning, come-from-behind victory over Utah to win their first-round series 3-2, face the Spurs in a best-of-seven series beginning Saturday in San Antonio.
While the Spurs have been resting since Monday night, when they beat Minnesota to take their opening series in four games, the Mavericks overcame a 2-0 deficit with three straight wins.
At Utah on Thursday, they trailed by as many as 17 points in the second half. But Steve Nash, who was scoreless through three quarters, hit two 3-pointers during a 15-2 run and then made another to tie it at 79 with four minutes left.
"We always play better when our backs are against the wall," Nash said.
In their first playoff appearance since 1990, the Mavericks became just the sixth team in NBA history to survive the first round after trailing 2-0.
Nevertheless, Nelson said he doesn't see the young team going all the way.
"I'm not trying to fool anybody," he said. "I don't think we're capable of winning the world championship. ... We want to go as far as we can go and just play as hard as we can play.
"We feel in the future this team is going to have a chance to win the championship," he said. "It's not this year. Hopefully, it will be one of the coming years. And hopefully I'm the coach then. We're not going to wait a long time. The experience is what we're after. We got it, and we just feel so blessed."
Experience is one thing the Spurs already have.
The 1999 NBA champions have made it to the second round five times in the last seven years, and they have reached the playoffs in 11 of David Robinson's 12 seasons.
San Antonio beat the Mavericks in three of four games this season, twice by 12 points. In the opening game of the season series, Dallas won by two points.
"We're going to have to guard two big guys that have been dominating all season long," Dallas forward Juwan Howard said. "But they're going to have to play defense too, and we're not the easiest to defend."
That seems to be the Spurs' biggest concern: the Mavericks' ability to surge from behind and score a lot of points, fast.
"They're so explosive," Robinson said. "They may not be as consistent as Utah, but they're capable of coming back and putting up a lot of points."
Watching the final Mavericks-Jazz game on TV clearly got the Spurs' attention.
"That's a tough place to play, and in the playoffs I think that might be one of the hardest places to win in the league," Robinson said.
"It's going to take some consistent basketball to beat these guys," he said. "No lapses. You lapse, they'll come back and get you."
That's what happened to Utah.
Now the Mavericks are ready to turn their shooters loose on the Spurs, who won more games this season than any other team.
"All I can say to San Antonio is: 'Here we come,'" Finley said.