Mavs-Spurs matchups: Small forward

ESPNDallas.com will break down the matchups in the Mavericks-Spurs series throughout the day.


JEFF CAPLAN: The Mavs' Shawn Marion has been a super acquisition. He's been their top defender, is unselfish offensively and comes to play every night. He'll likely see a good bit of time on Manu Ginobili, but when he's not he'll shadow Richard Jefferson, one of the most intriguing players entering the postseason. Jefferson has had a difficult season adjusting to Gregg Popovich's style, but he's played well of late, especially when paired with Ginobili. Keeping Jefferson off-balance willl be key. If he's allowed to have big games in addition to Ginobili and Tim Duncan, it could spell big trouble for the Mavs. Marion is coming off an oblique muscle strain, but seems to be fine and is primed for his first playoff series in two years. Marion has had the better season, hands down, but Jefferson is also a seasoned playoff performer, having been to two NBA Finals with Mavs point guard Jason Kidd in New Jersey. Most observers probably give Marion the nod here, but let's call this matchup a push. EDGE: Even

TIM MACMAHON: Richard Jefferson is a one-dimensional player who hasn’t performed that dimension as well as the Spurs hoped when they traded for him last summer. Like Jefferson, Shawn Marion averaged his fewest points per game since his rookie season, but Marion is the Mavs’ best defender. George Hill’s sore ankle might make Jefferson’s scoring even more important to the Spurs. The Mavs need Marion, who will probably defend Manu Ginobili more than Jefferson, to be a defensive pest who plays a key role in pushing the tempo. EDGE: Dallas

JEFF “SKIN” WADE: Shawn Marion’s primary role will be as a perimeter defender and he’s been outstanding as the team’s stopper this year. Check the résumé. He’s also been through the wars and I’m someone who believes that matters a great deal. Richard Jefferson’s primary role will be to try and be better than plain old ordinary. He’s been a pretty big disappointment, especially from behind the arc where he’s shooting .316 on the season and 4-18 in April. I don’t see any particular reason why that won’t continue to be the case when it really matters. EDGE: Dallas

MAVS 2.5, SPURS .5