Mavs-Spurs matchups: Centers

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


JEFF CAPLAN: The Mavs have a definite size and athleticism advantage inside with the addition of Brendan Haywood. He's coming off the bench, but typically playing starter's minutes with the more plodding Erick Dampier seeing a reduction in minutes. As a pair, they should hold up well against ageless Antonio McDyess and perimeter-oriented Matt Bonner. The main concern for the Mavs could be how much they can use their centers depending how often Spurs coach Gregg Popovich employs 3-point specialist Bonner to draw his defender away from the basket. Bonner shoots 39 percent from the arc and if he's in and McDyess is out, it likely will force Mavs coach Rick Carlisle to go small. But, all-in-all, the Dampier and Haywood pairing should enjoy a significant rebounding advantage. They must provide good help defense to keep Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili from making a living in the lane. Take the Mavs' true centers over the Spurs' hybrids. EDGE: Dallas

TIM MACMAHON: The Mavs have two big bangers to throw at Tim Duncan in Brendan Haywood and Erick Dampier. But it’s not a question about whether they can shut down Duncan, arguably the best big man of this generation. It’s a matter of how much they can limit his damage. The Mavs can live with Duncan getting 20 and 10. They’ve got problems if he’s going for 30 and 15. Dampier has defended Duncan relatively well over the years, including last season’s series, when Duncan averaged 19.8 points and 8.0 rebounds. Duncan has averaged 18.5 points and 10.1 rebounds in 14 career meetings against Haywood. EDGE: San Antonio

JEFF “SKIN” WADE: Yes, don’t listen to the lies. Tim Duncan is a center. When Bonner jumps tip and covers Erick Dampier and Brendan Haywood all series long, then we’ll talk. Until then, the Big Fundamental will dominate this matchup the same way Dirk dominates his. Look for 20 and 10 every night. Damp and Haywood’s biggest impact will come as help defenders on drives. If they get to the right spot in time and help limit the opportunities for second chance points, then they’ll hold their own. EDGE: San Antonio