Devin Harris makes big impact off bench

Devin Harris scored a team-high 19 points for the Mavs in Game 1 against the Spurs. Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports

SAN ANTONIO -- If there's one thing that the Dallas Mavericks can take away from their five-point loss in Sunday's game against San Antonio, they found out that Devin Harris has a chance to be a real impact player in the series.

"Harris played terrific," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said after the loss.

After starting 1-of-5 from the field, Harris hit seven of his next 11 shots and exploded for a team-high 19 points. His effort alone nearly led to the Mavericks being able to pull off the improbable Game 1 upset over the Spurs.

The Mavericks needed Harris in a big way as Jose Calderon was struggling to start the game. Early on, Calderon showed signs that he might be ineffective in a series against the Spurs as he started 0-of-4 from the field and was subsequently pulled from the game by Carlisle in favor of Harris. The backup guard led the bench as they had a 46-23 bench scoring advantage against the Spurs. With the starters having a lull to start the game, Harris and the bench stepped up.

"Our bench has been big all year long," Harris said. "It's an important part of our team and what makes it so dynamic, so I think we're a big part of this series."

After getting out of the blocks slow, Harris was able to turn things around and delivered the full offensive repertoire against the Spurs. A majority of his efficiency came due to being able to get a quick first step along the perimeter.

"He does a lot for us," Mavericks forward Vince Carter said. "His quickness, his ability to shoot the pull-ups, shoot the three, get in the paint, find guys is just something we have to exploit. If we hit shots for him, that makes the game a lot easier for all of us."

The promising thing for Dallas is that Harris' game could be sustained over the course of a series. With the Mavericks having elite scoring threats in Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis, the Spurs won't be able to shut down everyone. They'll have to sacrifice something along the way.

"Devin is a heck of a player," Spurs forward Tim Duncan said. "He's a very good scorer and he kind of got away from us. We are going to have to make some adjustments in that respect and prepare for him a little more but at the same time we have to keep our eye on Dirk and Ellis."

A playoff series always hangs on adjustments. Carlisle will have to decide if he should alter his starting lineup and overall rotation. Harris could help avoid another slow start, but preserving standard and specific roles might be the route to go.

Either way, Harris appears to be primed for a big series.