There's an old NBA playoff adage that says that a post-season series doesn't truly begin until a visiting team secures a victory on their opponents home court. The San Antonio Spurs effectively arrived in the playoffs in Game 2 of their first round series with a convincing win over the Mavericks in Dallas. Leading the charge for the Spurs was the title-winning triumvirate of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker whose inspired play has some fans speculating that a first round upset over the higher seeded Mavs is indeed a possibility.
The series continues tonight in San Antonio with Game 3 where the Spurs should expect a Mavericks squad refocused on taking back home court advantage. Aside from the rejuvenated “Big 3”, the key for the Spurs will be the performance of their role players who have a tendency to play better at home. Look for Richard Jefferson, who has been maligned all season due to his huge contact and lackluster play, to have the breakout game we've been waiting for in his home playoff-debut.
Aside from the rejuvenation of Spurs icon Manu Ginobili, the continued emergence of sophomore guard George Hill was the silver lining to a tenuous regular-season campaign. For his efforts, Hill tied with Oklahoma City Thunder phenom Kevin Durant for second place in the bid to capture the NBA's Most Improved Player Award. Although Houston's Aaron Brook ended up walking away with the award, expect big things in the playoffs from Hill despite a lingering ankle injury. When a player has “blessed” tatted across his chest expectations tend to run high.