Saturday, April 26, 2008
"Jugular veins are veins that bring deoxygenated blood from the head back to the heart via the superior vena cava"
So, I may I think I know a lot about basketball, but I don't. And I may think I am a gutsy and impassioned fan but I clearly am not. Because every game of this series I have mentally prepared myself for the possibility of the Spurs losing (the last two I actually predicted losses). And well...we've won. And in increasingly convincing fashion. I thought we would coast through this one, cede a game, and look to go 1-1 in Phoenix on Sunday. Well, my boys in the silver and black are a good bit more cold-blooded than I gave them credit for. I wonder if D'Antoni really believes he has the better team now.
Before I get into the recap, I want to discuss something. Something I have avoided discussing for fear of raising expectations above where they should be placed and for fear of not focusing on the game/series at hand and instead looking towards a not-yet-earned future. But I will say it right now: If we play like this for the rest of the postseason, we will repeat as NBA champions.
Let's get down to business:
Tony Parker: Parker's competitiveness is one of the most underrated "intangibles" on this team. Obviously he doesn't bring it night in, night out during the regular season, but come the playoffs the man shows no mercy. In my opinion nobody in the Association finishes in the lane better than Tony. So not foolishly D'Antoni crowded the lane to keep him away from the hoop. But if he can consistently drain his mid-range jumper the way he did last night he could be an unstoppable offensive force. He also played some great perimeter defense. The suns were looking to get open beyond the arc late in the game as a flurry of threes was their only realistic shot at getting back in this one. His hustle and smarts insured that they did not get that opportunity.
Hack-A-Shaq: I've dedicated a lot of time to the ethics of Hack-a-Shaq, so I'll avoid that. I will say that not only was it more succesful this game, it was better implemented. It was thrown in more sporadically (although mostly at the very end of a quarter), and I think that this genuinely interrupted the Suns flow instead of merely bogging down the game as a whole (which I felt our use of the tactic in game 2 did).
Kurt Thomas: I know its ridiculous to complain about fouls after a victory like last night, but why do the refs have it out for Thomas in this series? On the replay of that technical foul all it did was look like he clapped his hands together. He didn't even mouth off. And that offensive foul/moving screen a minute or two later (I was in a bar, I couldn't tell what exactly they called him for) was just a joke. Tony drove the other direction and Thomas made minimal contact if any at all. I just was furious about it at the time and needed to get that off my chest. Aside from that I have been very pleased with his defense on the block. I was so happy when we picked him up and he has yet to disappoint.
Duncan: I feel like he is playing at a level I haven't seen from him in a while. From a physical standpoint he looks quicker and more agile than he has in a long time. He reminds me of '05. But he is also playing with a focus and intensity that I believe is genuinely infectious, and is a big reason why we are playing at such a high level.
Popovich: The Suns are getting outcoached, pure and simple.
D'Antoni: There's a lot of criticisms I could make of D'Antoni, but I'll just stick with a couple. He obviously doesn't read this blog, or else he would have known that Grant Hill is not at 100% and is a huge defensive liability when on the floor as well as decidedly unproductive on the offensive end. He also would know that one pass to Diaw in the post is equivalent to one Spurs defensive rebound. He also would know that a lot of NBA players can make a mid-range jumper, so leaving guys open near the top of the key to just do their thing is not an effective defensive strategy.
Nash: Listen, I have all the respect in the world for Steve Nash. He is a good guy and a great player. And it has been a pleasure to watch him over the past few years. But he has not been himself this series. He looks lost out there. I believe his exact words were "I feel like an outsider." Many people said the Shaq trade was made because Nash's physical condition meant the last chance for the Suns to win a title would be "this year, maybe next." I might replace "maybe" with "not" if Nash can't locate himself out there.
Amare: He is too much of a defensive liability for him to actually carry the Suns franchise in the quickly approaching post-Nash years.
Leandro Barbosa: Decided to show up in the playoffs for once. Didn't matter.
So ok, I have rationalized the possibility of failure over and over. I'm tired of making safe and timd predictions (let's be honest, predicting your team is gonna lose is really just assuring that you as a writer win either way). Well, enough is enough. I'm getting my broom out of the closet. We put our foot on their's throats yesterday, let's press down with that foot tomorrow.