Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Was there a basketball game last night?

Funny that you should ask. Why yes, there was. The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Phoenix Suns in Game 2 of the first round of the NBA playoffs, in fact. Which, I will tell you right now, has made my day. But let's get down to business:

Tony Parker: 32 points, 7 assists, and some very clutch mid-range jumpers to put the game out of reach at the very end of the 4th. What can I say, He and Duncan could close their eyes and perfectly execute the pick and roll.

Manu: Many of us Spurs fans said Ginobili was gonna have a big game. And you wanna know what, we were right. I wan't to address the idea that Manu can't go right. That is absurd. First of all, he finishes to the right all the time. Second, he changes direction so quickly that if you play him left he beats you right and then just moves back to his left. I'm the only one who doesn't blame Raja Bell for playing him straight up in the final play of Game 1. You gotta beat him to the spot and make him double back (as he is prone to do), not give him an easy way into the lane. He is just to creative around the basket.

Hack-A-Shaq: Ok, so I'm gonna be unashamed about this one. Not only did the strategy not work (he went 5-6 from the line during the hack-a-Shaq stretch), and was it unnecessary (they couldn't hit the broad side of a barn during the 3rd and all we did was slow down the clock while allowing them to put up a few points), it was chicken shit. Its legal, but its chicken shit. I don't mind when we play physical ball (or "dirty" for people who think that basketball shouldn't be a man's game). But let's at least play. It disrespects the game, disrespects the Suns, and disrespects ourselves.

Popovich: Despite that fact, Popovich has once again shown he is a better coach than Mike D'Antoni. He makes better personnel decisions. He controls the clock better. He makes better half-time adjustments. And he draws up/calls better plays. This has been and will continue to be a major reason we consistently defeat the Suns.

Personnel Decisions: Speaking of personnel decisions, I praised it last game and I'll praise it again. We're going with an offensive oriented line-up (which mostly just means Finley over Bowen). And I like it.

Mike D'Antoni's coaching: Were they running an offense in the 3rd quarter? I know the Spurs came out playing some tenacious defense, but why were they letting Diaw post up so often? I'm sorry, but am I the only one who thinks Boris Diaw is not that good at basketball? He certainly has no surefire post moves, as their was definitely a couple of times he setup one-on-one with Parker in the post and couldn't close the deal. Let me repeat that. He was being guarded by Tony 6'2" Parker on the block and couldn't put it in the hoop. And why did they stop sending Amare to the hole. Why was he just shooting mid-range jumpers? He has a nice jump shot but not that nice.

UPDATE: The gentleman over at The X's and O's happen to agree with me about the whole Diaw fiasco.

Leandro Barbosa: Is freakishly fast but cannot handle a good defender. And he needs to learn how to competently pass the ball. The guy is super talented but tries to force the one on one when its not there. If he were a better passer it would open up his drive a lot.

Grant Hill: Listen, I like Grant Hill, but they gotta get him off that floor. He isn't even close to 100% and is subsequently getting schooled.

Finley: Listen, I've always loved Fin-Dog, no two ways about it. I was not on the "Michael Finished" bandwagon earlier this year. And although obviously the big 3 are carrying this squad, the bursts from strong, however brief, performances like Finley's 3rd quarter are what we need to put us over the hump.

Listen, I do not believe this series is over. I do not believe any series is over until that clock says 00:00 and a number 4 appears in the win column. This Suns team is still a very good team and we need to act like it. But it will be very hard to beat the Spurs 4 out 5 times. Those are odds I wouldn't want to be up against. and like I've said before that in my opinion every playoff game should be considered a must win. But this next game is absolutely, positively a must win for the Suns.

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