Monday, May 19, 2008
The Dream Lives On
First and foremost, I want to congratulate the New Orleans Hornets. They played a fierce and fearless series and, by not underestimating the Spurs in anyway, gave us the greatest compliment of all. I look forward to seeing this team progress in the upcoming years, and if Paul doesn't have a ring or two on his finger one of these days, I'll be shocked. Let's get down to business:
Perimeter Shooting: So I whined and complained about our perimeter shooting no matter how well we shot the entire series. We only shot .429 from beyond the arc in game 7 (I still act like that's something to complain about) but God bless every time that ball when through the net.
Duncan: Duncan came out strong but kind of flat-lined late in the game. I don't know whether his foul trouble made him hesitant or whether he just felt like he needed to carry us, but he wasn't making good decisions with the ball late in the game. In general I felt like he had a lot of opportunities to kick it out to the perimeter, in particular to Ginobili (who, as I've said, is the only Spur who I whole heartedly trust on the outside) but chose to force the shot. I'll be interested to see how his decision making plays out next series.
Parker: Tony was not aggressive this game. To be honest, I was disappointed in his offensive play, but he got the job done by distributing the ball well and only committing two turnovers (Chris Paul had 4 turnovers, by the way).
Ginobili: Manu took a lot of shots that didn't drop, but it didn't bother me because I saw the fearlessness in his eyes from the first moment. If you want to look towards one man for why the Spurs won this game, look no further than the wild-eyed Argentine. (N.B. 4-4 from the line the final minute didn't hurt, either).
Turnovers: The Spurs had 10 turnovers in the 1st half, and subsequently the Hornets kept within striking distance. The Lakers will not be so forgiving.
Role Players: Bowen, Horry, Finley and Udoka collectively went 8-16 from beyond the arc. Oberto, Finley, Thomas, Udoka, and Horry collectively had 27 rebounds. This victory was a team effort.
3rd Quarter: For once the Spurs retained their composure and tenacity during the 3rd, and it made all the difference.
Experience: There was a lot of over-emphasized discussion of "experience" in this series, but in game 7 it mattered for the first time. The Spurs ability to bounce back after allowing the lead to close to 3 emphasized exactly why this team has perennially gotten the job done in the post-season.
Chris Paul: We did a good job switching back and forth between the trap and going under the pick. Our defensive diversity made Paul think about everything an extra moment, and it lead to 4 turnovers (which oddly enough is high) and an 8-18 shooting night (his first instinct is to pass, and I think we took advantage of that). Although to a certain extent my proposed strategy worked out exactly opposite how I expected it to. Instead of go 25-8 (pts.-ast.), he went 18-14.
David West: I don't know how much West's back was hurting him but he played heroically nonetheless. He also kept his cool, which was a crucial factor in the first single digit game of the series.
Jannero Pargo: I guess if you're gonna show up, the 4th quarter of game 7 is as good a time as any. That being said, despite his spectacular 4th quarter, his idiotic toss-up with 30 odd left cost the Hornets not so much the game as even a chance at coming back. He may have lit it up in the 4th, but why the hell he thought it was his prerogative to take that shot is beyond me.
Ed. Note: I was looking back at some tape of the game, and man, did Pargo put up a lot of shots down the stretch. I don't know why he thought he was the go-to guy. I don't know why Paul put the ball in his hands so often, or why Scott didn't tell them to actually run their offense rather than let a guy who has disappeared all series chuck it up none stop.
Chandler: Tyson Chandler did as good a job defending Duncan this series as I have ever seen anyone do, and I think he deserves credit for it.
Julian Wright: I thought Wright had played well this series and was surprised Scott didn't give him any minutes (he got a DNP-CD).
Hornets Bench: If anyone had any questions about which bench is superior, they shouldn't now. Despite Pargo's very solid 4th quarter, the Hornets bench consistently played awful this series, and Wells'0-1, Marvin Ely's 0-2 and Morris Peterson's (he starts, but he's a role player, so I'm including him) 2-7 tonight only highlighted that fact.
The next round: I will be back tomorrow with a preview to the Lakers-Spurs series, as well as some thoughts on Pistons-Celtics and a piece on the brotherhood mid-market teams should feel. I wrote a piece on the last time the Spurs played the Lakers, a game in which LA really took it to SA. Many of my reflections will be based off that meeting. Also look for articles both here and at At the Hive for the follow up to our game 6 research concerning the refereeing. Have a good evening, and let's rebuild and rejuvenate New Orleans.