Sunday, May 11, 2008
I love my mother. I would use similar language to describe how I feel about the Spurs right about now.
Well, that was satisfying. Let's get down to business:
Home Cooking: So far on this blog I have chosen to never once mention the relationship between fouls and home court advantage. Obviously teams get calls at home they don't get on the road. I even chose not to rant venomously about the 3rd quarter refereeing catastrophe in game 2 of the Magic-Pistons series. And this evening I felt that the Spurs got some beneficial calls, but I also felt the Hornets got some no-calls (Paul's obviously travel that went uncalled) as well as set themselves up for some easy calls (West's unnecessary hot-headedness got them in some avoidable trouble). My point is I don't complain about calls when we're on the road and subsequently I don't except complaints from opposing teams when we're at home. I actually watched part of the game with a buddy of mine whose a Hornets fan and he wasn't complaining. I am just pre-empting what I feel like could be a possibly over-reaching backlash to the refs this evening.
Records: This evening Robert Horry tied Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most games played in the post-season. I believe Tim Duncan also surpassed Jabbar for most blocks in the post-season. Congratulations to both, not only for the records they set, but the dignity and quality with which they have set them. Until tonight neither had had a great series, but this evening they made up for it with strong performances (I am giving Horry, who really was just alright, a little bit of credit here).
Mojo: I have watched the last two games with my friend Andrew in his living room, with his sexually eager English bulldog and a case of beer. From a superstitious perspective this seems to be going well. His lovely girlfriend, Brenna, joined us this evening and I would argue her presence is what put the Spurs over the top.
Chris Paul: We got exactly what we wanted out of CP3 tonight, which was a good but not great game in which he felt like he had to shoulder the burden for a team that was struggling offensively. We have done a solid job limiting the number of perimeter shots the Hornets are getting, as well as stopping West from getting open mid-range shots and Chandler from getting alley-oops. We have made their offense ebb and flow on the state of Chris Paul's shooting. This is exactly what we wanted.
The Hornets' perimeter shooting: That being said, I was a little frustrated with the number of open 3 pointers they got. I can think of instances in which Pargo, Peterson and Stojakovic all got open looks from beyond the arc. Luckily they didn't make them consistently, but I'd rather they not be taking them in the first place.
Duncan: Let's be honest. Tim Duncan is the foundation of this franchise and when he plays well on both ends of the floor the Spurs take their game to a new level. If this is how he is gonna play now that he's over his chicken pox or ebola or whatever he had, I am excited and optimistic.
Ime Udoka: I do a lot of shameless praising of Ime Udoka around here, and if you're not on that bandwagon you might as well skip to the next paragraph. Udoka is an excellent defender. He is the only spur who can really effectively guard on the perimeter as well as in the post. He also is an underrated offensive player. he can drain the 3-pointer as well as put the ball on the floor and go to the hole. He also has the athleticism to run the fast break, and the fundamentals to both ensure that he guts the bucket or draws the foul when running the floor. If I look at the Spurs personnel in the game and I realize Udoka is our fourth or fifth offensive option, I get excited.
The Hornets' Psyche: This is really this biggest X-factor coming out of this game. The Spurs, as they have just proven, can take a licking and keep on ticking. When we get blown out all it does is focus us, not unnerve us. This is where we will see what type of mental fortitude these Hornets have. From an X's and O's standpoint, Popovich has the Hornets figured out, in my opinion. It was always just a matter of time. But now we will see whether a blowout like this gets in the head of New Orleans. Will they start to over-analyze? Will the tight calls in game 4 affect their defensive tenacity in game 5? Will they continue to believe they are the better team? This is the Hornets' third loss of the post-season, but its their first rout. I'm not saying the Hornets will buckle. I am just saying that this next game will reveal a lot about how far this team is mentally prepared to go this year.
David West: Speaking of mental fortitude, West's inability to stay cool is costing his teammates. He needs to cool his jets, or his combustibility will become an increasing liability.
Suns Fans: Just a quick note to all those Suns fans who took such joy in the Spurs going down 2-0 to start this series. Unlike the albuquerque flame-outs, the four time NBA champion San Antonio Spurs do not buckle under pressure. We do not get beat in five games. We do not lose must-wins at home. Unlike the setting Suns, our franchise is alive and well. Enjoy your vacations, we've still got a lot of work to do. Our season isn't over yet.
Well, the Spurs faced their first two "must wins" of the season and won them both. That's refreshing. As I've said before, I think the longer this series goes on the more it helps San Antonio. Given our age that may be counter-intuitive, but given our mental toughness and Pop's ability to out-manuever the other coaching staff, I am always comfortable to see a series get extended. That being said, I don't expect the Hornets to play as poorly on the offensive end of the ball as they did again. And we still need to steal a game from the Hornets in New Orleans, something neither the Mavericks nor the Spurs have been able to accomplish so far. The saga continues, and I'm loving every minute of it.
Happy Mother's Day.