Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Notes for Pop
(I know your disdain for the inferior intellects of others is unrivaled, but please listen to me. Just this once)
So I have some notes as we go into what Matthew Powell has very aptly titled our "first must win of the season." I apologize if, as you read this, you realize I am the thousandth individual to recommend these particular adjustments. But anyone who consistently watches the Spurs has a pretty good sense of how to get this ship back on course. Hopefully that "anyone" includes Popovich.
1) Put Bowen on Stojakovic: I believe I recommended this before the series began. I know I recommended it at the start of the second quarter of game 1. I can assure you everyone and their mother has recommended it as well. Parker does not have the length or the mental acuity during the transition to cover Peja on the perimeter. I don't care if Paul goes for 30. I don't care if Paul goes for 40. Peja does not make shots with a hand in his face, but he makes every shot when he is open. Every single one. Bowen needs to lock in and follow Stojakovic from 11:59 in the first until 00:00 in the 4th. I know that is the most overly rehearsed critique of the series, but it has been belabored to death for a reason.
2) Go under the screen: Although Paul can hit mid-range and outside shots, it is not his first instinct when he comes around the pick. He is looking for three things. a) the drive. b) the cutter. c) the kick out. take advantage of that. Parker absolutely has the foot speed to back around Chandler or West and take away the drive. If everyone (that means you, Bowen) stays home on their man, Paul is either going to consistently be forced to take a shot he doesn't normally take or try to force their normal offense into action. For the defense, those aren't bad options.
3) forgo the jumper for the drive: The Hornets have given us an inordinate amount of open outside shots in the past two games, and we foolishly have taken them. Our outside shooting has been far too streaky to make up such a large amount of our first shot attempts. Ginobili and Parker need to get to the hole. I will admit I am very concerned that Ginobili's secret injury troubles may be hindering his explosiveness, but if there was ever a time to fight through the pain, now is it. I also am unconvinced that Parker can't actually fight through the double-team if he puts his game face on and that Ginobili still can't hit Oberto rolling more often that he does after he draws the double.
4) A decent performance from the frontcourt: One of the silver linings of game 2 was the considerably better performance our forwards and centers put on than in game 1. Take a look back at my post game 2 reflections on the matter:
"In game 1 Duncan, Thomas, Oberto, Udoka and Horry collectively had 8 points. In game 2 they had 38. We banged on the inside. A good adjustment...In game 1 Chandler had 2 fouls. David West had 0. In game 2 Chandler had 5 fouls, West had 3. We banged on the inside, and drew fouls. Good adjustment." Plus we got out-rebounded 50 to 34 in game 1, while we were virtually in a dead heat in game 2 (NO 41-SA 40). We also did a much better job on David West (30 points in game 1, 10 in game 2), mostly thanks to the increased presence of Ime Udoka, in my opinion (under 2 minutes in game 1, 24 minutes in game 2). Hopefully recent frontcourt trends will continue.
Somebody asked me to comment on whether or not I think Ginobili should start and to be honest I don't have an answer. I have historically supported him coming of the bench, but actually feel confident about the way our second squad has been matching up with their second squad. So I might be a proponent of Ginobili starting so that we come out with an increased level of firepower. I would say the more urgent imperative is to responsibly manage everyone's minutes, rather than to figure out who gets them first. The combination of a much older team and a banged up Ginobili has resulted in a couple of pretty sizeable man-handlings in the second halves of the first two games.
What's most important is that we mix and match personnel in a way that leaves the big 3 with energy in the fourth. (Between Duncan, Parker, Manu, Finley, Bowen, Oberto, Thomas, Barry, Udoka, and Vaughn we have a manageable squad that is ten deep. We should be able to milk that roster in a fashion that keeps our go-to guys fresh late in the second half. Notice how I didn't mention Horry in that group? Subtle, huh?) I'm not even gonna address what we should do if we lose. For a number of reasons its not worth considering. But let's be frank. We are the defending NBA champions. Let's go out there and act like it.