Monday, May 5, 2008

Rough and Tumble: notes from across the Association

(This is was pretty much the same reaction I had to this weekend's games)

So, I wanted to take a minute to discuss some of the other games and general NBA news, rather than just focus on Spurs/Hornets (I'll probably end up talking about Spurs/Hornets by the end of this anyways).

Hawks/Celtics: Well, reality finally caught up to the dream. Or maybe I should more accurately describe that game as a nightmare. As I've said several times, the Hawks didn't have anything to prove, they had already proven so much, but nonetheless that game bordered on the unwatchable. Nonetheless, they served the rest of the Association well by thoroughly planting the seeds of doubt in that Boston team. And, although Marvin Williams' murder attempt on Rondo was completely over the line, Hardwood Paroxysm has a great explanation for why any (real) Celtics fans have no room to criticize. Are there real Celtics fans?

D'Antoni: D'Antoni should absolutely, positively, for no reason whatsoever accept a head coaching job with the New York Knicks. The financial and psychological situation at the Garden is FUBAR, and D'Antoni is just not the strong hand that franchise needs to lift themselves out of the abyss. D'Antoni, although a creative offensive coach, is not known for his defensive coaching ability, and from a straight X's and O's standpoint, that is something the Knicks must improve on next year. Let's be honest, from a psychological standpoint he was always a strange combination of two things this Knicks organization doesn't need. A) Volatile, and B) Laissez-Faire. Nash was always the guiding hand of that squad and when he stopped believing they could win a championship, the whole squad stopped believing. There is just no way D'Antoni can whip the Knickerbockers into shape. He's not enough of an authoritarian. That being said, I don't believe anyone could make that lineup into a playoff squad (its laughable to talk about them really being competitive until the financial shit-storm they've made for themselves runs its course). But...

D'Antoni could possibly be a good fit for Chicago. They have an athletic team that can get up and down the floor as well as a half-way decent defense. They also have a lot of talent they can shop with. Obviously Hinrich, Gordon, and Deng have lost some value since 06-07, but it was not long ago people were talking about Deng being the centerpiece for a trade with Kobe. You could still dangle him out there and see who's interested. But the big personnel change you have to make is at point guard, in my opinion. In my first piece ever for this blog I talked about how I think Hinrich is not a good distributor, and I think D'Antoni's revved up system is gonna require somebody who has a better sense of the court than Hinrich. That being said, I have mostly been critical of Hinrich's ability to run a half-court offense, and although I don't remember specifically, I gotta imagine that when at Kansas he found himself pushing the ball up the floor quite often. So maybe D'Antoni's system is a place Hinrich will feel comfortable. Either way, if Chicago doesn't move someone in that big three over the off-season, I'll be a little disappointed. I also think Avery could be a good fit, but I actually see him working better in Toronto. I'll probably wait until Wednesday to discuss that, as tomorrow, aside from a Spurs/Hornets recap, will be dedicated to discussing Chris Paul.

Spurs Mojo: As a very superstitious fan, I've been carefully taking note of what, in my life, has positively and negatively affected the outcomes of games. For instance, when I wear my Spurs hat, we oftentimes lose. But when I wear my University of Texas hat, we have been very successful. I also have found that drinking Shiner Bock helps. But for me the most crucial indicator is the I bar I go to to watch the game. There's a bar I go to sometimes called the Tin Lizzie (I live in Chicago),where many of our worst late season losses occurred (as well as our only loss to the Suns in round one). I plan on never going back there on a game night. Other bars, such as the Brownstone and the Local Option have produced consistently positive results, but not enough that I would consider them my lucky bar. The Four Farthings was the site of our tremendous game 1 victory, so there could be something to that. I also find that it helps to wear black. (To my surprise, the nostalgic power of Shiner Bock cannot overwhelm the bad juju of a corrupted bar. Originally I went to the Tin Lizzie because they serve the sweet tasting Texas nectar, but alas, it has failed me time and time again).

What to look for tonight: For the most part, what I want to see out of the Spurs is pretty simple.

1) A considerably more productive Tim Duncan (I am unconvinced that Chandler and the double teams are what produced Duncan's poor game. He just needs to find the intensity he had in the first round).

2) More Ime Udoka/Less Robert Horry.

3) Parker on Paul/Bowen on Stojakovic. Matthew Powell at Pounding The Rock made a great point about this earlier: if we are going under the screen instead of switching (which is the right thing to do, in my opinion), why are we still putting Bowen on Paul?

4) Better defensive rebounding from the Spurs. Like I said on Sunday, we did a great job forcing them into tough shots. We need to limit the garbage buckets.

5) Fewer three pointers/more points in the paint. Pound it in there. Let's get them in foul trouble. Let's get physical. Let's get some offensive boards and some easy second shots. We can absolutely go toe to toe with this team in the paint, we need to act like it. I'd also love it if Parker and Ginobili got the hoop a little more often.

So let's hope I end the night feeling a little more like the guy below than the guy at the top of the page:

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