Saturday, May 24, 2008

When does it become appropriate to bring up the Alamo?

Obviously the Spurs are in a tough situation. In order to win the series we have to win 4 of the next 5 games. I fully believe we can do that, last round testifies to as much, but it will be more difficult than before. As this game unfolded it became increasingly clear how costly Wednesday's collapse was. We had a chance to steal one in LA and we blew it. The Lakers will not easily allow that opportunity again.

So we're back in a familiar spot, down 2-0, headed back to San Antonio. Several teams, including the Jazz last round against the Lakers, have gone home 2-0 and left town 2-2, although the Spurs were the only team of those to successfully complete the series comeback.

I guess the first hope has to be that the Spurs can get a little rest. I know we only have one day off, but hopefully being asleep in their beds, which they haven't seen since Sunday I believe, will do them a little good. So aside from obvious factors like fatigue and the imperative to take every game in SA, what needs to change for the Spurs to bounce back?

Well, I'd say a couple of things. First off, and this going to be both obvious and the most difficult to bring about, is hit their jump-shots. There is no substitute for making your open looks. Our shooting percentage this last game was awful. I actually think we are doing a decent job defensively against this Lakers squad, but we're going to need some guys to step up. I'm not talking about the big 3. I'm talking about some combination of Finley, Barry, Udoka, Bowen, and Horry. By no means am I advocating we start heaving it up from beyond the arc. All I'm saying is that a 10 point night (produced by a high shooting percentage, not a high amount of field goal attempts) from one or two of those guys spreads the defense out a little bit, allowing Parker and Ginobili to get to the hole, and gives the offense a little bit of unified rhythm. I just think everyone plays more confidently when a couple of shots from Finley or Horry drop, and that has an unmeasurable but easily noticeable affect on the entire team.

As far as Ginobili goes, he's mostly just difficult to watch. The man is a wild-eyed fighter but his ankle and finger have clearly calmed the thunder. I don't think at this point we can afford to sit him a game, to lose one at home now is to practically cede the series, but he is just not himself and what's most frustrating for me is how much its probably killing him inside. But on a less personal, more general level, a team prone to such offensive droughts as the Spurs cannot afford to have its best offensive player be as banged up as he is. Looking back it makes me more appreciative of the heroism he showed in the Hornets series, in particular in game 7, when his ankle was not much better.

We could also use a little more steady aggressiveness from Duncan and his little French friend. I thought Timmy's footwork was off, and I thought Parker should be a little more willing to go to the hole earlier in a possession, before it becomes a necessity and the defense collapses. Either way, needing the big 3 to play big is not some sort of huge revelation, but after last night's offensive catastrophe, It kind of needed to be restated.

I'm gonna take a look back at the game and try to offer some more specific suggestions as everything I just wrote was pretty vague, but to be honest I just kind of watched the game in a sickened haze induced by our impotent offensive showing. It all kind of blinded me from having any concrete thoughts and mostly I just spent the evening staring blankly at the TV while arguing with my friends about whether or not the NBA's strict policy on in-game fights and pre-game dress code had anything to do with race. I think it does but we can save that for another day.

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