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03 March 2005

Paging Tim Duncan to the Offensive End of the Court

San Antonio 92 vs. Toronto 86

The Spurs played good defense most of the night, holding Toronto to 36.6% shooting and under 30% in the first half. However, they also allowed the Raptors to shoot 35 FT, which kept Toronto within striking distance to the very end.

But the Spurs always play defense. I'm not worried about their defense, I'm worried about the other half of the game. On the offensive end it seems like they are, well, uh, fucking around. It seems like half of their turnovers are due to trying to make a highlight reel type pass (like Brent Barry's across-the-court-over-the-head-bounce-pass-through-four-defenders last night). They also are too willing too pass up open shots. Nobili and Duncan are the main offenders here. Ginobili passes up about two open threes a game. He loves that exaggerated head fake where he kicks his right leg up in the air. And even then he passes the ball too much on the drive, like his behind the head pass to Horry last night as the shot clock was running out.

It's like the Spurs are Hickory High: they must execute five passes before shooting the ball. Timmeh seems to follow this strange rule where he must wait for either the double team or five seconds, which ever comes first. There was a possession in the second half where Duncan got the ball about 10 feet from the basket. For once he immediately drove the lane and went by Bosh (like his feet were in stone) for a layup. Don't give the time for the defender or defense to set up. Don't wait for the double team. You're supposed to be our first option on offense, so just go. There's less than 10 guys in the league that should have any hope of guarding you. Just go. Pretend you're Jordan.

It probably seems stupid to complain about a team that's 44-13, but their offense is what did them in last season. They played too timidly. Players weren't willing to take big shots and Duncan wasn't willing to force the issue.

In the 2003 series against the Lakers, where the Spurs prevailed 4-2, Duncan averaged 24.35 shot attempts per game.

In the 2004 series against the Lakers, where the Spurs lost 2-4, Duncan averaged 19.35 shot attempts.

You think that's fucking random chance; that there's no connection? Yes yes yes I know the Lakers had Karl Malone last year. Here's the thing:

I don't give a shit. You're Tim Duncan. You're Mr. MVP. You're the best player on the team. Force the damn issue. Take the ball to the rack. Shoot over Malone right away. Take over. Get some swagger. You're Michael Jordan. You're Larry Bird. You're Kobe Bryant. You're not Scottie Pippen. You're not Kevin McHale. You're not Shaquille O'Neal.

Am I blaming Duncan for the Lakers series? Well, uh, yes I am. But he's still the best player on the best team. He's still one of the four best players in the league. But, like his predecessor David Robinson, he's missing the offensive aggression that would make him unstoppable.

Got a little sidetracked there. So, yeah, the Spurs beat Toronto. Bowen played really well in the second half. Parker had a great behind the back fake that got him a layup (he even winked at somebody afterwards). Jalen Rose is as bad as I thought. For whatever reason, Nazr Mohammed only played 6 minutes after playing 16 the game before. He had a nice quick turnaround (with requisite head fake) for his only points. He also royally screwed up a pick and roll that allowed Alston a wide open three (which led to Tony Parker throwing the ball at the basket support in disgust).

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All content copyright Matthew Powell 2005.