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30 April 2005

The Sickness Strikes

SA 86 @ DEN 78

Here's an excerpt from George Karl's postgame news conference:

"It was just a tough refereed game, man, and I hate complaining about refereeing, but on our home court we got so many tough calls... BS calls... I mean, the charge Danny Crawford called on Andre Miller was incredibly bad. And it just seems... Carmelo gets killed. They walk underneath him every time he touches the ball. Earl's geting bumped, but because he's so small he doesn't get the respect. Ginobili gets the same bump and he goes to the free throw line... and we did not lose the game because of the free throw line, and the fouling, but I just don't think we got a very good whistle, and I was really disappointed in some of the calls."

So. Let me get this straight. You shoot two more free throws than the Spurs (even though you had 10 less FGA). Duncan plays only 5 minutes in the first half largely due to a horrible loose ball foul and shoots a total of two free throws in the entire game. And you're complaining about the refs? Are you KIDDING me? Is Carmelo supposed to get more respect from the refs than Duncan?

If I was Karl I would be more worried about the fact that DEN shot a higher percentage than the Spurs, DEN got 20 fast break points and Tony and Tim shot a combined 8-31 and you still lost by 8 at home.

Duncan got his first foul about 50 seconds in the game. Nazr bit on a Camby upfake and Duncan was forced to challenge him at the rim. I've said it before: Nazr is not a good team defender. He can match up pretty well one on one against a pure post guy, but he's awful outside of the paint, especially on the pick and roll. It was really good to see Rasho get 17 minutes tonight. He's the Solid Slovenian.

Duncan got his second foul early in the first quarter when Tony Parker gave him the ball about ten feet from the basket on a fast break. He couldn't/didn't stop in time and got called for an obvious charge.

Luckily the Spurs have Manu. He was pretty much unstoppable in the first half. Driving, hitting threes, feeding Udrih on consecutive back doors. Despite Duncan's absence, the Spurs went into half time with a 9 point lead.

The second half was largely a struggle offensively for both teams. Duncan was 0-8 in the third quarter, missing many easy looks. Timmeh was obviously phenomenal in game 2, but he's been dreadful in the two other contests. He wasn't even getting double-teamed by DEN. There's no way he should go 5-19 against single coverage.

The game was tight well into the fourth quarter, when up stepped Big Shot Rob. With the Spurs clinging to a 4 point lead with 6 minutes to go, Rob stole a horrible pass from Camby in the back court. He calmly dribbled out to the three point line and drained a wide open three. I couldn't believe he even took the shot. He hit another 3 the next possession to give the Spurs a 10 point lead.

Duncan continued to struggle in the fourth, so Pop put the offense in the hands of Manu, and he responded with 10 points including a huge 3 that increased the Spurs lead back to 7 with 2 minutes to go.

With 38 seconds to go Andre Miller missed a three that would have cut the lead to 2. DEN had trouble catching The Sickness and he ended taking the ball right to the basket where Carmelo sorta, well, punched him in the face. I don't think 'Melo intentionally hit him in the beak, but he definitely wasn't going for the ball. Dennie Crawford gave him a flagrant foul 2 and tossed him out of the game.

Manu, after the game, said he didn't think it was a dirty foul. He also didn't think Carmelo would get suspended, and I agree with him. I'm sure the league will look at it, though.

Melo again had trouble all night with Bowen. He shot 7-17 and had 19 points.

Another thing I didn't (and still don't) understand about all this talk about DEN beating SA... the Spurs have the best two players on the court. Do people seriously believe that Carmelo is a better player than Ginobili? C'mon.

Manu is third in the league in PPS behind only Amare and Shaq. He can penetrate with either hand. He can finish with either hand. He can shoot the three. He can pull up. He can shoot the off-balance leaner. He shoots a high percentage from 3, 2 and the FT line. He's a plus defender. He's 10th in the league in steals per 48 minutes. He can keep you out of the lane. He's relentless. He has a knack for coming up with big offensive rebounds. He's fearless.

And what I love most about the guy is that he wants it more than everybody else. Here's a skinny Argentinian guy who comes into the league and wins a championship his first year. He then proceeds to lead his country to an Olympic gold medal while the Americans don't even make it to the final game. And now he's schooling these American kids at their own damn game. He out talents them, out hustles them, out hearts them.

Shouldn't the court be Kenyon's turf? For a 100 million dollars shouldn't you be "holding it down?" Shouldn't Carmelo be "representin' the streets of Baltimore?" Isn't it sad that you're reduced to roughing the guy up when the outcome's already been decided? It's supposed to be about winning, right? Or is it about put back dunks? Or maybe pulling your jersey to show your heart? Getting a signature shoe? Selling the most jerseys? Fat endorsement deals?

Lastly, the O/U for this game was 194. The teams have played 6 times this year and never scored more than 189 points. Talk about easy money.

27 April 2005

Back to Work

San Antonio 104 vs. Denver 76

Maybe now I can concentrate. A Spurs playoff run is my version of horrible allergies. I have trouble sleeping. It's difficult to concentrate at work. I physically do not feel well. Basically, I am a wreck.

Starting this blog has just made things worse. Writing about the team and watching just about all of their games has made me much more emotionally invested in what's going on. After the Spurs lost game 1 I felt like I had to make a statement; like I had to take some responsibility for the outcome.

And that's what makes being a loyal sports fan so hard: you have no control over anything. I so badly wanted to grab Tim Duncan and scream "FOR FUCK'S SAKE BE AGGRESSIVE ON THE OFFENSIVE END. FOR ONCE IN YOUR CAREER PLAY ANGRY. DENVER HAS NO RIGHT TO BEAT YOU AT HOME." But instead your limited to disbelief and frustration.

The Guamish called me yesterday and said "You're not worried, are you?" I didn't know what to say. My opinion of the matchup hadn't changed but a loss is a loss; circumstances can only mitigate, they cannot change the outcome. But after going down 0-1 I was forced to contemplate going down 0-2. What if Duncan plays horribly again? What if Parker shows his age again? What if Nestie still cannot play and Nazr keeps botching the pick and roll? What if DEN gets hot from three? OH MY GOD... what if the Spurs lose in the first round of the playoffs??? What then? What's the point in writing about the NBA when you're so wrong about something? What would I even say? Do I go ahead and pin the blame on The Blameless? Do I point out the obvious? Do I cross that line?

These are the things that drifted through my head for 72 hours.

You may think I'm strutting here. I do not mean to. The Spurs still lost home court. My prediction of Spurs in 5 is obviously unlikely at this point. But, and I'm repeating myself here, the Nuggets are having all sorts of trouble scoring against the Spurs. The Nuggets had 2 fast break points. The Spurs had 18. Carmelo had 10 points on 14 FGA. There is no particular player that presents a serious matchup problem for the Spurs. Miller is a minor problem that can be mostly contained by better pick and roll defense. Camby and Martin pretty much settle for jumpers.

The Spurs appear to be getting healthy. Duncan certainly played better, though who knows how much can be attributed to ankle improvement. Rasho, who was doubtful, played 14 minutes and was his normal solid self. Devin Brown, who was "out" last time I checked, got in 6 minutes. Timmeh only had to play 28 minutes.

However, The Sickness did turn his ankle slightly at the end of the first half. He played in the second half and looked a litte gimpy to me. He only played 18 minutes total.

The big news coming out of tonight's game, other than the final score, was Brent Barry starting in place of Manu. Pop said something to the effect of "manufacturing a bench." Theoretically Brent Barry will get more open looks playing with Tim and Tony and apparently he loses confidence pretty easily.

I really have no problems with this move because:

A) I presume Pop understands who his second best player is.
B) I further presume that Pop made it very clear that this move was in no way a demotion and that his second best player would still get his usual minutes and still finish games.
C) Barry starting allows him to defend DerMarr Johnson who isn't much of an offensive threat.
D) It makes it easier to keep either Sickness or Tim need to be on the court at ALL times. This is a must.
E) If the Spurs start lethargically they can now put in Mr. Instant Energy.

Another thing: Duncan was much more aggressive tonight. The first couple times he touched the ball he immediately made a decisive move. He was obviously very keyed up for this game. It's such a joy to see him play with that fire under his ass.

Parker also played about a bazillion times better tonight. Aggression. Humans are such strange creatures; they'll be one person one night and an entirely different person the next.

"Play with anger." That should be the Spurs playoff motto. Having a chip on your shoulder isn't necessarily a bad thing.

*********

Real quick like: the title for my previous entry was intended to refer to something that the Sports Guy wrote the other day:

"Denver-San Antonio: As predicted, the Spurs are in BIG trouble here – Duncan clearly isn't 100 percent and the Nuggets looked like they absolutely believed they could and should win the series. I went from thinking "The Spurs will squeeze out a tough win in seven games" to thinking "I would be surprised if the Spurs won the series" within two hours. By the way, is it too early to think about Eva Longoria (Tony Parker's new babe) joining the Mia Hamm Hall of Fame for high-profile girlfriends who could potentially kill the careers of their mates?"

He then immediately writes the following:

"Chicago-Washington: The Bulls needed an epic 48-minute, 25/18 performance from Andres Nocioni; an Andrew Toney Game from Ben Gordon; a complete meltdown from Gilbert Arenas (3 for 19); AND the second-worst coaching performance of the weekend (from Eddie Jordan) just to sneak out Game 1... The biggest surprise was the Bulls' playing up-tempo, which seemed like it should have played right into Washington's hands ... except for the fact that there have been guys arrested for point shaving who were more effective than Arenas was in Game 1. Once he gets going, the Wizards will be fine in this series."

Couldn't he have written something very similar about game one of the Spurs series? Replace "Andres Nocioni" with "Andre Miller" and "Gilbert Arenas" with "Tony Parker and Tim Duncan." Performances are always up to interpretation, but this seemed pretty obvious to me. It will be interesting to see what he says about game 2.

Speaking of my favorite sportswriter, he wrote a little something about Reggie Miller. He took the words right out of my mouth.

"A Man Hears What He Wants to Hear and Disregards the Rest"

I hate deadlines. In college, deadlines weren't a problem even though I constantly procrastinated. (Actually, "procrastination" isn't strong enough a word.) I always planned on studying "X" amount for an exam, but I cannot remember ever meeting that goal. But once the test was over it didn't matter; the deadline had passed, along with any and all responsibility and stress that comes with it.

Unfortunately, the "real world" is different. You actually have to get stuff done. I cannot simply submit half a design, which is why I worked 14 hours yesterday.

What does any of this have to do with the Spurs? From your perspective? Nothing, really. But this here blog ain't 'bout you, now, is it?

I GOT THE CONCH.

Anyways, the combined stress due to the deadline and the Spurs losing game 1 nearly did me in. I'm talking a "under my desk in the fetal position" type breakdown. Even if I had anything much to say about game 1, I certainly didn't have the time to say it. Well, now the deadline has been inched back a couple of days, so I'll post a couple of entirely pointless (given that game 2 starts in 20 minutes) thoughts.

-What I found really frustrating is that I semi-accurately predicted the DEN offense vs. SA defense matchup. I didn't think the Nuggets would be able to run much and I pointed out Carmelo's past poor performances. Well, DEN had 12 fastbreak points, about 8 below their season average and actually one point less than the Spurs had, and 'Melo had 14 points on 14 FGA. Miller had a good game, largely due to horrible pick and roll defense by the Spurs. Speaking of:

-The Spurs miss Rasho. People look at Nazr's stat line and think he had a great game. I'm not claiming that he didn't do some nice things, but the fact is the Spurs were outscored by about ~14 points while he was on the floor. A lot of that has to do with the fact Nazr is often not in the right place on defense. As I mentioned in a comment, Rasho was third on the Spurs in +/-, behind only Duncan and The Sickness. You cannot explain that away entirely. Even if you look solely at the times Rasho was on the floor without Timmeh, the Spurs were still +3.5 per 48 minutes. That's good. (It should be noted that Rasho had a -4.0 +/- last year and was last on the team during the playoffs.)

-Yeah, Tim ain't a 100%. But I'm tired of hearing about him not being able to "explode." Whatever. I think people are confusing Tim with Amare Stoudemire. Duncan is not an explosive player. He never has been. He got pushed around just like he did last year against the Lakers. That's the story. Not his ankle.

24 April 2005

SA 87 vs. DEN 93

Fourth Quarter:

12:00 Start of period
11:23 SA Manu Ginobili made Layup, Assist Tim Duncan
11:04 SA Beno Udrih made Layup, Assist Manu Ginobili
10:16 SA Glenn Robinson made Jump Shot
9:44 SA Tim Duncan missed Jump Shot
9:15 SA Tim Duncan missed Layup
8:39 SA Manu Ginobili missed 3-pt. Jump Shot
7:51 SA Beno Udrih missed 3-pt. Jump Shot
7:20 SA Glenn Robinson missed Jump Shot
7:08 SA Offensive foul on Glenn Robinson
6:19 SA Glenn Robinson missed 3-pt. Jump Shot
5:49 SA Robert Horry missed Hook Shot
4:55 SA Manu Ginobili missed 3-pt. Jump Shot
4:21 SA Manu Ginobili missed 1st of 2 Free Throws
4:21 SA Manu Ginobili made 2nd of 2 Free Throws
3:34 SA Tim Duncan missed Turnaround Jump Shot
3:18 SA Tim Duncan missed Layup
3:13 SA Nazr Mohammed missed 1st of 2 Free Throws
3:13 SA Nazr Mohammed made 2nd of 2 Free Throws
2:35 SA Manu Ginobili missed Jump Shot
2:16 SA Bruce Bowen missed 1st of 2 Free Throws
2:16 SA Bruce Bowen made 2nd of 2 Free Throws
1:44 SA Tony Parker missed Jump Shot
1:35 SA Tony Parker missed Floating Jump Shot
1:09 SA Lost ball turnover on Manu Ginobili, Stolen by Greg Buckner
42.0 SA Tim Duncan missed Turnaround Jump Shot
31.0 SA Tim Duncan missed Turnaround Jump Shot
19.0 SA Tim Duncan missed Jump Shot
12.0 SA Robert Horry made 3-pt. Jump Shot, Assist Beno Udrih

Tim Duncan: 0-7
Manu: 1-4
Tony Parker: 0-2

23 April 2005

The Sky is Still Blue, Right?

This DEN hype does not surprise me. After all, I've learned that the First Rule of Life is "People are stupid." (There may be other Rules, but I've yet to discover them.) But I cannot say I understand why people are so enamored with DEN. The one possible angle that is remotely justifiable is: "Duncan's injury is much worse than he's letting on and he won't be able to effectively play more than 20 minutes a game." Otherwise, well, I'm confused and befuddled.

Let's take a look at some key points.

First of all, the streak. DEN finished the season on a 25-4 run. Those numbers, 25 and 4, are impressive. However, and I've said this many times, their strength of schedule over that time was extremely weak. The winning percentage of the teams they beat was 45.3%. When you extract the SEA game (Lewis and Radmanovic didn't play) and the two SA games (Duncan missed both and Ginobili missed one), the winning percentage drops to 40.5%. The team with a WP% closest to 40.5? TOR and NY. Just for reference.

DEN's best wins during the streak? SACTO (without Miller) or WAS (without Jamison) at home and MEM on the road. They didn't even play: DAL, MIA, DET, CHI. They didn't play a full strength SEA, SACTO, or SA. They played PHX three times and lost all three by an average of 9.33 points. They played HOU once (without Camby) and lost by 28.

Beating bad and/or average teams is important; during the regular season they count the same as beating good teams. But. Um. You don't play crappy teams in the playoffs. At least not in the WC.

A little more about streaks. Last year there was a team that had a similar streak. They went 24-7 over a stretch, including wins over LAL, SACTO, DAL, @SA, SA, DEN, DEN and @MINN. Wow. That's impressive. I don't want to face that team in the playoffs.

Wait for it.

Wait for it.

That team was MEM. Which got swept by SA, losing by an average of 14 points.

Another team went 17-0, including 6 wins in the playoffs! Holy crap! That's gotta be DET, right? Man, that team ruled.

Nope.

Wait for it.

That was SA, who lost 4 straight to the LAL by an average of 11.25 points.

Oh. One last thing. DAL finished the season on a 19-3 streak. They promptly lost their first playoff game to HOU.

That's enough about streaks. Let's move on to home court advantage.

The last time I checked, the Spurs have home court. SA has lost a total of 3 times this year in the SBC Center; to SEA, MEM and DEN. "A ha" sayeth the Nuggets fan. DEN has proven they can win at the SBC Center! Actually, no, sorry. Once again those pesky circumstances rear their ugly heads.

You see, Duncan, with his +/- of +16.6 was out. Ginobili, with his +/- of +15.5, was also out. DEN won by 3 points. The Spurs were up by 7 with 3 minutes to go and gave it away. DEN proved exactly diddly.

Let's look at the schedule.

Three days off. Game 1. Two days off. Game 2. Two more days off. Game 3. One day off. Game 4. One day off... You get the picture. No back to backs. Plenty of rest for Ginobili, Parker and the big mens' ankles.

Let's talk about how the teams matchup.

DEN loves to run. They actually lead the league in fast break points. How do you combat the fast break? First, you don't turn the ball over. The Spurs are 6th in the league in fewest turnovers committed. Second, you play disciplined defense and have players willing to bust their ass to get back. Hmm. The Spurs play the most disciplined defense in the league.

DEN's first option on offense is Carmelo Anthony. He takes about 5 more shots then their second option, Punkie. Here's the thing. Bruce Bowen owns 'Melo. Carmelo has a career 31.8% shooting percentage against the Spurs. He's 20-66 this year and he was 22-66 last year.

A review. DEN loves to run, which is very hard to do against the Spurs. DEN's first option on offense consistently struggles mightily against the Spurs.

Everyone's talking about the Spurs injuries, but DEN has it's own. Najera is probably out the first two games with a broken hand. Though no one seems to be talking about it, Camby isn't 100% either. He was held out of the last 3-4 games of the season with a hamstring problem. And this wasn't simply resting him, either. They put him on the IL right before a huge game with the Rockets; a game that basically sealed the Nuggets fate as a 7 seed.

Everyone seems to be talking about the Nuggets. Uh, do people realize they're playing the Spurs? A team that went 59-23 despite not having it's best player for 16 games? A team that last year narrowly lost to the WC Champion Lakers? They do realize that this year's team is better, right? Let's look at the differences in the rosters.

2004
Turkoglu
Kevin Willis
Malik Rose
Charlie Ward
Jason Hart

2005
Barry
Massenburg
Mohammed
Udrih
Glenn Robinson

That's a dramatic improvement. Not to mention that Parker and Ginobili are much better players this year.

I'm not sure people realize how good this team really is. Knickerblogger.net keeps track of team efficiencies. Basically, offense and defense are broken down into how many points you score/allow per possession. The PHX and DEN type teams are going to allow more points simply because they play faster than teams like SA. These stats are more meaningful than the typical points per game stats.

Not surprisingly, the Spurs are the best defensive team. DEN is eighth, which is admittedly higher than I expected. But, of course, DEN has a better offense. Oh. Wait. They don't. There's those pesky facts again. The Spurs have the 6th best offense in the league. DEN is 13th. The Heat and the Mavericks are the only other two teams in the top 10 in both categories.

Here's another thing to think about. Let's look at how Duncan led Spurs teams have done in the playoffs:

97-98 -- Lost in WC semis to UTA (who lost to CHI in the Finals)
98-99 -- World Champs
99-00 -- Duncan doesn't play in playoffs due to injury
00-01 -- Lost in WC finals to LAL (eventual World Champs)
01-02 -- Lost in WC semis to LAL (eventual World Champs)
02-03 -- World Champs
03-04 -- Lost in WC semis to LAL (who lost to DET in the Finals)

Take a closer look at that. Think about the teams that eliminated Duncan's Spurs. All of those teams had either Malone and Stockton (Duncan's rookie year) or Kobe and Shaq. No other team even took the Spurs to a decisive seventh game. Let that sink in. Kobe and Shaq. Winners of 3 consecutive titles. The duo that took a ridiculously bad supporting cast to the finals.

And I'm supposed to worry about fucking Carmelo Anthony and Kenyon Martin? When Bowen owns Carmelo and Martin got embarassed by Duncan in the 2003 NBA Finals? When the schedule favors the Spurs? When the Spurs have home court? Are you serious?

Spurs in 5.

Quick Playoff Predictions

I'll post my in-depth review of the Spurs/Nuggets series late tonight. Check-in tomorrow morning.

PHX vs. MEM -- PHX in 4
And just who the hell is Pau Gasol supposed to guard (and you cannot go zone against the Suns)?

SA vs. DEN -- SA in 5

SEA vs. SACTO -- SEA in 7
I am morally obligated to root for a SA vs. SEA matchup in round 2 (I live in SEA).

DAL vs. HOU -- DAL in 7
Best series of the first round by far. Home court takes it.

MIA vs. NJ -- MIA in 5
Jason Collins will probably average 12 and 6 this series. As in 6 fouls in 12 minutes per game.

DET vs. PHI -- DET in 5
So who will be first to leak the Chris Webber trade rumors? Chris' people of the 76ers' people? Maybe someone in AI's posse. If PHI was smart, they would contact Isaiaiaiaiah now before he meets with Phil Jackson. Phil may be the most overrated coach in the history of team sports, but he's no fool.

BOS vs. IND -- IND in 6
Antoine Walker's +/- with the Celtics: -0.4.

CHI vs. WAS -- WAS in 6
The Deng loss is more important to CHI than Curry's ailment. Best wishes to Eddy and his family.

21 April 2005

Spurs Playoff Roster Finalized

Tony Parker
Manu Ginobili
Bruce Bowen
Tim Duncan
Rasho Nesterovic

Beno Udrih
Brent Barry
Devin Brown
Glenn Robinson
Robert Horry
Tony Massenburg
Nazr Mohammed

That's exactly what I wanted to see. In related news, George Karl said it's unlikely Najera will play in the first two games of the series.

Uhhhhh, I Mean...

Update: They've added a link directly to my portion of the show.

The good folks at AOL's SportsBloggersLive, specifically Jamie Mottram, invited me onto their internet radio show to preview a couple of the upcoming WC playoff series (including SA/DEN, of course). From what I understand, they usually do a one hour live show on Monday nights that is hosted on-demand for the rest of the week. Most of their guests are sports bloggers like myself. Today they did a special one hour show to preview the NBA playoffs. It was not broadcast live but it will be available on-demand until Monday night.

I had a great time, and the best part is that I don't think I sounded like a total idiot.

The on-demand show is here. You can here spout off from 16:17 to 21:00, but I recommend listening to the whole show. Paul over at supersonicsoul.com comes on right after me. Corey, owner of a Pistons blog, and the "Sportz Assassin" break down the EC.

Note: You'll hear me say "I'll be shocked if it goes more than 6 games." My actual pick is Spurs in 5. FWIW.

20 April 2005

Chad Ford Molests Baby Kangaroos

I do not regularly read any specific "sports writers." From my vantage point they seem to say all the same things over and over again. "Chemistry" this and "momentum" that. "Clutch" this and "professional hitter" that. (Tony Gwynn recently called Wade Boggs "a hitter's hitter." This is what ESPN.com calls "content.") If I want to hear the cliche garbage I'll simply watch the games and listen to the announcers.

Another reason I try to avoid the typical "sports writer" column is that I almost inevitably get pissed off. Blatant inadequacy in one's job drives me crazy. I cannot simply think "this guy doesn't know what he's talking about" and let it go.

Chad Ford writes about the NBA for ESPN.com. I read his column pretty often. This, of course, blatantly contradicts what I began this post with. I should have said "I do not regularly intentionally read any specific "sports writers."" The links to Chad's columns just happen to be on the NBA page of ESPN.com. They could link to a 4 year old writing about brussel sprouts and I would probably accidentally read it.

I have read many a negative comment about him in various, unrememberable locations on the internet. I don't recall the details. To me, Chad Ford is simply the "international prospect guy." That's all I can remember him ever writing about. Until today, that is.

Here's an excerpt from today's column regarding the DEN/SA series:

"(2) Spurs vs. (7) Nuggets This could be the best series in the playoffs this year. Based on what they've done since the All-Star break, this could be the equivalent of a Western Conference finals preview. Since George Karl took over in Denver, the Nuggets easily have bested the the Spurs both at home and in San Antonio. I still feel that the Spurs are the best team in the league and will find a way to get past the Nuggets. They have more experience, the best player on the floor and home-court advantage. But this one will go down to the wire. Insider prediction: Spurs in 7"

I have no problems with his prediction; that's largely subjective, and I'll save my opinions for the series preview I'll be posting Saturdayish. Here's what I have a problem with: "Since George Karl took over in Denver, the Nuggets easily have bested the the Spurs both at home and in San Antonio." Now, unlike Chad, I actually watched those two games, so I know that DEN didn't "easily" beat the Spurs in SA. However, just looking at the box score would have been enough. The Nuggets won by THREE POINTS. THREE POINTS. The Spurs led at half time and after three quarters. The Spurs led by 7 with 3 minutes to go and gave the game away down the stretch. How the hell did he come to his spurious conclusion? Wait, there's MORE!

If you order now, you'll get more total bullshit absolutely FREE from Chad Ford! For some reason he neglects to mention that Duncan didn't play in either game and that Ginobili also didn't play in one of them. Isn't that important information, especially if you're going to use the phrase "easily bested?"

People might say that the errors and omissions I pointed out are "small." But isn't getting the facts straight the first job of a journalist? Shouldn't Chad have spent the three minutes necessary to look at the two box scores? If that's not his job then what is?

I mean, shit, if some random guy comes in off the street and finds an error in one of my structural designs I would get canned. Yet, for some reason (that reason probably being the general stupidity of the average sports fan), "sports writers" can fill their columns with total bullshit (whether it be the cliched version of bullshit or the non-factual, unfoundable form of bullshit) and get away with it.

19 April 2005

Najera, TP Shoes and Calvin Booth

Note: Update in italics.

Eduardo Najera, hustler extraodinaire and nemesis to Tim Duncan, has a broken bone in his right (shooting) hand. He is supposed to have his cast removed today, but his status for the first round series is questionable. His absence would be huge for the Spurs. I recently rewatched Game 6 of the SA/DAL series of 2003 (the "Steve Kerr game") and the announcers mentioned how well Najera had played Duncan the entire series, including holding Tim to 3 points on only 2 shot attempts in the fourth quarter of Game 5 (the Spurs had a 19 point lead in the first half and imploded).

Game 1 is scheduled for Sunday, 7 p.m. CT on TNT.

I found this (link down) while browsing through Niketalk.com. It's apparently a Tony Parker signature shoe. Or, at least a Tony Parker colorway for a shoe not yet released. It looks quite similar to the 2005 Nike Huarache which is what The Wee Frenchman currently wears. But, I've screwed this stuff up before. Maybe it will be a France/Europe only release. According to some random bloke on niketalk.com the shoes in question are "air double figure tp 311908-001" and have a release date of 20 Sept 05.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that The Guamanian has taken up NBA blogging himself (and doing it quite well I might add, too). He's dropping knowledge over at supersonicsoul.com under the moniker "booth52."

18 April 2005

Let's Get On With It

The Western Conference playoff seedings are now official. Here are the first round matchups with the team listed first having home court:

PHX vs. MEM
SA vs. DEN
SEA vs. SACTO
DAL vs. HOU

PHX has home court through out the playoffs, which start Saturday.

Recently Coach Popovich alluded that Beno Udrih might not make the playoff roster. The day after the regular season closes NBA teams are required to select 12 players to for their playoff roster. They are not allowed to add players during the playoffs for any reason. The Spurs have the following players to choose from:

Tony Parker
Manu Ginobili
Bruce Bowen
Tim Duncan
Rasho Nesterovic

Beno Udrih
Mike Wilks
Brent Barry
Devin Brown
Glenn Robinson
Linton Johnson III
Robert Horry
Tony Massenburg
Sean Marks
Nazr Mohammed

Both of the Spurs starting big men are nursing ankle injuries, leading Pop and his staff to consider adding another big to the playoff roster. In theory that's not a bad idea. But, as with many theories, once you try applying it to real life it blows up in your face. And the detonator for that explosion is Sean Marks.

You figure that Barry, Horry, Mohammed, and Massenburg are locks for the playoff roster. That leaves three spots for Udrih, Wilks, Brown, Robinson, LJ III and Marks. Marks is the only guy that qualifies as a "big man" in that group.

The problem here is that Sean Marks sucks. People like to say he's a good shooter, but I haven't seen it. The numbers cannot find his good shooting, either: 33% FG% from the field, 25% EFG% on jump shots. For the sake of comparison I would like to submit to the court of public opinion the fact that Rasho has a 34.4% EFG% on jump shots. The last time I checked no one is calling Raaaaaaaaasho a good shooter. Marks isn't a good rebounder, either. He grabs 9.3 per 40 minutes. That's just above Massenburg and a full rebound below Nestie (as The Wife likes to call him).

Marks is good at two things: running the floor and hustling. But those two qualities don't translate to much on the scoreboard. He's not quick enough to guard Amare, Nowitzki or Punkie. He's not strong enough to have a prayer against Yao or Shaq. So why the hell put him on the roster? If something happens to warrant needing Marks for significant playing time we are fucked anyway. It's like having nuclear bomb insurance.

Personally, I just think Pop is trying to motivate Beno. You don't leave a guy with a 40.5 3P% off your playoff roster. Especially when he's a point guard. Teams will think twice about doubling/collapsing on Duncan if you put Beno, Ginobili, Bowen and Horry out there with him. The lowest 3P% among them is Ginobili with 37.7%.

Some of you may be thinking "Barry can play point." Yeah, I thought he could, too. But if he can, why hasn't he? Pop tried him there for a couple of games right after the All Star Game but it certainly didn't last long. Beno certainly isn't a plus defender, but Barry's got no shot staying in front of a PG. The only other option is Mike Wilks. Yeah, he's cute and all, but let's be serious here.

Glenn Robinson should make it on the roster, too. He shot 9-11 tonight for 23 points. That puts him at 44% for the season. He's getting his shots within the offense and doing his best of defense; definitely acclimating faster than Nazr did. He's also average a FT every 7.7 minutes, which is better than Tony Parker. Hell, if Big Dog doesn't make the roster then what exactly would he have had to do? Average 15 a night on 52% shooting? Grow wings? Cure Pop's bad hair cut?

That leaves one spot. LJ III has been legitimately hurt most of the season and only played about 10 minutes. He's out. Wilks and Marks are out. That leaves Devin Brown. The way I see it, if there's anyway he's healthy by the WCF you should put him on the roster. We might need him against PHX, and our other options aren't very palatable.

So, here's my selections:

Parker
The Sickness
Bowen
Duncan
Nestie
Udrih
Barry
Brown
Glenn Robinson
Horry
Massenburg
Mohammed

Let's do this thing.

17 April 2005

Playoff Positioning, East vs. West & Lebron Has Chest Hair

The Spurs have poo-pooed the number 1 seed all season. I don't think they need it to get past Phoenix, but being the 2 seed means playing HOU/SACTO/DEN, all quality teams that would threaten for a conference title if they were in the East. The number 1 seed gets MEM, a team a notch below all other Western Conference playoff teams.

The Eastern Conference, on the other hand, only goes two teams deep. It's Miami or Detroit. As of now, Miami gets New Jersey in the first round. NJ is playing well, but Carter and Kidd aren't enough to get past Wade and Shaq. In the second round they'll play either WASH or CHI. These are decent teams, but they pale in comparison to their WC counterparts, DAL and HOU.

The disparity between the conferences is sad and mars the playoffs. MIA and DET effectively (especially in comparison) have byes in the first round and near byes in the second. That alone dramatically increases their chances of winning the title. I don't mean to complain; it's certainly not something the NBA can do anything about. Seeding 16 teams based on record still wouldn't be "fair" due to the unbalanced schedule.

I'm bored. Let's take each Eastern Conference team and figure out their hypothetical record as a Western Conference team. Here's the math.

MIA is 57-23, 39-11 (78%) in conference and 18-12 (60%) out. You can flip them into the WC via the following:

[0.60 * 52 + 0.78 * 30] / 82 = 67.0% WCWP%

So here's the integrated standings of the playoff teams:

PHX 76.3%
SA 73.8%
DAL 70.0%
MIA 67.0%
DET 65.2%
SEA 65.0%
HOU 61.3%
SACTO 61.3%
DEN 60.0%
WAS 56.4%
MEM 55.0%
CHI 54.7%
BOS 53.9%
MINN 52.5%
IND 52.3%
NJ 45.0%
LAC 45.0%
PHI 44.5%

The discrepancy is huge. The worst WC playoff team is better than the lowest 5 EC playoff teams. This is what I mean about the top two EC teams effectively having a bye. MIA and DET are both playing a team as good as the Clippers. Where do I sign up?

The average sports fan, along with the vast majority of the media, ignore strength of schedule. Let's take a closer look at Denver's recent streak in which they went 24-3. The average winning percentage of teams they beat was 44.55%. Now, if you remove the two games against SA (Duncan out) and the game against SEA (Radmanovic and Lewis out) the average goes down to 40.8%. Don't get me wrong, going 24-3 is impressive no matter the teams played, but the level of competition definitely dulls the shine on George Karl's head.

Oh. And Lebron James joins Nick Collison in the chest hair club. I'm sure there are others. Please feel free to add them via a comment. Somebody needs to keep track of this stuff.

*******

Note: I am going to update this post daily instead of creating a new post.

After losing today to SEA, MINN is finally officially out of the playoff race.

Current (as of Sunday morning) Western Conference Standings:

1. Phoenix 61-19 -
2. San Antonio 59-21 2.0
3. Seattle 52-28 9.0
4. Dallas 56-24 5.0
5. Houston 49-31 12.0
6. Sacramento 49-31 12.0
7. Denver 48-32 13.0
8. Memphis 44-36 17.0

Remaining schedules:

Phoenix: DEN @SACTO
San Antonio: @MEM @MINN
Seattle: @DAL @HOU
Sacramento: @UTA PHX
Houston: LAC SEA
Denver: @PHX POR
Memphis: SA DAL

Possible scenarios:

Spurs Get #1 Seed

-In order for this to happen the Spurs need to finish with at least the same record as PHX. SA holds the tiebreaker due to the 2-1 head-to-head advantage. At this point, assuming the Spurs win out, PHX has to lose their remaining two games. PHX has home with DEN and at SACTO. SACTO and DEN will probably be playing for playoff seeding to the very last day of the season, so they possibly could run their normal rotations for these games. I think it's possible, but very unlikely, that PHX loses two in a row. Maybe a 15% chance.

Though MEM has clinched a playoff spot they still will likely play their normal rotation against the Spurs. They're badly in need of a win before the playoffs start, and beating the Spurs tomorrow would assure them of avoiding SA in round 1. I (still) give the Spurs about a 40% chance of winning out.

So, assuming I know what I'm talking about, the Spurs have less than a 10% chance of getting the #1 seed.

-If the Spurs get the #1 seed they will play MEM.

Spurs End Up with #2 Seed

-The Spurs cannot drop lower than the #2 seed.

-Who will they play? They could theoretically play SACTO, HOU or DEN. I'll break down each team's chances of ending up with the seventh seed.

-HOU/SACTO/DEN: HOU blew out DEN today. Despite that, all three teams could still end up 7th. These three teams, currently seeded 5-6-7, are all within 1 loss of each other, with HOU having the advantage on SACTO and DEN. Here's a breakdown of the two-team tie-breakers:

HOU over SACTO.
SACTO over DEN.
HOU over DEN.

HOU wins the possible three-team tiebreaker

One more win for HOU or SACTO guarantees them at least the 6th seed. If DEN loses either of its next two games it will lock itself in to the number 7 seed.

In order for SACTO to fall to the #7 seed they would have to lose their remaining two games and DEN would have to win out.

Yesterday's prediction looks to be right:

HOU
SACTO
DEN

Finals Home Court Advantage

If the Spurs reach the finals they will have home court.







10 April 2005

It's Just a Dream He Keeps Having...

This Wilco lyric, from the title track of "Summerteeth," is dedicated to Spurs fans in general. These last couple weeks have been, for the most part, a nightmare. But a weekend such as the one now ending is something unexpected and, quite frankly, damn-near unbelievable. More on that later; I want to cover previous games and tie up loose ends.

Lately I have been having all sorts of problems with Blogger. Despite numerous tries I couldn't edit my previous post regarding (mostly) the Denver Nuggets. The main thing I wanted to add/clarify is that, after seeing more evidence (specifically Denver's schedule), I would rather play Denver than Houston. I initially marked that decision a "toss-up."

Now for some quick words about past games.

LA Lakers 94 @ San Antonio 95

I watched the NBATV broadcast of this game on TiVo. It was the worst NBA on television experience I've ever had. I would rather watch a Pat Riley era Knick team play a Pat Riley era Heat team with commentary by Marv Albert and Mike Fratello than go through that Laker game again. Here's what NBATV did.

First off, instead of playing the audio from the game, they had a panel of three guys in the studio blabbing about all sorts of crap, but rarely the actual game itself. They sat in a semi-circle in front of a large screen television. The panel consisted of a couple of NBA old-timers and the token "I didn't play in the NBA, but I can actually put together sentences with polysyllabic words and I also can adequately listen to my earpiece and interrupt for the commercial break" guy.

The worst part was that the video feed would occasionally switch to a view from behind the panel. So the viewer would see three heads in front of a screen showing the game. Unbelievable. Who could possibly think this was a good idea? The producer's last name has to be, Stern-Bavetta, right?

Even with the banal audio turned off I couldn't focus on the game, so I don't remember all that much. My recollections are as follows: Ginobili played dreadfully (7 TOs and 8 points on 12 FGA), Barry hit a runner to give the Spurs the lead and Bryant inexplicably didn't take Horry to the hole and instead missed a 20-footer at the buzzer. It was the perfect ending for a surreal experience.

LA Clippers 82 @ San Antonio 91

Easy, easy win for the Spurs. Parker and Ginobili only played a combined 47 minutes. Glenn Robinson made his debut and looked a lot better than I expected. I always pictured him as one of those players who played 10 pounds overweight. Not in the Oliver Miller realm, but it was always clear he was a repeat offender at the buffet. So I was surprised to see a normally-weighted Big Dog. He clearly wasn't in playing shape, but it was obvious he hadn't let himself go, either. It was clear he was trying to mesh well from the very beginning: during an early timeout he gave a Tim Duncan patented head caress to Tony Parker. On the floor Glenn contributed 7 points in 13 minutes. He's not a plus defender, and he did look lost at times at both ends of the court. That's to be expected, though.

Man, Corey Maggette is good. He's effin' ripped, too. Imagine if both the Clippers and the Warriors are healthy next year. The TWolves will be on the outside looking in again unless they can sign some people that don't fucking suck.

The biggest story of the game had to be Mamadou N'Dyiae. Mainly because I thought Mamadou was Makhtar. I had no idea there was another N'Dyiae in the league, and for some reason that really bothered me. Are these guys related? They have to be, right? And why don't they have a reality show, or at least a weekly comedy hour? The Queer Eye fellows definitely have time for them, no? They could release a series of movies like Mary-Kate and Ashley: Mamadou and Makhtar in Milan or Makha and Mama in America. The alliterative possibilities are plentiful and undoubtedly pleasingly prurient.

(For the purposes of full disclosure I must admit that I am pretty sure "Makhtar" is a word in Klingon. However, I have no idea what it would mean. If that makes any difference. It probably doesn't. I should just stop typing now.)

I am not fit for this blogging thing. The Spurs win consecutive double overtime games on the road and I spend 100 words on two big men from Senegal who have a combined 499 points in the NBA.

San Antonio 68 @ Dallas 104

The rest of today's Wilco lyric is "...And it doesn't seem to mean anything" and it goes out to Jerry Stackhouse and the Dallas Mavericks. This past Thursday they won the NBA Championship in decisive fashion, crushing the Spurs by 36 points. Oh wait, that's not it. This past Thursday the Mavericks earned a trip to the NBA finals by sweeping the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. No, that's not right either. The Mavericks, in resounding fashion, locked up a division title by bludgeoning a rival Spurs team. Hmm, that's wrong, too.

On Thursday, the Mavericks beat a Spurs team without its best player on the second game of a back to back. Ginobili and Parker played a combined 40 minutes. The Spurs shot 0-12 from three. For some reason the entire Dallas team whooped it up the whole second half. Darrell Armstrong was waving towels, the bench was standing up most of the time and Stackhouse was talking trash. Afterwards he said, regarding Duncan: "He would've made a difference," Stackhouse said, smiling, "but I don't think he would've made a 40-point difference." He continued on with "I think we were able to put them on their heels with our defense," Stackhouse said and culminated with the following:

"About the only thing that went wrong for the Mavericks was letting Mike Wilks hit a short jumper with 13.3 seconds left, preventing them from giving up their fewest points. Team owner Mark Cuban told the players on the bench how close they were, so they were all standing up and rooting for one last defensive stand.

"They just got a lucky little putback," Stackhouse said."

I just don't get it. This game meant nothing. The only thing the Mavericks could be happy about is not embarassing themselves. They weren't even playing for playoff positioning. San Antonio was without their best player, intentionally limiting the minutes of their other two best players and clearly threw in the towel (in terms of who was playing) with 18 minutes to go. What is Dallas so happy about? And why would they do anything to piss off the Spurs? Which they clearly did: sometime in the second half Duncan ripped up a stat sheet one of the coaches was holding and said "This means nothing."

The Spurs were in a similar position a couple of weeks ago; they played a depleted Sonics team at the SBC center and crushed them. The Sonics never even had a lead. And the game actually meant something in the sense that the #2 seed was in doubt at the time and this particular game determined the tie-breaker. It was just another game to the Spurs. No laughing it up or spouting off inciteful quotes to the reporters afterword.

Needless to say, a post season series between these two teams would have a little something extra.

------------

Tomorrow or Tuesday I'll spend some time talking about the incredible weekend and review the playoff positioning situation, which has gotten interesting thanks to Shaq's illness and Phoenix's shoddy play.

07 April 2005

Spinning Out Webs of Deductions

San Antonio 84 @ Denver 102

Duncan was out, the Spurs shot 32% and Marcus Camby had 8 blocks. That's all I care to say about this particular game. However, I do want to spend some time talking about the potential Spurs vs. Nuggets first round matchup.

First, let's take a quick look at the standings. I am 90% sure the Spurs will end up the two seed. Making up two games on Phoenix is going to be very difficult when you consider the Spurs remaining schedule, which includes 6 (of 8) games on the road. Denver is currently in the 7th spot, 1/2 game (in the win column) behind Houston and 1 game up on Memphis. However, Denver has already locked up the tie-breaker against the Grizzlies, so Memphis would have to make up 2 games on them. Here's Memphis' remaining games:

vs. Miami
vs. Charlotte
@ Dallas
@ Houston
@ Denver
@ San Antonio
vs. San Antonio
vs. Dallas

BRUTAL. They'd be lucky to go 4-4 over that stretch, which means Denver would have to go 2-6. They have remaining home games against Golden State, New Orleans and Portland. That's three wins right there. Therefore, it's a virtual lock that Denver will finish ahead of Memphis.

So the question is, will Denver catch Houston? Let's look at their schedules:

Denver / Houston
@ MINN / @ LAL
SEA / @ PHX
GS / @ SEA
NO / MEM
MEM / DEN
@ HOU / LAC
@ PHX / SEA
POR

Houston's got the tougher schedule. It may come down to their head to head matchup in Houston. Whoever wins that game will have win the tie-breaker between the two teams. I think Houston has to win that game. Denver has 3 gimmies compared to Houston's 1 (LAC). I give Denver the slight edge, say 60-40, in winning the 6 spot. But, for the sake of discourse, let's pretend Denver stays at number 7.

Their are two questions.

Which team would I rather play?

This is a tough one. It seems like every key Rocket is gimpy. Juwan is gone for the season. McGrady has knee troubles. Ming has a sore calf. Jon Barry has back spasms. Mutumbo has to have arthritis or something. The Nuggets are in much better shape. Punkie has sore ribs, but the Nuggets are very deep at his position, and anyone can go 3-20 in a playoff game. Camby has a myriad of minor injuries, but that's just Marcus Camby being Marcus Camby.

If both teams were healthy, I would much rather play Denver. They don't have anyone close to McGrady and Yao Ming is as good an offensive option as anyone the Nuggets have. Plus Houston plays better defense. However, given Houston's injuries I think it's a toss-up.

So my answer is: it doesn't matter to me.

Am I worried about playing Denver?

Yes. Especially in the first round.

There are always multiple factors that contribute to the totality of how well a team is playing. But there's has to be one factor that is more important than all the others, and for the Spurs it's how Duncan plays on the offensive end. The more aggressive he is the better the Spurs are on that end of the court. And as I've said before, Duncan hates playing against ultra physical players. Denver has two guys willing to push Duncan around if allowed: Punkie and Najera. When playing for Dallas Eduardo gave Duncan fits in the playoffs two years ago. He will drape himself all over Timmeh and push him well of the block. He'll overplay the entry pass. He'll foul the shit out of Duncan if he gets near the bucket.

When faced with this type of play, Tim usually is a shrinking violet. He's not willing to fight for post position. How many times have you seen him with his arms up trying to work his way around a post defender? He likely does this to avoid fouls, and he knows he can hit the eighteen foot jumper. However, the Spurs offense works much better when he's on the block. The court can be spaced better and Duncan is a much better passer from that spot (because he often waits for the double team and isn't forced to pass off the dribble).

Duncan is also not willing to force the issue. Imagine if Najera tried to play Malone the way he plays Tim. Malone would get the ball and go straight to the bucket, likely right through Najera's chest. He'd be jumping into Najera with elbows cocked and Eduardo wouldn't last five minutes. For better or worse, that's just not the way Tim usually handles the situation. The quick, decisive and forcful post move is not his forte. And that's precisely what you need to do against the Najeras, the Madsens and the Roses. Make it clear from the very beginning that you will not be pushed around and you will not let the scrubs of the NBA keep you from getting the ball where you want it. Force the issue.

Putting Najera and Punkie on Duncan allows Camby to roam the paint and be more of a defensive force. Shot blockers are always better coming off the ball.

It all comes down to Duncan. If he's focused on exerting his will on the offensive end of the court, the Spurs take Denver out in 5 games, max. But I don't think that's going to happen. Not when I take into account how timid Tim was in the playoffs last year (against Malone, who plays the exact type of defense Najera will play). Not when I factor in Tim's gimpy ankle.

Don't get me wrong. The Nuggets aren't beating the Spurs in a seven game series if Duncan plays. They don't have anyone that can guard Ginobili and the only player that has any hope against Parker is Boykins. They don't have that one player that scares you on the offensive end. Carmelo Anthony has absolutely no idea what to do against Bowen and is shooting 30% from the field against the Spurs this year. They also aren't nearly as good as their recent record indicates. Take a look at their recent wins for chrissakes:

BOS
@ MEM
@ NO
ATL
IND
@ LAC
POR
@ SA (sans Duncan)
CHA
LAC
MIL
WAS
LAL
SAC
@ UTA
SA (sans Duncan)
@ POR
@ MEM
@ NO

How many of those are quality wins? I'll give them the two @ MEM and home against SAC and maybe WAS. That's it folks. Wow, I hadn't looked at their schedule. That definitely puts their recent "hot streak" in perspective.

So, in conclusion, I am a little worried that DEN might push the Spurs to six or seven games if Duncan doesn't bring the pain. I just said "bring the pain." I slay me.

04 April 2005

Oh, I've Got Reservations About So Many Things

...but not about you.

That Wilco lyric goes out to Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson, the newest member of the Spurs. The Spurs waived Dion Glover to make room on the roster.

When I initially read the news my first reaction was surprise followed shortly thereafter by bewilderment. Look at Glenn's career numbers:

32 years old
6'-7" 225
20.82 PPG
8.15 FGM
17.74 FGA
1.17 PPS
45.9 FG%
34.0 3p%
81.9 FT%
6.1 RPG
2.8 APG
3.15 TOPG

How often does a career 21 PPG player get picked up off of waivers with 10 games to go in the season? He started the season injured with Philadelphia and was traded to New Orleans at the deadline. They promptly waived him. I figured no one picked him up due to injury-- or maybe he went on the Oliver Miller cheeseburger diet and gained 30 pounds. But for some unknown reason he was still available.

Some Spurs fans may be worried that a player of his stature will mess up team chemistry and not mesh well into the system. That he'll screw up the defense and complain when if he doesn't get his shots. Those are the possible negative outcomes of this acquisition. None of my three friends would ever call me an optimist, but I think this was a good signing by Buford and company.

The way I see it, if Glenn doesn't play adequate defense he'll sit the bench a la Steve Smith. If he causes problems he'll get cut. I trust that Popovich won't let this be a distraction. Hell, if he could tell Karl Malone, to his face, that he wouldn't guarantee him playing time then Pop can certainly tell Glenn to ride the pine and shut his pie hole. And I'm sure the Spurs made it clear to Glenn what they expect of him.

This also seems like a great situation for Glenn. He can provide some offensive spark off the bench and prove he's still got some game left. He can also play the good soldier and try to shake his reputation of not being a team player. Oh, and he gets a good shot at a ring, too.

The main reason I like this pick up is that the Spurs definitely need some help on offense. Without Duncan they are reduced to having Parker and Ginobili penetrate and kick. It's obvious that The Sickness is quickly running out of gas. He's 15-48 in his last four games and he seems to have lost some of his explosive abilities-- he's not finishing as well at the basket and not blowing by people as regularly. Glenn can definitely save him some energy on the offensive end. Robinson is no longer the offensive player he used to be, but he's an option. You can play him on the post. He can face up from 15-20 feet and he's a decent three-point shooter. He can create his own shot. The Sickness can do a lot of these things too, and so can Parker, but it does us no good to run these guys ragged before the playoffs. Let Glenn play 17-22 minutes and put up 12-15 shots. Barry can slide over to the two and Manu can get some extra time on the bench.

I think the worst that can happen is that Glenn struggles and the Spurs lose home court against Miami. To be honest, I think this is a foregone conclusion anyway. Miami is currently ahead by a half game and have a decent schedule the rest of the way (split home and away). Their toughest game is probably Detroit at home. The Spurs, on the other hand, have 6 of their remaining 9 games on the road, including at Dallas, Memphis and Minnesota. And Duncan and Brown are out for at least four more games.

And, heck, maybe Glenn still has something. Maybe he shoots 50% from off the bench and averages 12-15 PPG. Maybe he helps the Spurs pull out some games while Duncan is hurt. The most important thing is that the Spurs start the playoffs healthy and rested, and The Big Dog can help the Spurs do that. Anything else is gravy.

03 April 2005

I Know You Probably Hate Me; Well That's OK With Me

Seattle 76 @ San Antonio 89

From now on all my entry titles will be lyrics from Wilco songs. Until I run out of lyrics or forget.

Today's lyric, from "Outtasite (Outta Mind)" on the brilliant "Being There," is dedicated to Mr. Ray Allen of the Seattle Supersonics. After Wednesday's game, where he managed 14 points on 6-17 from the field, he said the following regarding Bruce Bowen:

"He doesn't play basketball," Allen said. "I don't know what he does. They put him out there to throw punches and throw elbows. I don't know what he's doing. That's not basketball that he plays."

It's so weird that he said this, because I swear I saw Bruce crocheting out there Wednesday night.

The ever cerebral Bowen replied with ""I've never heard the great ones say anything like that. You never heard Michael Jordan say, 'Oh, John Starks doesn't play basketball.' John Starks may play physical with M.J., the Detroit Pistons may have been physical with him. What did he do? He went and hit the gym hard and continued to play."

Allen's quote has to be right up there with Pedro Martinez saying the Yanks were his "daddy." It's foolish to admit that another player is that in your head. Of course if you watched the game you would already know how frustrated Allen is with Bruce's defense. I've never seen Bruce "karate chop" anyone (which is what one GM suggested), but he's always forearming people and he's all up in your business whether you have the ball or not. If the Spurs face the Sonics in the playoffs I would put money that either Ray Allen or Rashard Lewis will end up getting into a pseudo-fight with Bruce Bowen. You know: the opponent shoves Bruce while Bruce is shrugging and telling the ref "I didn't do anything."

The Sonics were never in this game; in face they never had a lead. The Spurs scored something like their first 20 points in the paint and never looked back. I spent the first quarter thinking "How can the Sonics be this bad? Rashard Lewis is good, but he's not important enough to justify this awful performance." Then, in the second quarter, I realized Seattle was also missing Danny Fortson. He was suspended for refusing to go into the game against the Knicks. I read somewhere that he was missing a key component of his uniform under his warm-ups. So naughty. Sometime in the second half I further realized that Radmanovic was also not playing. He has a bruised coiff or something.

So, obviously, the game was not a true test of the matchup, but it was still an important win in terms of playoff seeding. As of Sunday night the Spurs are two games up on Seattle and have the tie-breaker by two games as well (conference record because the season series is tied 2-2). Given Seattle's myriad of injuries and brutal remaining schedule, I don't see anyway they finish ahead of the Spurs.

Sean Marks, who's been the second or third guy off the bench of late, even had 9 points. Which is seven points more than the soon-to-be-free-agent Jerome James scored. I wonder who will offer him the midlevel exception first, Isiaiaiiaiiih or Mullin. Damien Wilkins, son of Gerald Wilkins, looked pretty good; he's definitely got an offensive game and he's not afraid to shoot the ball. Not surprising considering his lineage.

Enough about the Spurs. I stumbled upon a life-changing discovery on Friday. Unbeknownst to me, Nike, in 2001, retroed* my seventh (or was it eighth) grade basketball shoes. I totally missed the chance to cop* my old-school kickz*.

*retroed - reproduced
*cop - to purchase^
*kickz - shoes
^or steal

Here they are: my grails*. Damn, they make me moist. I actually had the high tops, back when high tops were high tops. Them sumbitches haven't been retroed, but I'll take what I can get. Unfortunately the only place I can get them is eBay. Unfortunatelyer my old colorway* is the most popular of the retro versions. Unfortunatelyest my shoe size is the most common. So I'll have to pay about $140 for a DS* pair.

*grails - a sneakerheads most coveted pair of shoes
*colorway - the color pattern of the shoe
*DS - "dead stock;" never worn

Rumor has it some new colorways are coming out this summer. Hmm. Those would make a nice birthday present. Somebody tell The Wife. 10.5 please.

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All content copyright Matthew Powell 2005.