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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.

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All content copyright Matthew Powell 2005.