Booth: Question: I'm watching the 1st quarter right now of game 1: Duncan is indeed defending Marion, leaving Nazr on The Stud. Do YOU agree with this matchup? You've constantly noted Mohammed's defensive liabilities, noted Rasho's not a good fit against Amare... and standing in the shadows(?) is THAT guy: former defensive MVP Timmeh. What gives? Granted Stoudemire's not the ideal matchup, but stopping him and Nash are gonna be a key point to the series, more so than containing the x-factor blah blah marion (and wouldn't bowen be a much better defensive matchup on marion too?) Or does Duncan contribute better as a weakside helping defensive presence off the main players/plays of the opposing team? Is it to reserve his energy for offense? Limit foul troubles?
Me: You, for the most part, answered your own question. I agree with putting Duncan on the weakest offensive big man the majority of the time. It theoretically accomplishes the following:
A) Keeps him out of foul trouble.
B) Allows him to leave his man and help on penetration (block shots).
C) Allows him to be a more effective defensive rebounder.
If necessary, Duncan occasionally switches over to the main big man in the fourth quarter depending on his foul situation. However, I wish Pop would be quicker on the trigger. Not necessarily specifically against the Suns, just in general.
It was clear to me that the Spurs decided to initially play the pick and roll soft; similar to how DAL approached the Nash / whoever combo. It encourages Nash to shoot. This is bad in that he's pretty money (baby) but it's good in that the three point shooters don't get off. The problem is that Nazr plays it too soft. There's a big difference between wide open 18 and 15 footers, and Mohammed's giving up the latter when he should be encouraging the former. Is that a minor quibble? Sure. But Pop doesn't think so; it led directly to a time out in the first half.
I liked how the Spurs totally changed their pick and roll defense in the fourth quarter; they began aggressively trapping Nash. This led to 3 AST, 2 TOs for Nash and 0 3P for the team.
Booth: What'd you see out of the season series regarding this?
Me: Like Shaq, Duncan never, EVER guards quality big men during the regular season. I've read some comments saying that Amare torched Duncan during the regular season; I never saw Timmeh guarding him. Not that he could, but he would do a better job than any other Spur. Non-Duncan will continute to guard The Stud as long as the Spurs keep beating PHX. Let's not forget that the only time PHX beat the Spurs Manu and Tim were in street clothes. And that was a close game. SA crushed them at home and beat them in overtime in PHX (the 48 PT game for Manu; Parker actually had the flu that night and only played 20ish minutes).
Booth: Changing a pick and roll scenario from AD/Luke & James (for which the Spurs played ridiculously bad in games 4 & 5 IMO) to Nash & Stoudemire... I'd be in the fetal position right about now.
Me: Yep, that's why I asked for someone to "hold me."
Booth: Saw a comment that Manu is physically exhausted right now.
Me: Not surprising. He's not quite the same. With playoffs and the Olympics he hasn't had much time off in the past two and a half years. He seemed a little slow tonight, which led to 20 points on 10 FGA. I have to admit, I was a little, erm, hurt when SG wrote that he loves hating Manu. I have a lot more to say about the media and The Sickness, but that will have to wait.
Booth: San Antonio-Seattle series as jarring evidence that the Spurs are not playing at their best right now (seriously, please explain to me how the best defensive team got worked on the standard pick & roll so much? I was in shock just watching it.)
Me: A mixture of horrible pick and roll defense (mostly from Nazr though Tim contributed as well), some really good passing from SEA guards and great shooting from Ridnour and Daniels. Also, SA plays to their competition. Always have. But you're right, the Spurs aren't "firing on all cylinders." Lots of injuries (Manu, Tim, Rasho and Devin are not 100%) are the main reasons. Parker's exposed weakness is another.