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17 May 2005

The Sickness: He's Above Average

Given my previous post, I have no choice but to talk about Nazr. He had a great offensive game tonight. 19 points on 8-10 shooting, the majority of those being dunks off of either a great pass (mostly Manu) or an offensive rebound.

He's a better offensive player than Rasho. I've never said otherwise. He also is willing to dunk the ball (usually after a myriad of upfakes), which is, in most Spurs fans' eyes, the key thing that Rasho lacks. But, as I've said before, he is a horrible team defender. He accounted for no less than six botched pick and rolls in the first half. He obviously got ripped a new one at half time because he jumped pick and roll much better in the third quarter. If he learns how to be even an adequate team defender than I would absolutely support him getting minutes over Rasho (or Massenburg, etc.).

For all the Nazr defenders and fans, I have some questions. If he's so much better than Rasho, explain the following:

With Nazr on the court during the playoffs the Spurs are +0 (in 213 minutes) (this is by far the worst of any Spur who has gotten regular minutes).
With Nazr off the courth during the playoffs the Spurs are +78 (in 222 minutes).

With Rasho on the court during the playoffs the Spurs are +25 (in only 78 minutes).
With Rasho off the court during the playoffs the Spurs are +53 (in 356 minutes).

With Nazr on the court during the regular season the Spurs were -56 points (416 minutes).
With Nazr off the court during the regular season the Spurs were +698 points (3538 minutes).

With Rasho on the court during the regular season the Spurs were +409 (1780 minutes).
With Rasho off the court during the regular season the Spurs were +233 (2173 minutes).

Explain those numbers (all from 82games.com). And if your explanation is anything similar to "+/- stats are meaningless" then you are either stupid or trying to piss me off. Either way, please stop reading my blog.

So let's talk about the game now. And by "talking about the game," I mean lavishing The Sickness with praise. After the game Charles Barkley said something very similar to the following:

"If some no name coach had Ginobili and allowed him to take 20 shots a game he would average 25 points. EASY."

His line: 39 points on 10-15 FGA, 4-6 from 3, 15-17 from FT, 4 REB, 6 AST, 2 STL, 1 TO in 36 minutes. Those numbers are somewhere past "off the charts." Those numbers are "NBA Live on the rookie level" type numbers. 2.60 points per FGA. 1.73 points per shot attempt. I'll PayPal somebody $5 if they can find a playoff performance since 1990 (Wilt probably did it a bunch of times) where a player had 39 points or more with a higher PPFGA or PPSA. By the way, PPSA = PTS / (FGA + .44*FTA).

He had some dunks. He hit his threes. He had a couple of finger rolls. He had a couple of fall aways. He got Ray in early foul trouble. Despite having the ball most of the game, he had only 1 turnover (late in the 4th when the outcome was already decided). He put his mark on the game early. 19 points in the first half. 20 in the second. His style is always aggressive, always unorthodox and often awkward looking. He's The Sickness.

I said this months ago, but he should be the Spurs first option on offense. Right now both Parker and Duncan have more shot attempts per game in the playoffs. He at least needs to be ahead of Parker.

Speaking of, Parker had another off night. 11 points on 4-13 shooting (3 of those baskets coming late in the 4th with the game already decided). 5 REB, 2 AST, no TOs. Look people, I've been saying it all along, he's a bad jump shooter. SEA knows this and are playing off him, going under the pick and roll and packing the lane. There's no adjustment he can make right now to increase his scoring. He needs pick his spots on the break and kick the ball out earlier on the few half court drives he does get. He also needs to yield the floor to Manu. During the offseason he needs to first change his shot and then work on it. This wrist-flicking crap ain't gonna work.

He just turned 23. Cut him some slack.

The Spurs finally played decent pick and roll defense in the second half. They trapped Allen often and did a good job of limiting his good looks. He finished with 19 points on 21 shots. The better pick and roll defense limited Ridnour as well, who scored less points tonight (12) than in the 3rd quarter in game 4 (15). As is their MO, the Spurs limited 3PA to 13.

Another key to the game was the Spurs taking care of the basketball; only 9 TOs compared to 23 in the previous game.

This series is by no means over. They need to hammer home pick and roll defense to Nazr and continue trapping Allen. Limiting offensive boards would be nice, too (SEA had 13 tonight). On offense the Spurs need to continue to take care of the ball and keep The Sickness the vocal point of the offense.

Also, it might be a good time to bench Brent Barry. He played 22 minutes tonight. 0-3. 1 personal foul. That's it. No rebounds, assists, turnovers, steals or blocks. Da Blade has given him the nickname "The Cooler." He has, let's say, some strong feelings about Brent Barry. Hopefully he'll take the time to elaborate.

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All content copyright Matthew Powell 2005.