Before I, uh, let loose, I have to give credit to the Sonics. Ray Allen, after being positively horrendous is game 3 (6-23), hit a host of difficult shots on his way to 32 points on 20 FGA. Luke Ridnour also had a huge game, hitting wide open runner after wide open jump shot. He finished with 20 points on 15 FGA. Both of them were key in SEA's huge 3rd quarter, where they scored 36 points on 127% shooting. As good as Ridnour was, Antonio Daniels was probably even better, with 19 points on 13 FGA.
Also, give credit to Nate McMillan for being the first NBA coach this year to figure out Tony Parker is a bad jump shooter. At one point Tony had the ball one foot inside the three point line at the top of the key. Antonio Daniels, who was "guarding" him, was at the free throw line, going under consecutive attempts at a pick and roll. I've said it time and time again, why would any team play up on a guy who A)is one of the quickest players in the league and B) shoots under 30% from 3?
And by the way, SA never had a lead in this game.
I can imagine Timmeh sitting on the plane ride home, looking at the stat sheet. 35 points on 19 FGA. 10 REB. 2 BLK. Nobody else had more than 15 points. Nobody else had more than 7 boards. Maybe, just maybe he thought "Wow, this must be how KG feels."
Tim had a good game. He was aggressive, hit his free throws and crashed the offensive glass. Everyone one else either sucked or sucked hard. Both Parker and Ginobili are forcing penetration, trying to create something against a Seattle defense packing it in. The Wee Frenchman attempted exactly zero of his signature floaters tonight. It's as if both of them are trying to prove they aren't intimidated by the rampant physicality of Seattle's big men.
SA also over-compensated with their pick-and-roll defense. In game 3 the big men were stepping out and the rotations weren't quick enough which led to numerous uncontested dunks. In game 4 the big men didn't step out. At all. Which led to no dunks but instead to numerous uncontested 12-18 footers. At the end of the third quarter Ridnour came off a pick and roll and Duncan basically stayed right under the basket. Luke shot the laziest 8 foot runner I've ever seen. I think he yawned half-way through.
The Spurs also turned the ball over 15 times in the first half and 20 for the game. Lousy team offense + lousy team defense = blowout.
The Sickness was the least sucky of all the non-Duncan Spurs, but we needed more from him. Of course when you're on the bench FOR HALF OF THE MOTHERFUCKING GAME IT'S HARD TO DO A GODDAMNED THING. Twenty-five fucking minutes.
Look people, I'm sure Gregg Popovich has forgotten more about basketball than I'll ever know blah blah blah. He's know more about Xs and Os and 4-downs and that run-his-hand-across-his chest play. He's learned things about these players that I will never know. He knows about individual personalities. He knows that Devin Brown is afraid of snakes and Nesterovic's favorite flavor of ice cream is mint-chocolate-chip. He's heard that Duncan recently switched from briefs to boxer briefs because he a bad, bad case of epididymitis. Maybe I am a fucking idiot and have absolutely no damn clue what I'm talking about.
But you know, if I had a guy on my team that had the THIRD HIGHEST +/- IN THE WHOLE FREAKING LEAGUE DURING THE REGULAR SEASON I just might think it would be better for him to be on the court than on the bench. I'm just talking out loud here. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe that WHOLE SEASONS WORTH OF DATA is a bunch of shit.
And maybe, if I looked at my team and saw that TWO PLAYERS HAD +/- OF OVER 15 I just might think "Hmm, maybe one of them should be on the court at all times."
Please Pop, STOP DICKING AROUND. This is the playoffs. There's no more time for "teaching players lessons" or "trying to find a lineup that works." Here's a fucking clue: TP-MG-BB-TD-RS outscored their opponents by 18.25 POINTS PER 48 MINUTES DURING THE REGULAR SEASON. There's your damned "lineup that works". Dance with the motherfucking horse that brought you.
For fuck's sake, it's one thing to start Brent "I am required to make one obscenely bad pass per game" Barry against the Nuggets when he could guard either Buckner of DerMarr Johnson. Which Sonic is he supposed to guard? You obviously do not think he can guard Lewis because you're doubling him whenever he gets the ball. And he certainly cannot guard Allen, Ridnour or Daniels. So why the fuck is he out there? To shoot threes? Manu's just a good 3P shooter as he is. If Brent cannot shoot 3s coming off the bench then I have a splendid idea: LEAVE HIM ON THE GODDAMNED BENCH.
There's a novel idea. You actually do not have to play all your players during the playoffs! True story! During the regular season you can get away with playing your big guns an average of only 30-35 minutes a game because you sometimes encounter really fucking bad teams. Last time I checked, "really fucking bad teams" don't make the playoffs.
But, again, I'm no coach. What the fuck do I know?
Maybe Parker really does need to sit out the last 2 minutes of every first quarter. And maybe he really does need to sit out during the first 6 minutes of every second quarter, too. Maybe he needs that fifteen minute break. Maybe between quarters he retires to the locker room and masturbates furiously to photos of Eva Longoria. Maybe this tires him out. Maybe he's really 42 instead of 22 and thus can only play 36 minutes a game while Steve Nash plays 38.
Yeah, yeah, I know Ginobili had 2 fouls in the first quarter. So what? Put him on Ridnour and tell him not to foul. If he gets his third then sit him. Give him the chance.
What fucking kills me is it's not like the backups are playing worth a shit. Udrih would rather dribble wildly to the basket that shoot open 3s. Barry also enjoys fruitless trips into the paint and couldn't guard Sue Bird. And on the defensive end Nazr looks like he's being controlled by a 2 year old holding his PS2 joystick upside down. Big Dog is shoving people into refs and complaining about non-calls while his man runs down the court for a layup.
Here's your rotation. Feel free to print a copy for yourself!
Horry for Duncan at the 8 minute mark
Barry for Ginobili at 4
Duncan for Nestie at 4
Beno for Parker at 2
Brown for Bowen at 2
Mohammed for Horry to start the 2nd
Parker for Barry at 10
Ginobili for Udrih at 10
Nestie for Duncan at 8
Bowen for Brown at 6
Horry for Mohammed at 6
Duncan for Nestie at 6
Something similar for the second half gives you:
Parker 40 minutes
Ginobili 36 minutes
Bowen 32 minutes
Duncan 36 minutes
Nestie 20 minutes
Nazr 12 minutes
Horry 28 minutes
Barry 12 minutes
Beno 8 minutes
Brown 16 minutes
This affords either Manu or Tim on the court at all times. Also, either Nestie or Duncan are on the court at all times, too. The 36 minutes between Barry, Beno and Brown can be redistributed based on matchups and who's actually willing to shoot open 3s that night.
Look, I'm not blaming Pop for the loss. He's not responsible for the turnovers or the botched pick and rolls. But he's fucking up the one thing he's responsible for: getting your best players on the court in an intelligent manner and as much as possible. No amount of strategerie or tinkering can make up for talent. Play your best players. This is not the time to "prove a point" or to "teach a lesson" or to "mix and match." This is not the time to "get some guys some rest." (What exactly would they be resting for anyways? There's at most 16 games left spread out over about 40 days.)
The playoffs are about riding your horses to the finish line. Which, if Ginobili keeps getting 25 minutes, will be here sooner than expected.