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13 June 2005

What Do You Want Me To Say?

After the game, Greg Anthony said (something like) the following about Detroit: "They are playing as individuals, not as a team. The Spurs are playing as a team." Walton added the following nugget: "They aren't playing like champions. They aren't playing with heart."

Wow. What insight. I am glad ABC gives those "analyst" jobs to former NBA players because there's no way a plebeian could wind up at the same conclusions. The same meaningless, bullshit-laced conclusions.

Here's a novel idea: maybe the Spurs are just better? Maybe the Spurs' 7.8 point differential during the regular season(with Duncan missing 16 games) is more impressive than Detroit's 3.8 point differential. Maybe when you factor in their conference strengths the gap should logically widen. Maybe the Spurs had less trouble with better teams during the playoffs. Maybe the Spurs are better at what the Pistons do best. Maybe the Spurs have more offensive flexibility. Maybe the Spurs are deeper. Maybe the Spurs have more guys that can hit the three. Maybe the Spurs have more guys that can create their own shots or, when the defense collapses (as it did last night), create shots for others. Maybe the Spurs have two different guards who Detroit cannot stop one-on-one. Maybe the Spurs have the best player in the series. Maybe the Spurs also have Tim Duncan.

Allow me to (loosely) quote the great NBA analysy Denis Leary:

They can have a big teamwork/heart/play like champions cakewalk right through the middle of Tianamen Square and it won't make a lick of difference because we've got the players, OK?

Here's the thing: Detroit played good team difference last night. Why the hell do you think the Spurs shot 24 threes? Virtually everytime a Spur beat someone of the dribble they were forced to kick the ball out because Detroit rotated to block off the lane. Their problem on defense isn't team, it's individual. They need to find individuals who can stay in front of Parker and The Sickness. Individuals that can play denial defense (is anybody noticing Parker hounding Billups to the point he's having trouble even getting the ball) and fight over picks. The Spurs have those guys. Ginobili and Bowen are both top 10 perimeter defenders. Tony Parker got 2 votes for first team All NBA defense.

Is the series over? Is Detroit through? Well, I don't the balls to say "yes." But it sure looks like it is. Since the 1st quarter of game 1 Detroit has been outscored by 39 points. Ouch. It's going to take a colossal reversal of quality of play for Detroit to have a chance. They could very well win a couple of games, but 4 out of 5? How is that feasible given what we've seen?

***

You've probably heard: the Spurs throttled Detroit last night. The Pistons never had a lead and never got closer than 8 in the second half. DET did a better job of rotating and cutting off the lane, but Manu and Parker adjusted well and found wide open shooters behind the 3P line. The one glaring negative for SA was the 18 offensive rebounds they allowed. That's about 10 too many.

Bowen did a great job on Hamilton once again and complimented his defensive performance with good 3P shooting. His point total (15) matched Detroit's highest scorer (McDyess).

Parker played terrific denial defense on Billups and was efficient on the offensive end, scoring 12 points on 9 FGA.

Duncan hit his free throws (8-9), did an adequate job rebounding (11) and played terrific defense all night (4 blocks).

Mohammed played decently, but 2 defensive rebounds in 25 minutes ain't gonna cut it.

The Sickness had 27 points on 8 FGA. That's 3.375 PPFGA. Even if you negate the free throws he still had 2.00 PPFGA. 7 assists, 3 REB, 3 STL, 3 TO. At this point it would be very hard to exaggerate the quality of his playoff performance. He's currently at 1.78 PPFGA for the playoffs, shooting 53% from the field and 49% from 3. If he maintains his PPFGA it will be the highest in the history of the NBA playoffs for a guy averaging more than 20 points a game.

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All content copyright Matthew Powell 2005.