Dizzy, Nautious, and Dehydrated – All Signs Point to Spurs Fever
Game 1 Utah @ San Antonio: Spurs 108, Jazz 100 (1-0)
Let’s see… I don’t have to write anymore term papers, sit through lectures, or con my way to a passing grade in español anymore. I got the interminable graduation ceremony out of the way (the highlight, by far, was a speech given by this Asian gentleman; the head of our department or something, dressed like the Pope, whose accent reminded me of that alien general who was giving the rebel pilots strategic advice on how to attack the Death Star) without too much of a hassle. Game 6 was obviously amazing as we all know. I managed to drive my sister to the airport on four hours sleep Saturday morning, write the blog, pack for home, go to a graduation BBQ of a friend, and drive home from 10 pm to 5 am without killing myself.
AND on top of all that, the Spurs easily dispatched the Jazz in Game 1 with Manu once again playing superbly.
One would think I’d be as happy as one could possibly be right now, right?
One would think.
Unfortunately A) You all clearly don’t know me well enough and B) I’ve been sick as hell since roughly three hours after the BBQ.
Vicious food poisoning, some kind of virus… I’m not sure what. Manolis, who has extensive experience in food prep, has a theory that you really don’t want me to share, for multiple reasons. Let’s just say I’ve had no appetite at all since Saturday evening. At least I’m losing weight, right?
So I did watch the Jazz game, but in less than ideal circumstances, so I wasn’t able to quite get into it and enjoy it as much as I’d have liked. Oddly, it turns out that I was hardly in the minority there as much of the country tuned the game out and our own fans didn’t sell out. Naturally, this has led to a lot of bitching and trolling in the Spurstalk community. Skip Bayless compared our fans to those of the Atlanta Braves.
Me? I’m not saying I’m thrilled with it, but I understand. The whole thing about a four round NBA playoffs is that each round is supposed to be more of a challenge than the last. In ’05 we went from the Thuggets to the Superhomophobes to the Run’N’Whine Suns to the Sunshine and Lollipops Gang in Detroit. Each round was progressively harder and more compelling, like a good video game.
Utah is a good team, a worthy 2nd round caliber opponent. But it’s just not fair or realistic for your fans to not feel like it’s a bit of a comedown after playing the 61 win Suns. As much shit as I’ve given them the past two weeks for their bitching, moaning, and complete disregard for defense, no one can convince me that Utah is the better team.
Don’t blame the fans for this. There are only two groups of people to blame here:
1) The NBA Execs who voted against reseeding the playoffs after every round like they do in football and hockey.
2) The Dallas Mavericks for gagging so embarrassingly to the Warriors. The only reason the Amare suspension was even such a big issue in the first place is that as soon as it was announced, the entire NBA watching community, (and there are more than 19 of us out there, despite what Mr. Simmons might want you to believe) and especially the media that has to go cover the games collectively realized, “Oh my God, we’re gonna have a Spurs-Jazz Western Conference Finals!!!”
Some ABC/ESPN TV honchos probably had a coronary. Can you imagine that conversation with Stern over the phone?
TV Guy: “We don’t give a FLYING FUCK about integrity, Stern, we didn’t pay you all that money so you can give us a month of Spurs-Jazz and then Spurs-Pistons. We DEMAND you order your zebras to give the Suns every call the rest of the series.”
Stern: “Sorry guys, can’t help you there. I got too much heat, pardon the pun, for how blatantly incompetent the refs were last year. We’re just gonna call ‘em the way we see them and the best team is gonna win this year.”
TV Guy: “We’ll remember this when your TV contract is up, David.”
Stern: “And I’ll remember how you guys wouldn’t shut the fuck up about the Detroit brawl for a solid month, how you showed the Madison Square Garden thing with Carmelo over and over and how every time we have the smallest on-court incident you paint our league as being thug-ridden. I’ll remember how much camera time you give Cuban to stir up conspiracy shit, real or imagined. You want our league to be as controversial as possible to make your jobs easier and then criticize all the controversies. You can’t have it both ways.”
TV Guy: “So you want us to spend the next two months talking about Barry Bonds and Mike Vick? Great, that sounds fun.”
Stern: “Oh relax, I’m sure you can get one of your guys to bait T.O. into saying something moronic any day now.”
Let’s just lay off the fans a bit, huh? God knows if I can afford to pick only one game and I’m in that position, I’d wait until the Finals too. We’ve beaten the Jazz every home game this century, so forgive people for being over-confident.
What can be said about the game? The Jazz, were doubly unfortunate in that such a lay-off undoubtedly made them a bit rusty and also because their previous opponents, the Warriors, let them get whatever shots they wanted, with minimal resistance. Adjusting so easily from Nelson’s “Shoot and let shoot” brand of basketball to Pop’s “Um…no…not so much” hoops totalitarianism cannot be easy, and it caught up to Utah in that second quarter. They couldn’t throw it into the ocean in the first either, but at least we were helping them out for a bit by throwing it away carelessly. In the second our offense clicked and their defensive effort had Sloan in a foul mood.
I don’t think effort and rust were the only things that the Jazz could be blamed for though. It’s pretty obvious that our centers weren’t exactly a high priority on Utah’s defensive game plan. Fab and Elson got good looks all day, combined for 20 points on 9 of 11 shooting, and most surprisingly, didn’t commit a single turnover between them. Boozer deserves most of the blame for giving them so much space, but he was probably keeping an eye on Tim the whole time. Also, Sloan gave Fisher 38 minutes, but Millsap just 15. That’s just retarded. He can’t guard Manu and can easily be guarded by him. He didn’t put AK on Manu or use the big russian’s size to post up Gino. He didn’t have Williams post up Tony. He didn’t utilize the pick and roll with Okur or Boozer nearly enough until it was too late. Why is he so afraid to play Millsap and Boozer together? It’s not like Giricek or Harpring can even get shots off against us.
If the Jazz have any shot of shocking the world they’ll go super big and play this line-up to death: Okur-Boozer-Millsap-Kirilenko-Williams. Rebound us to death, get our bigs in foul trouble, beat the hell out of everyone, seal off the paint and hope we miss our threes. Bring in Obi-Wan as the sixth man, Fish as the seventh, maybe a few token minutes for Collins or Araujo to bang on Timmy and Dee Brown can get a look
when Vaughn is on the floor for us. Put Giricek on ice.
As for the Spurs, we don’t have to change a whole lot honestly, and that’s not just me being cocky. Tim has to play the pick-and-pop with Okur a little better because the big Turk had better looks than his 3 of 15 scoreline suggests. Tony has to tighten up those turnovers a bit of course. And we could stand to get some more rebounding from Fin and Bruce, for sure. Beyond that, what else could we have done better, given the circumstances?
I don’t buy the argument that we played badly or were disappointing in the second half. We had a big lead, the outcome was never in doubt, (no matter what Pop says) not even for a second, and our guys were physically and mentally exhausted. With 54 second half points of our own, it’s not like we weren’t doing anything right. The 108-100 score is deceptively close because Manu and Tony missed a few free throws late and the Jazz had that one stretch in there where they hit like ten straight shots.
The postgame moaning was just the latest bit of Pop psychology (yeah, I invented that) that has been going on all playoffs. We’re not that good, we’re lucky, we did this and this and that poorly and our opponents don’t have to change a thing to beat us next game except be luckier. Has any coach in history been less comfortable with a long winning streak or a 25 point win? He knows there’s nothing for him to complain about or con the losing coach about.
Whatever. I don’t care that Utah’s players buy it as long as our guys do. I don’t want a repeat of Game 2 vs. the Mavericks from last year. I don’t think it will be because first of all, we really had to grind out that first win against them, down to the last possession whereas here we kind of coasted down the stretch and relaxed mentally. Also, Pop saved a couple of his bullets there in that fourth, letting Williams go at Parker instead of Bowen. I really don’t think we’ll be seeing Tony on him in a close game the rest of the way.
Anyway, today is the contrived lottery, and as a Spurs fan I haven’t had to care about this in ten seasons. But I care this year. To clarify, I care about only one aspect of it. I just don’t want Boston to win one of the top two spots. Simmons can go shove his gigantic melon up up his ass. Whining about your franchise’s misfortune when you have more banners than anybody else… how pathetic is that?
3. Manu Ginobili – Still en fuego, mis amigos, with 23 points and a playoff career high ten dimes. Also a game high +17.
2. Deron Williams – Gotta put him here. 34-9-7, even if a lot of the damage came in a lost cause. The kid is just frickin’ special. I’ve pretty much given up arguing that Paul is better than him.
1. Tim Duncan – In the 2nd quarter that put the game away he had 14-4-2 on his way to 27-10-5. Ho-hum.
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