Mental Note: Do Not Refer to Our Point Guard as a "Surrendermonkey" on the Radio
Game 82 vs. Utah: Spurs 109, Jazz 80
Well that sure was a different slice of meatloaf than the hard, crusty, flavorless but sure as heck not odorless brick of dog crap we’ve had forced down our gullets for the past two weeks, eh?
The Spurs played defense. The Spurs hit open shots. The Spurs (waitforitWaitForItWAITFORIT!!!!) actually RAN A FAST BREAK or ten. This, ladies and germs is the team I’ve been in love with for the past 19 years. That 64 point abomination we had to endure two weeks ago at Utah, or two Mondays ago vs. the Suns, or even more recently last weekend against LA? That shit ain’t us dog.
These are the STONE COLD ASSASSIN PUT A MOTHERFUCKIN’ CAP IN YOUR ASS WORLD CHAMPION SAN ANTONIO SPURS.
I mean, what a performance. Tony got us started on the right foot right away and he was like some possessed demon in the 1st quarter, except he was like passing the ball to open people. Plus, he was actively involved in the defense and coming up with steals and loose balls and actually creating havoc and mayhem in his own end. Possessed by a demon indeed, by the name of Manooooooo.
Duncan too was a beast. By far the most active he’s been on defense in weeks, and on offense he actually came up with the novel approach of taking shots close to the rim instead of perfecting his turnaround fadeaway circa ’99 MJ. When Timmy plays like this he’s still the best player on the planet, without question.
And yes, it sure as shit was good to see BLOG back, even if it was for a mere 19 minutes. He had about as perfect a cameo as one can have, except for the part where Korver and Price each got a lay-up against him (see timvp, I pay attention to that shit, you pompous jackass). Would it have been nice to see Manu shoot more than four times? Could he have tried a couple threes? How about a nice dunk in the mug of that big dirty no good Turk bastard Okur?
yes, Yes, a thousand times YES.
But forget it, now the real season is upon us, and we have bigger fish to fry than the spectacularly overrated Utah Jazz. We WILL NOT be facing those boys again in 2008 , I promise you. David Stern’s Lakers are the wrong club to be roughing up and sending to the charity stripe over and over and over again. If Kobe doesn’t average at least 15 FT attempts that series, then I don’t know anything.
I’m looking way ahead though, and I do apologize.
Actually I have one final thought about the Jazz, an epilogue if you will.
They tanked tonight. Absolutely, undoubtedly, unequivocally. A complete Cliff Clavin Special, if I’ve ever seen one. The only way they could’ve made it more obvious would’ve been to have their entire starting lineup wearing suits at tip-off.
And you know what? Jerry Sloan is a smarter man than I thought, because it was absolutely the right move.
If you’re the Utah Jazz here were your two options coming into the Spurs Game:
A) Bust your ass to beat the Spurs, run Boozer and Williams to death, and try to break your nine year losing streak in a city against a team that really wants to win tonight. And if you beat them, your reward for doing so is to play them in the 1st round for a bunch more games, except now you’re not facing the regular season Spurs who want to win but the MOTHERFUCKING DEFENDING CHAMPION SPURS WHO WILL CUT YOUR HEART OUT AND EAT IT IN FRONT OF YOUR HORRIFIED FAMILY to win. Yeah, you’ll have home court advantage, and that’ll be a factor, but you know deep inside the Spurs won’t go down without a fight and even if you somehow do escape a Game 7 after a grueling series, you’ll have absolutely nothing left in the tank for the young, athletic New Orleans Hornets.
B) You take a dive tonight and do just enough by the book so it doesn’t look too blatant to the untrained eye. You play your starters some minutes, but nobody has to hustle, nobody has to go all out on defense and for the love of god, don’t injure yourself going after a loose ball. Just make it look good for a quarter and a half, hope the Spurs hit open shots and get the important players the hell off the floor.
And what do you get? A First Round Bye. A vacation. A free pass.
Now just in case I’m being too subtle, as is my wont, let me put this in terms nobody can confuse.
The Houston Rockets suck. They’re a patsy. A joke.
Sure, not in the general sense. Not in the say, Eastern Conference sense. The Rockets are probably the 12th or 13th best team in basketball right now. But as far as the ’08 Western Playoffs go, if I had the power to let the Spurs play any team out there I’d pick the Rockets every day of the week and twice on Sunday. I wouldn’t care if they had home court. Hell, they could play every game in Houston for all I care.
The 22 game winning streak was cute, but please, let’s be serious here. It was a regular season anomaly, a fluke. It was the equivalent of Shaq having a 10-10 game at the FT line or the backup PG of Milwaukee dishing 24 assists in one game. Weird things happen in sports. As a fan of the San Francisco Giants, I remember one year Mike Benjamin, a career utility infielder who probably only had a four or five season career had 14 hits in a three game series against the Cubs.
Houston’s season ended a microsecond after the team doctors diagnosed Yao’s foot, period. Anyone who doesn’t understand that is a sappy fool. All the inspirational mumbojumbo and the rejuvenation hype about Grampa Cookie Monster don’t mean a damn thing. If the GM of that squad had any sense he would have thrown in the towel on the season, lost as many games as possible and gotten himself a high draft pick in the lottery. Instead they’re going to get their feel good story asses handed to them by the Jazz in at most five games. It’ll be a cakewalk and I’ll be shocked if most of the games don’t get farmed out to NBATV. While the Lakers face the pressure of having to score in the 120s to beat the Thuggets, the NOOCH face off against the Mavs in a morbidly amusing battle to answer which squad will have tighter postseason sphincters and our Spurs gallantly square off against the Suns, the refs, the idiot fans and every single employee of ESPN, the don’t-mind-us Jazz will merrily skip their way to Round Two, surely less winded than the Lakers who’ll meet them, eventually.
Utah’s travel secretary might as well get book the hotel rooms in LA now.
I may not see eye to eye with Jerry Sloan on his basketball philosophy and definitely not on his personal politics, but give him credit, he played this one absolutely right. Saying you beat the defending champs in the playoffs is a nice thing to be able to brag about, but you’re better off letting somebody else try if you can. Now he has to hope that the Nugs actually make Kobe break a sweat.
As for our series with Phoenix…
Well, I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you youngsters, it won’t be easy. Before we always had an edge on these guys because we could neutralize Shawn Marion like nobody else could. Against everyone else the guy is a superduperstar. Against us in May he was basically Drew Gooden. Ten, twelve points, and maybe a dozen or so mostly defensive rebounds. Decent numbers but nobody you concern yourself with at the end of the day.
We made Marion a non-factor because “The Matrix” as he fancies himself can only score in one of three ways: Transition, 3 pointers, and putbacks. Well guess what our defensive specialties are kiddies? Getting back on defense, limiting threes, and defensive rebounding. Stopping Marion didn’t involve a single extra sentence in our game plan, it was all stuff we do well with regularity anyway.
But now Marion is gone and in his place is the Big Fatso and all his HILARIOUS quotes. To my shock, the jerkass has proven that he can still be an effective scorer when inspir
ed and it really is pretty stupid at this point for us to guard him one-on-one. He’s still too damn big and as accurate from two feet away as you’d expect a seven footer to be.
We gotta double him. Simple as that. Gotta double him and make him give it up. The guy is a turnover machine and just the act of making him think or pass will give us a half dozen easy fast break points. “Shaq” and “Thinking” go together as well as “Blimp” and “Hydrogen.” It’s like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, but the exact opposite.
Besides, the Suns aren’t nearly as scary from three point land as they used to be. Marion’s gone. Grant Hill doesn’t really shoot them too well. Barbosa is streaky as hell and I’ve never been all that impressed with Raja Bell. The only guy that makes me wince when he gets an open look is that whiny little hoser bitch.
Besides that little defensive adjustment the other stuff is pretty common sense. Bowen on Nash at all times because his length bothers the timing of the pick and rolls, and we have to hope the refs don’t give Bruce too many ticky tack fouls. I’m more concerned about those in Phoenix than at home really. If Bruce is in foul trouble, then put Udoka on him. Or Manu. NOT TONY AND NOT VAUGHN in case I’m being subtle again.
Mr. Parker can make himself useful on defense by once again shutting down the Brazilian Banana-polisher, Leandro Barbosa. Tony owned his ass last year and he’s gotta do it again.
Also, and I can’t stress this enough… NO SMALL BALL, and certainly not when Shaq’s in. Trying to outrun him sounds tempting in theory, but we’re just not a running team with only two finishers and you can’t run a fast break offense unless three or four different guys can dribble and go to the hoop hard. I’d rather see us play it straight and secure the rebounds and keep the game at our pace, hit more threes than they do and try to get dumb and dumber in foul trouble. Besides, I expect to see Bowen on the floor a lot with Nash playing and you know my feelings on playing Tiny with Bruce…
Offensively the gameplan in pretty simple. If Shaq is guarding Timmy then we run pick and rolls with Tim and Manu. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. If Amare is guarding Timmy than we post him up and laugh with glee as S.T.A.T grumbles on his way to the bench in foul trouble. That Tony takes Nash to the hole every time he’s “guarded” by him is a no-brainer. If they double Tim, and I expect they will whenever Shaq is off the floor, then we have to hit some threes. Manu, Udoka, Fin, and perhaps Brent Barry have to knock those down. Really we need to hit probably 3 or 4 more bombs a game than they do, because they’ll go to the line more.
I don’t think I’m being a homer when I say we can do this, if we get a fair whistle. Getting home court is huge and frankly I’d be much more worried if we had to face these guys in the desert right off the bat. At home we can control the pace and play with more energy. Tony will be better as well, especially early.
Speaking of Antoine, he is definitely peaking at the right time. I’m giddy as shit that he’s combined for 56 points and 23 assists in his last two games, particularly by the latter number. Plus now all his mid-season injury issues will be a positive for us. This will be the freshest Parker has ever gone into the playoffs.
Also, both Finley and Udoka seem to have their strokes going, and that’s big. I don’t expect either to have a monster series, but 24 points from the two of them sounds about right. We need it.
I’m not sure what Brent Barry’s role will be, but he looked roughly 4,151 times better tonight than he did at Sacramento. And he always plays well vs. these guys for whatever reason. If he can give us 10 quality minutes, not kill us on defense and maybe hit a bomb or two, that’ll be big. Plus, I’m salivating at the idea of Manu as our backup point and Barry at the two guard so Vaughn doesn’t have to play. I’m not sure Pop is ballsy enough or un-stubborn enough to do this, but I hope and pray he’ll figure it out. The JV sucks against good quick point guards and Stevie is definitely varsity quality.
Plainview will have to have a good series against these guys but I’m not worried about him at all this time of year. The midrange shot of his has never looked better and he’s been a cold hearted son of a bitch in Phoenix as much as any other road playoff city. The only question in my mind is whether the zebras will give him the calls when he drives inside. They certainly didn’t last time in Phoenix. Either way he’ll figure it out, he always does.
Finally, the single biggest reason I’m optimistic:
No Robert Horry.
There is a God, and He is good.
P.S. Did you see what happened on our bench after Oberto got hit in the face tonight and fell down like a sack of potatoes?
Nothing. Not a damn thing.
If only stupid-ass Amare could’ve done that we would’ve beaten their asses without some bullshit ESPN manufactured idiotic controversy that had everything to do with Stern and the Suns and nothing to do with us.
P.P.S. I suppose I should mention that tomorrow at 12:47 p.m., Pacific time I’m scheduled to appear on The Steve Mason Show on ESPN radio in L.A. They wanted to talk to Matthew at PtR, but he was busy so now they’re going to talk to me. I’ve never done anything like this before but the engineer said I should prepare ahead of time by anticipating what the questions will be and thinking of some clever jokes.
Hasn’t the way Pop’s coached the whole year been one long clever joke? Guess we’ll find out.
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