At Least it Wasn't Joey Crawford's Fault
There’s really not much you can say after a loss like that. Pop pulled his starters midway through the third and ceded victory. Pop gets a lot of criticism for giving up on games too early, but it was pretty obvious last night that we didn’t have it, and Dallas did. With the quick turnaround before Game 4, it was the prudent choice.
But I also think that he was sending a message to the starters: proper execution requires proper effort. Execution is the only way we can win this series, as we have a talent deficit with Ginobili out. So we have to work harder. Last night Dallas overwhelmed us with talent and effort. We all saw the results.
In my last post I said that Dallas has yet to show that their defense can stop us. And while only scoring 67 points (and 42 through 3 quarters!!) would seem to emphatically state that their defense did indeed shut us down, a lot of it to me seemed like we just couldn’t hit any shots. They definitely protected the paint and the rim much better, blocking shot after shot at the rim. But we were getting some good open looks that we just couldn’t hit. I tip my hat to Dallas and their defensive effort, but I’m not willing to cede that last night was an indicator of them figuring out our offense.
Dallas made two key adjustments to start the game. They started JJ Barea; and they had Kidd guard Parker. Both seemed to work in their favor, as Barea torched us in the first quarter and Kidd seemed to have Parker figured out. I don’t know what the counter to Barea is. Starting Bowen on him and bringing Mason, Jr. off the bench?
But I do know what the answer to Kidd on Parker is: run the offense through Parker. Last night we started the game running the offense partly through Parker, but mostly through Duncan in the post. Normally I would be fine with this. But Duncan, hampered with his knee problems, is clearly struggling against the size and bulk of Dampier, unable to get to the rim from the low post. Parker has proven that he can be our offensive load and shred the Mavs to pieces. But we didn’t even try to get Tony going. Tony needs to feel involved with the offense from the opening tip, or he loses focus and concentration and usually has an average (for him) game. But if he’s involved and active and gets off to a hot 1st quarter start, you can usually count on him to continue his dominating ways.
Why did we go away from him? Were we worried about Dampier’s comments? I have a hard time believing that. We’re we playing a bit of psychological warfare? Was it strategy? You’ve keyed your defense in on Parker and now we’re going to completely change our offense. I just don’t understand. Hopefully in Game 4 we’ll go back to running the offense through Parker, using him in high screen-rolls with Duncan. I still believe that Dallas can not stop that.
One other thing I’d like to point out from last night’s game. Late in the 3rd quarter, George Hill was on a fastbreak. He drove in for the layup and was blocked by Josh Howard. After the block, as Howard was running back downcourt and Hill was sprawled out under the basket, he turned and started talking trash to Hill. In a game that they were winning by 30. You stay classy, Josh Howard.
This is why I despise the Mavs. Can it be seen as a sign of strength and courage to trash talk someone you just knocked to the ground in a 30 point win? Is it a sign of mental resolve to start criticizing the other team (without provocation) after a tough loss? Is it a mark of composure to announce that you’re going to try and physically harm the other team’s best player?
They are poor losers; they are poor winners. They get up by 3o and they’re world beaters, Jordan and Gary Payton in their prime. They get down by 20, and they start dropping their shoulder into players driving through the lane and complaining about dirty tactics or bad officiating.
And this is precisely why I love the Spurs. They are proffesionals, and conduct themselves as such on and off the court. They do not trash talk nor gloat over fallen opponents. They hold themselves accountable, and don’t make excuses for losses. They are mentally tough, and they don’t worry about anything that they can’t control, like bad officiating.
There’s an underlying theme here: each team has taken on the personality of their most important figure. For the Mavs, it’s Mark Cuban; for the Spurs, it’s Gregg Popovich. Look, I like Cuban. I think he’s good for basketball, and I like owners to be passionate and willing to make basketball decisions, not financial decisions. But he is outspoken and reactionary. He looks for others to blame when things go wrong, and complains to whomever will listen. And we all know how Pop is. He is not like Mark Cuban, in any way. And that is why, when things started going wrong in the 2006 Finals, the Mavs fell apart and let all of these perceived slights ruin their best chance at a title. And that is why, in 2005, after the Spurs got their asses handed to them in Games 3 and 4 in Detroit, we had the mental and emotional resolve to eke out one of the greatest wins in Spurs history in Game 5 and go on to win our 3rd championship.
OK. Enough ranting about the Mavs.
Graydon Gordian at 48 Minutes of Hell thinks that getting blown out in Game 3 is better than losing a squeaker. I tend to agree. I think we’ll come out in Game 4 sharper and more energetic, and that Dallas will come out a little complacent after their great, great performance in Game 3. If we can get the jump on them early and keep the game close, I like our chances coming down the stretch.
Go Spurs Go.
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