Thursday, May 22, 2008

No Bruce, No Win

  • One thing that is bothering me about all the post game chatter and analysis from last night's entertaining 20 point Laker comeback over the Spurs is the fact that everyone is focusing on Kobe Bryant taking over the game. If you watched the game closely, Kobe only went off went Bruce Bowen sat down in the third quarter. Down by 20 and realizing the Spurs' best defender was now resting, Kobe quickly blew by Ime Udoka. Udoka was benched immediately, and Greg Popovich put Manu Ginobili on Kobe, and the rest is history.
  • This is the playoffs. The Western Conference Finals. It is no time to be resting. (How much did the plane debacle have to do with the Spurs wearing down in the second half? I am no conspiracy theorist, but the Spurs' delay and night spent on the runway after their Game 7 win in New Orleans had to be arranged by the bitter Hornets or Lakers) The Spurs have to play Bruce Bowen on Kobe Bryant for as much as possible. I am not saying Bowen can or would have stopped Kobe. But Bowen makes it as difficult as possible. Why make it easier for Kobe to get going?
  • By putting Ginobili on Kobe, it tires out Manu on both ends. As it is, he has struggled against the Lakers all year long. Why make it even tougher on your best playmaker by making him play defense against the best player in the world?

  • The Spurs have swept the Memphis Grizzlies twice in the first round of the playoffs. I know you are thinking that is completely irrelevant, but that means that Tim Duncan was 8-0 against Pau Gasol in the playoffs entering this western conference finals. Yes, Duncan's Spurs are far better than Pau's Grizzlies ever were. But an all-star should be able to win at least one game on his own in two different years. This means that Duncan has traditionally torched Pau, and has consistently had his number. Watching last night's game, this theory was confirmed as Duncan had 30/18/4 including a series of scoring on Pau one on one multiple times in a row. Duncan also showed he can school Turiaf, meaning the Lakers must double team Timmy.
  • When the Lakers double Duncan, Manu Ginobili has to take advantage and the shooters have to hit their open shots. Neither happened last night, but the Spurs still built a 20 point lead in the second half.
  • Finally, Tony Parker looks like he may have his way with the Lakers in terms of getting into the paint in creating. So the key for the Spurs will be to somehow get some production out of their bench, which has a clear disadvantage against the Lakers' strong role players.
  • I am getting tired of the referees favoring the home team. I understand the home court advantage, and how the mortal officials get caught up in the momentum. But it would be nice to have an exciting finish that is not decided by a questionable call or no-call. It seems every great game is followed by understandable whining by the losing team. There is no solution to this problem; it is simply part of the game. The NFL plays the Super Bowl on a neutral site to avoid this issue, which I feel has become more of a deciding factor in the NBA this year.
  • Everyone is quick to compare the Spurs losing Game 1 to the Suns' blowing their first round Game 1 against these same Spurs a couple weeks ago. Will the Spurs bounce back or be unable to recover from the Game 1 devastation like the Suns? This is good stuff. Hopefully we get some more awesome basketball games like last night's.