Tuesday, May 17, 2005


The Wily One
It felt wrong covering every other series and neglecting the Sonics and Spurs. Maybe its because this one has never really been in doubt, despite Seattle's valiant homestand over the weekend. The Sonics have too many injuries and the Spurs get too many calls for Seattle to win. Nevertheless, we should still have a place reserved to chat about the happenings of the series. So there you go.


Adam Hoff said...

So, Sonics vs. Spurs. San Antonio is up eight midway through the second quarter and it just feels like the series is over. Rashard Lewis' absence was manageable at home because of the frenetic pace and crowd energy, but Seattle needs his scoring in the half court to win on the road. Here are three other things that Seattle MUST do to have a shot at stealing this game.

1. Keep Ginobili under wraps. Duncan can get his and Parker only scores when the Spurs are winning easily and he can pile on (seriously, he's the biggest frontrunner in the league - watch for this), so the key is keeping Manu under control. If he scores more than 25 in a game, the Sonics can't win.

2. Finish quarters strong. Not to sound like Doug Collins here, but the Spurs specialize in closing out quarters. They go on little backbreaking flurries that just kill you. The Sonics need to draw even or outscore San Antonio over the final three minutes of ever quarter. They finished -1 in the first quarter, so they are off to a mediocre start in that regard.

3. Live and die with Ray. The only thing that is going to knock the Spurs out is a superstar performance that goes beyond the team concept. Obviously, the other Sonics need to play well - particularly Collison and Ridnour to go with Daniels - but Allen has to do the heavy lifting. That's why it was so strange when Nate pulled him after he got two quick fouls. Allen doesn't foul much and you need him taking 25 shots ... why sit him down?

Anyway, those are the keys to victory. As I type these finals words, Seattle has pulled to 36-33 ... the same score of the Pistons-Pacers game when I turned it on earlier. I have a feeling this one is going to wind up the same way; a blowout win for the Spurs.

Anonymous said...

Care to elaborate on your comments about Tony Parker?

Adam Hoff said...

Uh oh, we've got an offended Spurs fan. Or a Frenchman. Look, I've got nothing against Parker, but when Charles Barkley is scratching his head and wondering why Parker is struggling, I have to start wondering when people are going to put 2 and 2 together and realize that he nearly always struggles when the going gets tough. Think back to the Denver series ... when the Nuggets were banging him around and poised to win games, he was shanking jumpers and bouncing the ball of his foot. Go back to last year; in Games One and Two of the LA series, Parker was cruising down the lane, hitting jumpers, and causing the national media to fire up the bandwagon (see the "Dwyane Wade for greatest player of all time" campaign for a current example). Then the Lakers started bumping and trapping him, going under picks and daring him to hit big jumpers. He failed. More importantly, the Lakers started winning and putting pressure on the Spurs to perform. Most San Antonio players did, Parker did not. In fact, if I remember correctly (and I do, because I hated that Lakers team and wanted them to lose oh so badly), the Frenchman was the reason they lost four straight games (after winning 17 straight) and bowed out of the playoffs.

So there's some elaboration. For statistical evidence, in the Spurs playoff games decided by less than 10 points, Parker is 22 for 73 for a shiny 30% from the field. Ouch. He was 37% is such games last year and in 2003, so there's a track record here.

By the way, the Sonics closed the second quarter +5 and rode 15 Ray Allen points to a halftime tie, but they've completely unraveled in the third quarter. They are letting Ginobili shoot from anywhere and everywhere (he's got 33 right now) and Ray Allen has yet to attempt a shot! Throw in some atrocious officiating and a few unlucky plays and the Sonics are down 16. A shame; looked like we might have a decent game.

(We know Tony Parker is excited though, because if the margin widens and the Spurs start cruising, he'll finally make a few shots.)

J said...

You've convinced me about Parker. By the way, the Sonics are -1 in the last three minutes of the first two quarters. They are hanging in there!

J said...

By the way, the Spurs are the biggest bunch of floppers I've ever seen. They have no shame with the crap they beg for. Please, please don't let them be the NBA champs.

Jack Wang said...

The Sonics deserve some props for hanging with the Spurs. Either they are a much better team than everyone gave them credit for, or the Spurs are not as good. We'll find out in the next couple of rounds.

However, don't expect the same year next year, Seattle. Ray Allen will probably be gone. Jerome James will capitalize upon his playoff performance to get a big contract from Seattle and proceed to continue to average crappy numbers and carry on the great Seattle tradition of overpaying for crappy big men (see Calvin Booth, Jim McIlvaine). He'll also be distracted by rumors that that he was the real perpetrator in the R. Kelly video. Radmanovic is gone. Ridnour is good and will be better, but he and Lewis can't do it all.

Adam Hoff said...

J, I can certainly understand your frustration with the Spurs. Ginobili has become the biggest flop artist in the league and there's nothing enjoyable about watching Duncan act like every time he rolls his ankle is a career-threatening injury.

As for the elimination game of this series, I honestly thought the Sonics were going to take this back to San Antonio. They were +1 in the last three minutes of quarters, held Ginobili in check, and got a solid game from Ray Allen. Those were the three keys. Sadly for Sonics fans, they came up just short.

I agree with Jack that this season, while good for Seattle, will be a brief spike of success only to be followed be a return to the failure of recent years. Not only is Allen gone, but Antonio Daniels is going to get paid as well. They are going to suck. So sad for Mr. Donut (sorry, inside joke).

Jeff Dritz said...

Something needs to be said here about Manu Ginobili stepping his game up to the next level. He carried the Spurs this series, much as he did this season. A big part of the reason they did so well when Duncan was out this season is because Manu took over, and he's doing it again here in the playoffs. He's the one making things happen, he's the one hitting the big shots, he's the one with the ball in his hands when the game is on the line. He doesn't get a ton of credit because his game isn't as fluid or graceful as a number of other wingmen, but it is as effective. I wish I had a Manu jersey, to wear today for Mr. Donut (tucked in, of course).

Also, after paying attention to Tony Parker, I think Adam's right. When the game was tight last night in the 3rd, Parker was pure garbage, missing jumpers and turning the ball over. Not clutch, wonder how he'll look against Nash.

Adam Hoff said...

Dritz, good points about Manu. The best thing about him stepping up big is that he's given us a worth villain for these playoffs. Bill Simmons' recent "Quick Hits" column on ESPN's Page 2 does the best job of breaking this down, but with all the flopping and whining and self-pity, he's become the perfect "love to hate" guy for the Conference Finals. Check out Bill's work for a better take on this.

As for Parker, glad to see you are on board. Now it just becomes a waiting game to see which "expert" finally makes this observation so that I can get pissed when they get all the credit for figuring it out. But regardless of who gets their name in the "Tony Parker: The Opposite of Clutch" column, I just want to see it in print.

Go Suns!