Posts Tagged ‘Gregg Popovich’

Best ‘Quality’ win of the season …

November 15, 2008

… occurred last night, in the NBA.

——————————————-

* The 76ers coming back from way down in the 1st quarter, on the road, to edge the Pacers, [Phi 94, IND 92]?

* The Bobcats home-court W over the under-manned Jazz [CHA 104, Uta 96]?

* The Knicks moving to 6-3 [.667] with their home-court victory over The Thunder [NYK 116, Okl 106]?

* The Nets home-court W over the surging Hawks [NJN 115, Atl 108]?

* The Bucks road victory, in OT, over the Grizzlies [Mlw 101, MEM 96]?

* The Magic’s road win, coming back from an 8-pt deficit, in the 4th Quarter, vs the Mavericks [Orl 102, DAL 100]?

* The Suns’ road victory, in OT, without the services of Steve Nash vs the Kings [Pho 97, SAC 95]?

* The Pistons’ stunning road win vs the Lakers, the NBA’s last-remaining undefeated team [Det 106, LAL 95]?

* The Nuggets gut-check W over the Celtics, in Beantown [Den 94, BOS 85]?

——————————————-

No … actually … it was none of these terrific games, which pale in comparison to …

—————————

When your team is …

* Without its best Wing Player for the first 3 months of the regular season, due to off-season ankle surgery, and then

* Loses its Starting Point Guard for the next 2-4 weeks, due to a high ankle sprain, and then

* Gets off to a 2-5 start, overall

… with a next opponent perceived to be one of the elite level outfits in the League, and then

* Falls behind by 14 pts, at home, in the 4th Quarter [at the 07:37 mark], and then

* Holds its opponent without a Point for the final 4:44 of the contest, and then

* Scores the final 12 points of the game …

taking the lead, by 1 point, with 0:59 on the game clock, on a Layup by your All-star Center, and then

* Sees that Center shot-block away the potential game-winner, in the final seconds of play, on a hard & fast driving layup attempt at the rim by the opponent’s ultra-quick PG

to preserve a much-needed victory [SAS 77, Hou 75] over an opponent with each of its own ‘Big 3’ players … i.e. Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady and Ron Artest … in the line-up last night. 

—————————

THAT … ^^^ … right there, goes down in this space as the type of never-to-be forgotten Victory which will form the basis of the Legacy of the Spurs two NBA immortals, Tim Duncan & Gregg Popovich.

To wit:

Duncan scores 22 points, Spurs beat Rockets
“What can you say about Tim Duncan that hasn’t already been said,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He provides the leadership on this team. He is the center of the program.”

—————————

He is ‘The BIG Fundamental’ … and this

The Force is With Us.

The Force is With Us.

 

 

his Jedi Master.

Survivor Series ’08-09: Western Conference Playoff Race

October 17, 2008
Tribal council meeting? What tribal council meeting? I have 'The Big Fundamental'. Bring It On.

Tribal council meeting? What tribal council meeting?

 

Courtesy of BDL.

A picture speaks a thousand words.

This is a special team

May 30, 2008

The defending NBA champions were dethroned last night by the Los Angeles Lakers, who were tabbed by this corner on Dec 25/07 as the “Sleeper Pick” to win the title this season.

In turn, earlier this morning, the following is what yours truly wrote on another blog, 20 second time-out … which, btw, is highly recommended reading for those in search of insight into how the NBA game actually works …

===================================

On December 25, 2007 I identified this year’s Lakers team as my “Sleeper Pick” to WIN THE NBA CHAMPIONSHIP THIS SEASON, when LA was still in arears of Phoenix in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference and BEFORE they acquired Pau Gasol … THAT’S HOW GOOD I knew these Lakers were this season.

The only team in the West that could have beaten them this year was the Spurs, if San Antonio was completely healthy, which was clearly not the case given the injury to Manu Ginobili (their most dynamic scorer).

Whichever one of Boston or Detroit comes out of the Eastern Conference is going to have its hands full with this Lakers team in the NBA Finals as, right now, this squad is very, very good.

However, of even more interest to me (and, possibly, other astute NBA historians), at the moment, is where their team is going to go NEXT SEASON … when they fully re-integrate ANDREW BYNUM + TREVOR ARIZA into their line-up.

From my perspective, others would do well to carve in stone the forecast I made earlier this spring [’08] that says,

“The 2008-2009 LA LAKERS WILL WIN 70+ games enroute to capturing another of what will eventually be several more NBA championships … if their team remains relatively injury-free.”

What Phil Jackson & Co. have constructed in LA, right now, is a team that will one day go down in NBA history beside the Chicago Bulls (of Michael Jordan) and the old Boston Celtics (of Bill Russell) as arguably the greatest of all-time.

One of the differences between me and other NBA observers is that frequently I can tell you in advance what is going to happen, with a high degree of accuracy, before it does NOT just after-the-fact.

Enjoy the moment for what it is …

Life is fast and things happen quickly.” – Derek Fisher

===================================

May 19, 2008 … Charles Barkley actually had it right, but was just afraid to step that far out on a limb, in advance, vs Chris Webber & Co.

Fortunately, this corner has no such trepidation.

As was said earlier this week, in this space … it will take a special team to eliminate this group of San Antonio Spurs from the title hunt.

This Lakers’ squad is now that team.

Kudos to Air Force One, the Big Fundamental, TP, GINOBILI!, etc. … the better team won this Western Conference Final (watch ’til the end of the vid-clip).

Now … just as it was told to you, in advance, earlier this season, on Feb 9, 2008, what would eventually happen in the Pacific Division and the Western Conference …

And so It Begins, again … as Phil Jackson now heads toward what will eventually be his (legendary) 10th NBA Championship, as an NBA head coach.

The King is dead. Long live the King.

True character …

May 28, 2008

… is revealed during Life’s moments of disappointment.

The R.E.S.P.E.C.T. which this corner has for Gregg Popovich and his San Antonio Spurs is at its zenith today, due to an interivew like this …

Post-Game Interview (Game 4)

which captures what Air Force One stands for as a Leader and a Man.

On the court, the Spurs were not quite good enough to get the job done yesterday but, off the court, they were plenty good enough in The Ways of Life That Count The Most.

A tip of the hat to Coach Pop and his Spurs.

Rock & Hammer – How the Spurs won Game 3

May 26, 2008


What’s the reason(s) San Antonio was able to rebound last night and win Game 3 against the Lakers, at home, trailing 0-2?

 

Reason One

 

According to last night’s TNT broadcast this is the quotation which hangs on the wall in the San Antonio locker room, inscribed in each language spoken by a member of their team:

 
————————————————–

When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much a a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.” – Jacob Riis (American newspaper reporter and photographer, 1849-1914)

————————————————–
 

This is all you need to know about Air Force One.

 

Reason Two

 

If you’ve followed what this corner has had to say about this Spurs team, this season … in this space and elsewhere (i.e. different Live Blogging Events and other sites run by other bloggers) … you already know it was suggested earlier in this series that two of the things which HAD TO HAPPEN, if the Spurs were going to be able to get themselves back in it were: (i) Gregg Popovich was going to have to solve a certain riddle, pertaining to one Lamar Odom (6-10, 230) and the “normal rotation” of the Spurs and that, if Coach Pop finally does “figure it out”, (ii) the proper players for him to use more this series are (A) Robert Horry and (B) Brent Barry, in place of Ime Udoka.

 

Well … as the old saying goes,

 

The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” – Anonymous

 

Robert Horry, Brent Barry & Ime Udoka, Game 3
 

Reason Three

 

GINOBILI!


Manu Ginobili, Game 3

 
Nuff said.

 

 

 

 

It is going to take a special team to knock the reigning champs out of this year’s NBA title chase; a very special team.

 

How the Spurs lost Game 1

May 22, 2008

Winning and Losing playoff games in the NBA … against a top notch, high calibre opponent … does NOT happen on account of:

* Good/bad Offensive Efficiency
* Good/bad Defensive Field Goal Percentage (True or otherwise)
* Ast:Turnover
* 3Pt Field Goal Percentage
* Free Throw Attempts
* Points Scored Per 100 Possessions (PSPHP)

or, any other current Game Stat (‘old school’ or ‘new-age’) you, or any Sabermetrician might care to mention.

Terrific, closely contested battles between two quality opponents, like last night’s Game 1, are decided by specific, individual plays/decisions (made or not made) by specific individuals (players or coaches) engaged in specific individual match-ups, AND the Momentum created/stopped/reversed/etc. by said plays/decisions, at Key (i.e. Fulchrum Possessions) Points in said game. FULL STOP.

Season ‘averages’ are irrelevant.
Relative ‘performance stats’ … are irrelevant.
Statistics, in general … are irrelevant.

==============================================

4th Q
Sas 81, LAL 77

6:56 Sas/Finley subbed out for Udoka; Oberto subbed out for Duncan

which produced the following individual player match-ups:

PG – Fisher (6-1, 210) vs Parker (6-2, 180)
OG – Vujacic (6-7, 205) vs Ginobili (6-6, 205)
SF – Bryant (6-6, 205) vs Bowen (6-6, 200)
PF – Odom (6-10, 230) vs Udoka (6-5, 220)
C – Gasol (7-0, 250) vs Duncan (6-11, 260)

and the ensuing series of possessions

6:38 Sas/Udoka Turnover: Bad Pass (1 TO) … Gasol Steal
6:32 LAL/Fisher: Jump Shot: Missed (open/Ginobili) … Ginobil Rebound
6:09 Sas/Parker: 3Pt Shot: Missed (open/Fisher); Duncan Rebound
5:51 Sas/Udoka: Jump Shot: Missed (shot fake semi-contested/Fisher)
5:50 Sas/Duncan Off Foul: Loose Ball (3 PF)

5:50 LAL/Team Time-out: Regular

5:30 LAL/Bryant Jump Shot: Missed (contested/Bowen) … Parker Rebound
5:25 Sas/Parker Fouled [Fisher: Personal (4 PF)]  
5:06 Sas/Parker Jump Shot: Missed (fumbled pass, contested/Vujacic) … LAL Team Rebound
4:57 LAL/Gasol Fouled [Bowen: Personal (4 PF)]
4:48 LAL/Vujacic 3Pt Shot: Missed (open/Ginobili) … Duncan Rebound
4:35 Sas/Ginobili Turnover: Bad Pass (4 TO) … Fisher Steal
4:32 LAL/Fisher Fouled [Parker: Shooting (2 PF)]; Free Throw Made (1 & 2) … Sas 81, LAL 79

4:32 Sas/Udoka subbed out for Finley

which produced the following individual match-ups:

PG – Fisher vs Parker [same]
OG – Vujacic vs Ginobili [same]
SF – Bryant vs Bowen ([ame]
PF – Odom vs Finley (6-7, 225) [new]
C – Gasol vs Duncan [same]

and the ensuing series of possessions

4:13 Sas/Ginobili Layup Shot: Missed (contested/Gasol [Blocked Shot]); Sas Team Rebound
4:10 Sas/Duncan Jump Shot: Missed (open/Gasol) … Fisher Rebound
4:03 LAL/Odom Layup Shot: Missed (contested/Duncan) … Finley Rebound
3:40 Sas/Duncan Jump Hook: Missed (contested/Gasol & Odom) … Odom Rebound
3:39 LAL/Odom Turnover: Lost Ball Out of Bounds (3 TO)
3:34 Sas/Finley 3Pt Shot: Missed (open/Odom) … Vujacic Rebound
3:18 LAL/Odom Layup Shot: Made (contested/Finley) … Sas 81, LAL 81

3:11 Sas/Team Time-out: Regular

3:11 Sas/Finley subbed out for Udoka

which produced the following individual match-ups:

PG – Fisher vs Parker [same]
OG – Vujacic vs Ginobili [same]
SF – Bryant vs Bowen [same]
PF – Odom vs Udoka [new]
C – Gasol vs Duncan [same]

and the ensuing series of possessions

2:57 Sas/Parker Turnover: Lost Ball (2 TO) … Fisher Steal
2:42 LAL/Bryant Fouled (Bowen: Personal [5 PF]); Free Throw Made (1 & 2) … LAL 83, Sas 81
2:28 Sas/Udoka 3Pt Shot: Missed (contested/Odom) … Gasol Rebound 
2:17 LAL/Bryant Jump Shot: Made (contested/Duncan & Bowen) … LAL 85, Sas 81
1:58 Sas/Udoka Jump Shot: Missed (contested/Fisher & Odom); Parker Rebound
1:55 Sas/Parker Layup Shot: Missed (contested/Gasol [Blocked Shot]) … Bryant Rebound
1:32 LAL/Fisher Jump Shot: Missed (contested/Udoka) … Sas Team Rebound
1:22 Sas/Ginobili Fouled (Fisher: Personal [PF 5]); Free Throw Made (1 & 2) … LAL 85, Sas 83
1:05 LAL/Odom Floating Jump Shot: Missed (contested/Udoka & Bowen) … Duncan Rebound
1:04 Sas/Duncan Turnover: Lost Ball Out of Bounds (TO 4) … NO FOUL CALL by Official [Bob Delaney/Center, not in correct position], Duncan Fouled [Gasol hack]

1:04 LAL/Team Time-out: Short

0:56 LAL/Gasol Dunk Shot: Missed (contested/Duncan [Blocked Shot]) … Sas Team Rebound

0:55 Sas/Udoka subbed out for Finley

which produced the following individual player match-ups:

PG – Fisher vs Parker [same]
OG – Vujacic vs Ginobili [same]
SF – Bryant vs Bowen [same]
PF – Odom vs Finley [new]
C – Gasol vs Duncan [same]

and the ensuing series of possessions

0:41 Sas/Duncan Jump Shot: Missed (contested/Gasol) … tipped in by Bryant & Odom … LAL 85, Sas 85
0:23 LAL/Bryant Jump Shot: Made (contested/Bowen) … Bryant Off Foul/NOT CALLED (ala MJ vs Russell-B … ‘MVP No-call’) … LAL 87, Sas 85

PLEASE NOTE:
Key ‘Fulchrum’ Play  in the game … Lakers ran a High Middle/Elbow Pick & Roll with Bryant & Gasol; Spurs responded with Trap/Double-team (Duncan & Bowen); Bryant reversed his direction, kept his dribble alive & STRUNG OUT the Double Team to the Left Sideline, forced Duncan to LEAVE, retreating back to the Key, and making Finley rotate out to find Gasol (open in the Left Corner); Isolated Bryant vs Bowen, for the Middle Drive … PUSH OFF & Pull-up Jump Shot: MADE.

0:20 Sas/Team Time-out: Regular

0:20 Sas/Bowen subbed out for Horry

which produced the following individual player match-ups:

PG – Fisher vs Parker [same]
OG – Vujacic vs Ginobili [same]
SF – Bryant vs Finley [new]
PF – Odom vs Horry [new]
C – Gasol vs Duncan [same]

and the ensuing series of possessions

0:09 Sas/Ginobili 3Pt Shot: Missed (contested/Vujacic) … Vujacic Rebound
0:07 LAL/Vujacic Fouled (Finley: Personal [PF 1]); Free Throw Made (1 & 2) … LAL 89, Sas 85

0:07 Sas/Team Tim-out: Short

0:07 Sas/Parker subbed out for Udoka

whiche produced the following individual player match-ups:

PG – Fisher vs Udoka [new]
OG – Vujacic vs Ginobili [same]
SF – Bryant vs Finley [same]
PF – Odom vs Horry [same]
C – Gasol vs Duncan [same]

and the ensuing series of possessions

0:02 Sas/Finley 3Pt Shot: Missed (open/Bryant) … Odom Rebound
END OF GAME

==============================================

WHAT IS RELEVANT in situations/games like these … are:

* A Brialliant play/decision by Kobe Bryant (a Superstar player)
* Good/bad coaching maneuvers/decisions by Phil Jackson (i.e. down-sizing to his ‘small’ line-up with 1/Fisher, 2/Vujacic, 3/Bryant, 4/Odom & 5/Gasol, and sticking with it) & Gregg Popovich (i.e. failing to respond properly to the shift of Odom to the 4-spot and repeatedly substituting with Udoka & Finley INSTEAD OF Robert Horry, until the Moment of Truth HAD PASSED and it was too late for the Spurs)
* 1 crucial Turnover & 3 untimely Missed Shots by Ime Udoka (an inexperienced player for the Spurs)
* Two crucial NO CALLS by NBA OFFICIALS
* The Spurs No. 1 Scorer, Manu GINOBILI!, missing a contested 3Pt Shot with 7 seconds left in Regulation Time … which would have given the Spurs a 1-pt lead

The Lakers were better than the Spurs, in Game 1 … of what promises to be an outstanding Western Conference Finals.

Will Pop figure it out?
Or, will PJ be able to stay one-step ahead of him?

Now … it’s on to Game 2.

 

NBA Playoffs Conference Finals Preview

May 20, 2008

Eastern Conference Finals

(1) BOSTON CELTICS (H)

(2) DETROIT PISTONS

By the Numbers

QIR – #1 (6)
Points Differential Rank – #1
Points Allowed Rank – #2
Rebounding Differential Rank – #3

QIR – #2 (10)
Points Differential Rank – #2
Points Allowed Rank – #1
Rebounding Differential Rank – #7
 

Basketball Acumen

Still the team to beat in the East with home court advantage. Team D is The Story, fuelled by KG. Must find a way to shake lose Ray Ray on Offense. Easier said than done. Key Match-up: Doc Rivers vs Flip Saunders, especially, during the last 6 minutes of each game.

Good enough to win the series. Quality depth is outstanding. Top notch young players will need to continue stellar play. Rodney Stuckey (PG) is the Real Deal. Must assert their collective will to match the Celtics on the glass. Key Match-up: ‘Good’ Sheed vs ‘Bad’ Sheed.

Who will win

It’s going to go 7 games and it’s just too close to call. 

 

Western Conference Finals

(1) LA LAKERS (H)

(3) SAN ANTONIO SPURS

By the Numbers

QIR – #10 (30)
Points Differential Rank – #3
Points Allowed Rank – #19
Rebounding Differential Rank – #8

QIR – #7 (23)
Points Differential Rank – #8
Points Allowed Rank – #3
Rebounding Differential Rank – #12
 

Basketball Acumen

Will need to out-score the Spurs. Bench must continue to score, making open shots. Key Match-up: Kobe vs Ginobili. Without Bynum, should be the underdog in this specific match-up. Must improve interior D to have a chance. Ariza’s D & Rebounding will be missed. Will go as far as the MVP takes them.

The Heart of a Champion. Quality depth is first rate. Versatile and physical. Veteran role players know what it takes to win. Will win the series if they can dominate the glass. Team ethos is the best in the League. Key Match-up: Gregg Popovich vs Phil Jackson, the two best coaches in the NBA today.

Who will win

It’s going to go 7 games … and it’s just too close to call. 

 

 

The champs are … still the champs

May 20, 2008

Everything that is the San Antonio Spurs was on full display in yesterday’s Game 7 vs the New Orleans Hornets … 

* The steadfastness of their unflappable head coach, Gregg Popovich
* The stellar work of their Superstar … ‘The Big Fundamental’, Tim Duncan
* The big game readiness of their important role players, off the bench … Michael Finley (11 MP; 2-2, FGA; 2-2, 3FGA; 4 Rebs), Robert Horry (14+ MP; 2-4, FGA; 2-4, 3FGA; 4 Rebs), Kurt Thomas (7+ MP; 1-2, FGA; 6 Rebs), Ime Udoka (21 MP; 3-7, FGA; 2-5, 3FGA; 4 Rebs)
* The glue guy contributions of their two ‘lesser light’ starters, ‘the Karate Kid‘ (28 MP; 2-5, 3 FGA; lockdown D vs Stojakovic) and ‘l’Hombre‘ (32 MP; 2-2, FGA; 9 Rebs)
* The courageous play of the 2007 NBA Finals MVP, Tony Parker … who took and made the biggest shot of the Spurs’ season, thus far, with the game on the line

and … last but NOT least …

* GINOBILI!!!

When you play ‘the game’ The Way the Spurs do …

(post-game interview last night)

Craig Sager (TNT’s Sideline Reporter): You lost the first two games of this series, then your coach made a big change, he put the Sixth Man of The Year, yourself, in the starting line-up, you won 4 of the next 5 … are you comfortable with starting now against the Lakers this next series?

GINOBILI: I’m just comfortable winning

and

… as long as you understand the game, and you want to get better, and you want to win …” – Manu Ginobili

see the following vid-clips for further details …

(1)

(2)

it is going to take a very special team to dethrone the reigning NBA Champions.

The LA Lakers await … in what promises to be a fantastic playoff series!

Hard, physical championship basketball

May 16, 2008

Hardwood Paroxysm is disappointed in the San Antonio Spurs and, specifically, with the way Robert Horry set his back screen on David West, during the 4th Q of last night’s Game 6 victory over the Hornets.

A Series of Unlikely Coincidences
What makes me the most angry about this is that they really don’t need to do these things. I don’t think the Spurs win because of these actions. They win because they play committed team defense, strike at their opponents’ weaknesses, shoot the lights out when they need to, adjust their phenomenally versatile offense to whatever attack faces them, and generally beat the crap out of teams with whatever is most effective. They don’t need to win like this. They can just go out, play their game, use their talent, and win championships. But for some reason, they don’t feel that it’s enough. Maybe it’s an obsessive need to hold on to their fading youth. Maybe it’s a simple dedication to winning at all costs. Maybe it’s spurred on (no pun intended) by their endlessly classy fan base that chanted “Horry, Horry, Horry” last night after Horry, intentionally or not, injured a star player for the other team. Whatever the reason, they have decided that this is how they will win. And they have won. And in the end, no one can take that away from them. They will always have the shine of championship rings to bask in, while the rest of us know the truth. This team’s legacy will always be slightly sullied by their dirty play.

If it looks like a rat, smells like a rat, and sounds like a rat, then you don’t need to make excuses about it acting like a tough hedgehog, or whatever else Mark Jackson wants to say. It’s a rat. Call it that.

And that’s the saddest part of all.

Spurs in 7.

===============================

In sharp contrast, however … this corner could not possibly disagree more vehemently with that perspective.

Bruce Bowen and Robert Horry are neither thugs nor dirty players.

Since Gregg Popovich assumed control of the Spurs’ operation, San Antonio has played tough, physical, make no excuses, ask-for-no-quarter-and-give-none-in-return basketball (with the obvious, and nauseating, exception of Tim Duncan’s petulent whining after every Personal Foul call) … that is characterized by each and every other team that has ever won a championship, anywhere, and knows exactly what it takes to get the job done, come h*ll or high water.

This is who Coach Pop is.

This is what Coach Pop’s team believes in.

This is what Coach Pop’s team does … over, and over, again.

And, if your team has ever won a competitive major sports championship, anywhere … you know THIS to be a simple fact, based upon your own personal experience.

Mark Jackson (NBA Analyst) got it 100% correct during last night’s live broadcast.

The screen Robert Horry set was not designed to inflict injury to David West but it was the THE type a player makes who is committed to winning

The Spurs … led by Gregg Popovich … play hard, physical championship basketball, at all times … and, they play to win.

The Champs are on the ropes

May 14, 2008

Down 2-3 in their series against New Orleans, the San Antonio Spurs head home for Game 6 tomorrow night, facing elimination from the 2008 NBA Playoffs for the first time.

Dropping last night’s pivotal Game 5, on the road, the reigning NBA champs, again, let the play get away from them during the 3rd Quarter, allowing the Hornets to fight their way back from a 3-pt deficit at the half (44-47) to assume control … with a 14-pt margin in their favour … by the end of these 12 minutes (72-58).

Did the Spurs look old and tired, once again, during this specific stretch?

Yes, they did.

Did they make several costly turnovers?

Yes, they did … 4, in total.

Did they shoot a putrid percentage from the field … missing open shot after open shot, whether near or far?

Yes, they did … finishing 5-18 (27.8 %) for the quarter overall.

On the other hand, did the Hornets do a terrific job defensively?

Yes, they did … registering 3 Blocked Shots (West/2; Chandler/1) and 3 Steals (West/2; Chandler/1) during this quarter alone.

Is all now lost for the Spurs? … knowing that, should they manage a victory at home (in Game 6), to square the series (3-3), they will still need to get a W, in the Big Easy, where they have been thoroughly outplayed so far?

Not by a long shot … at least, if Gregg Popovich will only stop being so stubborn and refrain from playing certain players who have let the Spurs down, on the road, to this point in the series.

When the Spurs went to their bench during the 3rd Quarter last night, they were let down by two of their key reserves … i.e. Robert Horry & Ime Udoka … who were both over-matched when asked to defend or score versus either Tyson Chandler or David West during this important segment of the game, where the Hornets pulled away from San Antonio.

As suggested in this space last week … The answer for the Spursthe key player in a San Antonio victory at New orleans will be Brent Barry (G/F, 6-7, 210), who is that much bigger than Udoka (G/F, 6-5, 220) … who is only in his 1st year with the Spurs and doesn’t know yet what it takes to win big games on the road in the Playoffs … and quicker than Horry (F, 6-10, 240) … who is no longer the same ‘Big Shot Bob’ that stuck the fatal dagger in so many playoff opponents of yesteryear.

Expect the Spurs to win Game 6, at home … but, the more significant question is …

Will Coach Popovich have solved the individual match-up riddle that is David West (PF, 6-8, 240) by the 3rd Quarter of Game 7?” 

The Spurs attempt to repeat as NBA champions, for the first time, might just hang in the balance.