Posts Tagged ‘Manu Ginobili’

Where the Tonight Show meets multiple sets of Big Threes

December 18, 2008

Let’s play a quick game of Classic Concentration.

What do you end up with when add together …

The Tohight Show

Karnac the Magnificent

Steve, Chevy & Martin

Steve, Chevy & Martin

Where Amazing Happens

Where Amazing Happens


Hilarity & Hoops all wrapped up into one. 🙂


Courtesy of BDL

One-on-One: Ernie johnson talks TV, being press secretary

Ernie Johnson is hilarious. It may not come across that way all the time on “Inside the NBA,” but when you sit down and talk to him, it’s easy to see why he has become one of the most popular broadcasters on television. Johnson has a wicked sense of humor and doesn’t take himself too seriously, which are both reasons why the show continues to have success.

This is the final Q and A in a series of interviews I conducted with the show’s personalities (Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith) during my behind the scenes look at the “Inside” set in Atlanta.

Ball Don’t Lie: TNT says that basketball’s biggest night is on Thursday. How can basketball’s biggest night only have two games?

Ernie Johnson: Well, sometimes it’s three. (Laughs) Because it’s exclusive, that’s why it’s the biggest. It may appear to be a misnomer … but no, it’s basketball’s biggest night because it’s the only night that has Charles and Kenny.

BDL: Do you think there is any part of “Inside the NBA” that could be better?

EJ: (Pauses) So, you’re asking what would I change about the show?

BDL: Yeah.

EJ: Nothing. I really wouldn’t. I’m older than these other guys, so I grew up watching Carson, they’re totally different shows, but one of the great things I liked about Johnny Carson when I was growing up was the fact that while he was funny, he was really great when some of his stuff wasn’t funny, or the jokes didn’t go over, and he played it off so well, he wasn’t afraid to [say], “We’ll take a shot at this and see what happens.”

And I think that’s kind of [the same attitude] with Tim Kiely the [Inside] producer and all of us. It’s like, “Yeah, we’ll try something.” And if it’s not funny, fine, but we’re not just gonna sit there and do a cookie-cutter show, that you know what’s coming if you watch it once, you say, “I know what’s gonna happen next Thursday, this is the way they do things.” You never know …

BDL: You never know what’s going to happen around here.

EJ: No, and that’s the beauty of the show. A lot of times even when something doesn’t work it’s like, “That was bad, that didn’t work at all,” but it was funny because we didn’t play it off seriously like, “Oh, well that wasn’t funny, we’re sorry. Is it funny that we weren’t funny … yeah. Not everything has to be hit out of the park; it’s just great sometimes the guys react.


Bar none … this corner’s favourite show on television today:

Ernie, Kenny & Charles

Ernie, Kenny & Charles

by a country mile.


“What he really meant … “ 🙂


For Everything Else there’s Mastercard!


NBA’s upper echelon begins to emerge

November 28, 2008

The NBA’s regular season schedule is now in full swing with each team having played a minimum of 13 games.

As was mentioned earlier in this space, there are three tiers of teams in this League that reveal themselves on an annual basis:

1. HIGH END [above a .549 Win %]
2. MIDDLE-of-the-Pack [between a .450-.549 Win %]
3. LOW END [below a .450 Win %]

At this point, here’s what each team’s W-L record is, in conjunction with their respective Rebounding Differential Ranking [which regular readers here know is a crucial factor towards playoff success]:


1 LA Lakers 12-1/.923; +5.00/#3
2 Boston 14-2/.875; +3.43/#7
3 Cleveland 12-3/.750; +4.33/#5
4 Phoenix 11-5/.688; -0.25/#14
T5 Detroit 9-5/.643; +0.92/#11
T5 Atlanta 9-5/.643; -0.42/#16
T5 Orlando 12-4/.643; -0.37/#15
T5 New Orleans 9-5/.643; +0.07/#13
T9 Utah 10-6/.625; +3.50/#6
T9 Portland 10-6/.625; +4.37/#4
T9 Houston 10-6/.625; +2.06/#9
T9 Denver 10-6/.625; -0.43/#17
13 San Antonio 8-6/.571; -2.28/#24 *


T14 Dallas 7-7/.500; +3.07/#8
T14 New Jersey 7-7/.500; +0.21/#12
T14 Toronto 7-7/.500; -2.14/#23
T17 Miami 7-8/.467; -5.26/#28
T17 Philadelphia 6-7/.467; +6.33/#1
T17 New York 7-8/.467; -7.20/#30


20 Chicago 7-9/.438; -1.31/#19
21 Indiana 6-8/.429; +1.00/#10
22 Milwaukee 7-10/.412; +5.58/#2
23 Golden State 5-10/.333; -3.20/#26
24 Sacramento 5-12/.294; -1.64/#20
25 Memphis 4-11/.267; -2.40/#25
26 Charlotte 4-10/.286; -2.07/#22
27 Minnesota 3-10/.231; -1.30/#18
28 Washington 2-11/.154; -3.46/#27
29 LA Clippers/2-13/.133; -5.53/#29
30 Oklahoma City 1-15/.063; -1.81/#21

* Have played mostly without Ginobili-M and Parker-T, thus far.

Taking on all comers

September 25, 2008

Reading this specific blog entry … precipitated the following thought:

If you could construct your ideal 12-man team of current NBA players, who would you select?


Hmmmmmmm …

From that many possibilities, there would be some exceptionally difficult choices to make … and a lot of supremely talented and valuable players left out in the cold.

Regardless … according to these eyes,

these are the Dirtiest Dozen, in the NBA today:

[listed by position & role]

PG – Lebron James … far and away his best and most natural position
G/F – Dwyane Wade … the best, taking it to the rack, in the half-court
G/F – Kobe Bryant … Samarai Warrior
PF – Kevin Garnett … Rebounding & Energy are thy true names
C – Greg Oden [my, oh, my] … that’s right, before he’s played a game 

Key Bench Subs
PG – Deron Williams … well-balanced in every respect
G/F – Manu Ginobili … the best 6th Man in existence
PF/C – Tim Duncan … the best combo Big in existence

PG – Steve Nash … still the best facilitaor in the business, bar none
G/F – Tracy McGrady … multi-purpose player
PF/C – Amare Stoudemire … multi-purpose player
PF/C – Rasheed Wallace … multi-purpose player

Coach – Philip Patrick Jackson Riley … ‘The Sacred Winner Hoops Within’

“Train them … Excite them … and, Turn them Loose … “


There you go!

Now … Which 12 players would you choose for your team?

[PLEASE NOTE: Who you choose, in what positions & roles, and who you leave out, says a lot about your unique vision of the game.]

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.

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



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

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


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)
* 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



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



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 …


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


… 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 …



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!

What Game 7’s are made of

May 19, 2008

10 reasons
San Antonio is going to win tonight’s Game 7


10. The Tony Parker vs Chris Paul match-up will be played to a draw.

9. The Bruce Bowen vs Peja Stojakovic match-up will be won by the ‘Karate Kid’.

8. Joey Crawford is not on tonight’s officiating crew.

7. Michael Finley and Brent Barry are accustomed to making big shots in big games.

6. Tim Duncan has yet to play a good “away game”. Tonight, he’s due.

5. Three PFs (Thomas-K, Oberto-F & Horry-R) are better than one (West-D).

4. Ime Udoka is not going to waste valuable possessions by taking ill-advised shots.

3. When the Hornets “go small” the Spurs will counter, “going BIG” at the guard spots.

2. The Spurs are mentally tougher than this inexperienced Hornets team.



10 reasons New Orleans is going to win tonight’s Game 7


10. Chris Paul is a better PG than Tony Parker. This is his time to shine.

9. The 5/1 Wing Pick & Roll, with 2 (Peja) back-screening for Chandler, is a tough check for Bowen.

8. Joey Crawford is on tonight’s officiating crew.

7. One of Jannero Pargo, Bonzi Wells or MoPete is due for a BIG scoring night.

6. Tyson Chandler is the best 1-on-1 defensive match-up vs Tim Duncan, in the NBA.

5. 1 star PF (West-D) is better than 3 also-rans (Thomas-K, Oberto-F & Horry-R).

4. There’s no way Ime Udoka can duplicate his Game 6 performance for the Spurs.

3. The Hornets superior athleticism will generate key Stls, Blks, TO’s & Off-Rebs.

2. The Hornets are on post-Katrina mission, as the NBA’s feel-good story this year.

1. The Spurs are a dirty team whose ‘bad Karma’ will finally catch up with them!


Go ahead and take your pick.


Either way, it SHOULD be a terrific ballgame!

San Antonio vs New Orleans, 2-2

May 12, 2008

This is what was written, last Tuesday, in this space, re: the Spurs vs Hornets, Western Conference Semi-finals match-up, after New Orleans went up 2-0 in their series.

The answer for the Spurs
Unless Gregg Popovich & Co. finally figures out that the Bruce Bowen vs Chris Paul match-up is NOT the way San Antonio SHOULD be playing this series … and creates the Tony Parker vs Chris Paul match-up, instead … the Spurs are going to be in serious of jeopardy of not getting past the Hornets in the 2nd round of the playoffs.

6 days later, the series is now tied at 2 games apiece, after Gregg Popovich came to his senses and elected to go head-to-head with the Tony Parker vs Chris Paul match-up, from a defensive perspective.

(I) As was mentioned last week, straight-up, Parker is not going to be able to prevent CP3 from putting up big numbers, individually, on the offensive end of the floor, but … whether or not this happens … this alone is not what will decide the eventual winner of this series.

Tim Duncan has recovered nicely from his bout with a fever … which (made him look old & tired and) dramatically effected his performance during Games 1 & 2, head-to-head vs Tyson Chandler … and the other 3 individual player match-ups … i.e. at the 2, 3 & 4 positions, regardless who is in the starting line-up for the Spurs … are now tilted toward the reigning champions.

(II) As was also mentioned last week, contrary to popular belief, as this series lengthens, it will increasingly favour the more veteran team, in this specific playoff match-up, as the Hornets will be swimming in uncharted waters for the first time, as a group, in the latter stages of an advanced playoff series against a very tough team.

It takes 4 W’s to win a Conference Semi-finals series and this specific collection of Spurs is particularly well-suited to wearing down (i.e. physically & emotionally) an inexperienced crew, like these Hornets … who are so heavily dependent on a young (and under-sized) Point Guard (CP3, who does not include among his many outstanding attributes the ability to single-handedly change the ‘Rebounding Differential Numbers’ for each team in this series, which is now beginning to exact a heavy toll on New Orleans … i.e. Game 3 – San Antonio/Rebs, +9) and his under-sized running mate (David West).

The Spurs were able to separate for good from the Hornets, in Game 3, when Byron Scott made the decision to go with a ‘small line-up’ at the 9:39 mark of the 2nd Quarter, San Antonio 30, New Orleans 24.

Replacing Tyson Chandler (C) with Peja Stojakovic (F) and leaving David West (PF) as the biggest Hornet on the floor – alongside Julian Wright (F), Bonzi Wells (G/F) and Jannero Pargo (PG) – resulted in New Orleans only scoring on 1 of their next 5 possessions; while San Antonio – with a line-up of Parker, Ginobili, Udoka, Finley & Oberto – converted on 4 of their next 5 possessions, to bump up their lead to 13 points … after which they were never headed again by the Hornets.

As the series shifts back to New Orleans, for Game 5, the Hornets will need to find answers to (i) the Parker vs Paul match-up and (ii) the ineffectiveness of their ‘small line-up’ … or this series will indeed be ending in 6 games, in favour of the Spurs.

The next move … if it’s coming at all … will be up to Byron Scott.