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Old 05-06-05, 03:51 AM
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MySA: Spurs ready for jump in stakes, shooting range

Spurs ready for jump in stakes, shooting range
Web Posted: 05/06/2005 12:00 AM CDT
Johnny Ludden
Express-News Staff Writer

In the hours leading up to Wednesday night's game against Denver, coach Gregg Popovich fretted about what might happen should the Spurs lose.

Another short night. An afternoon flight to Colorado. A frenzied crowed packing the Pepsi Center. Even if the Spurs won in Denver, or back home in Game 7, they still had the rested and confident Seattle SuperSonics waiting for them.

"It was like a nightmare," Popovich said.

While the Spurs earned a day of rest Thursday by closing out the Nuggets in five games, their next opponent also could make for a few sleepless moments. Seattle, considered by many to be lottery bound at the start of the season, eliminated Sacramento in five games to reach the Western Conference semifinals for the first time in seven years.

Like the Nuggets, the Sonics like to run. Unlike Denver, Seattle can shoot. Only Phoenix attempted and made more 3-pointers per game this season. The 106.6 points the Sonics averaged in the first round trail only the Suns and Miami.

"They have a lot of confidence," Robert Horry said, "and a lot of firepower."

The Sonics are one of only three teams to win at the SBC Center this season, and the Spurs' 113-94 loss in Seattle on Nov. 7 was their worst with a full roster. The Spurs won the teams' last two meetings, but Ray Allen and Sonics coach Nate McMillan missed one of those. Tim Duncan, Rashard Lewis, Vladimir Radmanovic and Danny Fortson sat out the other.

"Nate deserves a lot of credit for turning a club everybody (bad-mouthed) at the beginning of the season into a big-time, championship-caliber team," Popovich said. "They're playing with a lot of purpose."

Allen and Lewis, who joined Duncan and Manu Ginobili on the Western Conference All-Star team this season, also deserve credit for the turnaround. Allen averaged 32.4 points in Seattle's first-round series, while Lewis, a 6-foot-10 forward, presents his own matchup problems.

"He's really versatile and tough on the block like (Denver forward) Carmelo Anthony," Popovich said. "But he can be even more dangerous because he shoots the three well.

"You've got both worlds wrapped up in one guy."


While Bruce Bowen is expected to renew his rivalry with Allen — the two have traded elbows and words for much of the past two seasons — Popovich said, as of Thursday afternoon, it was "a push" whether he would start Ginobili or Brent Barry. After Barry moved into the starting lineup following the Spurs' Game 1 loss to Denver, Ginobili provided a jolt of energy off the bench, averaging a team-high 22.8 points in the series.

Ginobili is a better defender than Barry, but the Spurs' big men probably will need to help with Lewis — much as they did with Anthony — regardless of who starts. Glenn Robinson has the necessary size to guard Anthony, but his lack of familiarity with the team's system makes it difficult to put him on the floor at the start or end of games.

"No matter how you slice it," Popovich said, "it's a bad matchup for us."


Seattle could say the same of Duncan. The Sonics have a physical group of big men in Jerome James, Reggie Evans, Nick Collison and Fortson, but Duncan still averaged 25.7 points on 50 percent shooting in three games against them.

Duncan, still somewhat limited by his sore right ankle, totaled 57 points (on 21-of-38 shooting) and 25 rebounds in the final two games against Denver. Horry, Nazr Mohammed and Rasho Nesterovic also provided quality minutes.

"As the series went on, I think you saw Timmy get better, physically and mentally," Popovich said. "It looked like he thought about (the ankle) less."

Popovich is far less confident about Devin Brown's health. He said Brown's right leg still isn't strong enough for the Spurs to expect him to contribute much, giving the team one less option when the Sonics go small.

"They are really dangerous with Ray and Rashard Lewis and Radmanovic coming from the bench," Ginobili said. "We're going to have to do a lot of helping and rotating. It's going to be hard, but I think we have the personnel to guard them and make them suffer on the other end, too."


The Spurs also have experience. Duncan thought the team "grew up" over the final four games of the series, grinding out victories when necessary.

"They have the heart of a champion," Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin said. "They didn't win a couple of years ago for nothing."

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Old 05-06-05, 08:38 AM
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Quote:
Popovich is far less confident about Devin Brown's health. He said Brown's right leg still isn't strong enough for the Spurs to expect him to contribute much, giving the team one less option when the Sonics go small.
dang, the spurs could use him this round.
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Old 05-06-05, 09:03 AM
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You're right about that... Of all the teams left, the Sonics have a guy (like Teyshaun Prince) that no one on our team can match up well against. I'd imagine you'll see some bruce on him as well as Allen.

But of course, they don't call it team defense for nothing.
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Old 05-06-05, 09:10 AM
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Lewis is the biggest problem. Manu can't guard him, nor Barry.
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Old 05-06-05, 09:54 AM
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Robert will have to do it.
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  #6  
Old 05-06-05, 10:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amente
dang, the spurs could use him this round.
yes, sure could, but all in all, losing him is afordable...all teams have injuries, so lets not jinx it by complaining to then learn what complaining is... call me supersticious or whatever you want, just... don't... please...

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpursFanatic21
You're right about that... Of all the teams left, the Sonics have a guy (like Teyshaun Prince) that no one on our team can match up well against. I'd imagine you'll see some bruce on him as well as Allen.

But of course, they don't call it team defense for nothing.
if Rashard isn't doing well (he is supposed to be injured), then i'd put Bowen on Ray and let Manu + help worry about him... otherwise, i'd stick with Manu on Ray & Bruce on Rashard since whatever Ray gives, Rashard gains 10x... Manu can't guard a 6'10" forward...
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Old 05-06-05, 10:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mg06

if Rashard isn't doing well (he is supposed to be injured), then i'd put Bowen on Ray and let Manu + help worry about him... otherwise, i'd stick with Manu on Ray & Bruce on Rashard since whatever Ray gives, Rashard gains 10x... Manu can't guard a 6'10" forward...
Neither can Bowen.
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Old 05-06-05, 10:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robinson50
Neither can Bowen.
or Boykins...
the point is, he is much better suitted... the mismatch is greatly reduced... also, Bowen is 6'8", quick and sticks like a flea, doubt Rashard would like him much...
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Old 05-06-05, 10:56 AM
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Ray Allen is the engine of that team's offense, not Rashard Lewis. The Spurs will have to live with what Lewis does. Yeah, it's a mismatch, but so be it. Tim Duncan vs. Reggie Evans is a bigger mismatch.
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Old 05-06-05, 10:58 AM
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Bowen is definitely best suited to guard Lewis. I would like to see Horry on him, too. That could be interesting.

IMO, id rather see someone quick enough to guard him on the perimeter and prevent drives and then have help defense double when he goes down on the block. Horry could guard him solo on the block but may give up more drives and open 3s.
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Old 05-06-05, 11:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crusian
Ray Allen is the engine of that team's offense, not Rashard Lewis. The Spurs will have to live with what Lewis does. Yeah, it's a mismatch, but so be it. Tim Duncan vs. Reggie Evans is a bigger mismatch.
there is no way around it, there is going to be a mismatch... its like a short blanket, you cover your feet, you uncover your head, you cover your head, you uncover your feet.... the point i'm trying to make is that you can't downplay the importance of Rashard, because he will make you pay for it... the way i see it is:
a) Manu on Ray: can do adequately
Bruce on Rashard: can do well
b) Bruce on Ray: can do very well
Manu on Rashard: cannot do
so if i have to make a choice between the two evils, i think scenary a) is the least. That is provided Rashard is 100%. Otherwise there is no question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ProjectGSX
Bowen is definitely best suited to guard Lewis. I would like to see Horry on him, too. That could be interesting.

IMO, id rather see someone quick enough to guard him on the perimeter and prevent drives and then have help defense double when he goes down on the block. Horry could guard him solo on the block but may give up more drives and open 3s.
yes, it could be interesting to see how long it takes him to crack Horry's arthritic knees...
help defense from horry yes... one on one, hell no!!!
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Old 05-06-05, 11:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mg06
there is no way around it, there is going to be a mismatch... its like a short blanket, you cover your feet, you uncover your head, you cover your head, you uncover your feet.... the point i'm trying to make is that you can't downplay the importance of Rashard, because he will make you pay for it... the way i see it is:
a) Manu on Ray: can do adequately
Bruce on Rashard: can do well
b) Bruce on Ray: can do very well
Manu on Rashard: cannot do
so if i have to make a choice between the two evils, i think scenary a) is the least. That is provided Rashard is 100%. Otherwise there is no question.
That's assuming Allen and Rashard are equally gifted offensive players, and are interchangeable in the Sonics' offense.

That is a wrong assumption. In the first round, Lewis matched up with defensive zero Peja Stojakovic, while Allen got Cuttino Mobley, who at least has defensive skill, even though he is soft as all-get-all (Mobley had some success guarding Kobe Bryant in last year's playoffs). Lewis scored 16.4 ppg on an average of 12 shots, shooting 40% from the floor. Allen scored 32.4 ppg on 21 shots at 51.4%. If Allen does anything close to that this series, the Sonics can win. With Bruce guarding him, Allen will be hard-pressed to go off like he did on the Kings. He dislikes physical play.

Lewis is a very good complementary player, but the Sonics' offense isn't built around him like it is Allen. They can exploit the mismatch, but they can't just give Lewis the keys to the car and tell him to go win the game. He's not that good, even when healthy.

Shutting down Allen is more important than shutting down Lewis, just as stopping Duncan is more important than shutting down Ginobili for opponents.
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Old 05-06-05, 11:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crusian
That's assuming Allen and Rashard are equally gifted offensive players, and are interchangeable in the Sonics' offense.

That is a wrong assumption. In the first round, Lewis matched up with defensive zero Peja Stojakovic, while Allen got Cuttino Mobley, who at least has defensive skill, even though he is soft as all-get-all (Mobley had some success guarding Kobe Bryant in last year's playoffs). Lewis scored 16.4 ppg on an average of 12 shots, shooting 40% from the floor. Allen scored 32.4 ppg on 21 shots at 51.4%. If Allen does anything close to that this series, the Sonics can win. With Bruce guarding him, Allen will be hard-pressed to go off like he did on the Kings. He dislikes physical play.

Lewis is a very good complementary player, but the Sonics' offense isn't built around him like it is Allen. They can exploit the mismatch, but they can't just give Lewis the keys to the car and tell him to go win the game. He's not that good, even when healthy.

Shutting down Allen is more important than shutting down Lewis, just as stopping Duncan is more important than shutting down Ginobili for opponents.
1) Lewis wasn't 100%. That was the main thing. I don't know how he will be in the next series... as i said previously, if he isn't ok, then there is no argument, you can put Wilks on Ray and the Spurs will still win...
2) Linear thinking doesn't work. Its about stopping Ray + Rashard, not one of them. Accordingly i wonder which scenario is best in order to do that...

Last edited by mg06; 05-06-05 at 11:23 AM.
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Old 05-06-05, 11:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mg06
1) Lewis wasn't 100%. That was the main thing. I don't know how he will be in the next series... as i said previously, if he isn't ok, then there is no argument, you can put Wilks on Ray and the Spurs will still win...
2) Linear thinking doesn't work. Its about stopping Ray + Rashard, not one of them. Accordingly i wonder which scenario is best in order to do that...
An example: against the Suns, the Spurs' strategy has been to let Stoudemire get his and focus on Nash. If Nash isn't under control, he gets everybody else involved and buries you. On some teams, there is one guy that is the key to the offense. On the Spurs, it's Duncan. On the Suns, it's Nash. On the Sonics, it's Allen.

Against Seattle, Bowen can frustrate Allen one-on-one. Allen is much less likely to go on a tear, and he won't have to be double-teamed. Against Seattle, if you have to double-team, odds are a deadeye shooter will get a wide-open shot unless your rotations are perfect.

Rashard is not nearly as dangerous. The Spurs won't have to double nearly as much as they would if Manu were guarding Allen. Even if Rashard goes off for 28 points shooting jumpers, as long as he isn't breaking down the middle of the defense or getting bigs in foul trouble, I think the Spurs could live with that.

Allen is a threat to bust out for 40 or more if someone other than Bruce guards him.
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Old 05-06-05, 11:32 AM
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Peja actually played very good initial defense, i.e. he denied the ball, and forced Lewis to catch the ball far from the basket. Peja was actively moving his feet, and he is also hard to shoot over because he's the same height as Lewis.

I think Manu will play the same type of ball denial defense. As long as the Spurs work the clock down and make sure Lewis catches the ball late in the clock, they will be fine. Make him take shots or make passes under time pressure and the threat of a double team. Bruce should be on Ray primarily, because they are going to run him through several screens and he will get bumped, and you don't want to use up Manu's energy doing that for the first 3 quarters.

The mismatch also works the other way round. I can't see Lewis being able to defend Manu at all. If he tries, he will get in foul trouble. If he lets Manu beat him off the dribble, the bigs will get in foul trouble.
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Old 05-06-05, 11:45 AM
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why are we looking at it from this perspective? why not talk about who's gonna guard a hot Parker or Gino?

remember, having a good defense also means making them play hard on defense and tiring out their legs.
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Old 05-06-05, 11:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crusian
An example: against the Suns, the Spurs' strategy has been to let Stoudemire get his and focus on Nash. If Nash isn't under control, he gets everybody else involved and buries you. On some teams, there is one guy that is the key to the offense. On the Spurs, it's Duncan. On the Suns, it's Nash. On the Sonics, it's Allen.
Thats a bad analogy becayse:
a) Nash pulls the strings... focus on him and it will disrupt the flow slowing down the others
b) Allen doesn't feed Lewis... Lewis can create his own shot without him just fine... in fact, he will even have a much easier time if you focus on Ray...
i will say this one more time: IF and only IF Rashard is 100%, i would try to figure out a way to put Bowen on him... any other case i'd be right with you... i guess we will have to agree to disagree...
and one more thing... the mismatch on one side doesn't necessarily translate the other way around... in fact, i think that the key to this series are
1) Tim being healthy. It all starts there.
2) Slowing down Ray & Rashard
3) Waking up Tony
Tony could be a HUGE factor... i don't see many obstacles other than himself... i don't see many talking about him... beware...

Quote:
Originally Posted by knownalien
remember, having a good defense also means making them play hard on defense and tiring out their legs.
true
Quote:
Originally Posted by knownalien
why are we looking at it from this perspective? why not talk about who's gonna guard a hot Parker or Gino?
because that's THEIR problem... i am concerned about ours...
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Old 05-06-05, 12:35 PM
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I'm expecting the quarding of Lewis to be an experiment by Pop as the series goes on.
Without Devin, they may even put Horry on him occasionally.
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Old 05-06-05, 12:42 PM
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The Spurs' small lineup could be useful against Seattle:

Parker, Ginobili, Robinson, Horry, Duncan.

Put Horry on Rashard Lewis and put GRob on one of the Sonics' bigs.

The biggest problem with that lineup I think would be giving up offensive rebounds to the Sonics. Reggie Evans is a beast on the glass.

Oh well. You pick your poison. Seattle's nuts will shrivel in clutch time any way you look at it.
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