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Old 02-13-07, 06:34 PM
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Buck Harvey: The perfectly imperfect mix sinks the Spurs

Buck Harvey: The perfectly imperfect mix sinks the Spurs

Michael Finley isn't to blame for what has happened. Neither are the Spurs for signing him.
And that's just it. The Spurs seemingly made all the right moves at the time they made them. If anything, the Finley signing in the summer of 2005 was seen as a godsend.

But there the Spurs were Sunday, losing yet another game, somehow looking slow and old even against the slow and old Heat.

With the perfectly imperfect mix.

The Spurs are one defeat from equaling last year's total number of losses, and that's some drop-off for a 63-win team that has been relatively healthy. Maybe that's why so many around the league don't rule out a Spurs recovery.

Haven't they often surged after the All-Star break? Don't they still have their three stars intact?

Finley is part of this thought, too. Just last spring against Dallas in the playoffs, he averaged more than 40 minutes and played well, and he has also shined at times this season. Finley started this road trip by beating the Lakers with an improbable 30-footer, and in Orlando, he threw in 18 points in less than 23 minutes.

He changes the Spurs when he plays this way, and this is the Finley who a half-dozen teams lined up for in the summer of 2005. Then, after Mark Cuban bought out his contract, a story in an Arizona newspaper began this way: "Dear Michael Finley, please come home."

Gregg Popovich then said publicly he expected Finley to do just that. Finley and Steve Nash were friends, after all. But most thought Finley would sign with Miami, since the Heat could offer more money than either the Spurs or the Suns.

Pat Riley sure wanted him. Eager to impress Finley on his visit to Miami, the franchise placed 20 posters of Finley wearing a Heat uniform on light poles on streets next to the arena.

Then Finley surprised everyone, including the Spurs. He saw the Spurs as the better fit, and the Spurs felt blessed. With his profile as the consummate professional — at this price — how could they go wrong?

The same was said about Brent Barry. Some in the national media thought his impact would mean more than any free agent who signed that summer. Nash, going to Phoenix, would prove that inaccurate.

Few questioned the Spurs when they passed on Josh Howard in the 2003 draft, and absolutely no one saw anything in the draft pick the Spurs took then and traded to Phoenix. The Spurs scouted the world better than anyone, and they surely knew Leandro Barbosa wasn't special, right?

Signing Francisco Elson was a bargain, and re-upping Robert Horry a must. Then there's Jackie Butler: One writer thought he was the steal of last summer.

No one, however, symbolizes the perfectly-imperfect more than Finley. He dropped from the sky to a franchise that always valued stable veterans and their influence in a locker room. Steve Kerr and Danny Ferry, among others, provided the same before.

But adding Finley to Barry, Horry and Bruce Bowen tipped the balance between brains and body. Spurs officials think Horry is the only one who shows any real sign of age, but it's still a combination that lacks explosion. Worse, unlike Kerr and Ferry, all are in the rotation.

Popovich treated Sunday's loss as he has others. "We're still not playing physical enough, tough enough," he said in Miami. "We're playing soft for too many minutes in the game."

But this year looks different. This time, the Spurs don't appear to have another gear to go to. Finley isn't the only reason for this, but he's shooting 38 percent from the field this season. And Sunday, with teammates creating open shots for him, Finley went 1 of 7 behind the 3-point line.

Finley will be harder on himself than anyone, and he will be back at practice today trying to find his jumper. But he ought to blame himself.

After all, if he'd taken the Heat's offer instead, he'd have more money — as well as a ring.
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Old 02-13-07, 07:40 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2003
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I think Michael Finley is the x factor.

We can count on the big 3 to do well for us. But Finley brings the mid range and long range jumper to the table. When he's hot, he's really hot.

We need him to do well for us in the playoffs. If he can play like he did against the mavs last year in the playoffs, than we will have a great chance to succeed.
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