Game One Thoughts

Kurt —  May 22, 2008

The real world is keeping me very busy today, so I’m falling back on easy (read: lazy) bullet points to organize my thoughts. Plus, I like to do whatever KD does.

• It’s great to have Kobe on your team.

• That was by far the best defense the Lakers have seen in the playoffs, and it clearly was a challenge to adjust (the Lakers averaged 117 points per 100 possessions in the playoffs, last night it was 98). The Spurs did what they do so well, turn teams into midrange jump shooters (Dean Oliver was talking about this statistically years ago) — they defend the rim with Duncan and chase guys off the three-point line. The Lakers took just 10 threes. Odom in particular seemed to have a hard time adjusting to what the Spurs were doing, but the Lakers as a unit need to be better prepared and hit those shots in game two.

• I’m curious what adjustments PJ makes for the next game — use Gasol’s mid-range game to pull Duncan away from the basket? Try to exploit a clearly-slowed Ginobili on defense? Any other thoughts?

• It really helps to have Kobe be able to take over an otherwise sluggish game.

• We said one of the big keys was whose bench and role players were going to step up. Sasha finished a game-high +25, Farmar came out of his slump and was second best at +15. Plus Turiaf, matched up on Duncan when he was in, was just -3 and made some great energy plays. That is something I hope to see every night.

• That and some Trevor Ariza on Ginobili (or Parker). I wonder if Phil is saving that card as one to play in San Antonio?

• Quick thought from Darius:

I know that SpurredOn mentioned this, and we would like to say that Spurs fans in general are making excuses, but Ginobili is not the same guy right now. He is out there on guts alone, his quick first step gone, his explosion at the rim gone. Manu is a guy that can change a game. Duncan may be their catalyst, but Manu is their game changer. I liken him to what Kobe was to us when we still had Shaq…that guy that even though you account for him, his abilities to change a game are so strong that you really can’t game plan for the dynamic that he brings. I think without him performing at least to his averages, the Spurs are going to have a tough time. (and if you read KD over at BDL, you’ll get more on Manu against the Lakers this year.

• Did I mention that having Kobe on your team can be a really, really great thing?

• For those of you (such as Reggie Miller) who think this is a deflating loss for the Spurs — do you know what team you are talking about? The team that has been counted out more times than Glass Joe only to get up and surprise people. The team that was down 2-0 to the Hornets and won the series. This team does not have four rings because it folds in the face of adversity.

• And I don’t think this series is the Spurs last chance either. We said that their weakness is their lack of depth, well next year they add Tiago Splitter to the front court and still have an improving Udoka, plus they have some cap room coming up to make another play or two. This team will not go quietly into that goodnight, not in this series or next season.

• If you want to read more good stuff, check out Hardwood Paroxysm’s recap.

• The Lakers hung in there on the boards, which is something they will have to do all series.

Kurt

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61 responses to Game One Thoughts

  1. something doug collins pointed out during the telecast was the Spurs’ ability to get back in transition defense and stop fast break opportunities. It was superb all night.

  2. I could tell that Ginobli was “off” but that doesn’t make the win less of a win. I’m not that familiar with Manu’s game other than the frustration of him tearing out of control down the lane and killing the lakers, but its interesting.

    When Kobe has a bum ankle, he knows how to play on it. If he can’t turn the corner it doesn’t matter because his footwork is as good as anybody who has ever played. At the beginning of last year, after the knee surgery, he didn’t have a lot of mobility, yet he was still right by the rim with regularity. He just adjusts to every movement of the other player. Or he can post up. He has options even when he’s physically compromised. So while Ginobli might be hurt, it surprises me that he’s never developed other aspects of his game that he can go to. (And he did drive last game, he just couldn’t finish, getting blocked once and throwing a pass straight to Fisher another time.)

    Anyways, I hope Hardwood Paroxysm is right and that if Ginobli does break out, Odom follows suit.

  3. I think one of the most important things you said today was “This team does not have four rings because it folds in the face of adversity.” Before the game, everyone counted the Spurs out and we were very, very fortunate to get out of there with a win last night…I normally like his column, but Plaschke’s article today in the LA times about how last night felt like a series clincher went beyond the headline. It insinuated that last night *was* a series clincher and I don’t think that’s the case at alll… do not expect the spurs to fold.

  4. 3. I agree with you. I read that column too and imagine what kind of motivation the Spurs would derive from it if they were to read it. How soon people forget! Just 2 years back Lakers won a come-from-behind cliffhanger against the Suns to go up 3-1 in that series. We still went on to lose the series. I hope the Lakers keep their focus on the game and try to improve because they are not going to win another game playing like this. And the Spurs will definitely make a series out of it. This was 1 win in a 7-game series and we still need 3 more…

  5. #1: nomuskles, I think your point on transition defense is related to Kurt’s point about rebounding. I think Doug Collins mentioned it last night, but it should be repeated. The Spurs don’t crash the offensive glass in waves because they want to stop the opposition’s transition game. We exploited Utah’s aggression on the offensive glass with leakouts by our contester on jumpers and passing ahead to him over the top and also by securing rebounds and pushing immediately (which is where Odom flourished). The Spurs are smart players with a smart coach and they know they can’t matcup with our athleticism and foot speed. I actually expect us to do much better on our defensive glass just because the Spurs are not going to fight us there, prefering to get back in order to slow our transition game and our early offense.

    As for adjustments that we might see in Game 2, I think we need to have a counter for the Spurs counter to us. Let me explain: One of the plays we used to come back in the second half was the elbow pick play where Kobe comes off a Gasol screen, curls to the lane to receive the pass, and after the catch probes the defense either looking for his own shot or dumping it off to Gasol. This play worked over and over as Kobe was able to attack a helping Duncan off the screen and leave a trailing Bowen to either try and recover to Kobe or falling back and trying to body Gasol on his roll to the bucket. Running this screen action was a good adjustment by the staff because when we ran the high P&R the Spurs stifled us. So, I expect the Spurs to find ways to answer this elbow screen action by sagging in a defender from the wing to show Kobe another defender before Duncan or by using the opposing big to collapse on Gasol to have Duncan and Bowen sandwich Kobe; basically having 3 defenders playing our two offensive guys (Kobe and Gasol). If the Spurs do this, I expect Phil to have Odom and a shooter on the open side of the triangle (the side Kobe is curling to). Then I expect Phil to have Odom cut/flash off the sagging defender and the wing shooter to slide up the sideline in order to create a passing angle for an open 3. Basically this will have Kobe with the options of shooting, lobbing to Gasol, passing to a cutting Odom, or hitting the sideline man for an open 3. I just drew this up on a sheet of paper and it looks solid. This is a play, that even though we used it in game 1, we should make the Spurs stop it and if they can, then make subtle adjustments off of it and keep making the Spurs work in this set.

    Another adjustment I can see being used is getting Odom the ball in positions to do damage. When the defense is a strong as the Spurs’ is, Odom is much better cutting and receiving a pass and looking to finish than he is isolating a guy and breaking him down. Against a bad help team like Utah, isolation drives may work…against the Spurs, not so much. So, I expect to see some sets where Lamar is coming off curl screens to his strong hand (similar to what I described above for Kobe) in order to get him on the move and catching to finish rather than him trying to create for himself off the dribble. I would not be suprised to see Odom in the short corner more either, so that he makes himself available for the finish when Kobe and Pau make moves to the bucket.

    Anyways. We’ll see what the staff does for ourselves, those are just a couple of ideas.

  6. 3- I agree. I thought it was interesting how engaging and light hearted Pop was in his postgame interviews compared to the Dour persona he’s had after most losses this post-season. Maybe he didn’t mind the loss so much. They lost by a lot more in New Orleans in games 1 and 2, so this is one game. If the Spurs come back and get a win in game 2, the Lakers are right back in a heap of trouble. Even if the Lakers win next game, they have to worry because of how the Spurs beat the Hornets. I think the bottom line is that the win meant more to the Lakers than the loss means to San Antonio.

  7. Some things I noticed about Game 1

    *Kobe was far more effective with the ball, especially using the pick and roll. Bowen played him great off the ball, denying him his sweet spots. The pick and rolls really opened up the Spurs defense

    *Fisher played poorly on offense, but had a great 2nd half defensively on Parker. He gave Parker less space to drive and Parker stopped hitting outside shots

    *Phil made a great move subbing out Fish and LO in the 3rd. Usually LO would never come out there, but he needed to sit and collect himself, Phil pulled the right string

    *The Spurs will hover around 88-92 pts a game. Like Tex Winter said, if we can score enough we will win (yes, I am captain flippin obvious). I guess I am just saying that I am confident the Spurs will go through at least one 4-6 minute scoring drought evey game. It is during these droughts we must either close a deficit or push out a lead.

  8. “who think this is a deflating loss for the Spurs”

    Are they going to fold up and quit? No. But they have to win at least one game at Staples, against a team that is at least as good as they are. How many real opportunities for that one win will they get? They had that chance last night, and they couldn’t capitalize.

    They might get one more “real” chance, maybe not. And they know that.

  9. don’t forget how down and out the Spurs looked against Phx too. it might have been a miraculous 3pointer by TD, and a few other factors, but, at the end of the day, the Spurs played on and the Suns went on to self distruct, (I enjoyed writing that part).
    then as everyone is already saying, it looked like they were done in NO…but who advanced?
    cannot take this one W as anything more than getting a W in what is going to be a battle to see who gets to 4 W’s first.

  10. you know what i like, kurt? i like punch out references.

    great writing, from an up-and-coming blogger!

  11. Spare us the “Manu is hurt so we deserve some sort of empathy” talk, San Antonio fans. The Lakers win shouldn’t be reduced because he’s not 100 percent.

    Neither team is at full strength. And it doesn’t matter. Play who can play.

    Kobe’s playing with a tendon that will require surgery; Ariza hasn’t played in a game since January, which cost the Lakers one of their best perimeter defenders and a great option on the wings; Gasol’s ankle hasn’t been right since he rolled it in New Orleans two months ago; and oh, and there’s this kid named Bynum who might have made a difference in this series had he not gone under a knife in New York this week.

    Injuries happen, and playing through them, or playing without those guys who can’t take the court, is all part of playoff basketball.

  12. Based on game one, strategy plus performance, our “man” for game 2 is the space cadet, VladRad himself!

    VladRad was 5 for 5 on a variety of shots, all in the first half of game one, and he wasn’t even getting started. He can hit the midrange jumper, deadly to the Spurs defensive strategy. The Spurs left him alone.

    If the Lakers force the Spurs to adjust to ValdRad, Lamar will once again become the type of X factor we’re hoping for, rather than the x factor we encounter in unacceptable movies. Otherwise, I’m afraid he will become the Lamar we know all too well.

  13. 9 – “up-and-coming”? Where have you been? :)

    Anyway, I thought it was interesting that Kobe made that decision to be so much more a facilitator, given that he generally has looked to open up the scoring early in games, then switch into ‘passing’ mode once the defense keys on him (well, even more so than normal). I think part of it was that the game plan was to get Lamar going – as we’ve all noted, Lamar is the only player on the Lakers that has an absolute offensive advantage over every Spurs defender. But with LO’s cold start, the team started trying to feed him the ball to get him going – when that failed, it took them out of their offensive flow.

    I think we have to look for the Lakers to try a bit more perimeter attack (ie outside jumpers) than they did last game. As nice as it is to see the team winning without needing to hit the 3-ball, this is an offense that works in part because of the threat of outside shooters. If VladMan, Sasha, Fish, or Farmar can hit a couple in quick succession, the whole floor could very well open up and allow for those cuts we saw against Utah.

  14. To use the cliche boxing analogy:

    Last night wasn’t a knockout blow, but it was a significant exchange of blows that showed the Lakers could take the Spurs best punch and still win. That is always a significant moment. But the series isn’t decided and further blows will fall ….

    Ok, enough of that.

    I’d like to see the Lakers keep using their quickness to put pressure on the Spurs offense and to create a more wide open game. The Spurs (except for Parker’s one man fast breaks), want a slow low scoring game where their half-court execution on both ends will tell.

    If Ginobili can’t create off the dribble as usual, then they really need to slow the game down. The Spurs play off the possibility of him and Parker both breaking down the defense as this (1) helps their substitution patterns and gets the stars rest, and (2) puts a difficult burden on the defense when both are in the game at the same time because its almost impossible to keep them both out of the lane.

    Kobe has really matured as a leader and player.

  15. 11 – Wasn’t his 5-5 entirely in the first quarter?

    Just checked, yeah, he scored all 10 of his points in the first 10 minutes. Not sure exactly what to make of that – he didn’t really get much run later in the game in general, after such a solid start.

  16. 12 – nah, i’ve been here almost as long as kurt. but that was the quote from the video game.

    actually, i botched it. it should have been “great writing! you’re an up-and-coming blogger!”

  17. Vujacic deserved a “Best Supporting Actor” nomination for his effort in Wednesday’s late-night thriller.
    “Offensively, we just wanted to keep (Vujacic) in spaces where he was occupying the defense or else getting shots if he was open and activating the ball if necessary in certain situations,” Jackson said. “Offensively, Sasha had a lot better games. But defensively, that was one of his best.”

  18. A couple of Ginobilli quotes…

    I have a couple issues, but nothing that bad that can justify the way I played today,” Ginobili said.

    “The hand is all right. It’s just a nail. My ankle is bothering me, [but] I don’t want to talk about that. That’s not the reason I played so bad

    Sounds to me like a complaint…why bring it up if you dont want to talk/complain about it?

  19. I think next game, we will see less 1-on-1 with Gasol v Duncan. More weakside help. Force Duncan to make those difficult cross-court passes.

    If Ginobili starts again, will PJ call out Vujacic to start for the assignment? You can never tell with him. Brilliant coaching move by PJ in the third to bench Odom & Fish. The 2nd unit’s defense sparked the turn-around.

  20. Time for our supporting cast to step up… RadMan is totally unpredictable and Spurs are the worst team to be unstable against. So I guess that’s why he did not get to play much. I still do not understand Phil’s policy of sticking with Radmanovic. Puttin Luke (as SF) or Sasha (as SG moving Kobe to SF) would create a devastating starting 5 for the Lakers now. Sasha can kill Spurs from many different spots (in terms of jump shot he can really get going like Kobe) and Walton is perfect fit in triangle with high IQ and excellent passing. He is always happy to play the second fiddle and accomodate the star players. I do not expect Lakers starters to change (barring injury or eventual Ariza comeback) but can not stop wondering if starting Rad is more of an efficient or stateic choice

  21. efficient or strategic choice that is, sorry for the typo

  22. I think Vlad Rad didn’t get much run later in the game because his defense was … well, they call him the Space Cadet for a reason.

    Besides, this way we got 100% shooting out of him. AND he didn’t put up any dumb 3s.

  23. Mamula, don’t forget that Vlad was 5 for 5 for 10 pts in the first quarter, and since no one really counts on him for too much, I saw it as pure bonus.
    lakergirl, I agree that sasha tends to overact, and sell the contact…
    but did you know he got “whiplash” when he took that charge against utah in game 6? i jumped up and cheered, “way to go sahsa, take one for the team!”
    that really was a full on knockdown. (and it was against a big guy, like Milsap, can’t recall)

  24. To Kurt’s first, Foruth and Ninth bullets (I like bullet points too)

    something i noted is that everyone is saying that Kobe scored 25 in the 2nd half…or 23 after the 5:58 mark (I think it was) in the 3rd….

    But really…he scored 27 points in just under 26 minutes. His points in the first half were at the 1:28 mark of the 2nd.

    So once he decided to score…he had a little over a point a minute….in a playoff game against the defending champions…who were incredible on defense pretty much the whole game.

    That 24 guy is pretty good.

  25. heard jim cleomans on the “loose cannons” this p.m…..the reason for vlad rad (and walton for that matter) not getting much p.t. is due to match-ups. the lakers went with a smaller lineup with kb24 playing the three, so the bigger laker 3’s were odd men out……….rust vs rest…..1st half rust, 2nd half rested legs for an energy finish. i don’t think anybody really thinks the spurs will fold. they will come out tough as usual, but when the game gets tight, make no mistake….they will have thoughts going back to last night creeping, lurking in the shadows of their minds. not only if they are holding a lead, but also if kb24 has the ball in his hands, it will be a factor……….

  26. #10 – Sounds like you have a chip on your shoulder. No one is asking for empathy. Just stating facts. If you don’t think Kobe’s hurt back kept LA from winning game four in Utah, you weren’t paying attention. Manu isn’t right and won’t be for the rest of this series or the FInals. That’s life. If I were Pop, I’d sit him in game two. He needs to at least get his ankle above 70% and his inability to finish at the rim is leading to bad passes when he drives. The turnovers, which vs. N.O. lead to easy Paul fast breaks and Peja open for 3, is going to be a killer because of the reduced possesions in this series.

    #17 lakergirl, the media asked him.. He responded with no excuses. Would you prefer he have stormed away from the podium? Come on now. Enjoy your win last night. Seems like a couple of Laker fans are (understandibly?) nervous about winning such a close game that was set up for easy victory. It’s gonna be along series folks. That’s how Pop prepares his team for every series. They want it long; historically they figure out what there opponent is doing and finish the series stronger than they start it.

    For those looking forward to what adjustments the coaches make, I’m with you. From a Spurs perspective, I follow my team closely and Pop isn’t likley to make any for game two. He’ll tell his squad to do the same as game one, just execute better on offense. The shots were there so take them. Holding LA to 89 points at Staples is excellent, and even if LA shoots a bit better and gets up to the mid 90s, that’s a Spurs type road game. He likely wants TD to be more aggressive with his open shots and Parker to handle the ball more vs. Fisher. If he has any tricks up his sleeve, it’s likely he won’t show it until the series returns to SA, regardless of whether the Spurs win game two or not.

  27. I have to really give Sasha some props. I’m not exactly sure when he morphed into this tough a ballplayer, but, just in the last three games, he’s shrugged off a 1-for-11 performance to hit some big buckets, played ferocious defense, taken a steamroller/whiplash charge from Millsap and a cruching elbow from Bowen, snagged the loose ball on the Spurs’ last possession, and drilled the two game-clinching free throws.

    I’ve also been impressed all year long with the Lakers’ ability to come back from large deficits and play hard through the whole game. They actually did that in the very first game of the season at home vs. Houston, and would have won except for Battier’s 3, although all anyone remembers from that game is that Kobe got booed.

    Speaking of Kobe – he’s pretty good.

  28. The prognosticator of prognosticators is The Fanalyst? I don’t know if anyone saw my post after the first quarter last night, but it went a little like this…

    “The Spurs are playing like a team on the second night of a regular season back-to-back. They come out battle tested, guns blazing. They will fade. I bet safely that the Lakers grab 3rd quarter momentum and close it out in regulation. The 3rd is huge, and has been for all the home victories last round. Kobe’s taken 3 shots? OK, I took 3 shots from my chair at home and made all of those. Kobe will find the shots. He’s going to have 25 or 30 and we’ll win by high single digits. Witness.”

    OK, so the “high single digits” was reduced to four. However, I’m developing an impressive ability to fire darts in the dark and I’m going to keep working on it to see how my luck goes…Go Lakers!

  29. A win is a win.Only 7 more to the championship.Lakers can’t play any worse than they did last night and they still won. I believe.

  30. Mark the Filipino May 22, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Hey guys. I’ve been around here for nearly 3 months already, and I was just observing you all. I’m a Laker fan, so I think it’s a sin not to converse with intelligent guys right you. I’m joining the conversation now. By the way, I am a Top Contributor at Yahoo! Answers – Basketball Section, and I think, this site offers more balance than those ramping trolls there(in Y!A).

    Let’s go to my two cents for Game 2 :

    1) Kobe-Pau connection.
    I haven’t seen this for a long time, and it seems to work excellently. I don’t know why they stopped doing this Kobe-Pau’s pick-and-roll, and alley-oops. IT just seems to work perfectly because Pau has the long hands and Kobe is just a perfect passer. I think they could try to do this more often because Duncan can’t jump as high enough to get Kobe’s lob passes, which we’ve seen last night. If they could do this more often, it would try to open up more spaces because they have to either double-team Gasol so that he’ll have a hard time moving and catching the ball, or play a zone, so that he will have a hard time getting into the lane and dunking the ball. Either way will benefit us since we have deadly shooters, the zone will make our perimeter shooters comfortable and the double-team would open up another guy.

    2)Let Kobe run the first and fourth quarters of the game.
    This seems to be good. Kobe dictates the tempo of the game through the first and fourth quarters. If Kobe gets his usual 8-10 shots in the first quarter, it will open up everything else because it will make Pop try to double him (we saw the Bruce Bowen is nowhere near a great defender when playing with Kobe as it showed in Game 1 – when he’s on , he’s ON). I would like to see an aggressive Kobeaster in the opening tip, because we know what will happen if he stays passive again (see Game 1 of the WC Finals).

    3)Play more zone.
    IF anything, the Spurs were 5-of-20 from the 3-pt line. I know they have Barry, Finley, Ginobili, and (sometimes)Parker, but we can live with that, since they have not that been consistent regarding the threes. We just need to close out on Duncan, try to make his fingers numb by not getting a feel on the ball. In that way, we can make Pop try to let Duncan get into the flow of the game, instantly producing jacked shots. That would really help us a lot.

    There’s my analysis and hope I can help. Have a great day.

  31. lol @ the fanalyst. Way to pat yourself on the back.

    Of course we’re nervous! That was a difficult win and we don’t see those type of comebacks very often. It’s crunch time and this series is a difficult one for both teams. this is the part where we’re all arms locked on the bench as we watch our teammate shoot the free throws that can determine the rest of the season. Hang on tight!

  32. SpurredOn-Good points, Pop is a great coach, I wonder if we see Manu go back to the bench

  33. Anyone else think Ginobili’s game was over in the first quarter because RadMan abused him for 10 points in the opening 12 minutes? I wonder if and just how much that affected him. Sasha played good D, but come on.. it’s Ginobili.

    Sporadic hard double-teams bother Duncan, need more of those implemented to kill his flow. I thought that we should have caused more turnovers by poking the ball out of his hands in the post.

    Welcome back Jordan, we’ve missed you.

  34. Mark the Filipino May 22, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    eyegore , I really credit Sasha with his tenacity in locking Manu down. Some would say because Manu was injured and everything, but we know that it was Sasha who played more heart than Manu, and it showed. It’s just that every great player always has problems with “another” player. And that “another” proved to be Aleksandir Vujacic. This series would be great, if you’ve noticed there were a lot of shoving and pushing that happened, but the refs were just great knowing that physicality would occur in this such series.

  35. Much like PJ does with Nash and Paul, it seemed like it was more important in the first half and much of the third quarter to not let anyone else get off and accept Duncan’s big game. That way in the fourth quarter the shooters aren’t in a great rhythm and Duncan can be doubled.

    For as much as Ginobili struggled, so did Fisher and Odom. I’m feeling good about our chances.

  36. Not sure if I saw anyone mention it during the comments in this or last post, but as I saw on 5tooltool:

    “Here’s the stat of the night, if not the millenium: Coach Phil Jackson is 40-0 when his team wins Game 1. Let that roll around your head for a second. 40-0.”

    I know that’s certainly what I thought after seeing that at the end of the TNT telecast.

  37. i’ve actually been very impressed with the way the spurs player and coach have responded to the series so far from the airplane incident to the loss yesterday. unlike other teams they have repeatedly said that they will not use lack of rest, travel incidents, and injuries as excuses for their loss. i admire their composure even when the press tries to bait them with questions about injuries and explanations for poor plays. it’s very similar to the composure they bring to their game as in the game 7 againt NO. No intimidation, desparation, or excuses. They just bring it and try their best. as great as i think the lakers are, i think they can definitely learn from these guys. (w/ exception to the dirty plays).

  38. It was a great win and all, but my inclination is to see Game 1 as an anomaly and not a sign of things to come. There were a couple of developments that were kind of buried by Kobe’s remarkable play.

    1. If Ginobili’s ankle is bothering him, do you think he will have to make certain adjustments?
    a. Will Popovich limit his drives to the basket and use him as a spot-up shooter?
    b. To create space and separate himself from his defender, will we see Ginobili initiate pick-and-rolls galore?
    c. What tactics will the Lakers employ to exploit/punish Ginobili for his lack of mobility?

    2. It seems like a lot of Spurs’ bloggers are taking more solid games from Duncan for granted. Is that a realistic assumption?
    a. Duncan is the embodiment of reliability, but against NO he had an up & down series. He overcame NO’s Tyson Chandler and their splendid defensive rotations in some games, but struggled in others.
    b. 41 minutes for Duncan last night. Can Pop afford to give him more rest? Will more minutes mean a decrease in productivity as the game progresses?

  39. Re the 40-0. That is impressive. But it should be lopsided for teams winning Game 1,as they basically only have to play .500 ball,while Game 1 Losers have to play at least .667 to win.

    As to future os Spurs,if I may,look at the 4 Western Semi-Finalists. La,Utah,and NO cores are all fairly young and we can easily imagine them dueling for supremacy for the next 4 yrs or so. I find it hard to see the Spurs core being so.(This has nothing to do w/the short term,but the next few yrs on.)
    LA in particular looks to be even stronger next yr w/out having to do anything as Bynum comes back,Gasol will have a whole yr w/team and this yrs’ Playoff run will be invaluable.
    SA will soon have cap room,but how will they use it. How many young up and coming players will sign w/SA knowing they will be FOURTH in the pecking order? Most emerging superstars want to emerge from the shadows and become the Man(see Kobe-Shaq for local example). So SA will prob end up signing older,solid vets who want a chance at a ring which does nothing to help their athleticism deficit. Plus there’s the little issue of Pops having some very firm views on who should be signed. Not signing Scola because they were alledgedly worried about his ego was a huge mistake. With others in the League raiding the Spurs front office,there will be few voices to argue w/Pops.

  40. kwame a – If I were Pop, I’d sit Manu out in game 2. His ankle won’t get anywhere near even 90% but three days of no play could get him healthy enough to finish this series the way he played in flashes vs. Phx and NO.

    #37 – You’re underestimating Pop and R.C. Buford. With the exception of the core guys, their second title was completely different from their first. Their third had a different bench & role players (Horry, Mohammed, Barry,Nesterovic) than second (Jackson, Claxton, Rose, Kerr, Willis) with more changes for the fourth (Finley, Vaughn, Oberto, Elson). They make big changes every two to three years and whether or not they win a title this season, there will be replacements for next year. Horry will retire; Finley will too or play limited minutes; Stoudamire will leave. They already have Mahinmi and Tiago Splitter. All Pop will do now is look for a quick backup PG, much like Farmar and perhaps another veteran shooter. The Spurs aren’t going anywhere with this ownership, head coach and GM running the show. They may not win the title every year (no one does) but they’ll be in the hunt and go about the right way: with fundamentals, toughness and class.

    As for Scola, I hadn’t heard about ego. The problem was his high salary for a guy whose best floor position is where Duncan plays. It became a bad investment. If you’re right about ego, Pop would rather lose the right way than try and win the wrong way. If you aren’t a team guy, take yourself too seriously or aren’t willing to play defense above all else, you won’t play for Pop. Remember, ego is what broke up the Lakers five years ago.

  41. Did anyone else feel that the NBA Cares golf commercial in game one was terribly uncomfortable to watch?

    And everyone should watch the game ending celebration in slow motion. It’s great. Ronny’s clap-grip conversation with Kobe looks completely awkward with Kobe giving an indulgent smile. Phil looks sadly ignored wishing someone would congratulate him on a well coached game but his team ignores him. Really kind of moving.

    Watching the Celtic and Piston game, love the argument between Mark Jackson and Van Gundy over keeping Ray Allen in after picking up his fifth.

    He’s finally hitting shots but then picks up his fifth. Do you take him out since it’s the third and you want him later in the game? Or do you keep him in because he is finally hitting his shots, you want him to keep that confidence going, and aren’t sure that he’ll regain it if he’s taken out?

    This is why I wish Jackson and Van Gundy were calling the Lakers and Spurs series. There were a few moments in game one where I wished I could hear their take on the sequence. Though it’s a terrible thing to wish, I admit that hope Van Gundy never coaches again just so he can call games. He’s that good.

    26- Amen.

  42. BTW – I have been really wanting to rewatch Lakers games from the 2000 season. Not just highlights, I’m talking games from beginning to end. Anyone know where I can find these? Is there any way?

  43. Hey guys. I will be doing the Live Blog of the Lakers-Spurs Game 2.

    You’re all welcome to join.

    It’s open right now. :)

    http://markemmanuel.blogspot.com/2008/05/lakers-spurs-live-blog-game-2.html

  44. Everyone who wants to participate in my live blog of the Lakers-Spurs Game 2?

    http://markemmanuel.blogspot.com/2008/05/lakers-spurs-live-blog-game-2.html

    Have fun. It’s on right now. Just a little bit of talking happening.

    It would be great if i would have guys like you there. :)

  45. Join my live blog of the game 2 of Lakers-Spurs.

    Just click my screen name. :)

    I need smart guys like people here.

    for kurt – what i was talking about is the live blog. :)

  46. Warren Wee Lim May 22, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    Mark the Filipino, so you’re prolly the 2nd Filipino on this blog eh? Welcome to THE blog.

    I think it would also be fitting to credit how the Lakers adjusted to Tony Parker’s penetration in the 1st Q. That frenchman is simply un-guardable and those teardrops are impossible to block and defend. On the defensive end, you kinda like TP to shoot those teardrops the whole game but it always breaks your heart to find out how incredibly efficient those shots are actually for him. That got the Spurs going.

    As usual, the Lakers are having a hard time with quick guards. With Farmar resurfacing offensively and being decent with TP, Phil made quite a pep talk with the young guy. I think both he and Sasha were the unsung heroes of that game – aside from Kobe’s (using a tonystarks line here) unbaweebabol performance. Of course the +/- showed, but its nice to have guys from the bench that we can count on.

    And so its off to game 2. Its the adjusting with the adjustments game. A chess-lover like me loves these counter-stategies being worked on. Who better to do these than Pop and Phil.

    GO Lakers!

  47. Warren Wee Lim May 22, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    I think it matters to us – Detroit just stole game 2 from the C’s. They were essentially the better team to start with, now they have homecourt.

    For obvious reasons, we like the Celtics more than Detroit. Aside from the fact that the C’s will have no answer for Kobe (who does? well, Prince bothers him), Stern’s dream Final might just turn into a nightmare. But for as long as the Lakers are the other half of that equation, I think all is well in the NBA.

  48. As is always the case, I usually want to face the team that didn’t actually advance. I wanted Houston, I wanted NO, and in the finals I want whichever team it is that didn’t make it. Matchups are important, but in the end, i want to face a team that folded ;)

    Spurs will be the Spurs. They’re still human, so I don’t really think this 20 pt comeback had 0 effect on them, but I’d be fooling myself if I thought they will fold now. I think it may work both way – in another game where they’re up 20, they may remember this game and not give us an opening; or, they’ll lose composure every time we make a little run. Unfortunately, I don’t expect the latter to happen, just as I don’t expect the Lakers to be complacent now and play lackadaisically until they’re down 20 just because they’ve been there.

    Still, the game was worth a lot in that Kobe showed he has trust in both himself and his teammates now (‘If i can get it back to 10, my teammates will finish,’ or something to that effect) and that he won’t necessarily take what the defense gives him just because it’s there.
    .

  49. SpurredOn,
    Don’t know if this is appropriate forum for a discussion on Spurs,but here goes.
    I give a tremendous amount of credit to Pops and the Spurs organization for staying excellent for so long. But the backbone of the run has been TD and even he will start to slow down,as he’s shown signs of this yr.
    Meanwhile LA,NO,Utah have young cores-and supporting casts. The Spurs have very few athletic youngs in the pipeline. The most recent additions you mentioned-including Thomas-are pretty far along in their careers.
    And do you seriously believe Pop will bring in a young PG to be the back-up on a contenting team? Why isn’t there one now? More to my point,the Spurs have 2-count ‘em two-players who were born in the 1980’s who have played in this yrs’ Playoffs. Matt Bonner has 1 game appearance and Tony Parker is the other. All the rest were born in the 70’s.
    Meanwhile LA has 8 born in 80’s plus Bynum and Ariza. Utah has 8 plus Fesenko and Almond.
    “My” Rockets played 7 born in 80s and Yao was born in 1980.
    What I’m saying is the Spurs are OLD. And old vet teams have a nasty tendency to get bad old very fast.

  50. Stephen – Pop worries about talent, not age. All those young lineups don’t mean a thing if they don’t grow up and mature as players and a unit. End of the day, everyone must have a 1-A super-duper star to win a title (Duncan, Kobe, Jordan, Magic etc.) Then you must have a 1-B type star as a compliment (Manu, Pippen, Worthy) or three of those guys with a great coach.

    Pop isn’t looking for a super-duper till Duncan is done, not that they are easy to find. But he always finds role players and they’ve done great drafting the second tier stars (Manu) and third options (Parker and the two incoming) so they’ll always be in it. They didn’t sign Horry or FInley with a goal of them being around for ten years. They’ll continue to supplement the roster with those kinds of players along with draft choices. For all the drafting by the Lakers, without the Gasol trade they aren’t in the WCF. They too could use a veteran to offset the youth of their guys. For all the youth on your Rockets, they haven’t made the 2nd round sense I don’t know how long. The Jazz are in good shape but have poor team speed and need D-Will to be super-duper cause Boozer is not. New Orleans must find the type of players the Spurs excel in having cause their bench is too short on talent and experience.

  51. First of all, I think the Lakers could have made the WCF w/o Gasol if Bynum and Ariza were healthy. They only had the best record in the conference before the injury.

    Be that as it may, I do agree with SpurredOn in that it would be foolish for anyone to count out the Spurs for the next few years as far as being contenders. As long as you have the core of Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker…….you got a pretty good shot. However, I can’t help but feel that this year is the Spurs last run at a championship. Its not like I don’t think they’ll compete and be considered one of the Top 5 teams in the West…….but the other teams are better equipped to beat the Spurs. In the West, there are too many athletic, young, long, and quick teams. Especially at the Center/PF position (Oden/Alridge, LO/Bynum/Gasol, Chandler/West, etc.) which will to a certain degree neutralize an older and less mobile Duncan. Now, this is not to say that Duncan is over the hill and has nothing left to contribute. On the contrary, he is only 32 yrs old has probably 2-3 good more years left. But, I think its inevitable that the Spurs will start falling in the course of the next few years towards the middle of the pack.

    Anyway you slice…….even if the Spurs were able to re-tool……….there is no way any team can match the Lakers future dynasty the next 3-4 years. We are just solid in every position and too versatile.

  52. magic days (37): Any team will say it had no effect, that they’re making no excuses. That’s nothing. The real question is, what are they saying to themselves in the locker room? I think a less experienced team doesn’t believe their own words when they say something like that, while I think the Spurs do. They know what they’re capable of under the circumstances, because they’ve been here lots of times.

    SpurredOn (50): Pop, or at least the Spurs braintrust, is always looking for some super, because it’s silly not to be looking all the time. But you’re right that they won’t bust the team until Duncan is done, or at least in rampdown mode the way the Admiral was for his last run. By bust the team, I mean only Duncan is sacred. I can’t see that guy playing for anyone else. Hard to see Parker or Ginobili playing anywhere else, either, but it’s at least conceivable.

  53. It may be so that the Spurs is the rare team that can shrug off a devastating loss. But the psychological impact of the game is mainly in reinforcing the Laker’s belief that they can persevere against SA – which should help them at the Alamo.

    Vladrad was the only starter to show up and kept the Lakers afloat in the 1st quarter. Without his 10 points, who knows if the Lakers’ comeback would have been enough

    During the game thread I wrote that the Spurs are the best pnr defensive team in the league, yet the Lakers kept going to it. I think in the 3rd, the Spurs stole the ball on consecutive possessions by anticipating the bounce pass to a cutting Gasol off the pnr. “Run the triangle” I wrote then and I hope they do more.

    Before the game, I thought that Fish’s +50% from 3 was likely to revert back to the mean. But didn’t write it to avoid being called out as a jinxer. I hope he bounces back but Fish usually sustains his streak, good or bad, for a few games.

    Curiously, the Laker’s ability to close out on the 3 point shooters was consistently good all game regardless whether they covered Duncan solo (1st 3 quarters) or doubled him (4th). In fact, the close out of the corner 3 was better in the 4th. Not sure why this should be so until I can review the game but however they did this – do it again.

  54. 1) Every time I read something about Manu’s injury, I think that Popovich should seat him to let him rest for the Olympics…

    2) Spurs have a great organization but they made a big mistake with Scola. I still do not understad why they gave it for free to Houston.

    3) I expect an improvement game for Odom and Fisher tonight (sorry, in the Buenos Aires the game is at 10PM).

    4) I like this series. I watched yesterday Detroit-Boston and I think that the Spurs are the best opponent we could find in a way to the finals because of their tough defence.

  55. Warren Wee Lim May 23, 2008 at 6:28 am

    The Spurs are a fiscally sound team that is conscious of the tax line, making money and keeping a class A team all in one process. Mistakes like Scola to Houston happens once in a while and while they are that good fiscally, they are human still.

    In some sort of way, the Spurs did another thing that compromised their ability to “refresh”. Like Phoenix, they keep on stashing or selling their picks just to be “fiscally sound” as I described them. They did trade their 09 1st + Elson for Kurt Thom (who has to be negotiated with a new contract) next year.

    At some point, the Spurs need to cash in on Manu or TP (I can’t foresee Duncan getting traded – ever!) and do some sort of rebuild/retool-on-the-fly. It would be another 2-3 years with the same old guys but it would have to go under an overhaul or a massive re-tool soon.

  56. Great discussion guys. I honestly do not believe that the Spurs will fold. They are too stubborn to do that. Whatsmore we have to understand their motivation source. Yes, they have 4 rings, but they have not won a back to back, they are not getting any younger, and they probably believe that they should and could have won it every year since Shaq left L.A. and I would say that they have a fair point.

    Spurs are a perfectly constructed team with ideal discipline and a superstar that is almost impossible to guard. These 3 things add up to a perfect winning formula. If you look at SA players most of them would not even have made the rosters of other playoff teams. But hey they are still in the playoffs right?

    I think doubting the Spurs only makes them more hungry and better. Tim Duncan knows that he is on a downer side of his decline. He knows he probably has 2-3 more cracks at championship and then he will just have to hang them up.

    Popovich knows that about Duncan too. SA does not have the comfort of UTAH or NO of knowing that this is a learning experience and their youngsters will be even better next year. SA simply does not have that luxury. What they do have, thouh, is the fact that they can bounce back from anything and beat anyone in any game. And that is the most valuable ( I would say priceless) thing to have for a playoff team.

    We can all be happy about the great comeback. We can all cheer about the heart we showed. We can all hope that Spurs will be mentally devastated. We can pray that LO and Fish will show up in the next games and will make us even better. We can feel good that we held SA to 12 pts in the 4th, about the fact that Kobe took only 3 shots in the 1st half and we still won, about how the fans got crazy in the end. But…

    At the end of the day, until LA wins a game in SA nothing is certain. Because just like the NO series, Spurs are scary with their ability to win any given game.

    Having said that, I think these Lakers are different from PHX stars, and NO young guns. Phil Jackson is too good to let Pop steal one from him. PJ knows that winning on the road ( I expect in game 4) will completely take away all the confidence from the Spurs. I think Phil had a huge sigh of relief last night. He treats the home games as Ws for sure. He simply can not afford to give Pop any kind of advantage to exploit.

    As much as I dislike (but utmostly respect at the same time) the Spurs, I think the Lakers have too good of a coaching staff to let the players fold just like it happened in NO in game 7. Spurs will try to extend the series for as long as possible. I just do not think Lakers should play cat and mouse game with them. I say Lakers in 5 after a beautiful Game 4 win in SA

  57. 31. Thank you nomuskles for taking notice of a novice Nostradamus. Of course I re-posted my predictions in jest and make no claim to actual clairvoyant powers.

    That said, I’ve always enjoyed your live blogs and hope to have another here soon in this series. What can we expect? My feelings say Game 3 will inspire you to write…

  58. This Little Pinky May 23, 2008 at 9:19 am

    Something to watch for tonight, the Spurs may adjust to the Kobe-Gasol pick and roll, and Duncan may sag into the paint to cut of any lobs, in which case, Gasol, smart player that he is, will pick and pop, instead of pick and roll. I hope his 15 foot shot is on.

  59. For tonight, we need to force Manu right and make him take the mid range shot. Planting on his bum ankle will (1) be very difficult and (2) cause more damage to the injury. Making him push off at least two times every time he looks to be aggressive on offense should greatly limit his effectiveness. I would be also in favor of attacking Manu on D, and making him plant and push off the bum ankle. Drive to the side opposite to the bad ankle.

    Or maybe pull a Pop and have DJ Mbenga sweep the leg. This is the real problem with the Spurs style. In order to compete against them, we must adopt their mentality and kick them where they are down. Poor sportsmanship may be ethically questionable, but it certainly helps to win championships. I don’t want to see Manu actually get hurt, but hey, it’s a contact sport. (At least, that’s what a Spurs fan would say).

    Spurs need TD, Parker, and Manu to get theirs in order to have enough firepower to deal with the Lakers’ offensive onslaught. Without Manu, the task of scoring more than the Lake Show gets considerably more challenging.

  60. Game 2 preview/chat post us up. And sorry Dan, no Punch Out references this time.

  61. i watch the game last night in my home with my mother and i must say the magic are playing the same cards. and the are playing the same type of a game were they can try to win but they just can not that is a sad day and here i been a magic fan cents 1990 threw 1995. and they still could never win a game and know they just never going to get those supper bowl basket ball rings becuase they still can not win a game with the old time or with the new team and they want a new basket ball building to play in and i think they do not desver it on tell they can prove they can win avery game. i am no long a magic fan i am sorry that how i feel no only did they fall as a team they let there fands down to. and they let down nick andrewson the onl magic player and the orlando mayer down to we the people and the magic spend ower money so we can surort a team they can warm up avery year and every day so get were they are and they keep loseing this a very sorry team i will not spend any of my money on the magic or the magic stuff they give to you.