Posted: Monday May 16, 2005 11:45AM; Updated: Monday May 16, 2005 11:57AM
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Strangely, in many ways this philosophy has led to the Spurs having a tendency to play just above the level of their opponent. For instance, they weren't the most explosive offensive team this year, averaging just 96.2 points per game, putting them in the middle third of the NBA, behind the Raptors and Bucks, among others. But they were the best defensive team in the league, holding opponents to 88.4 points per game, 1.5 fewer than Detroit.
When the Spurs lose, they either lose by a few points right at the end, or they get behind early and just kind of pack it in. They did the former in Game 3 and the latter in Game 4.
None of this is meant to diminish what the Sonics have done. After trying to outrun the Spurs in San Antonio, the Sonics shifted their style these last two games in Seattle and got physical, which no one suspected they'd try. All season they'd been Phoenix-lite, a run-and-gun team with fewer outside threats than the Suns but more interior depth and hustle (from Reggie Evans, particularly). Then they became the Bad Boys, and they out-muscled the Spurs, even without a couple of their key players.
At the same time, the Spurs have come out for the last two games completely dispassionate and cooler than cool (ice cold, even). In Game 4, aside from Duncan, Parker and Ginobili, the other Spurs went a combined 11-for-30 from the field. (Seattle reserve Damien Wilkins had seven field goals by himself.)
The two losses are the Spurs' wake-up call. Now they've got a big green-and-yellow boulder in front of them. And you can bet that right now, the Spurs are somewhere figuring out a way to crack it wide open.
Game Of The Week
For those of you pining for the return of the NHL, we give you air hockey!
Caption Of The Week
I was thinking about some way to involve readers more, because when you write to me it's always great stuff. So this week we'll launch a new running item: The Caption Contest. Send in your best captions for this picture, and I'll run the best next week and give you another pic to riff on.
This is ridiculously simple and a great office time-killer. (Not that, um, I'd know.) A hint: It's much easier if you click the help button and play with your keyboard instead of the mouse. Although, using only the mouse lets you know what it must feel like to be Rick Allen.