Warriors at their show-stopping best; Spurs will rally
Posted: Monday April 23, 2007 4:02PM; Updated: Monday April 23, 2007 6:00PM
1. Which of the following Game 1 road winners has the best chance of scoring a first-round upset?
Let's be straight: If the Nets knock off the Raptors, it won't be much of an upset (see below).
I'm going to argue that the No. 8 Warriors have a better shot at reaching the next round than do the No. 6 Nuggets in their series against San Antonio (see below).
2. Lemme get this straight. You're the guy who complains that there are never enough upsets in the NBA playoffs. And now, one game into said playoffs, you're predicting No. 8 will beat No. 1 for the first time ever in a best-of-seven series?
ANSWER: I'm predicting no such thing. The Warriors have the better chance, but the bottom line is that neither they nor the Nuggets are going to win their series.
The Mavericks aren't going to let their title hopes die in the first round. Example: Dirk Nowitzki won't keep going 4-for-16 (14 points) as he did in the opening 97-85 loss Sunday.
The Warriors were running a second defender at Nowitzki as soon as he picked up his dribble. "The one thing Dallas can do,'' an NBA advance scout said, "is post him up deeper where he doesn't have to put the ball on the floor. Either that or have him face up and shoot without dribbling.''
The Warriors are doubling Nowitzki after he's used up his dribble and is anchored to the floor. It isn't going to be a major hardship for him to attack or pass before the second defender arrives: Many of Nowitzki's drills with lifelong trainer Holger Geschwindner are spent shooting from awkward positions without putting the ball on the floor. He'll be much more effective in Game 2.
3. How much fun is it to watch Baron Davis and the Warriors?
When you see the Warriors pushing the ball and making outrageous threes, it's like watching them slam a vault door shut on the 1990s when the game was slow and ugly and skilled players were being purged from rosters in favor of hostile defenders.
Am I reading too much into one game? Maybe, but it seems like a tipping point has been reached and offensive skill is again paramount. Every guy the Warriors throw out there -- even young rebounder Andris Biedrins -- is attacking the basket one way (or in multiple ways, in the cases of Davis, Jason Richardson, Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington and Matt Barnes) or another. The league hasn't recreated the fluid style of the Golden 1980s -- we'll never see anything quite as good as the old Lakers-Celtics -- but at least teams like the Warriors are scoring and running again.
5. You make it sound like the Warriors are the only team doing this. What about the Suns, the Nuggets and the Nets? They're all trying to run.
ANSWER: And what do they all have in common? The ball is in the hands of point guards or team leaders who have the confidence of their coaches.
They get the ball and run, instead of looking over to the bench every single possession for a play to be called by the coach. It makes sense to run because the scouting is so pervasive and opponents know where the ball is going based on the play calls. Better for the offensive team to run and attack before defenders can settle in their trenches.
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