The third option
Spurs, Knicks have two scorers apiece -- who will be No. 3?
Posted: Wednesday June 23, 1999 11:36 AM
Half full, half empty | Storylines | The Bandwagon
By John Donovan, CNN/SI
| English Lesson
| Alex English, an eight-time
All-Star with the Denver
Nuggets, takes a look ahead to Wednesday's Game 4 of the NBA Finals.
NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks, back in this thing, can even up the series if they concentrate on doing a few things right.
1.) They have to continue to play aggressively. If they can get the Spurs in foul trouble, like they did in Game 3, then that give Allan Houston some room to operate.
2.) They need that third scorer, someone to step up like Larry Johnson did in Game 3. If the Knicks proved anything in Games 1 and 2, it's that Houston and Latrell Sprewell can't do it alone.
3.) Somehow, they have to find some time for Sprewell and Houston to sit down, which probably means getting out to a good start again. These guys are playing a lot of minutes. They're going to wear down sooner or later unless coach Jeff Van Gundy can get them a breather.
Here's what the San Antonio Spurs have to do to win Game 4.
1.) They have to get some calls. Coach Gregg Popovich needs to work the refs now. Van Gundy started working them last week. If the Knicks are shooting more free throws than them, if the Spurs find themselves in foul trouble, then New York is going to be hard to beat.
2.) Turnovers. They have to cut down on them. They had 20 in Game 3, which resulted in 18 New York points. Can't do it.
3.) Someone on the bench has to come through. Antonio Daniels did a nice job for them in Game 3, both offensively and defensively. Popovich ought to think about playing him some more, since Jaren Jackson is not getting it done for the Spurs like he did in Game 1.
Alex English is the NBA analyst for CNN/SI, the 24-hour sports news network from CNN and Sports Illustrated. Check back on Thursday for his recap of Game 4.
This is a special NBA Finals edition of "The Week at a Glance." Check
back every day until the Finals are decided for a new glance.
NEW YORK -- There are stars, so far, for both teams in these NBA Finals.
There are the Twin Towers for the San Antonio Spurs, of course -- Tim Duncan and David Robinson. And there is the Terrific Twosome of the New York Knicks -- Latrell Sprewell and Allan Houston.
After that, when it comes to scorers on both teams, it gets a little shaky.
As the NBA Finals churn into the middle games -- Game 4 is Wednesday night, Game 5 Friday evening -- it's becoming clear that each team needs someone to come through besides their big guys.
Who will be the scoring heroes in the next few games? Who will be willing to take the big shots?
"When my opportunity comes around to play, I try to make the most of it, in any way possible," said the Spurs' Antonio Daniels. "If we are behind, try to get us back in, give us that edge, get our team back ahead or give us that little push."
Here are some possibilities for good understudies to the main scorers:
Knicks forward Marcus Camby has done a lot -- seven points, seven rebounds a game -- but foul trouble has limited his playing time. He's fouled out of two of the games and had five in the other. But he can make a game-changing dunk in the blink of an eye.
Spurs guard Daniels made all three of his shots in Game 3 -- including two 3-pointers -- and finished with eight points. He may be the best backup defender, too, on the Knicks' Houston.
The Knicks' Larry Johnson had 16 points in the Knicks' win Monday in Game 3, though he made only six of his 16 shots. Hobbled by a bad knee, he had scored only 10 points in the first two games -- including a 2-for-12 non-showing in Game 2.
In Game 1, San Antonio's Jaren Jackson nailed five huge 3-pointers and scored 17 points in the Spurs' win. He has scored a total of three points in the two games since his big debut.
Knicks forward Kurt Thomas is primarily a defender, but he's active enough where he could score some points to hurt the Spurs. He had 13 in Game 1, but only four since. He is a rebounder to be dealt with, though.
Spurs forward Sean Elliott is capable, but he hasn't scored more than 10 points in a game this series. He was San Antonio's third-leading scorer in the regular season, at 11.2 points a game, but he's been concentrating on stopping Sprewell.
There are others -- Spurs guard Mario Elie, who came through with 15 points in Game 2, for instance -- but if the big scorers are going to get help, it probably will be from the list above.
"Every time I'm coming in, I'm trying to make plays for other people. That's my role," Daniels said. "[But] if the opportunity is there for me, I have to make the best of it."
| Half full, half empty
| New York City |
The good : No place on the planet knows any more about the NBA, or basketball in general, as does New York.
The bad: If you're the NBA, you'd like the NBA Finals to be centerstage. Like they are in San Antonio. Here, they're just an outpost on the entertainment map.
| The spotlight |
The good : Now that the Stanley Cup has been decided, with football still weeks away and baseball trudging through its regular season, these NBA Finals are the biggest show on earth.
The bad : In Games 1 and 2, the NBA hardly put its best foot forward. And name a really exciting individual to root for in this series.
| Storylines We'll Be Following
All the New York Knicks need is one win, either Wednesday in Game 4 or in Game 5 Friday, to force this thing back to San Antonio for Game 6 and, possibly, Game 7. We'll find out Wednesday whether NBC gets a Sunday night game.
Finally in the starting lineup, Marcus Camby provides the ups -- both mentally and physically -- that the Knicks need. Can he stay out of foul trouble? Will he be any good to the Knicks if he's not his reckless self? Can the Spurs come up with an answer for him?
Chris Childs is hobbled and may not play in Game 4. Or he'll play only a little. That leaves the Knicks point guard duties up to Charlie Ward, the former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback from Florida State. Can he handle the job by himself? Most consider him lacking in several areas, though he is the starter. Can he pick up his defense and take care of the ball?
| The Bandwagon
|Free throws||At least for the Knicks, it seems|
|The NY cheers|| "So-and-so sucks" has lost its charm|
Rules changes ||The BW is for trying anything to spice this up|
|Courtside celebs||Do these people get an appearance fee?|
|Nathan's||The best dogs in any arena|