Commentary, news, analysis and reader-driven discussions focusing on this year's NBA playoffs.
Spurs point guard Tony Parker looked at Elson in disbelief. The little point guard even stomped his foot. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich immediately called timeout.
The Spurs were winning by, I think, 15 points at the time.
That otherwise insignificant play speaks volumes as to why San Antonio is up 2-0 over the Jazz and looking like a good bet to make its fourth NBA Finals appearance in nine years.
The Spurs are all business right now. They are paying attention to detail. They are not giving Utah an inch.
San Antonio dominated Game 2 in pretty much the same fashion it did in Game 1. Tim Duncan held down the middle at both ends, Parker flashed into the paint at will, and Manu Ginobili continued his hot shooting. The Spurs shot nearly 56 percent from the floor, slightly better than their 54 percent mark in Game 1.
The good news for the Jazz? They’re headed back home to raucous Energy Solutions Arena, where they have a 37-10 record (6-0 in the postseason). They’ve also got three days until the next game, so there is ample time to regroup and try to figure out how to get back in the series.
Utah’s first priority has to be to slow Parker. The little Frenchman is killing the Jazz with his penetration, especially on the pick and roll. Every time Utah got close in the fourth quarter Tuesday night, Parker drove in and found somebody (Bruce Bowen in the corner, three times) for a wide open look at the basket.
The Jazz had some success slowing Parker in the second half by trapping the pick and roll, especially when Andrei Kirilenko or Paul Millsap were on the floor. Those two Jazz defenders have the combination of quick feet and long arms to at least disrupt Parker’s rhythm. However he does it, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan needs to come up with something.
Millsap could get a longer look. The 6-8 rookie’s energy and hustle sparked Utah late when it made a run to cut the Spurs' lead to seven. He even drew a charge on Parker, marking the first time anybody in Jazz blue had done anything all night to slow the San Antonio speedster.
Another tweak Sloan might make would be to station Okur out beyond the three-point line whenever the Spurs put Duncan on him. If San Antonio is going to try to get away with putting the 7-foot Duncan on Okur instead of Boozer, as it did at the start of Game 1 and for stretches of Game 2, the Jazz have to make him pay. Put Okur behind the stripe and let him fire away. If nothing else, it would force Duncan to move out from the paint and maybe open things up for Jazz cutters.
Utah is a tough-minded team, as it showed all season by rallying from double-digit deficits a league-best 17 times to win during the regular season. The Jazz also came back from a 2-0 deficit against the Rockets in the first round. Finally, they can draw hope from the fact that as badly as they were outplayed most of the time in San Antonio, they still managed to get within eight points in both Games 1 and 2.
But only a handful of teams in NBA history have come back from a 2-0 deficit in the conference finals. The Spurs, moreover, don’t look like the kind of outfit that will unravel even in the crazy din of Utah’s snakepit. As they showed in their reactions to that simple botched pick-and-roll defense in the second quarter Tuesday night, they aren’t messing around.
posted by SI.com | View comments |
I totally agree. Spurs are so good. They do not need any help to win the playoffs. They are going to win anyway. Popovich was absolutely right to tell Stu Jackson to buzz off when he told Bowen to stop stepping under jump shooters. And what the hell was Crawford doing, ejecting Duncan. According to league rules, a referee cannot eject a player for ridiculing him. And Stern had no choice but to suspend Crawford. It's not like he has a good repute among players or something. And stop the crying and whining people, unless it draws blood and breaks a bone, it aint a foul; it's just playoff basketball. Have you ever seen Duncan complaining? He understands the league's directive at the start of the season and being a model NBA player he never disagrees with the refs. Stoudmire and Diaw both deserved their punishment. They should have stayed on the bench. The refs would have handled it. Just like they have been handling the complete playoffs.
SPURS!!! No chance for Utah this time, but, there's always next year!!
I was watching the game and what struck me as odd was Sloan stubbornly holding on to his slow down half court game plan, and the refusal to push upcourt or employ some sort of press defense over the final 2 minutes when they were down about 11 or so. Clearly he's a legend, and has nothing but my respect, but I thought on the surface it looked like the gameplan could ve shifted a gear or two at the end.
Instead of meekly finishing up the game (and fouling in the last 17 seconds? when they did not foul before? what was that about?).
Another probably silly thought: what will happen if you put AK on parker for short bursts during the game, to throw him off? Of course its a foot-speed mismatch, but parker's lower percentage jumpers mean AK can step back and use his length to make up for the speed difference? Maybe?
Also, Memo needs to show up. Can't we pop him further out more often maybe? Threat @ 3?
Duncan is the best player in the post season! Boozer looks to be the second best! No one in the East even comes close! if boozer stayed in Cleveland, that would be SCARY!!
Duncan not a complainer? I love the guy and the way the Spurs play but Duncan's always been a whiner.
Crawford was out of line and deserved his suspension and Duncan is an awesome player - but let's not lose sight of reality.
Interesting that the Spurs are killing the Jazz with the pick and roll.
The best thing about this series is that the Suns' whining has faded. How can you lose to a team 6 of 9 over the course of 1 year and still maintain that you're a better team (with a straight face)? It's delusional. The Jazz have the core of a really good young team, but the Spurs are gonna be too much for them this time around. It's hard to beat the best defensive team in the league when they shoot 54% and 56% from the field. The Williams and Boozer combo has worlds of potential, though.. Utah is going to be good for a while. San Antonio is just too good right now at both ends.
Have we ever seen Mr. Tim Duncan complain? Are you kidding? He complains all the time. Great player though.
Utah has a very good team, but a young team. The Spurs on the other hand have a great team with experience. They've been there before and know what it takes. They won the NBA Championships in 1999, 2003, 2005, so they're due. They seem to like the odd numbered years don't they? Give Utah a year or two and they may be the next dominant team. The Spurs are currently the oldest team in the league so, their time is running out. Maybe 3 to 4 more good years and it's back to the Draft Lottery. Go SPURS!!!!
I don't think Duncan complains. It's simply a matter of perspective. Duncan may question close calls, many of which are confirmed to be non-fouls on the replay, but I wouldn't liken it to complaining or whining.
I would like to see the NBA direct their cameramen to focus less on player complaining/questioning. A lot of players do it, as you can clearly tell by attending live games. But on TV, they seem to focus on Duncan a lot, which falsely enhances his bogus reputation as a "complainer."
Fans don't seem to like it, so why show it on TV?
Spurs are not the oldest team in the league.
Though I truly wish this was the actual "probable" finals, that is, Dallas and San Antonio (Dallas had a 3-1 edge in the season and S.A. is on a mission, it would have been a stupendous series, as was last year's semis) it is a pleasure to watch Real Basketball. San Antonio plays the way the game should be played, unselfishly, focused and driven.
The upstart Warriors were exposed quick when they played a team w/no head trip against them, and the Suns were again exposed as well. (don't give me "they were hosed" crap, in a 7 game series there were suspensions for ONE, a champion finds a way. Last year Jason Terry was suspended for the Mavs and they still beat S.A. in 7!)
However, never count out a hard fighting/coached Sloan team. He gives 'em guts and playing in SLC is a drag for all NBA teams. Still, I look for the Spurs to handle their bizness 4-1.
W/no Mavs, alas, it's no shame to say, GO SPURS!
Going back to the Phoenix series, with people saying the Suns were robbed because of suspensions, Nash's bloody nose, etc., there were NO GUARANTEES that the Suns would have won even with a full roster - yet people talk as if the Suns should have won. The Suns had their full roster in the final game and still weren't good enough to beat the Spurs in Texas (again, no guarantees the Suns would have won at home either). Now the Spurs have moved on to dominate a very good Utah team which clearly doesn't match up well with SA in the same way Golden State didn't match up with Utah. Golden State was at least competitive with Utah with several close games plus one blowout. Barring Duncan's plantar fasciitis last year and Ginobli's untimely foul on Nowitzky in the last minutes of the Western Conference Finals, the Spurs would have gone on to the NBA finals. I look forward to San Antonio in the Finals this year, in their customary odd year championship run. The gap may be closing but (when healthy) The Spurs are still the best team in the West and most likely the best in the NBA.
The scary part is that the Spurs have depth hidden in other places. They still have rights to Luis Scola and still have Ian Mihinme waiting, both of which may join the team next year, and they may still make a play for another player in the offseason. This is a team that still has a 2-3 year window to dominate. GO SPURS GO!!!
I am very surprised! I thought Phoenix Suns fans were going to hit these blogs with little to no remorse all during the West Finals and talk about how it should Suns with a 2-0 lead vs Jazz. Jazz/Suns would probably be tied 1-1 going into game 3 in Utah because Jazz are the baby Spurs and they play physical and as well know by now Suns hate when you play defense on them.
Yea the Spurs are just too good. They are deep with Horry and Ginobili or Oberto coming off the bench. They have the triple threat with Duncan, Parker, Ginobili. Bowen on defense.
The Spurs will win it all.
I live in SLC and find it funny how the Jazz fans keep rationalizing the Jazz play. After game 1 they kept saying the spurs are scared and the Jazz have figured them out. If you cant play any defense though you aren't going to win any playoff series
The Spurs aren't the oldest team in the league? I guess you're talking about the organization being in the NBA or something, b/c the average age of the Spurs is ~30 years old, the highest average age of any team in the league.
Spurs rounded into form in just the right way. Best team after the all star break and they have kicked it up a notch in the playoffs. The 3 star palyers are great, but what impresses me more are their role players. They work hard and contribute in so many ways. As for Duncan, I don't see him as a whiner or complainer at all. He does exactly what I see many others do. His denial or disbelief is aimed at working the refs. If he were a whiner, you would be hearing it in the interview room or the locker room. But that is not Tim. No excuses and no crying. I had not seen too much of Utah, until playoffs. They are young, but they have awesome players in Williams and Boozer. Those guys will be superstars in this league. A little more experience and at least another player who shows up every night and the Jazz will be formidible. With all the better teams in the West, the NBA may have to consider dividing the league North and South, just so the best playoff series don't happen before the end of May.
Spurs are the best team out there....Phoenix was just a pretender...they don't have the killer instincts of the Spurs.
What I don't get is why everybody keeps calling the Spurs "vanilla" and boring. Did they miss the incredible passing? The reverse Finley dunk? The slashing and dashing of Mr. Longoria? The in-your-face blocks from Duncan and Horry? Enough already! Spurs play great basketball and fun to watch. They're at least vanilla with sprinkles! ~stevieb
I guess the regular season rumors of the Spurs' demise, as told by the media, were greatly exaggerated.
I am a SPURS fan and I have been pretty impressed with the way they have been playing offensively, but one thing that concerns me is there inability to play their typical shut down D, especially over the past few games. The SPURS shooting touch can disappear as quickly as it surfaces, but they are such a good team because when it does disappear, and it inevitably will, they rely on that shut down D to keep them in it util the 4th where they can try and make a late offensive run. So while I'm happy there up 2-0 on there way to SLC, I won't be at ease until they can steal one in UTAH.
What I can't understand is why everyone is commenting on the Suns and the Mavericks! Guess what they are out of the playoffs! Talk about this series, and leave the what if the mavs were still in it; they are not leave it alone! Spurs-Jazz is a great matchup with plenty to talk about!
Let's shout "Champions" again! The San Antonio Spurs come from a very well organization, great leadership, and great coaching. I don't consider Duncan as a someone who always complains. Hey.....have you seen how Rasheed Wallace, Marcus Camby, and all the other big men complain and really go after the referees....NOW THAT'S WHINING AND COMPLAING.... You really gotta give it to the SPURS, because of their thrive to win as a team!!!
Let's be honest though... Duncan hasn't been able to complain to a ref since Joey Crawford was suspended. He hasn't been able to open his mouth a ref since then...and the Jazz are in trouble since the Spurs seem to get bored during the game and let them come back before the Spurs raise the level of intensity to keep them at a distance. They just need to win one in Salt Lake and finish off the Jazz in 5.
The guy who originally said that Duncan never whines was being sarcastic. Then Spurs fans (and only they could see it this way) agree with the statement and defend Duncan. Hilarious.
As for the Jazz, what they need to do is obvious -- stop dribble penetration. Unfortunately, the solution isn't easy.
But they could start by defending the pick and roll much lower (no reason Deron should be at the 3-pt line guarding Parker, as Van Gundy said ad nasuem). Also, I like the idea of rotating defenders (Fisher, Williams, AK).
The Jazz have been awful -- sick of Spurs fans' patronizing comments about how Utah is competing well. They're playing like donkeys.
Spurs-Suns was the NBA Western Conference finals, if not the real NBA Finals (giving credit to the Pistons, also worthy finalists) - and it was a ruined. Deep down everybody knows that had those suspensions not happened, the Suns had the better chance to advance, history or no history between those two teams - at the time of this particular encounter, there was very little to separate the two, but still I think Phoenix was on the edge of a breakthrough having won game 4 in the manner in which they did, and having regained home-field advantage. But now we won't know, at least until next year if the two teams meet under similar conditions. It was a real shame that things happened as they did (I don't believe it was a conspiracy or a travesty, but I'm sorry that more flexibility isn't built into the rules or at least into the mind of the Comissioner), as that series was shaping up to be a classic, and now the feeling is more "inconclusive" than anything. Hopefully there will be a second Spurs-Suns meeting in the playoffs next year and injuries/suspensions/trades don't affect this substantially.
The reason you won't find any more Suns fans complaining is because they are probably disillusioned with the NBA as a whole and have shifted off to other things (as opposed to dissappointed in their team).
The Spurs are a great team and nobody would challenge that - perhaps they would have won it all regardless. But they had met a worthy, equal opponent who could have beaten them and in fact was on the verge of doing so - subconsciously Horry's flattening of Nash was an admittance of this. The outcome, whatever position one takes, HAS in fact devalued the rest of the NBA playoffs, like it or not. There is no argument that the Spurs are a great team; whether they will be considered the best team this year if in fact they win it all will have a question mark/asterisk in the minds of a lot of people.
It is easy to enjoy the run and gun of the Suns, with the artistry of Nash and the athleticism of Stoudemire and Marion.
But true basketball fans know that teamwork on both ends of the court wins the big games. No team epitomizes unselfish team play than the Spurs. They have been blessed with a no nonsense disciplinarian coach who rightly believes in the fundamentals. Popovich is the top coach in basketball over the past decade.
But his approach is dependent on athletes subjugating themselves to the system. No egos need apply. In Duncan, Parker and Ginobli, he has a core of exceptional athletes with a core belief that teamwork is the key to success.
Is it just by chance that all three were born outside the USA? Perhaps foreign born players are being taught the fundamentals more than the slamming jamming style so admired in the highlight reels.
To me, the Spurs are a joy to watch. Only the Spurs and the Pistons seem to realise the results that can be achieved when 5 play as one on both ends of hte court. These two teams deserve to be in the finals and true fans should celebrate this outcome.
You Suns fans are hilarious. You're calling the Spurs whiners? You guys are the biggest bunch of crying babies out there. At least try to lose with some dignity.
As far as the Duncan whining comment goes, let me clarify for you. Almost every possession that Duncan has the ball near the basket and shoots, he is fouled. The same was true for MJ and many other greats of the game. He is a classy guy and he doesn't complain a lot. Instead when he gets fouled without a call for 3-4 possesions in a row, he glares at the refs or looks at them in disbelief. That is NOT whining. He's just sticking up for himself and in a much less whiny way than most players do it.
And to the person who said that if the Spurs win it all, people will question whether they were the best team or not...are you kidding me? First of all, the Spurs HAVEN'T won anything yet. And that's really as far as I need to go. The Suns-Spurs series was only the second round. Even had the Suns advanced, I love how you just assume that they would have won the whole thing. For any team to win 16 games in the playoffs, no matter how they look doing it, it's a huge accomplishment. The hard part hasn't even begun -- just wait til the Pistons series starts. Talk about pressure and physicality...So if Spurs are fortunate enough to win it all this year, go ahead and put an asterisk by their title. It'll be OK -- they will still have three others to compare it to.
What I found most annoying about the uproar over the way the Suns-Spurs series played out - the suspensions, etc. was the fact that none of the "experts" pointed out that San Antonio completely dominated game four and only lost that game after a succession of suspect calls. Down the stretch of that game, every close call went Phoenix' way. There were a couple of travels called on Duncan that wouldn't ordinarily have been called, an obvious missed travel call on Stoudamire and a couple of marginal offensive fouls called on the Spurs down the stretch.
Bottom line: the suggestion that Phoenix' game four performance somehow suggested that they were capable of beating San Antonio, or that they had turned the tide of that series is ridiculous.
I love how Suns fans assume that if the suspensions hadn't happened they would have won the series. Horry's hitting Nash a subconscious admission of defeat? That's truly amateur psychology crap. Please note that the Suns lost big time in Game 6 with a full roster. They may have won a couple of games but in a 7-game series they just don't have enough to beat the Spurs. If you say that the Game 5 suspensions affected them in Game 6, then they just don't have the mental toughness to be champion. Real champions would have come out swinging and buried the Spurs. The ending is inconclusive only to Suns fans who still can't accept that their team lost.
A few thoughts...
- The Jazz are a great young team with a lot of potential and will be around for several more playoff seasons to come. However, did anyone really expect them to win on the road against the Spurs? I think any team would consider themselves lucky to pull out a win in San Antonio, so the real test is yet to come--can the Jazz win two straight at home and reset the series? 'Nuff said.
- Is it just me, or did it seem that the media blew the whole Suns/Spurs controversy way out of proportion? I mean, really, was Horry's foul really that outrageous? Nash is tough, took a hard foul admirably, and seemed little phased by it...indeed, the collision with Parker did more damage and didn't even phase Nash! Watching replays this seems ridiculous--a vast media conspiracy to add "controversy" to an NBA playoffs that is suffering in the ratings... Regardless, I loved watching the Spurs/Suns series, bleeding noses, black eyes, and all!
- Duncan certainly does complain from time to time, but pretty much only when it is a bad call and when complaining is well warranted and actually necessary. (You are not going to get 'respect' if you are a push-over when victimized.) As for "whining," show me just one instance of a clear and obvious foul by Duncan followed by Duncan voraciously complaining about it afterward...
Lastly, the only way to beat the Spurs at this point is for the Jazz or the Pistons to play like the Mavericks (which are clearly the Spurs achilles heel)...
Spurs in 5, then Spurs in 6 against the Pistons... (-:
I just don't see the Western Conference Finals making it back to San Antonio for a Game Five; I just don't see that.
Next Spurs home game will be Game One of the NBA Finals!
the Spurs will win in 5 or less against Utah. They will beat either Detroit in 6 or Cleveland in 5. REESE
The national media have counted the Jazz out of every playoff series they've played this post season(even Warriors/Jazz). Doesn't anyone else see that they have adapted and gotten better against each team they've played as the series have gone on? Given the Spurs are solid, with a ton of playoff experience, don't count the Jazz out.
They haven't been playing their best basketball and I'm sure that other players will step up as well. Williams will play better defense against Parker, and though you can't stop Duncan, the Jazz will find a way to slow him down.
I wouldn't be suprised to see this one go to seven with a possable finish, just like the Jazz/Rockets series. Though I don't know if the Jazz could win game seven in San Antonio.
Why is everyone still talking about the Suns/Spurs series, or about Duncan/Crawford? This is a great series. The Jazz are not dead. They'll fight back and drag this one to game game 6 at least.
I'm just happy to see these two teams playing with a little more class and respect toward each other. This is how basketball should be played. Then again, that Horry flop last night during game 3 sure was obvious. The replays killed me! The league needs to address that during the off season.
Every player sells fouls when there is contact at one time or another, but when there is no contact and a player flops to get a call, I would say that is unsportsmanlike and worthy of a technical.
As a Spurs fan I have really enjoyed this series, not just because the Spurs have played so well, but also because I get to actually enjoy their victories without having to defend them from all the NBA conspiracy theorists and whiney Suns fans. I think it has a lot to do with Coach Sloan, who is like Popovich in that he's way too much of a man to make any excuses, and his players take their cue from that. Thank you Jazz fans for keepin it real. In a few of years when the Spurs finally relinquish their grip on the West, it's gonna be the Jazz led by Williams and Boozer that take over, not the Suns or Mavs. This Jazz team is for real.