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5:15 PM ET, 5/5/06
Some perspective from the blogosphere
Posted by Kelly Dwyer
The Spurs head to Sacramento Friday night to try and end their first round pairing with the Kings, in a series that has produced Conference final-worthy excitement, pathos, acrimony and intrigue. To grok the fix between these two teams, we've asked two of the finest bloggers on the web -- Matthew Powell of Pounding the Rock, and Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty -- to help us gain some perspective on the NBA playoffs.
On the NBA's seeding structure ...
Matt Powell: The Spurs do have a ridiculously difficult road to a repeat this year. Not only are Sacramento and Dallas better than their seedings imply, but San Antonio will likely have to face the three Western Conference teams they match up the worst against (Kings, Mavs and Clippers). The NBA managed to create a seeding scenario so disastrous that you ended up having teams trying to lose at the end of the season. Awesome. Like I said in my blog, the NBA could screw up a Girls Gone Wild DVD.
What's Mr. Ziller's opinion of Mike Bibby's lamentable (34 percent from the field) playoff showing?
Tom Ziller: He's been awful this series compared to what he did all season. And it was almost two different seasons for him -- just like it was for the whole team. He was rattling off huge numbers as Peja Stojakovic struggled -- the Kings weren't winning, but Bibby was playing the best ball of his career. His field-goal attempt levels stagnated when Ron Artest arrived, but he still shot a decent clip and went over 30 a few times. I think he's a bit lost against the Spurs because SA defends the pick-and-roll very well. Tim Duncan has kept Brad Miller in check (save Game 4), so that limits Bibby's effectiveness off the pop-back jumper behind Brad. Mike can't get free on that play.
Making things worse are Bibby's laughable attempts at creating a Sactown James Gang:
TZ: It's hilarious to us. I mean, this son-of-an-NBA player from Phoenix (!) comes in with a posse and starts causing trouble at the local clubs? It's horribly entertaining. The last big brouhaha occurred at The MoMo Lounge -- not exactly Gold's or the 40/40. I mean, I'm pretty sure McClatchy High science teachers cruise at MoMo. So you've got this real esoteric situation brewing -- a player with pretty much the silliest posse going starting fights at a decidedly small-town club, all while the Cowtown observers start debating whether said silly posse is a gang or not. Then Artest comes to town and everyone freaks the hell out.
Especially frustrating to Kings fans has been coach Rick Adelman's rotations. Mr. Ziller explains.
TZ: I think Sacramento has come to accept RA.'s rotations. There's nothing in the world we can do about it. Everyone in the city wants Frankie Go (K.D. Note: um, Francisco Garcia) to get some burn, but it's not going to happen this season. I'm absolutely fine with the frontcourt situation, and I can handle a bare minimum of Jason Hart -- who is a tenacious defender but really lost with this cast of characters on offense. But I definitely think Garcia should be getting 10 minutes a game. (This is another reason I'm not set on re-signing Bonzi Wells. Between Kevin Martin and Garcia, the Kings are so set at SG.)
The Spurs have rotation problems of their own. Beno Udrih, Brent Barry and Nick Van Exel are all vying for backup minutes. Nazr Mohammed can score and rebound but can be beat defensively; Rasho can't score but can defend and make room for Tim Duncan on offense. Who plays and who starts?
MP: NVE takes at least one horrible shot a quarter and can't guard a tree and yet he still gets run. I guess because he's a wily veteran with a headband. Headbands win championships, you know. Mohammed should start and get 90 percent of the minutes allotted to him and Rasho. Nazr isn't a mentally strong player, and I am afraid [Coach Gregg] Pop([vich] may have destroyed his confidence by benching him the past two games.
Though Ziller is "deathly afraid of Popovich, more than any player on the Spurs," Mr. Powell credits Tony Parker for Parker's brilliant season.
MP: It's not so much Popovich as it is Parker being relentless. Or a ball hog, depending on how you look at it. He'll keep running guys off screens until someone eventually goes over the top. Or he'll try to get past his man even though the guy is standing 10 feet from the basket. At one point in Game 5 he turned down a free throw line jumper and was crossing-over Bibby at the dotted line.
Are Kings fans cool with Shareef Abdur-Rahim? Beyond cool? Cool toward him? Not cool? And what sort of cool are we talking about? Mickey Spillane-cool? John Davidson, of-his-time, cool?
TZ: Kings fans LOVE Shareef. The love list goes like this right now: 1) Artest, 2) Kevin Martin, 3) Bonzi Wells, 4) Shareef, 5) Francisco Garcia. No exaggeration. Reef was easily the team's best player until his injury. He only missed 10 games with the broken jaw, and came back with it still wired shut to take on the Lakers at ARCO. He never complained about Kenny Thomas (who is a punk and is really disliked by most Kings fans, I think) stealing his starting spot. Never complained about not being in there for the end of games (though he has been during this series). Never called for the ball more, even though he's far more efficient than Bonzi or Artest.
Through five games, Robert Horry is shooting 57 percent from the field, 57 percent from behind the arc, but only has three rebounds in 17 minutes, and the Spurs are being out-rebounded on the series. Happy? Worried? Wappy?
MP: I'm beyond worried at this point. I think they'll dispatch the Kings, but the Mavericks are another story. Dallas was the second best offensive rebounding team in the NBA this year and Sacramento was 25th! I did some quick extrapolation and determined the Mavericks will average 47 offensive rebounds against the Spurs in Round 2.
haha funny to hear about Bibby and his "Team Dime" posse causing a stir at a local night club. Being originally from phoenix, and seeing him and his guys around it doesn't really surprise me. I know I have watched them play basketball at a local club and they definetly act as if they own the court and if you say differently...watch out!
The NBA is crap. The fact of the matter is that ABC started the Cleveland-Washington series with a "We Love You LeBron" tribute. Anyone who objectively watched the series can tell you that the NBA WANTS Lebron to succeed, and that calls go for him every night that change the face of the games he and his band of cohorts play. In game five, the kid WALKED to the basket for the game winning score. NBA officials have stated publicly in the past that so-called "stars" get favorable calls, because everyone knows who the fans pay their money to come and see play. As long as the NBA supports this stuff, the game will be at the very least "tilted" in favor of teams with star players. Washington, for the most part, can't guard its shadow, but frankly, I'm done with the NBA as a whole as its officials, merchandisers and television broadcasters will their collective ways through the playoffs. Absolute crap.