SAN takes this 108 – 92 vs. LAC. There are two (2) things the Spurs do very well. Step One (1) is the classic, textbook style pick and roll.
CF Duncan goes to the freethrow area, giving the PG a pick, shooters on each side. Tony Parker can use the pick, curl and either take a J, or if he’s feeling it, drive to the hoop. Once Parker does his move, Duncan steps backward the other way, away from his defense who is probably suckered into defending the driving Parker anyway.
Parker finds a way to get Duncan the ball, who is all alone. He then either drives to the hoop, taking advantage of his defender who is caught off guard, or shoots the off the glass J, which is reliable. End of step 1.
Step Two (2): On a fast break, or even just a normal break where defense is not yet in place, guards, either Ginobili, Parker or Neal, dribble penetrate down the lane. It looks like a suicide 1 against 3 drive, but the real goal is to keep the D confused and out of sorts. Duncan is usually lumbering behind, but no one is taking notice of him or the other players. They look like they’re trying to chase their runaway guard. But look again. Duncan isn’t just running pointlessly. He’s actually crowding the lane, getting right in the middle. The guard then veers off to the wing as if to say ‘Ok I thought I had a layup there but I’m changing my mind!’. But no, at that point exactly, Duncan raises his hand to expect the pass. Bullet pass to him ensues, and he has an empty lane in front of him right in stride. If someone tries to stop him, he’ll be called for blocking. Two points. End of step 2.
Every other point comes out of this beautiful thing we’re watching. If Duncan or Parker are double teamed, ball flies to waiting three point shooters by the wings. If shooter 1 is guarded, he passes to shooter 2, who is usually on the weak side with only one defender or sometimes none. There’s always an open man. There’s always a shot. It’s just a matter of time until they find him, and find him they will.
And lo and behold, we are watching basketball. We are not watching some overly – heralded superstar try to redeem the hype. We are not watching a tired team try to pull a miracle against a much fresher one. We are watching players who know their role pass the ball to the open man, getting the highest percentage shot. No drama, no amazing high flying feats, just Duncan turning on his pivot foot, casually sinking the ball as if he was doing it in practice, going back to play D, then going back to do it again.
Use Step One (1) on the halfcourt, use Step Two (2) for whole court action. Step 1, then Step 2. Shake it up a bit occasionally, to give the 3 point shooters something to do. Do it over and over again, and there’s a Championship ring in it for you at the end.
These guys are looking good. They did this in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007. It’s clear they can do it again.
TD had a double double with 26 pts. and 10 boards and topscored for the team as well.
The big side note however is LAC Guard Eric Bledsoe with 23 pts., 5 boards 4 ass off the bench, making me do the proverbial ‘who is this guy?’ research on him, which didn’t turn up anything particularly exciting. His play should get a lot of people to pay attention from now on though, for stretches when LAC struggled he was the only guy getting it done.
SAN also has 29 assists to LAC’s 19, shot 81% FTs, was 52% from threes and had 10 more defensive boards at 36 than LAC. They did turn it over more (18 to LAC’s 16), and LAC had more points off turnovers (24 to SAN’s 18), but that can probably be fixed by better guard play. At the moment these guys are looking good for the long haul. I need to see LAL and MIA play better, and OKC to display more maturity, otherwise SAN looks my bet to take it all at the moment.