Spurs – Hornets use Strategy; LA – Utah Is Streaky; and More (gasp) Predictions

Game 3 LA – Utah Notes:
Boozer finally brought game but even so seems far from the dominating PF we know him to be. I’ve been waiting for flashes of that brilliant hop skip move and head and shoulder fakes for either a teardrop semi hook or a power jam, but today we had fadeaways(?!) and 8 foot (well guarded) jumpers. Deron on the other hand was his usual brilliant self, but again not really the Playoff level player I’d like to see, and why does he keep wanting to dunk so much?

On the other side, Kobe needs help but it is not forthcoming with Radmanovic missing open 3s and Walton fumbling the ball away after a clear possession on a jumpball against Williams and Gasol in the dying minutes. Odom seems to be playing well but must assert himself further if he’s going to make a difference.

No matter. A win’s a win and Utah will take this, but as Playoff series go there isn’t a whole lot of great basketball being played here. Of course there’s the always spectacular Kobe, who with 5 minutes in the 4th actually bounced the ball on the backboard to himself for a slam against an impossible double team where he had nowhere to go, one of the many other sheer fantasticness he produces every few minutes, but the fact is teams who rely on home court advantage aren’t going to get very far because in order to get to the next level, you plain and simply need to win on hostile ground (aka on the road), and it can’t get nearly anymore hostile than Utah.

Prediction:: Each team will win their allotted homegames early, then Utah will be the first to break the trend and win in LA for the series.

Game 3 Spurs – Hornets Notes:
The Spurs finally get a W but in a way I’d never have expected: by outscoring (as opposed to defending) the Hornets. Manu and Parker’s 31 each is spectacular. I’d have thought (as I wrote on my last prediction post), that Tony would have to focus on defending Chris Paul more, but Popavich probably thought that was impossible (as would anyone), so instead set his guards off to score more instead.

To me, that’s brilliant, and if that keeps up I’d have to retract my Hornets 4 – Spurs 2 prediction. The Spurs have got this sport down to a system, and teams with systems are teams that win. Teams with special players are just teams that are nice to look at. But a team with a system that best makes use of their players is a winning team. If the Spurs have found a way to beat the Hornets they’re going to keep doing it, purportedly because the Hornets don’t really have much of an answer other than playing the way they usually do. Unless of course they pull a hat trick of their own. Has this series suddenly become more exciting or what? It’s become the chess game that basketball played at this level should be.

Prediction: I’ll still stick to the Hornets to win it, but in 7 games.

Other Notes:

Larry Brown now coaching Bobcats:
Larry Brown will make the Bobcats a better team for sure. He is a winning coach and brings respect and basketball smarts to a young team that will benefit from him. But two things. 1. Will he stay? – this is his 9th team in the NBA. His 9th team, and from the disaster that was New York (which he said was his ‘dream job’), he’s starting to do strange things, like lambasting his players in front of the press. What.is.up.with.that? And 2. Should he have waited? – All things being equal, maybe he should’ve waited for the Mavericks series to end so he could interview for that job? I mean I assume he isn’t really picky, having been around for 8 previous teams. So why not right? At least let them get a crack at him.

Fire George Karl:
And on the subject of coaches, if there’s any particular team that I feel didn’t deliver due to coaching deficiencies, it would be the Nuggets. In fact, Iverson, Camby and Anthony didn’t even make ALL NBA First, Second or even Third Teams. An enormous development that would shock any Nuggets fan, and must certainly raise eyebrows at their head office.

If the Knicks – Nuggets embarrassing fight of two years ago and Anthony’s recent DUI charges are any indication, this team is severely lacking the discipline needed to progress. Plus, benching AI in crucial minutes is sure to bruise your notoriously outspoken star, so why do that? Why not let him play?

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