After a week off from watching basketball games that I cared about, having 3 games in the next 4 days feels like Christmas come early. I doubt it will feel that way for the players, however, especially those who have nagging injuries or who are old and worn out. Of course, the way our “old” guys played in Game 1, I’m not sure anyone on either team fits that last category.
1. Song: The Beatles, “Happy Birthday”
Because it’s Tony’s birthday. He’s 30. By the way, it’s absolutely shocking to me when I say it out loud that Tony is 30 years old and has been a Spur for 11 years. I’m hoping for a 25-11 game from the birthday boy.
2. Key Match Up: Chris Paul vs. the Spurs
We learned a number of things in Game 1, but the most significant was that Pop is interested in guarding CP3 by committee. Danny Green, Tony, and Kawhi Leonard will all get minutes trying to corral Paul. Last game, the strategy was to prevent Paul from beating them and force him to pass the ball, but usually to players that weren’t in the best position to receive the pass and score. It will be interesting to see how Vinny DelNegro and Paul adjust to that strategy this game. And to see if Pop has already anticipated their adjustment and has a counter in his hip pocket.
3. Keeping An Eye On: The New Guys
Both Boris Diaw and Stephen Jackson played significant minutes and had a measurable impact on Game 1. In fact, Diaw’s +/- rating was higher than every other player not named Duncan or Parker. Now that the Clippers have seen them (remember, neither player was with the Spurs for any of the 3 regular season games), it will be interesting to see if these guys can continue to have that impact. I’m betting on LA to go small again, which may keep Diaw off the floor like it did in the 4th quarter.
4. Bold Prediction: Spurs Win. Big.
A number of members of the Twitterverse commented that Game 1 looked like Game 1 of the SA-Utah series: contested and mostly close, but never out of control for the Spurs or totally out of reach for the opposition. I like that analogy and I’ll take it one further: this game will resemble the Game 2 beatdown of the Jazz as well. I think the Spurs win this one going away. Hello, 4th Quarter, it’s Patty Mills time!
Odds and Ends
Great write-ups about our team all over the web the past few days, but I particularly like the Chris Ballard-SI cover story about Timmy and John Hollinger’s article on the organization today (spoiler: he’s appalled that RC did not win Exec of the Year; so am I). One stat that Hollinger threw out that was fascinating: the Spurs outscored opponents by 8.19 per 100 possessions this year without Tim Duncan on the floor. No comment necessary; that’s simply a staggering statistic.
Enjoy Game 2.