Hornets – Spurs Game 2: What to Look For

Published: May 5, 2008

The Mavericks were picked to beat us because they had Playoff Experience.  The Spurs are being picked to beat us by a lot of pundits as well.  I'll give you one guess as to their reasoning.  That's right: Playoff Experience!  As always, give me some damn basketball reasons why the Hornets should lose.

Every Spur Championship team has played better than the Spurs played this year.  Significantly better.   This year's team is vulnerable.  I told Ron before the series I thought the Spurs would fall in five, and I'll go ahead and risk the jinx(and looking stupid), and say it here now.  Hornets in 5.

1) Tim Duncan will bounce back
This is a given.  There is no way Tim will produce that little in back to back games.  About 4 of the shots he missed last night are ones he usually hits.  However, if the Hornets do to him what they did in Game 1, don't expect him to score that much more.  The Hornets not only doubled Tim – Ely fronted him very effectively during his stint of the bench and the team made it hard for him to do much more than catch and pass back out, or catch and make a quick move.  If the Hornets keep to their gameplan of double Tim and stick to Manu, the Spurs will continue to have to rely on Finley, Bowen, Horry and maybe Barry and Bonner to win the game.  So far, it's been a winning gamble.

2) Chris Paul will continue to dominate
I keep seeing this thrown about in various articles about the game. "Chris Paul was contained, somewhat", or "Chris Paul had an average game."  What part of 17 points, 13 assists, 4 rebounds(2 offensive), 4 steals and only 2 turnovers is average, or contained?  Those numbers mean he was responsible for 44 points in the game or about 43% of the Hornets total scoring.  Kobe "MVP" Bryant has been worth 41% of his teams scoring in the playoffs, and he's been "destroying" his opponents.  Paul was good for 9 points, 3 steals, 2 assists, and 2 offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter as the Hornets out-executed the team know for executing people to death.  This, of course, was with their best defender Bruce Bowen on him.  Please, Spurs, keep containing him that way.

3) Will the Hornet's Defense suck the Spurs in again?
A couple articles have mentioned the Spurs shot too many threes and long jumpers.  Do you remember what the Mavericks were saying in the previous series?  That they were settling for too many long 2-point shots and threes?  That is the essence of the Hornets defense.  Last season Byron told reporters his defense has always been to help hard in paint and allow the opposing team to shoot from deep, while closing on those shooters in controlled fashion.  Last night, the Spurs complied and shot 31 threes.  In the regular season they only averaged 19 a game.  What should be the most disturbing thing for the Spurs?  They shot well last night, hitting 38.7% of their long bombs – which is better than their average mark – and they still lost by 19.  The question is now if the Spurs will show their vaunted discipline and go to the basket more next game.

4) Pargo continues to Develop
By the end of December, Pargo was shooting 33% from the floor as a Hornet.  We know he's streaky as hell.  There is, however, one key difference between that Pargo and the one playing in the playoffs right now.  The Pargo at the start of the year was almost useless if he wasn't on a rare shooting streak.  In the two games Pargo has shot poorly in the playoffs, he's buckled down on defense, recognized his shooting woes, and instead focused on running the offense more – averaging 4 assists in those games.  That's not to say he won't take open shots – or sometimes, not so open shots, but the fact he knows how to contribute other ways is big.

5) We'll probably see Ime Udoka next game
I was fairly surprised we didn't see the Spur's Ime until garbage time last night.  To me, he's the perfect foil for someone like Bonzi Wells – a short, tough guard who can spread the floor for the Spurs.  Ime is a slightly shorter version of Bowen, able to hit the corner three, get aggressive on D, and he has the muscle and low center of gravity to at least try and work West or Bonzi.  I'm assuming Popovich will realize that Maciej Lampe could probably outperform Horry at this point, and try Udoka on us.

Enjoy the game.

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