Hornets – Spurs Game 3: What to Watch For

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Published: May 8, 2008

1) The Three Point Shot
So far, the Hornets defense has worked perfectly.  Designed to try and pack the paint and lull the other team into shooting deep shots, the Hornets allowed more three point attempts in the season than any team  in the playoffs other than Toronto.  This has held true in the playoffs as well.  Usually, this is a good thing for the Hornets, meaning access to the hoop has been hard to come by, and that kickouts to the perimeter are the only things available.   It's a good defense, but sometimes, it doesn't work so hot.

Earlier in the season I did an evaluation of the Hornets losses, and at the time 95% of them occured when the other team hit a better than average percentage of threes from deep AND the Hornets shot worse than 30% from long range.

So watch that three-point shot.  The Spurs play with confidence, which means if we keep giving them the three, they'll keep taking it, and at some point they'll probably start hitting.  If Peja cools off from his insane 61% playoff three-point shooting percentage at the same time, it could mean an ugly loss.

2) Will Bowen continue to check Paul?
I'm not the only one who thinks this is a mistake.  I've seen it mentioned on almost all the Spur's blogs, and in yesterday's TrueHoop Bullets.  I mean – can't pretty much anyone 'limit' paul to 23.5 points and 12.5 assists on 50% shooting?  Switch Bowen to Peja, someone who can be sometimes thrown off by physical defense, and let Parker, Jacque Vaughn, Ginobili and maybe Stoudamire track Paul.

3) Bench Problems
So far, the Hornets bench has not been consistent against San Antonio.  Pargo has cooled off from his insane Dallas series, and while Bonzi did well in Game 1, his Game 2 was weak.  Altogether the Hornets bench is only producing 17 points per game in this series.  Though the 2nd Unit's defense is stellar as usual, we need to at least get 20 points out of them while to keep us even or gain an advantage.  The good news is Pargo is due for another big game, Bonzi rarely plays poorly twice in a row, and the Spurs bench has been just as inconsistent.  Hopefully, we'll see a Hornet step up.

4) Less favorable calls
I'm not one of those people who talk about the refs or league office conspiracies.  Still I think the calls we'll see this game will be significantly different from those we saw in New Orleans in Game 2.  We got some very favorable calls and non-calls last game.  The combination of the crowd roaring, emotions running high, the Hornets willing to get physical, and the respect the Spurs command, will probably make the calls flow the other way tonight.

5) West should bounce back
As the last game wore on, West figured out what the Spurs were giving him and took it.  He's a smart player, and rarely has two bad games in a row.  Expect him to be back to his 20 and 10 ways.

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