Hornets-Spurs Game 4: What to look for

Published: May 11, 2008

1) Defense, Defense, Defense
Here's the truth about this series:  The Hornets have scored whenever they wanted to against the Spurs vaunted defense.  Even after the Spurs made some adjustments against the Hornets last game, the bugs still scored at a fast clip.  It's part of the reason I still feel pretty comfortable with this series: The Spurs haven't proven they can stop the Hornets – they've only proven they can win if they get hot offensively.   Twice the Hornets have flat out stopped the Spurs.   If the Hornets make either Tony or Manu work for their points tonight, the game is probably ours.  In particular, Ely, Bonzi and Julian both need to step it up on that end of the floor – last game they were atrocious.

2) Watch the Wings
A big deal has been made about Peja being shut down last game.  The truth about the Hornets all season long is if they have one deep shooting threat hitting their shots – be it Peja, Peterson or Pargo, the Hornets usually win.  Last game, one was shut down, one didn't get many opportunities, and one has gone ice-cold in the series.  If one can get going – and I'm betting on Pargo, he's due – then this game will be very interesting.

3) Can the Hornets counter Duncan?
Duncan has gotten better in every game this series – probably as a result of his sickness going away.  His defense last game was key against the bugs, but the best counter to his defense is having Tyson on the floor.  That lob threat makes the Spurs really nervous.  Take a look at almost every spectacular play Paul made in the past three games and you'll see Duncan glued to Chandler, boxing him away from the basket.  For a guy everyone agrees has "no offensive game", Chandler puts a hell of a lot of pressure on an interior defense.  He's got to stay away from stupid fouls – he had a great game goin last game until the third – and when he went out the Hornets interior defense fell apart.

4) Can Paul stay under their skin?
It's clear the Spurs fans are foaming at the mouth over Paul's aggressive nastiness and shameless flopping on the court.  It's also pretty apparent that Paul's managed to get to Bruce Bowen, Manu Ginobili and several of the backups like Oberto as well.  Other than Ginobili, who can be dangerous when angry, that's a good thing.  I hope he keeps it up.

5) Will the Hornets Run?
Both Byron and Chandler have both said they hope the Hornets will get out and run more.  As much as I'd like to see it, I have a feeling it's not too realistic.  The Hornets can get some long rebounds off of all the three's the Spurs are taking, but the truth about the Spurs is they don't crash the offensive glass.  A shot goes up, and they only send one guy to the glass, the rest of the team runs back on defense.  It's a disciplined approach and part of the reason why the Suns had never been able to consistently dictate the tempo against the Spurs – and the past few years Suns teams were built to run.  Despite the inane Media continuing to call the Hornets young and "athletic", there are only four exceptional atheletes on this team – Chandler, Paul, Pargo and Wright – and two of them are barely six feet tall.  Running is good with Paul, but it should never be relied on as something we'll be able to impose on a team like the Spurs very easily.

Don't forget Ron's Sunday News Wrap up!  As usual, he's done a bang-up job.

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