Hornets-Spurs: More Blowouts than a Hair Salon

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Published: May 15, 2008

So far, everyone appears to be stumped as to why the Hornets-Spurs series has been an excercise in blowouts.  Greg Popovich certainly has no answer for it according to his post-game comments from game 5.

Being prone to thinking about the Hornets, especially when I'm feeling amped after a big win and still wandering my house with a silly grin on my face at 1:30 am, I pondered the question, and there only seems to be one answer I managed to dredge up:  Discipline.

Other than maybe Detroit, you're not going to find a set of more disciplined teams in the NBA than the Hornets and Spurs.  On the defensive side of the ball, these teams will rotate with a will, close out, attack the screens and generally work like dogs to throw out the best team defense they can muster.  On offense, they run their plays, spread the floor and play unselfish basketball, passing freely but intelligently. Neither team makes mistakes often, with the Hornets turning the ball over less often than any other team in the playoffs.   The Spurs have also proven to take care of the ball and cough it up rarely. 

Since mistakes are so rare in these games, all it takes is one flurry of turnovers and/or bad shots and the team is done because the other team isn't going to make their own series of mistakes to let them get back in.  Here are a listing of the biggest flurries of mistakes in the series:

  • Game 1, fourth quarter,  8:38 to go.  Biggest lead so far has been Hornets up by 8 for one posession in the first quarter:  Duncan turnover, David West Block, Oberto Foul, Paul steal, Duncan misses 2 free throws,  Finley scores, Ginboili scores, Peja steal, Paul steal, Pargo steal.  That's 10 posessions and 2 scores.  The lead grows from 5 to 14.
  • Game 2, start of third quarter, Biggest lead so far has been Spurs up 7 for two posessions of the 2nd quarter:  Finley 20 footer missed, Tyson blocks, Paul Steals, Duncan turnover, Thomas score, Parker score, Ginobili misses 26 footer, Duncan misses layup, Manu Layup, Ginobili misses 25 footer,  Parker misses 25 footer.  11 posessions – 3 scores, lots of long shots, Hornets go from down 1 to up 14.
  • Game 3, 4th quarter, 9:17 left. Biggest lead so far has been Hornets by 8 for 4 posessions of the 1st quarter: West misses, Paul misses, Bonzi misses, Duncan blocks, Wells turnover, Paul misses, Thomas blocks, Morris misses.  8 posessions – no scores, lots of long misses, Spurs go from up 4 to up 13.
  • Game 4, 2nd Quarter, 10:22 to go.  Biggest lead so far has been Spurs by 5 for one posession:  Wells turnover, Pargo miss, West scores, Ginobili blocks, West turnover, Pargo miss, Duncan block, Wright travel, Peja scores, Peja miss, Wright miss. 11 posessions, 2 scores, Spurs go from up 3 to up 15.  Hornets never get closer than within 12 again.
  • Game  5, 3rd quarter, 8:44 to go, biggest lead so far has been Spurs by 6 two different times for five total posessions:  West steals, Chandler block, Chandler steal, Parker miss, West steals, West blocks, Spurs clock violation, Ginobili misses, Ginobili scores, Duncan miss, West block, Parker miss.  12 posessions, 1 score,   Hornets go from 1 down to up 14.  Spurs never get closer than 8 again.

That's it.  You'll find that other than those five spots(and a small surge in game 4 with the scrubs in) there aren't any extended sets of errors by either team – and all of these have been the deciding collection of plays.  This is a series that demands excellent basketball, because one set of mistakes buries you.  No wonder it's so compelling.

Some things to look for in Game 6

1) Unfortunately, West is due
Due for a bad game, that is.  If he stays true to form against the Spurs he will follow his career game with a poor one.  I can hope he breaks the cycle, but being in San Antonio with a gimpy back may make that difficult.

2) Can the transition defense continue?
A majorly overlooked part of the Game 5 win was the adjustment the Hornets made against the running game.  The Spurs had put pressure on the Hornets in Games 3 and 4 by sending their guards running after a shot went up and relying on their bigs to rebound and outlet quickly.  That allowed Parker to drive the ball down the Hornets throats in early offense, where he is nearly impossible to stop.  In game 5, the Hornets diligently tracked the Spurs guards and ran with them, blocking the outlets and keeping Parker to only two transition buckets.  If the Hornets can do that again, Parker will probably remain neutralized.

3) Duncan ain't missing those shots again
Duncan had about 5 shots this game that will usually go in for him.  They just rolled out or dribbled over in New Orleans.  It's unlikely that happens again, so expect Timmy to be back to his usual 10-18 or 9-15 shooting self.  That makes stopping Parker even more vital

4) Any Wings wanna be on fire again?
Mo Pete was smokin' in Game 5 – and playing great on defense.  As always, we need one of our wings to produce.  Just one.  Who is it going to be?  Peja? Peterson? Pargo? Wright? Wells?  Just one of you.

Like the game last night, for some reason I have a good feeling about tonight's game . . . and Ron is recapping it.   See what Mr. Hitley does for all of you?  No sleep for him!

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