So, Game Four sucked.
It's been like 30 hours since it ended and I know you're thinking the same thing I am: Why haven't they started Game 5 yet? What a bunch of slackers. Anyway, I didn't watch the last one live since I was working a double on Mother's Day, but your fearless leader asked me to write the preview for Game Five. I quoted him my freelancing price, there was a prolonged negotiation and somehow I'm writing this and I owe him 20 bucks. I have no idea how that happened.
Anyway, I am going to begin with my thoughts about Sunday's atrocity. You can match the below pithy observations to the official play-by-play, if you like.
Spurs start out with some beautiful possessions, the ball is whipping around the perimeter, and they're getting whatever they want on offense, with open shot after open shot. Then Diaw checks in for Splitter and it all gets completely ruined. Literally every time he touches the ball, it leads to awfulness.
7:48 Leonard gets called for "palming" right when he had Curry on his back for the mismatch and was about to bury him into the post. Just a ridiculous call considering that LeBron and Durant do this 50 times a game.
6:18 The second the Spurs sub in Manu for Green, the Warriors sent Curry to the bench. Mark Jackson wants no part of any match-up where Curry has to guard somebody besides Green, Neal or Joseph. I totally think Pop should start Manu for Green in game 5 in both halves just to see what the Warriors do. I think we can hurt them there.
4:38 Barnes absolutely LAUNCHES Parker into the basket support, as clear an over-the-back on a rebound as you can possibly imagine and all three refs miss it. Manu does get fouled shortly after on the other end and bricks both free throws though, so it's cool. Oh and don't worry, those freebie misses were in no way an indicator of what was to come.
3:31 Parker nudges Bonner on the bench, asks rhetorically, "Can you believe how much Jarrett Jack dribbles?"
11:23 Gary Neal's inner monologue, Part I: "Manu has scored our last 11 points. He is red-hot, in the way where if Stephen Curry was doing this right now, ESPN would just make the referees stop the game so that Bill Simmons could tape an impromptu podcast about it. So yeah, I should totally jack up this 20-footer from the baseline with 15 seconds to go on the shot clock."
10:30 Andris Biedrins wasn't feeling well this afternoon, so here is his understudy, a gigantic tomato.
4:43 Manu's ankle-breaker of Barnes late in the game has been oft-discussed, but for my money the behind-the-back move he put on Thompson here, with another behind-the-back pass to Duncan right afterward, was sicker,and it led to Duncan free throws (it would've been a dunk if a surprised Duncan caught it cleanly).
4:01 RJ gets absolutely ruined by Duncan. That gave me pleasure.
4:16-0:21 A bunch of ghastly Ginobili heat checks even though the rim made explicitly clear that he was no longer hot. Not the best way to go into the half, but nevertheless nobody who watched the opening 24 minutes would imagine the Spurs lost that game. Ridiculous. The Warriors looked beyond terrible in every respect but offensive rebounding.
Bill Simmons: "I will not apologize for rooting for the Warriors. I haven't been able to come up with an interesting narrative for the Spurs in 15 years. I'm actually quite overrated as a sportswriter."
Magic Johnson: "The Warriors' problem is they don't have a Tim Duncan, someone who can score in the low post. They need to find someone like that in the off-season."
(Yes, Earvin, all they're missing is somebody like Tim Duncan, who they should find over the summer, preferably to play on a minimum contract. Get right on that, Warriors.)
(P.S. Only one of those two was an actual verbatim quote during the halftime show.)
9:11 I've picked up on a subtle change of tone from play-by-play man Mike Tirico in how he calls exciting plays by the Warriors and exciting plays by the Spurs. When the Spurs do something, he describes it like his boss has just said, "Um, Mike, we need talk about this sexual harassment suit."
As opposed to his demeanor after a good Warriors score, which was as if his boss had told him, "Mike, we're keeping you on despite that sexual harassment suit."
4:47 Duncan misses like his 37th consecutive open jumper. Wasn't he money on those all season? So frustrating.
4:01 Curry hits this ridiculous 14-foot floater with one hand and then smells his hand to acknowledge where he just pulled those two points from.
3:54 Ugh, another "live wired" segment with Mark Jackson. Why do they ever bother with these? I feel like every coach in the history of basketball says the same common sense things, more or less. I know some coaches are better than others, but it's not like Vinny Del Negro is telling his guys in the huddle,
"Alright guys, now you're all playing way too hard, I need y'all to relax a bit. Quit hustling so much! On offense we need to take the first available shot, preferably a long contested two, okay?. Do NOT look for your teammates. Just shoot it like you might never get to touch a basketball again your whole life. Then, on defense just take whoever, all right? Do NOT communicate, okay? I don't want the other team to know what we're thinking out there. And for the love of God, if you do happen to make a stop, whatever you do, and Blake this is VERY IMPORTANT, do not box out, okay?"
2:19 Gary Neal's inner monologue, Part II: "This is my basketball, Cory. Mine. Mineminemineokaywaityours, aw crap.
1:44 HEY YOU BLIND JACKASSES WE'RE FOULING BOGUT HERE. Y'all seem to notice every other nudge and bump we're not trying to do on purpose and now that Neal's gotten further with Bogut than I got with any girl until I was 18, none of you notice?
1:17 Tirico: "Somebody please help me get rid of this stupid rule. It uglies up the game of basketball."
YEAH SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING, THE SPURS' INTENTIONAL FOULING IS RUINING THIS OTHERWISE BEAUTIFUL DISPLAY OF ATHLETIC MAJESTY OF THIS 59-58 GAME GOING INTO THE FOURTH QUARTER.
12:00 The always-vivacious Heather Cox interviews Mark Jackson.
Heather Cox: "Mark, Mike Tirico wanted me to ask you what it's like to be the best coach in the history of basketball and to coach the best players in the history of basketball in front of the best fans in the history of basketball?"
Mark Jackson: "Well, I wouldn't say I'm the best coach, Heather. Not yet, anyway. But as for the other things, it's pretty neat. God has blessed me. God, god, god. I love God. Anytime Stephen Curry sinks a three-pointer, that is the work of God pouring through him and anytime he misses a shot, it's because the devil is a stupid jerk Spurs fan."
Heather Cox: "Follow up question Mark, Tirico wrote his phone number on this piece of paper and wanted me to give it to you. Can you call him after the game?"
10:23 The Spurs have scored on three straight possessions. You know, this David Lee just doesn't seem to be very good on defense. WHY HAS NO ONE ELSE ON PLANET EARTH NOTICED THIS?
10:08 Gary Neal inner monologue Part III: "Hmm, Harrison Barnes seems to have a wide open lane to the basket. I bet if he dunks it's going to get the crowd all hyped. That would be bad. However, if I foul him really hard the refs might call a flagrant foul on me and that'd give them two free throws and the ball. That would also be bad. What should I do I'm in a moral dilemma (commits touch foul for and-1) aw geez."
8:38 Another live wired with Mark Jackson...
"You guys are this close [holds thumb and finger an inch apart] to winning a championship guys. It's the little things."
Yes, because if you can sucker Gary Neal into and-1s, that's totally same thing as beating the Heat four times. We're so close, guys!
6:22 Hubie calls Ginobili, "Manano." WTF?
5:46 Huge three there, Manano.
3:27 Not so sure about that Gary Neal: Lock-down defender strategy there, Pop.
5:46-0:00 Assorted crap possessions where there the ball never gets reversed, there's hardly any ball movement or man movement and Duncan runs one fruitless 4-down after another because it's 2003 I guess.
I didn't watch overtime. I'm saving it for tomorrow at breakfast. NO SPOILERZ PLEASE!
My Game 5 analysis/preview is this. The Spurs are the better team. They know it and the Warriors know it. Their defense has been better every game. They're basically throttling the Warriors now and Golden State's "offense" is just a series of isolations to Barnes or Jack, with the random curl around a couple of picks for Thompson or a high screen for Curry. I pretty much call out their sets on TV as they're happening by this point.
That the series is tied 2-2 is due entirely to the fact that our guys are shooting like they're blindfolded. They're getting better shots than the Warriors for the most part, though it'd be an exaggeration to say the ball movement has been great for long stretches. It comes and it goes, inexplicably, though I suspect Bogut has a lot to do with it when it goes.
It is bothersome how much Neal is playing but I'm not sure what can be done about it, outside of giving McGrady a shot, and that's not happening. Diaw's inconsistency is also bothersome, as is Splitter's softness and Leonard's tentativeness. If he just realized he's a much better player than Barnes this series would be over already.
Anyway, I think it's gonna be over in six, regardless of who wins Game 5, so it'd be nice if we won Game 5 and also Game 6.
Warriors perspective can be found here: Golden State Of Mind
Game prediction: Spurs by 8, as I enjoy leftover brisket on Mother's Day. That's right, it's Mother's Day! Happy Mother's Day to all those moms out there.
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