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Can We Just Fast Forward to the Playoffs?

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Today, just on the outskirts of downtown, I saw a guy on the corner waiting for the light to change. College age, I would say. He wore a shirt that read "I have the DICK, so I make the rules." He also was riding one of them Razor Scooters. I shit you not.

I thought about running him over but he wasn't alone on the corner. I was thus forced to hope he soon gets testicular cancer and dies a slow death.

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A while back I wrote about the first of four keys to "have any fucking shot at even competing against the Pistons." Yes, that is still a long way off and the Spurs will have to beat two good teams in DAL and PHX just to get there. I am working backwards I guess. On to numero dos.

2. Put Bowen on Billups and Parker on Rip for most of the game.

This isn't exactly a new idea. Matty and I talked about it ad nauseum during the 2005 Finals, culminating in the following post after game 6:

" Bowen needs to be on him from the get go and he needs to be occasionally double teamed on the pick and rolls. FORCE DETROIT OUT OF THERE COMFORT ZONE ON OFFENSE. Make someone else beat you. Will Rip have a better game with Parker on him? Probably. But isn't Bowen primarily a one on one defender? And don't most of Rip's points come off screens? How much worse can Parker be in fighting through screens? Also, think about Hamilton's top side; what's the most points he could possibly put on Parker/Ginobili/Barry? Probably about 30 points, but it will take him 25 shots to do it (he has 74 points on 73 FGA his last four games). He doesn't hit many 3s and he doesn't draw a lot of fouls. HE IS NO WHERE NEAR AS DANGEROUS AS CHAUNCEY BILLUPS. Nobody on Detroit is. Billups is their best 3P shooter, their best penetrator, their best free throw shooter and probably their best finisher.

Bruce Bowen is the Spurs silver bullet. You cannot leave him in the chamber.

As all Spurs fans recall, Pop did eventually switch Bowen onto Billups at the end of game 7 and it led to the famous blocked 3 point attempt. I don't know what took him so long to make the change. Yes, Hamilton has 5" on Parker and that is somewhat worrisome. But the key to guarding Rip from a one-on-one standpoint is speed, not height or strength. Hamilton has little to no post-up game and I am all for DET trying to exploit the height advantage instead of running their regular offense.

And DET's regular offense runs through Billups. You disrupt Billups and you disrupt their whole team, and frankly speaking Tony Parker doesn't have the physical ability to impede Chauncey. This was readily apparent during this year's two regular season games when Billups frequently lowered his shoulder and bowled right past Parker.

It's simple. Bowen is our best perimeter defender and Billups is their best perimeter scorer. He's also their go to guy down the stretch (yes, I remember Rip hitting some game winning shots but Chauncey carries a bigger load in the clutch; go here and here for proof). If Rip ends up going 15-20 against Parker then Pop can always go back to the status quo. But, based on what I've seen over the past two years, the status quo is not going to be enough to get the Spurs the repeat.

The margin of error against DET for this Spurs team is thin. With Tim's hurt foot, Manu's hurt everything and DET's likely home court advantage (they want it bad while Pop will be resting Tim and Manu) the Spurs will not have the luxury of spending 6.75 games figuring out that Bowen needs to guard Billups.