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Sometimes Two is Much Greater than Three

I could probably pick out a dozen different statistical details that would point to an inevitable Spurs loss:

-With nine minutes to go in the second quarter Francisco Oberto had more points than Duncan, Parker and Ginobili combined.

-The Big Three all had more FGA than points. I cannot remember this ever happening before.

-This is only the fourth time all year Ginobili (who was absolutely shameful tonight) didn't attempt a single FT.

For a Spurs fan it's almost inevitable; you look at the box score and cannot help but notice how poorly our stars played and how well Iverson and 'Melo performed. And, only losing by six, it's not a stretch to believe that even an average performance wins this game.

I guess I find myself in that same boat, not all that worried... but at the same time it's a little troubling that at times I cannot the fathom the thinking behind Pop's strategies.

-Why did we start the game by repeatedly jamming the ball into Duncan? We NEVER start games that way. It's one thing when it's an obviously favorable matchup, but Nene is no stiff out there and Parker started out the game being checked by Steve Blake of all people.

-I don't understand Pop's infatuation with Michael Finley. He didn't shoot badly tonight; 15 points on 13 shot attempts qualifies as stellar on tonight's Spurs team. But he also didn't have a single rebound, assist, steal, block, turnover or foul in 34 minutes. He was also -8 for the game.

Again, I'm not blaming Finley, but I just don't understand what Pop is thinking. Our starting five tonight was Duncan, Elson, Bowen, Finley and Parker. That unit has played together for 139 minutes this season and outscored opponents by a whopping 4 points. Out of our top twenty most common lineups, only 3 have managed a worse net difference in points.

Switching out Barry for Finley has made a big difference in the past. That lineup has played together for 245 minutes and outscored opponents by 31 points. That's +6.1 per 48 minutes compared to Finley's +1.4.

Maybe Pop thinks Finley is the dramatically better defender. But I can find no evidence supporting that.

P-Barry-B-E-D allows 85.8 points per 48 minutes.
P-Finley-B-E-D allows 92.2 points per 48 minutes.
P-Barry-B-Oberto-D allows 80.1 points per 48 minutes.
P-Finley-B-Oberto-D allows 89.7 points per 48 minutes.

The individual player numbers, expressed in points allowed per 100 possessions, are much closer (leading me to conclude the Spurs play at a faster pace with Finley on the court). But Barry still comes out ahead, 104.7 to 105.3 points allowed per 100 possessions. Barry is 1.1 points better on offense, too.

I don't get it, and it frustrates me.

-Why did Bowen only play 19 minutes? Isn't he one of the best perimeter defenders in the game? Weren't two of Denver's perimeter players killing us for most of the game?

The night was not a total loss. Robert Horry played like all that resting had done him some good, Oberto made good use of the time he was given and Dallas lost!

So those are my initial thoughts on game 1. I'm not worried; a little perplexed, a lot disappointed, but not worried.