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Game Thread #9: at Kings

Tonight I give Tim a lesson and the readers a challenge. Yep, I'm calling Tim out AND the PtR faithful out in an early season game against the Kings.

Tonight isn't about fun and games. It's about working hard, making ourselves better, and making a statement. So put on your stinky unwashed practice shirt and don't think about leaving early. We are doing wind sprints until we puke. Then we are shooting free throws until we knock 'em down.

So come on in if you are willing to work hard and prove that you have what it takes to win.

Game Time: 8:00 Spurs Time

TV: Fox SW

George Hill Roger Mason Fabricio Oberto
Tim Duncan
3-5 George Hill Mr. Mason Fabby Tim Umedoka
4-6 Beno Udrih John Salmons Brad Miller Mikki Moore Jason Thompson
images via

Officials: Garretson, Capers, Richardson

Keys To The Game:

  • Who steps up? - Kmart is out. Manu is out. Tony is out. Who is going to generate offense for these two teams? Whichever team has a role player or two chip in 10-12 points will have a huge advantage.
  • Beno vs George - I can't wait. I want George to eat his lunch.
    Jason Thompson - He's 6' 11" 250 lbs and starting at small forward. Bruce can't handle him. It will be interesting to see what kind of lineups we see from the Spurs against a team playing Big-Ball.

Some other reading:

You can find some Kings stuff at Sactown Royalty. Apparently, Reggie Theus is on the hot seat. The current lead item on the blog is a poll "Should Reggie Theus be fired right now?" 207 people have voted. 87% say "no".

It looks like we might have some challengers when it comes to game thread dorkiness. These guys put up 483 comments in an overtime loss to the Suns on Friday night. Not quite our 549 entertainment packed thriller against the Rockets, but they appear to take it seriously. Let's show 'em what we've got.

Free Throw Lesson for you and Tim:

Tonight I bring you the ATS 'How to Raise Your Free Throw Percentage By 10 Points'. Guar-an-teed!
Back in '03-'04 Tim hit rock bottom with his free throw shooting. Just two years after posting his still career-high 80%, he plummetted all the way down to a career low 60%. Every time he went to the line was like watching a train wreck. You didn't want to watch, but you just couldn't stop. He changed his approach about every third or fourth game. I can still remember some of the different things he tried: standing pigeon-toed, straight-legged, cupping the ball deep in his right hand, hands starting down by his knees, and the "I'm not going to shoot my free throws flat-footed" style of locking his knees and lifting his heels. My favorite, though, was when he had apparently decided that he was getting in his own head and decided to shoot them as fast as he could. The first few went OK, but then he just kept getting faster and faster, and it looked like he was scared to touch the ball. It was during this time that I developed by free throw lesson.

The Lesson has two components. The physical and the mental. We'll begin with the physical.

Shooting a baskeball is about rhythm. Great natural shooters have fantastic rhythm. Everything about their stroke is smooth. Guys who aren't great natural shooters have to find away to establish their rhythm. Think Bruce Bowen. If he's not in a corner, he looks awkward as hell. But, when he receives the ball in the corner he is in his rhythm and he has a great looking shot. I think Tim's problem at the free throw line is that he doesn't have a rhythm. He has a nice shot. Not great, but nice. When he gets and shoots a ball in rhythm he knocks down his 18 footers. When he hesitates, he gets out of rhythm. He never makes those shots.

So, the question becomes, how does Tim establish his rhythm at the free throw line. The answer is simple: Shoot with your quads. Let me say it again Shoot with your quads. Your quads are the key to a shot. Espcecially a free throw. I'm sure you have shot a basketball a few times in your day. You can't be a good shooter and shoot flat-footed. You can't be a good shooter and shoot a flat ball. You have to have an arc on it. Using your quads takes care of both these.

Give it a shot. Go outside to shoot a couple free throws and think about using your quads. I dare you to bend at the knee, lift with your quads as you shoot, and NOT end up on your toes. If you do, you are only doing to say that you can. It will feel like the most unnatural thing you have ever done without Powell involved.

The other part is that lifting with your quads gets your hips and torso moving vertically. This vertical movement gives your shot the arc it needs. Again, try shooting lifting with your quads. Can you even shoot a flat ball that way. Not naturally you can't.

Once you start focusing on using your quads to shoot, the rest of your shot should fall into a nice rhythm. Dipping and using your quads will force your hands and arms into rhythm with the rest of your boddy. I can almost guarantee that your release point will become more consisent if you do this.

Now that I have you (and Timmy hopefully) using your quads we can talk about the mental part of free throw shooting. Shooting is a bit of an art form. When you are doing it well, you just do it and don't think about it. When you struggle and start to think about it, you get worse. Until you stop thinking about it. But, this makes it hard to shoot under pressure. It makes it hard to shoot when you are tired. You have to find away to shoot with rhythm every time, without thinking about it. The answer isn't to shoot them as fast as you can. The answer is to have trigger that you focus on, then have faith in that trigger.

Again, you use your quads. You use the dip and the lift of your quads as your mental trigger. The only thing you focus on is making sure that you shoot with your quads. This allows you to remove your mind from the shot and shoot in rhythm. Think about other ways you can focus on a shot. You can focus on lifting your heels. You can focus on flicking your wrist. You can focus on keeping your elbow in. You can focus on having good rotation. But, I contend that focusing on any of those things will force you to eventually OVER use the muscles involved.

If you focus on using your calves to lift your heels, you will eventually lift too much or too fast with them. If you focus on flicking your wrist to rotate the ball, you will start to flick too hard or too fast. In addition, when you are tired, these smaller muscles are much harder to control. Your quads on the other hand, are very large muscles that move you through a long range of motion. It is much easier to maintain a rhythm when you are using a much stronger, much longer muscle. Quads don't twitch. Not like a forearm does. Think about it for a bit. If you wanted to have a nice repetitive smooth motion when you were tired, would it be your forearm flicking your wrist? Or your calves lifting your heels? Hell no. Smaller muscles are much harder to control under exhaustion.

You use your quads as your mental and physical trigger. It allows you to establish a rhythm that you are able to repeat. It allows you to trigger that rhythm while keeping your head out of your shot. Go outside and work on it a bit. Tell me you don't have good arc. Tell me you don't lift your heels. Tell me you don't have better rhythm.

Next time you see Tim at the line, watch his knees and quads. He rarely uses them. He has a flat shot. He has lousy rhythm. But, also watch next time he gets a ball kicked out to him at 18' and he shoots right away. He'll use his quads. He dips at his knees. His shot has an arc. And, he has fantastic rhythm on that shot. Tim Duncan should be shooting 80% from the free throw line. He just needs to use his quads. If you see him, tell him I said so. I'll give a lesson for free if he wants. I'm that kind of nice guy.