My body language is saying, "Talk to the hand."
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE
We live in a day and age where pretty much everything that any basketball player says is overblown, overhyped, overanalyzed, and over scrutinized. Why? Because analysts are trying to get some insight. They want to know not just what has happened, and is happening. They want to know the future, what is going to happen? Everybody is all about predictions. Kind of stupid, in my opinion, as you have guys like Stephen A. Smith laughing Skip Bayless out of the building for saying "Tiago Splitter", and then later having to slowly eat his words over a number of interviews until he outright apologizes to Skip Bayless, and predicts the Spurs to win it all. It's ok to speak opinions as opinions with a degree of uncertainty - which is what many of these guys who unequivocally wrote off the Spurs are doing now. They were convinced before. They are not quite convinced, or don't want to believe it now. That's ok.
But when these guys hear Lebron James say they are going to win 8+ championships, they think it is going to happen. Not because Lebron, and Wade and Bosh are such good players, but because they are such good players and they SAID they were going to win, and these guys BELIEVE that they are so good, that if they just put their minds to it, nothing can stop them - they can only beat themselves. They hear Andrew Bynum guarantee a win against the Spurs and they think the same thing. Bynum was a beast in the first game. He can be a beast again IF HE WANTS TO, and nobody can stop him. He can only beat himself. This is the narrative they create in their heads, and this is what they tend to live by.
One thing that is not always overlooked, but is definitely understated, and under hyped, and under analyzed, and under reported is body language. I've studied body language for years. I've turned games off, regardless of the score, after reading body language. And I can't think of a time that I have incorrectly predicted the outcome of such a game.
We have seen some reports of body language from the mainstream media, and a few more from this site regarding our Spurs. I think the body language of the Spurs is so significant, I want to highlight a few things I've seen, and you can judge for yourselves:
1) After the first four games against Utah, including the series clincher, they didn't jump up and down, didn't beat their chests. I don't even remember a small celebration. They just shook hands with the Jazz, and headed to the locker room.
Analysis: a varsity HS team doesn't celebrate if they destroy the JV team in a preseason game, because it means nothing since it was expected.
Translation of body language: we have done nothing yet.
2) First two games against the Clips, both wins. No rejoicing, no smiling. Guys simply walked off the court.
Analysis: When your underdog opponent gets into a car crash on the way to a wrestling match and has is arm in a sling, neck in a brace, and leg in a cast, but still wants to compete, beating him is no big thing.
Translation - this wasn't even a challenge, this is not about egos, we have done nothing yet.
3) Game 3, early second quarter. Down 24 points already. You might expect to see guys looking embarrassed, defeated, or frantic. No, we saw the same things we've been seeing for a while now. Heads up, steady as she goes, pound the rock.
Translation - we're going to do what we do and the score will be what it is.
4) Game 3, half time. Down 10. Tony, Pop, Duncan on the bench - completely relaxed, calm, smiling, sharing a little laugh. Looking for all the world like they were up 30 at the half and the bench was going to play the rest of the way. Translation - we aren't worried. We've got a a winning strategy that we're going to execute. We've got a lot more juice in the tank, and even some offensive and defensive looks we haven't used yet that we have been saving if we need to use them.
24 points down early in the second quarter, Zach Harper of ESPN Daily Dime Live says, Spurs win by 11. Blake Griffin looking like a superstar, hitting everything from every where. Completely dominating Diaw. Second quarter Spurs come back 14. Second half Duncan spends most of the time on Blake. Not sure if you noticed, but that guy Duncan is pretty good on D. Second half Blake looks very ordinary.
5) Game 4 victory. Some smiles, some hand slaps. Clippers had given them their best shot, Paul and Griffin played well. Our guys, not too great -- the starters had negative +/- numbers. The bench did well.
Translation: that was a bit of a challenge, that was fun, glad we won.
These guys are on a mission. I think we're going to see things in the next series that we haven't seen yet, and I think Pop has been saving them. I'm hoping we see Super Manu. Pretty sure we could win without him, but Manu that we have seen in the past could definitely turn this from a 7 game series, to a 4 game series.
You can be sure that when he enters Sunday's game as a sub for Danny Green, I'll be paying close attention to his body language.