Before I started writing for PtR, I blogged about the NBA. One reason was my frustration listening to analysts spout utter nonsense. Many thanks to Charles Barkley last night for reminding me of my roots.
Before the Spurs - Clips last night, Chuck mumbled something that sounded like he thought the Clippers would blow out the Spurs in Game Two. Hey, we all make bad predictions - and I would not comment except for his half-time "analysis" where he offered these nuggets:
"The Spurs want to walk it up court."
"The Spurs don't want a fast pace, they want it methodical."
I don't think Chuck actually watches the Spurs play.
Here are some other observations comments from last night's very exciting game:
1. Try as they might, parents who coach their kid's teams tend to overreact when the referees don't make a call when the coach thinks that his kid just got fouled. What is true in youth leagues turned out to be true in an NBA playoff game. Doc Rivers' minimally talented son missed a shot at one end, and the son's father thought it should have been called a foul. That father happened to be the coach of the Clippers, which led to Joey Crawford T'ing him up. Marco Belinelli made the free throw, giving the Spurs a point. (We will ignore the fact that Joey chose to call the T right as the Spurs were about to get an open 3 - the Spurs 32% from 3 for the game indicates they likely would have missed anyway.) Nonetheless, that single point from that father-son technical cost the Clippers the game. By definition, every point scored or given up in an overtime game was the difference in winning and losing. Also recall that JJ Redick, a 91% free throw shooter, later missed his technical free throw - also costing the Clippers the game.
2. At halftime, Barkley announced that "no one on the Spurs can guard Blake Griffin". In fact, the Spurs have one guy who does a great job on Blake. I told many people before the series that Tiago Splitter's availability was a key to the series, for that reason. Last night, Tiago was able to gut out 19 minutes, twice his minutes in Game One. And while Blake had a great game, very few of his points came when Splitter was covering him.
3. Two other Blake Griffin comments. First, at one point, the Clippers ran a pick and roll, the Spurs switched, and Tony Parker wound up covering Blake on the free throw line. The Oui Frenchman has as much chance of covering Blake as you or I do. Nonetheless, Blake kicked the ball to Matt Barnes in the corner - who amazingly decided to chuck up a (bricked) three instead of returning the ball to the Blake - TP matchup. Even though that play happened in the first half, I said to myself at that moment "That stupid shot may wind up costing the Clippers the game". Based on the "every point decides the game" analysis above, I was right.
Second Blake comment: Wow, he played great, including some excellent passes which led to a well-deserved triple double. Nonetheless, his two late turnovers meant that Blake spent the post-game declaring, with some accuracy, that he cost his team the game. On the turnover at the end of regulation: I don't think Blake has been in that moment very often. CP3 normally has the ball in that situation - and the situation may have swallowed Blake like the whale and Jonah. Especially after a loss, players (and coaches) remember the mistakes more than all the wonderful good things that happened - and there were many of them in a game that was both exciting and well-played by both teams.
4. Former Claremont Stag Player of the Year, all-around good guy and basketball savant Henry Albrecht, sent me the following question this morning:
Because you are smart, please analyze this. If DeAndre makes 8 of 20 free throws, but the Clips get 50% of the available offensive rebounds (which they seem to do with such colossal bricks and focused effort on the expected misses), does hack-a-D "work"?"
Even though I am not as smart as Henry thinks, I knew the answer to his question: Nope. My other question - if the Spurs are doing the Hack-a-D thing while they are ahead in the game, as they did last night in the 4th quarter, why not let the clock run a bit before fouling? Several times last night, the Spurs fouled Jordan off the ball with 23 seconds on the shot clock.
5. Spurs bench was huge, Clips bench was not. As noted earlier, the Spurs bench plays well because they all know they will get a chance to play. In the first half alone, 11 Spurs played, essentially everyone except Aron Baynes. Not coincidentally, the Spurs bench outscored the Clippers bench 48 -17. The only Clipper non-starter who ever plays meaningful minutes is Jamal Crawford, who does only one thing well - shoot the ball. When he goes 4 for 13 overall, and 1 for 7 from three, he doesn't help them much.
6. The long and the short of it? Big Timmy Duncan and little Patty Mills. Your efforts were much appreciated by a grateful Spurs Nation.