Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Monday Recap (May 22)

SPURS/MAVS (Game 7): Mavericks 119-Spurs 111 (ot)

- I guess this instant classic of a series could not be complete without ending in an instant classic Game 7. The Mavs came out of the gates insanely hot and forced the Spurs to play catch-up the rest of the game. Spurs finally got close late in the 3rd quarter, but could never seemed to be able to get the lead. You thought the Spurs might never break thru the Mavs' lead, but they finally did with less than a minute remaining. When the Spurs finally got that lead, I think you felt that the momentum from the breakthrough would carry them to victory. But The Spurs made a mistake fouling Dirk and could not get two good looks to fall at the end of regulation. They failed to capitalize on the momentum, and the Mavs took advantage in the OT by reverting back to their 1st half ways, and draining most of their attempts.

- The Mavericks came out in the 1st quarter on absolute fire, basically not missing a thing they threw up--15/18 from the floor in the quarter. They only slightly cooled down more in the 2nd quarter, by ending the half shooting a flat-out ridiculous 70% from the field. They finally came back down to reality in the 2nd half and in turn, the Spurs started to claw their way back. The Mavs finally ended the game shooting 52%. Dirk brought an MVP-type performance throughout the game with clutch shots and a new-found aggressiveness on the boards--37 pts., 15 boards, & 15/16 from the line. Dirk also provided the impetus for the scrambling of the Spurs defense, opening up good looks for his teammates. Terry being back also opened up the floor even more for the Mavs. Terry's ability to rain down jumpers from all over again, helped Howard (18 pts) & Stackhouse (13 pts) find their way to good looks. A nice pleasant surprise to the Mavs scoring party was Diop hitting all his shots (3/3) for 7 points. Not to mention, the solid defense on Duncan in OT and some big offensive boards late in the game. Probably the best thing to happen to the Mavs down the stretch was Van Horn & Dampier fouling out, letting Diop play in OT.

- Even while the Mavs were shooting lights out in the 1st half, the Spurs' offense was not doing too bad themselves. The Spurs played pretty well offensively the whole game (Spurs shot 47.4%), they just seemed to be getting overwhelmed because the Mavs would not miss. It seemed to take forever for the Spurs to finally get the lead, but when they finally did you felt the game was over. Manu came thru with big plays when the Spurs needed them and Duncan was his usual dominant self in the post--Timmy ended with 41 pts., 15 rebs. (6 off.), & 6 assts. Although, Timmy struggled to finished some chip shots in the OT, that eventually came to haunt the Spurs. The one minor issue I've noticed with Duncan in this series is--he rarely would spin baseline, he looked to finished most of his moves on either block going thru the paint. I thought he got a little predictable, and he had ample opportunities on Diop to use his quickness toward the baseline. And I don't remember Dallas sending too many doubles baseline, if at all. I think I shouted "Spin baseline" to the TV too many times to count during this series. Another thing that stood out about this game that was a microcosm of the whole series-- was that the Spurs only got 2 bench points vs. 29 for the Mavs. The Spurs got very little support from the vets on the bench this series--Van Exel should have retired last year, Barry never seemed to build any rhythm, and Horry has officially used up all his karma with the basketball gods. By no means, is the Spurs' dominance over as some people suggested, they still have the core of Duncan, Manu, & Parker signed for awhile. They just need to make some minor tweaks around them. They definitely need to get younger on their bench, especially their wing positions. Even though Finley & Bowen have played well this year, they both are at the age where they can turn slow overnight.


SUNS/CLIPPERS (Game 7): Suns 127-Clippers 107

- Not much nuanced analysis needed about another anti-climatic Game 7 with the Suns involved--the Clippers decided to put forth their worst defensive effort of the series, the Suns shot 60%. They again made poor decisions when to double and were out of place all evening defensively. This led to the major problem of the Suns getting great looks at the 3pt. line (15/27), which is just asking for trouble. The Suns spread the wealth around offensively by having all 7 guys who played for them score in double figures. Nash seemed to regain his stroke that was missing for most of the series--he finished with 29 pts, 11 assts. & 4/5 from deep. Marion also had the touch last night from deep (5/9), while Barbosa added a nice spark again with 18 pts. on 8/10. The Suns also kept the rebound battle close--32-32.

- The Clippers offense was not really a problem--they shot a very good 52.6%, to go with 58 points/paint. The Suns let the Clippers get what they wanted as per usual, especially Brand again--he had 36 pts. on 16/26 & 9 rebs. (7 off.). Maggette was alright off-the-bench with his attacking play--18 pts., 9 rebs., but also some dumb TOs, which is something that comes with the territory with Corey. The Clips have some big decisions to make this off-season. Do they re-sign 37 year-old Cassell to a short deal? Do they re-sign Radmanovic to a deal? Do they keep Maggette around? Kaman has an extension coming up this fall. So let's see if Sterling has really changed his frugal ways or if its just P.R.