Monday, April 30, 2007

Analysis: Spurs 96, Nugs 89 (Game 4)

- A game that Denver had to have, but was ultimately denied by classic late-game Spurs' defense & by a classic late-game shot-making legend. Though the Spurs' defense was a little subpar by their measures, they ratcheted it up a notch in the last minutes of the game to come up with some big stops. Also, Denver's 16 TOs hurt their slight margin of error vs. the Spurs.

- Melo was making tough shots all game. Either with hands in his face or doubles draped over him, Melo found ways to connect--11/18 for 29 pts. Love his decisiveness on his moves and like I said before, this is the quickest I've ever seen him. But he did have 6 TOs, 4 of which were offensive fouls where he seemed to force the issue. Iverson also hit some tough shots, but also like Game 2 he missed a handful of close-in shots--22 pts, but on 9/25. But the Nugs got very little from their bench. The Spurs bench outscored the Nugs badly for 4th straight game--32 to 8. The Spurs' bench is outscoring the Nugs' bench by 24.5 ppg.

- Spurs sprinkled in some zone, which is smart vs. the Nugs, try to keep them out of the lane, make them jumpshooters. Without much input from Kleiza or Smith (2 pts combined), the Nugs continued to shoot poorly from outside--2/16 from 3pt tonite, 16/57 (28%) for the series. Blake did hit a big shot late but he missed a couple of others badly, and in general, is an outside liability who you can help off of often.

- Was not a super defensive game overall for the Spurs--the Nugs did shoot 47.4%. They let way too much go in the painted area, and were giving up baseline way too often. Duncan made a few mistakes he normally doesn't, usually on the baseline. But they also did a good job forcing Melo into 4 offensive fouls, a few because of timely doubles. And even though Melo had 29, Bowen was right there challenging nearly every attempt. Parker also did a great job moving his feet to stay in front of Iverson on a few crucial late game possessions.

- Manu had a handful of perfect feeds to Duncan for some easy buckets in the 3rd which helped chip away the Nugs' lead. But he had a couple of misguided passes that led directly to Denver points (4 TOs overall). But you really can't complain with his overall play--18, 6 assts, 5 rebs, & 5 stls ain't too shabby. Parker did his usual deep penetration with his patented corkscrew finishes--7/11 for Tony, and a big drive & kick to Big Shot Bob for the back-breaking 3pt.

- Nene has stepped his game up to the next level in this series. He continued to guard Duncan as well as you can ask, and he once again finished in the lane on offense (18 pts, 7 rbs). You can see improvement in his footwork, and he has shown glimpses of a developing post game. Camby had himself a great all-around game patrolling the lane. Marcus was changing, blocking (5), helping on Tim & Parker, and some straight-up defense on Duncan. Camby also had a couple of big follow-up shots which padded his rebound total of 17.

- Probably a little too late for the Nugs, but they have to get something from Smith & Kleiza. Been repeating this since the series preview, and the Nugs really need their shooting & extra scoring punch if they want to extend the Spurs. These guys are the 2 best 3pt shooters on the Nugs & they are a combined 1/18 for the series.