Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sunday Recap & Analysis

SPURS/NUGS (Game 1): Nugs 95, Spurs 89
-As good as Iverson & Melo were tonite, I think Nene was the MVP for the Nugs. His defense on Duncan was superb & offensive board work was huge. The Nugs' defense was probably more impressive than their offense tonite. They took away Parker's & Duncan's strengthes, and were physical without fouling (Spurs only took 10 free throws). They also did not allow Parker to finish with his usual propensity.

- Nugs came out looking to be very aggressive off the dribble. Melo had the hot hand all game, and has much more room to operate this year with other options & shooters on the floor besides him. The Spurs had a real problem trying to contain Iverson. The Big 2 combined for 61 pts on 21/40 & both guys went 8/8 from the foul line. Both guys were quick on their moves not allowing the doubles to set up.

-In my playoff preview I mentioned the Nugs could make things interesting because I thought the Nugs had the bigs who could defend Duncan well. I thought Camby would get the majority of the assignment checking Duncan, since he's done a good job on him in the past. But George chose to go mostly with Nene, and it worked beautifully. Nene held his own, and it freed Camby to roam the baseline and help deter the drives that Parker loves (Camby had 10 rebs, 2 blks & 2 stls).

- Nene was quite a presence in the post. Did a great job holding up Duncan all game & was a monster on the offensive glass (8, 12 total). Denver contained Parker surprisingly well, he did not abuse Blake like I thought he would. Probably part of the reason for that nite was Camby was freed up to protect the rim.

- The Spurs' Big 3 had a woeful 1st half--a combined 7/33--and finished the game a combined 19/52. Manu could not find the range all day & Duncan was shut down by Nene. Parker's numbers were nice--19, 8 assts, 6 rebs, 2 stls--but it was a very quiet 19.

- Not only did the Nugs hold the Spurs to 42% shooting but they also won the board battle by 9, and really hurt the Spurs on the offensive glass--15 off. to only 21 def. boards for the Spurs.

- The Spurs have to do a better on the glass--a def. board pct. of 58% is awful; you want to be at least near 72%. Spurs are going to need to hit from the outside a little better as well. Nugs are going to have get something from JR Smith, and to lesser extent Kleiza. Those two are the only scoring options off the pine, and not sure the Nugs can rely strictly on Melo & AI for their points the rest of the series. The Nugs' bench only pitched in 6 pts compared to 36 from the Spurs.

MAVS/WARRIORS (Game 1): Warriors 97, Mavs 85

- I guess I am going to have to reassess my position on the Warriors; my esteemed Painted Area partner will definitely be rueing the fact that I didn't give much of a chance to G.S.

- This win had to do with Warriors' defense, believe it or not. They never allowed the Mavs, specifically Dirk, to get comfortable--the Mavs were held to 35% & 6/19 from 3pt. They aggressively double-teamed all over the court, and the Mavs did not respond well. Though the Warriors were getting shredded on the baseline, and were letting some easy drives down the gut, especially Dev Harris. But Dallas really never etsablished a well-planned line of attack on offense which played right into the Warriors' hand. Like the Suns, you have to attack the paint, because the Warriors' interior defense is non-existent.

- The Warriors' offense was not really that great. They shot 43% from the field, 33% from 3pt, and only put up 97 pts, which is pedestrian for them. It's sort of amazing they won this game, but their defense & solid job on the offensive glass helped their cause.

- Baron was a flat-out beast on offense bombing from deep & using his ample caboose to bull his way in-between--Davis went off for 33, 14 rebs, 8 assts, & 3 stls on 11/20 shooting (4/7 from 3pt.) Steve Jackson complimented Baron with some aggressiveness of his own--Jackson had 23, 5 rbs, 4 assts, 2 stls & was 3/7 from 3pt. land.

- I think Avery should get a fair amount of the blame for not calling more low block post-ups for Dirk. Totally perplexed why he was not trying to establish Dirk down low--I think I counted about maybe 5 times where Dirk tried to set up on the block. Some of the blame has to go the Mav guards for not working to get better post-entry passing angles (Something that has been a running theme for all teams this weekend). Mavs also did not helped themselves with a boatful of missed lay-ins--Josh Howard must missed 4-5 himself.

- Dev Harris drove the ball at will thru the lane, and was the one consistent offensive threat for the Mavs. Josh Howard had a pretty nice showing with 21, 13, & 3stl, but only 8/21. 4 points from the bench did not help the Mavs' cause, Stack was 0/6.

- Surprisingly, the Warriors kept the rebound battle close enough. Though giving up 19 off. rebs is usually bad, the Warriors tempered that with an unlikely 14 off. boards of their own. They did a good job of chasing down a fair amount of long rebounds usually coming from their 20 missed 3pts. If they can somehow continue to keep the rebound margin within a few, they could make this series even more interesting.

- For the Mavs, it would be nice if they would set Dirk up in the post. I know GS will probably double a fair amount, so Avery has to send cutters down the lane; Harris did this once nicely tonite. Just attack the paint in general.

SUNS/LAKERS (Game 1): Suns 95- Lakers 87

-Hate to go back to it, but the Lakers failed to pound the post to my liking. Everytime they went to Odom down low he got great looks. Walton was the same way. I know Kobe was hot, but he started to force things by the end of the 3rd & carried this over all thru the 4th. While very few post-ups for Odom or Walton were called. Also thought th Lakers allowed the Suns get back in the game in the 1st half of the 2nd quarter by ignoring their advantage in the post.

-I thought Phil had a very questionnable game. Walton should have been on the floor more in the 2nd half, he did play 33 mins, but he was having a great game & was making good things happen when on the floor--Luke ended with 10, 6 assts, & 6 rebs. Also, why he kept Kwame on the floor so long is beyond me. Kwame hands are awful & he was worthless today. While Bynum was 3/4 in 12 minutes. Phil did make a good call on going with Farmar, who had a very nice all around game. Thought he did an admirable job on Nash. Did a good job of shading Nash away from the middle of the floor.

- The 3rd quarter got wild where both offenses got anything they wanted, great back-n-forth action. Kobe continued his hot hand from the 1st half, and Barbosa was literally unstoppable on the run. Barbosa led the Suns with 26, and was the key to the Suns late 3rd quarter run.

- The Lakers' defense which was strugglingly mightily as of late, was actually solid today. Besides the explosive 3rd quarter, the Lakers did a nice job holding the Suns to 43% overall & 6/23 from deep. They made a few mistakes on over-doubling (something they did last year) but that is to be expected.

- The Suns' defense was alright, at least on the perimeter. The interior is still vulnerable & ripe for the picking. Thought they defended Kobe well--much like last year--he just was hitting ridiculous shots that only he can. By the 4th quarter, they knew Kobe was going to force things, and they sent more bodies at him.

- Here comes my familiar refrain carried over from last year: Lakers must continuely go into the post. Even as hot as Kobe got, he should not have to force things that much like he did in the 4th. Let Kobe work off the post if the doubles come on Odom. If things are not working down low, then Kobe can go into one-on-one mode. Phil has to consider playing Bynum much more & calling his number on the block; same goes for Walton.

CAVS/WIZ (Game 1): Cavs 97- Wiz 82

- Cavs kept this game closer than it needed to be because their offense could not get into any sort of rhythm; a common occurence this year. Did like how they looked for fast break opportunities more often and it helped get some momentum in the 2nd half. The Cavs went on a decisive run after Bron's ankle injury.

- Big Z put on a solid performance--16, 8 & 8/10 on FTs--and was key to the Cavs pulling away in the 4th. I thought Big Z was moving swifter than ever, and Coach Brown wisely understands the advantage he has with Z, especially with Etan Thomas on the floor--something they should exploit all series. Larry Hughes looked to push the tempo in the 2nd half which led to 27 pts.

- Not really sure how the Wiz can make adjustments to challenge. Jamison dropped 28 and Hayes had 18, which is pretty much is well as you can ask for. If the Cavs can just get solid consistency & continuity to the offense the next 3 games they should end up with a sweep.