Saturday, September 10, 2005

Offseason

Coming into the offseason with the tag of a defending champion is kind of a two-edged sword. It could work for you sometimes with great additions or you could end up having a bad contract that's going to bite you in the long run. So far Spurs have been lucky (thank god for the Summer '03 - for, Kidd didn't sign).

The priority for the Spurs was to re-sign Horry and I am glad both parties quickly got the deal done without much drama. Horry deserved a pay-hike; he battled like a warrior in the playoffs, and he still has enough gas in him for at least 2 seasons imo.

Signing Oberto was a bit of a suprise because of all the talks were just about how Spurs are going to bring in Scola. I think the Spurs once again came up with a surpise and I hope he gels with the team and is going to be major contributor immediately (needed because, if he works out great, Spurs will be better placed to let Nazr go or Trade Rasho just to get some cap-relief for a young SF next season).

Signing Nick Van Exel was a surprise. I never thought NVE is going to be a Spur. Honestly, I never liked the guy before the '03 WCF. He had a monster series against us and I like him a lot since then (although he was fearless, clutch guy before too - he was not to my liking).

Finley agreeing to play for Spurs is HUGE. Thank Mark Cuban for getting into a situation where he ended up having bad contracts , but had to release a quality baller Finley. I am glad he chose Spurs especially because other suitors were our potential CF/Finals opponents. It's like a win-win situation. You get a fine player and at the same avoided him going to a contender.

The direct outcome of Finley signing is the departure of Devin Brown. Most Spurs Fans like him - not just for the reason that he is a local boy, but he proved he could be a decent role player in the league. I am sure Spurs would've tried to match Utah's offer to Brown if they could've moved Barry's contract. But Devin became Plan B or C for Spurs, with his back still in question. You can't go into the season with him as a primary backup for Bruce in that situation. Plus you don't get guys of Finley's calibre every season for so cheap. And probably coach Pop wanted to give Barry one more chance this season before writing him off (esp. after a decent showing in the Finals). I am sure RC and Pop are aware of the aging swingmen rotation of Bowen/Barry/Finley and they'll fill the hole with a younger , quality guy next season.

Overall Spurs look set for a great season ahead with a bench comprising of almost another starting lineup for any NBA team. Tim and Manu getting a real rest with no international/national commitments is going to be huge. Chip Engelland should help in fixing some of Spurs' shooting woes and get a consistent and reliable shooters out of Tony, Brent, Bruce.

Exciting times for Spurs Fans!!!

Go Spurs Go

Thursday, June 23, 2005

whooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

More later....



Go Spurs Go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, June 17, 2005

NBA Finals: Games 3 and 4

I'd have to say right at the beginning, these games were not just disappointing, but real heart-breakers. Of course, it's just not the Pistons' won on their home-court but the sheer lack of aggressiveness and attitude shown by the team that hurts. Losing this big is going to shake you up a lot, but it's not the time to panic. They have to pull it together in game 5 or the series would be as good as over. I hope someone stands-up and takes over the team for the next two games and leads them and lifts the team out of trouble.

I' definitely don't want to take another shot at my heart anymore. Spurs just don't have to be cautious for game 5 but play it like their last game of the season.

Go Spurs Go!!!

Monday, June 13, 2005

NBA Finals: Game 2

First half of game 2 was more like a typical Spurs game - coming out strong on both ends of the floor. I personally liked Tony's and Nazr's effort especially Nazr's because it didn't show up in the box score. Nazr deserves some serious love from the fans.

Coach Brown decided to force Bruce to hit shots and it hurt them badly - We all Spurs fans know Bruce can knock down open shots, but that is what an opponent should do when they Tim, Tony and Manu were in a zone. Manu brought in another aspect of his game - by knocking from outside - Pistons looked confused about their game plan against him. Tony was great defensively all game long. There was fun too in this game - with Manu, Tony and Brent making great passes for great plays. Also, Spurs ran a lot and were good at it.

As for Pistons' offense, their shots were equally distributed among Hamilton,Billups and Sheed but the guards were ineffective. Prince is not contributing at all and it's going to be tough for them he continues like this.

Now that the series is moving to Detroit, Spurs have to remain focussed and come out aggresively in game 3, because this is a key game and Pistons will be in trouble if they Spurs bring in their game.

Bottom note: I was listening to Ahmad Rashad's show for game 1 and Antonio Daniels talking about Timmy. It's great to know some of Timmy's life off the court and that he is as cool a guy as anyone. The way he's been friends with role players like Antonio Daniels, Stephen Jackson and Malik Rose shows that the guy is cool to hang-out with.


Go Spurs Go!!!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

NBA Finals: Game 1

I am glad the Spurs came through this one. The way they started the game, I started thinking this one has uglyness written all over it and honestly couldn't just watch for a stretch. Pop called two great timeouts to keep the house in order and put in Horry, Barry (surprise for so many) and finally the team responded with great energy at least on the defensive end. Too many turnovers, bad decisions and easy baskets for Pistons early in the game made Spurs to dig deep and pullout collectively as a team.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Devin on the floor, but didn't understand the way Pop spread out minutes for Brent,Devin and Glenn. May be he wanted to feel how the matchups are going to work. This combination has to produce offensively in the coming games. If Bruce can hold 7-21 kind of games for Rip, I will take him going zero points any game. It was combination of Rip missing easy ones and Manu helped out Bruce for some minutes.

Timmy being Timmy whether it is running game or defensive war was normal. Should I even talk about Manu? I'll leave it to experts and the whole media world to write millions of words. Tony was okay but he has to do a lot better in ball-handling and control the pace of game.

I was surprised Coach Brown didn't run plays for Rasheed esp. in second half. May be he decided to live and die with guards. Billups was great as usual and hope Pop throws in different strategy on him. Prince's play didn't help them either.

I'd hope to see Nazr/Timmy/Horry to be real agressive on defense and help out our guards on screens to make life tough for Pistions' backcourt. Tony is clearly the key now and he should come in to the game with a lot of focus to make good decisions on the court.

It's all about adjustments in game 2. It will be interesting to see Pop's bench rotation and him figuring out a way speed up the game.

Monday, June 06, 2005

NBA Finals: Preview

So here we are going against Pistons in the NBA finals. This is going to be a hell of a matchup. While the Spurs-Suns series was great and fun, this one is going to be great too but could be ugly at sometimes.

Not to take away anything from what Pistons have achieved so far, Spurs would go into the series confidently. Spurs will be cautious but not over-awed in facing the defending champions. There are going to be some tough matchups that'll decide the series.

Parker-Billups : Historically Tony has struggled against bigger guards, but Tony of 2005 is matured and increased his basketball IQ over a period of time. He'd do a good job defensively (IMO only Marbury used to abuse Tony regularly) but his offense against Billups is what counts. Tony looks very adaptable this season if things are going tough so he'll be just fine. Tony should be little creative though on the offense to overcome the hurdles.

Ginobili-Prince: This is going to be the matchup of the Finals. Two Dynamic guys going against each other at both ends and a flair of unpredictability each bring to the court will be awesome.

Bowen-Hamilton: While Rip is very quick, Bruce is as best you can get to chase the guy.Bruce on the offensive end though should make sure he keeps Rip engaged in defending him just to tire him a bit , if not score those corner 3s.

Duncan/Mohammad- Wallaces: Rasheed has defended Timmy reasonably well in previous years, but Timmy is so good he is gonna over come any matchup thrown at him. The problem for Timmy would be to stay on perimeter to make sure Rasheed just jacks up outside shots. Nazr should be as effective as he has been this playoffs on boards.

Finally, it boils down to who play the team-ball together and run set offense/defense well. It's not like previous series, where Nash was the key no matter how much Amare was dominant.

I am sure Pop will come up with a great strategy for the series to handle Hamilton/Billups/Prince over a best-of-7 series.

Go Spurs Go!!!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Playoffs: The Suns Series

Soon after the Sonics series was over, most of the Spurs fans (me included) were hoping that mavs-Suns series would go into 7 games - In the hindsight though, Suns finishing it in 6 was kind of blessing in disguise for Spurs.

I was hoping Spurs could play competitive games out there in Phoenix and possibly win a game. But Pop has too many weapons these days and he utilizes them to perfection. Commonsense would tell us that scores above 105 would be cakewalk for Suns. Pop allowed the team to run to Suns' pace and it worked out great. Suns' defense helped too. They just can't seem to shutdown the opponents for a decent 3-4 minutes. I felt Spurs' running straight into Suns' trap by not even playing defense in all quarters, but I guess at that pace you just can't. The real difference was Spurs imposed what they wanted to do in 4th quarters of those games and executed the game plan to perfection.

I enjoyed game 3 better just for the fact that Spurs had a great first half, which helped watch the rest of the game in a relaxed mood ;-) Game 4 could possibly the worst-ever playoff game for Timmy (or at least close to the one he had in 2001 WCF against the Lakers) - so nothing much to cry about. You expect a great team like the Suns to show up and execute better. Tony having a sub-par game didn't help either. At this point I have to say, I was a little bit nervous going into Pheonix, but not too overly worried.

Game 5 was as classic as you can get. Great first half in which the teams evenly matched. And common-sense would tell Timmy would come back with a vengeance. Early in the third quarter Spurs doing what they often do - shutting down with great D and allowing Tony to run some plays. I thought Tony did a great job despite all the hype about Tony's problems with bigger guards. I can't buy the argument that Tony struggles against a set of poing guards in the league. What they don't see is his unique ability to slash to the basket against almost anyone - not a skill most of PGs possess. But again, there is so much expectation from Tony, the guy gets unecessary bashing all the time.

Amare was absolutely a beast. Not to take away anything from him, I wonder Spurs kind of went with this plan of not concentrating too much on him. In previous years, one couldn't see Pop coming out with a definite plan of pinning one of Shaq or Kobe for a whole series. Yeah, the guy scored a load of points and is one of the best PFs out there, but installing him at the top of the best-ever list is too much of a strech.

As Pop kept on saying, Nash is what all the Suns are. They go the way he goes, period. This guy is amazing and definitely the right choice for MVP this season. I mean, I don't think anybody is going to hate this guy even for basketball reasons (yeah, Mavs Fans including ;-) ). He is all class and I am sure his team is for real for years to come. Loser Mavs :-)

Except some mud-slinging by Marion after game 4 (saying Spurs are tired, blah..), the series was all about high-quality fun basketball. The respect teams showed for each other was a sign that good guys can still survive in the NBA.

One point about Coach Mike D'antoni - He is all class and gave some of the best quotes in the interviews. He really enjoys post-game interviews - doesn't he? (After all, why wouldn't you if your teams 105+ points every time they hit the court). But he just cried a bit too much about the absense of Joe Johnson. It looked like he was it as an excuse. Yeah JJ was a big-piece in their overall scheme, but one got to live with it (Spurs are playing without Rasho and Devin too - esp. Devin could have given us some real minutes).

When the series began, I was thinking Suns could pose the biggest challenge yet. And sure they did. The series was not as easy as the 4-1 win suggests.

It's great Spurs are getting some R&R and time to cool-off from the high-octane offense that was holding the NBA a hostage for more than a week ;-)


Go Spurs Go!!!