Friday, April 20, 2007

Nuggets vs. Spurs Series Preview

Using my overwhelming and vast girth of basketball knowledge, I am bringing you an unbiased preview of the upcoming Nuggets / Spurs series. This is an in-depth look at both teams inside and out, only the most crucial advantages and disadvantages will be involved in this groundbreaking analysis. Here it is...

Player Matchups -

Some say the most important factor in a series is how well the players actually play. It's an interesting thought process. If this is indeed true, then player matchups are rather important.

- Allen Iverson vs. Tony Parker -

- Scoring -

Here's the way I see this one playing out. Parker can't guard Iverson, and AI can't guard Tony Parker. Iverson can score in several different ways. He can get to the hole, he can hit the pull up mid-range jumper, and he's even been shooting better from 3 lately. He's Allen Freaking Iverson, he can score whenever the mood strikes him.

Parker (as strange as this sounds for an NBA player who's barely 6'2") is more of an inside scoring threat. In fact, he leads the league in points in the paint. Again, he's not a tall man. He can get to the rim fast and he's a good finisher. He also has a decent mid-range jumper, but isn't much of a threat behind the arc. Keeping him from getting easy layups is crucial.

- Passing -

Iverson is an extremely underrated passer. He's great at beating his man, drawing a lot of attention, then kicking to an open shooter or cutter. In the past month and a half he has been learning how to be part of the offense, as opposed to the entire offense that he was in Philly.

Parker is a decent passer, but Ginobli is more of the play maker on this team. Most of Parker's assists will come from driving, drawing help, and kicking to Bowen, Horry, or Ginobli for open shots.

- Rap Abilities -

While neither of them are going to make people forget about Tupac or even Snow, I'd say Iverson has a HUGE advantage in this field. He definitely has more street cred. Have a look/listen for yourselves:

Allen Iverson's rap

Tony Parker's rap

Is there anything less "gangsta" than a rapping french guy? Maybe a gay rapping french guy? I shouldn't say that, I don't want to offend gay people by comparing them to the french. I've tried kicking myself in the eardrum for the past 20 minutes to get that damn Tony P song out of my skull.


- Michael Finley vs. Steve Blake -

Not a really defining matchup here.

Finley is about 5 years past his prime but can occasionally be a factor. He can still score on people when he gets going and is bound to get some favorable calls from the refs. Look for him to wear down though if this series gets stretched out.

Blake is a backup point guard who's been playing starters minutes since being traded to the Nuggets. He is an above average passer who really pushes the pace when he's in the game which will be crucial for the Nuggets in this series. A slight problem with his game is that when he misses his first few shots he becomes visibly terrified to shoot a jumper (which is to say he looks a lot like the way Doug Gottlieb played in college).

The shooting guard matchup is really going to come down to the bench (since Ginobli is really the starter and they just have been bringing him off the bench so he can win the 6th Man award), and I'll go into detail about that later.


- Bruce Bowen vs. Carmelo Anthony -

In the past couple of years something has happened in this individual matchup. As Carmelo has gotten older he has begun to figure out how to beat Bowen, and as Bowen has gotten older he has begun to look slow. Translation - Bowens becoming a dusty old fart.

Carmelo has learned to score in several different ways and doesn't get rattled when opposing players body up with him like he used to. I think Bowen will grab and pull and flop all over the court, and how effective he is depends a lot on how much they let him get away with. I see the Spurs eventually having to double Melo which will help open things up for the entire team.

On the other end of the court, Bowen is the ideal cover for Melo. He doesn't try to drive, doesn't run off a lot of screens, he mostly just stands in the corner and knocks down open 3's when the ball is swung to him after the other team doubles up on Duncan. It's easy for Melo to lose his man though, so I can see Bowen hitting a few open 3's per game.

I have a feeling that both Melo and AI will expose Bowen in this series in that he has lost a step with age.


- Tim Duncan vs. Nene -

At first glance it's easy to dismiss this matchup with this simple thought process of "It's TIM DUNCAN against Nene bro. Nene means "baby" in Portugeuse, and Tim Duncan is TIM DUNCAN!" But it isn't as easy as that.

Nene has been on a tear the last 6 weeks (since he got unfat) and has been arguably the most important player on the roster. When the Nuggets run their offense through Nene on the low block he has to be doubled. When you double Nene it means that eventually Carmelo or AI will be left open, and that is what we all want Nuggets fans.

Tim Duncan is..... well...... Tim Duncan. Nene is overmatched. I guess you really can dismiss this matchup that easily.


- Francisco Elson vs. Marcus Camby -

Hey Nuggets fans.... You guys remember that 3rd string center we had last year? The guy who backed up Camby, and Nene? Remember? He had a Latin sounding first name but he was from the Netherlands? Yeah, Francisco Elson. Yeah, that guy is the starting center for the Spurs now.

Francisco may be the guy who starts the game but he only gets about 18-20 minutes per game. Look for a lot of Robert Horry aka "The Guy Who Used To Be Big Shot Bob".

On the other side, Camby is the Defensive Player of the Year (at least he better be) and a force on the defensive glass. Plus, he will be spending a lot of time altering Parker and Ginobli's drives to the hoop. As long as he stays out of both foul trouble and out of the ER the Nuggets have a chance.


Bench -

Most of the meat of the Spurs team comes off the bench, with Ginobli being the biggest factor. Ginobli is the guy who makes the Spurs go, he can hit the 3, take you to the hole and finish, and he is the teams best passer and play-maker also. He is also an unmatched flopper and his refusal to give in to his ever growing bald spot shows the type of steely determination needed for a championship run. The Spurs also bring key players Horry, Brent Barry and Fabricio Oberto off the bench as well. This is a very deep team.

The Nuggets bench is pretty solid also. The main threat is JR Smith who can give you either 30 points or 3 points on any given night. He is one of the teams most athletic players, dynamic scorers and has even shown the ability to play defense lately. The problem is that Karl doesn't seem to like him and has favored Linus Kleiza in the last few weeks. Kleiza is a nice player who has drastically improved this year. He is an average defender and streaky shooter who can get hot and hit some key shots. We also have energy guy Eduardo Najera coming in off the bench but, due to a strong dislike of him dating back to my college basketball days, I will not discuss him further.

Interesting subplot - With J.R. Smith's short temper and Ginobli's constant flopping theatrics, the odds are in favor of another MSG type brawl between the two. As long as Melo and his open-handed punch fighting style don't get involved, a fight between the two would actually favor the Nuggets.


Coaching -

Here are a list of things you will see from the coaches during this series:

- George Karl will bitch to the media about the officiating.
- Gregg Popovich will bitch to the media about the officiating.
- George Karl will glare at a ref after a Ginobli flop, then give a condescending smirk.
- Gregg Popovich will look flabbergasted after a foul called during an AI or Melo shot attempt.
- George Karl will give a post game interview where it sounds like talking to a guy who's trying not to fall asleep.

That said, Pop has a few titles and Karl's teams have a history of choking.


Uniforms -

All 87 of the Nuggets different uniforms blow the Spurs away.


Mascot -

The Nuggets mascot Rocky is a badass. Well, a badass as far as mascots go at least. The Spurs coyote mascot looks like he's just coming back from a 4 week crack induced blackout binge.... not that I know what that looks like or anything. Seriously though, what is with the green blood shot eyes? Kids in S.A. must have night terrors after games.


Cheerleaders -


Hottest Fiance -

LaLa Vasquez vs. Eva Longoria


No offense LaLa, but Eva's a tough draw in the first round.

X-Factor -

1.) The Referees - Will Tim Duncan's actions which led to the expulsion of Joey Crawford bring the wrath of the referees down on him? It sounds like Crawford has basically been blackballed from the league. As one of the elders of the referee council, there could be a big backlash. The Spurs are notorious for their constant bitching and whining, this could become a real factor during the series.

Prediction -

After reading through all of this as you can tell it looks like it should be a very good, very competitive series. And judging by all the actual basketball analysis of the series you could deduct that the Spurs would win in six or seven games.

But what is my prediction you ask?

Nuggets in a sweep!

You heard it here first.