Posted by: Ben White on November 21st, 2010The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
STOPPING THE SPURS:
Last year, the Jazz pulled off the unthinkable and swept the Spurs during the regular season. They had not won in San Antonio since the days when “Spam” email was called “Bulk mail”. Seriously. Chili bowl haircuts, Hanson, and Tamagachi’s were all in style the last time the Jazz had taken down the Spurs in Texas.
Well, reality came back this week as the Spurs earned a victory up here. Just when you think “Ok, NOW we can write off the Spurs, NOW they are too old, NOW they can’t possibly beat us,”; they do!
The Spurs are well coached and disciplined. It takes the same discipline to beat them. So, here is a break down of what it takes to beat the Spurs and how to stop each of their players.
It is hard to believe that Parker is only 28, he has been in the league for what seems like eons. Though he has a lot of mileage on his tires, he is still just as quick as anyone in the league not named Rajon Rondo. His signature move is to get into the lane and finish with a tear drop floater. He can also get to the line with ease. Throughout his career, Parker has improved slightly with his jumper, but it remains erratic.
To defend him, the defender must go under all screens and the screen-ee needs to show high and recover. This will prevent him from turning the corner and will make sure any shot he takes is contested. By showing high, the screen-ee forces him to make a decision, another non-strong point of his game.
Ginobili is a jack of all trades, master of none. And he plays hard all the time. And he flops, as has been noted.
To keep him under control, a defender has to take away his left hand and force him into help spots on the floor. He can get out of control with his play, so defenders need to frustrate him early to keep him throwing up bricks and off target passes.
He needs to be played much tighter than Parker, but he is not as quick going to the rim.
Jefferson has picked up his play quite a bit this year as he seems to have found his role.
The game plan with Jefferson has always been the same. He can’t create for himself or others, he can’t shoot. He has to be set up.
A defender must absolutely play him soft and let him try to do too much with the ball (he will make mistakes). He also should be allowed to shoot as much as he likes. An alert defender will always stay between the ball and Jefferson, keeping in a ¾ stance should suffice.
Duncan is one of the most skilled big men of all time. The game plan has not changed on him either. He is bothered by length, but there has to be some strength behind it; simply throwing Anthony Randolph out there will not be sufficient.
The best players at guarding Tim of this era (Pau Gasol and Rasheed Wallace) are strong enough to keep Duncan from pushing them around and are long enough to bother entry passes and shots. Additionally, they are quick off their feet and aren’t fooled by Duncan’s silly head fakes.
Keep him out of position and challenge his shots and Duncan can be neutralized.
A decent player, just needs someone who is strong to keep him out of the lane. Length bothers him as well and he can be completely shut down by the right combination.
The Spurs can be beat, but it takes discipline and a team effort. Everybody has to be aware. The Spurs don’t play one on one ball, so everyone has to be assignment sound. Otherwise, they will methodically grind you into the ground and there is nothing you can do; as the Jazz found out on Friday night.
IN THE LOCKER ROOM:
The 2009 NBA playoffs saw the Jazz and the Lakers face off in first round action. The Jazz played hard and brought the series to a 2-1 score with a win in game 3. But the Lakers were too much and took game 4.
After the game, we were told that Kobe would answer questions in the media room at a formal press conference setting. It was a special for NBA TV and ESPN.
So there I sat on the front row. To my left was JA Adande, a writer for ESPN and a frequent panelist of ESPN’s “Around the Horn”. I am a shy person by nature and thought I would just sit there and enjoy the experience of being 10 feet away from Kobe.
As I sat there, I realized that this is something I would someday be able to tell my kids about. I did not want to just sit there and not say anything. So I got up my courage and asked Kobe a question. Before you ask a question, you have to point to some arena staff member and they bring you a microphone, so I did this. At about the same time, Adande did the same thing, but they gave the only available microphone to me.
They pointed to me and indicated it was my turn, and the greatest basketball player on planet earth focused right on me. As I began, Adande started talking! We realized the mistake and Adande quickly said “Im sorry, go ahead”. I knew he was a big name, so I tried to defer to him, to which he asked me to go ahead. I could tell that Kobe was irritated, so I asked my question.
“Kobe, what do you have to do to make sure that you close the series out in LA, and not have to come back here?”
I was so nervous, that I didn’t even listen for his answer! I just passed the microphone back to Adande. Later, on my recorder, I realized that Kobe had said “Rebound, focus, we just need to play hard.”
Fair enough, I gave him a generic question; he gave me a generic answer.
It wasn’t the scariest moment ever, but I was sure nervous! Someday, I can tell my kids that I have talked to Kobe!
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