Friday, June 24, 2005

Game 7 Misconceptions


By Anthony Peretore

My apologies for not getting a pick up last night, but we all know I would have taken Detroit with the points. Boy did Vegas clean up last night, huh? What’s the equivalent of a bad day for Vegas? Is it like you and I busting a shoelace? Or how about swallowing a watermelon seed when you thought it was seedless? Maybe one day Paul and I will run our own casino…

Anyway, on to last night's game (and I’ll do my best to make this brief). Let’s fast forward to this morning first. An ESPN headline read something like, "Duncan displays true MVP performance." And then after Bill Simmons rolled out of bed at 10 AM, his article contained this statement: “Tim Duncan played the finest game of his career Thursday night, controlling the second half as the only competent big man against a much bigger team.” Was I tuned into another network last night? Did I dream up all of Game 7, or did I actually watch it? Is it just me or was Tim Duncan just mediocre? Am I alone on this?

Now I know numbers don’t always tell the whole story, but it’s a nice starting point. First half, Duncan: 4-9, 8 points, 3 rebounds. With just 77 total points on the scoreboard at the break, these were not terrible numbers at all—but MVP like? Now for that second half in which Duncan “controlled”-- he began the third by missing his first six shots en route to a 4-13 period with one of those makes a wide open 15-footer off an in-bounds play. Sure he netted 9 points in just over two minutes, but what about the other 10 in which he was a no-show? I seem to remember Timmy getting excellent position on Ben Wallace but just not being able to finish—whether it was the roll, Wallace’s D, or just bad shots. With the Pistons up something like 6 or 7 points, Duncan looked thoroughly frustrated and I wondered if he had it in him to turn things around. You don’t see Tim Duncan with that “uh oh” face on very often, yet here it was in full display.

Duncan should point to his teammates for bailing him out


In the 4th, Duncan was solid, going 2-5 from the floor, 1-2 from the line, but committing 3 of his 5 turnovers in the first 5:30 minutes with the game still very much up in the air. In the second half of the final frame, TD really didn’t do much-- 1-2 from the floor, 1 free throw, and that’s really it. If I only watched the first three quarters, then read these headlines this morning, I would have thought Duncan was like 7-8 in the fourth with 6 boards and 2 monster blocks down the stretch. Not the case. What we have here are classic examples of how the media always does its best to go out on a limb to praise a champion, even when maybe only half of that praise can be deemed worthy. Now don’t get me wrong, San Antonio is a fantastic ball club that has mastered playing to their strengths and maximizing their opponents’ weaknesses. And last night was no different, with Popovich attempting to utilize his biggest strength by going inside to Duncan early and often—but unfortunately, TD couldn’t be totally counted on. Sure Duncan made some great shots over the course of the game, but I just have a HUGE problem with my favorite writer classifying his performance as his “finest ever”. 10-27 (37%) from the floor, 5 turnovers in a Game 7…I’ve seen much better from him.

I guess the biggest problem I have with all of this is that writers can’t just sit down and write a piece that tells it like it is. Plain and simple: Duncan was okay, Manu was better, and the ultimate reason the Spurs won is because they were able to wear down their opponent defensively and make bigger shots down the stretch. In my eyes, the real MVP was Manu Ginobili. In San Antonio’s four victories Ginobili averaged 22.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 5.5 APG; but he was especially good last night. When Duncan couldn’t get it done inside, it was the Argentinean slashing to the hole to loosen the Pistons’ defense in the paint. Driving dunks, 3-pointers, solid free throw shooting, what more could you ask for in a Game 7? If you ask me, the cameras should be on Ginobili this morning rather than a mediocre Tim Duncan, but that’s been the case for much of the season.

Ginobili was more worthy of MVP honors


Following the NBA closely from start to finish, I’ve become much more fascinated and in tuned to the game, but also very discouraged with the way it’s presented. It's about time for the fans to make up their own minds about players, teams, wins, losses, etc. We shouldn’t be force-fed ideas in order to make the league seem like something much greater than it actually is. In the end, it was a hard-fought Finals with two tremendously coached teams going head-to-head for seven games. Many people expected it to be a boring series, one without high-scoring, fabulous dunks, and nail-biting endings. But in reality, these last three games were some of the best played all season. However, instead of the media focusing on team play and execution, they’re more worried about making you believe Tim Duncan was much better than he really was. If you’ve taken anything from The NBA Source this season I hope it’s that you’ve learned to form your own opinions about not only the NBA, but sports in general. I hope you can take some of that knowledge and constantly apply it to every minute of sports you watch from now on. If you do, the entire sports world will be much better off. Enjoy the offseason…

8 Comments:

At 4:32 PM, Blogger Paul Benedict said...

Well said, Ant. I agree whole-heartedly with your assessment on Duncan last night. If Duncan really played a great game, he would have went 16-27, not 10-27. A bunch of those misses were shots he easily could have knocked down. At the same time, he does deserve credit for taking over the game (albeit briefly) during the Spurs' most important stretch. I can't figure out why Simmons said he played his "finest" game, yet only gave him a B+. I'd have given him a B-. One thing I believe that should be pointed out-- Duncan touched the ball on nearly every possession in the 4th, this after his remarkable 2 minute run in the 3rd. Essentially every basket the Spurs scored went through Duncan, similar to what Shaq provided for the Lakers in many of his monster games. Without Duncan spreading the defense and drawing double-teams, Manu Ginobili wouldn't have been able to find creases in the Pistons D that allowed him space to work with; Bruce Bowen wouldn't have ha all the time in the world to knock down 3's; Tony Parker wouldn't have had chances to catch the Pistons off-balance as they kept a keen eye on TD. While Duncan didn't 'play' his finest game, the entire flow went through him in the 2nd half and that enabled the Spurs to dictate the tempo and course of the game. MVP? Perhaps. You're right about Manu, he certainly warranted due consideration. A win is a win, a loss is a loss and the only games that really matter for a team when you look back at a 7-game series are the wins, and Manu was exceptional for the Spurs in 3.5 (shaky 2nd half of Game 5) of those 4 wins. Perhaps the league wants to protect and add to the legacy of Duncan, hoping that next year when the Spurs likely return to the Finals, that he will have more of a following amongst the public. That probably won't be the case however- It's the NBA Finals- Where Legends are Born; Not- The NBA Finals- Where Legends are Boring.

 
At 7:59 PM, Blogger Shepard said...

I don't know what was the problem.. Tim Duncan becoming a go-to guy?! WTF?! Luckily, they were steady at the defensive end..

My opinion is a beat different: read it here, i hope you like it.

I like this one by Anthony: Duncan was okay, Manu was better, and the ultimate reason the Spurs won is because they were able to wear down their opponent defensively and make bigger shots down the stretch. In my eyes, the real MVP was Manu Ginobili.

I'd say, Manu is co-MVP with Robert Horry. Everything would have been different after Game 5. And the final run in this game was started by another great trey from the corner.. by Rob ofcourse.

Paul, I think that those treys and shots are a result of the pathetic triple-teaming of TD. It was clear that Sheed or Ben could hold him down, but Brown was too cautious and got caught with it.

Perhaps the league wants to protect and add to the legacy of Duncan, hoping that next year when the Spurs likely return to the Finals, that he will have more of a following amongst the public. That probably won't be the case however- It's the NBA Finals- Where Legends are Born; Not- The NBA Finals- Where Legends are Boring. - THAT'S RUGHT MY MAN, THAT'S RIGHT!

 
At 10:17 AM, Anonymous The Man from Marlboro Lane said...

everyone is wrong... the true mvp of that series was Bruce Bowen, and i bet you tony parker would have received more consideration for the award... why does the mvp have to always be the big named scorer?? think about what bowen did this series in terms of shutting down hamiltion and billups. I am the guy who made the Chauncey proclamation last week, and i stick by it. I think billups is the most cluth player in the league - right there with "big shot bob" - and look at what Bowen did to him in game 7. Actually, I spoke with paul about this.. and Bowen should have been mvp of the entire playoffs... think about the job he did on Melo, joe johnson/qrich, and hamilton/billups... the only guy that id say got the better of him was Ray Allen, probably the best shooter in the league. We should give some credit where credit is due and say fuck you Robot and Ginobilibibli because Bowen is the reason that the trophy sits in San Antonio

 
At 11:38 AM, Anonymous Joe said...

I dont get this. Tim Duncan does not deserve this bad talk about him. After his first ring in '99 and when the Spurs got burned by the Lakers next three years it was said Duncan wasn't anything without the Admiral and that Duncan could not win another ring without him. He showed that in '03 after blowing out the Nets, most people shut it after that, specially after his gm 6 20 21 10 and 8. That season he had great success in regular season won the MVP and many thought he didn't deserve it. Now the same is all over again. I ask you and I want answers. What has Duncan done to deserve this? He's easily the true MVP player of this league. He has shown it over and over again. Fuck Garnett, fuck Shaq, Duncan is the man on both ends.

I cant believe my own eyes, someone thinks Horry is the MVP. So defense doesn't mean a thing uhh? Scoring 10 points a game and doing a terrible defense is worth being a MVP. This is stupid.

 
At 1:21 PM, Blogger Paul Benedict said...

Easy, Joe. Anthony and I were simply arguing that Duncan should not have received all the praise he did for his performance in Game 7. There's no question, at least from my standpoint, that he has been the most valuable player in this league over the last decade. Shaq's the most dominant, Kobe's the most talented, KG's the most versatile, LeBron's the most exciting, but Tim Duncan is clearly THE most valuable.

 
At 2:24 PM, Blogger Shepard said...

TD is a true role-model: calm, patient, hard working guy, sportman, intelligent and very smart. That's what NBA needs. A guy that can be sitributed to the kids.

No doubt, he is a type of player that every team needs. BUT, Duncan is not clutch, Duncan is not a go-to guy, and he is underachiever for me. He has terrific stats, but his game is not on the MVP level. His game is too average!

 
At 8:52 PM, Anonymous Joe said...

Paul, my rage wasnt aimed towards you or Anthony in particular. Its aimed towards some NBA pundits in general. I would agree Duncan wasnt playing his best in this series. Sure, Pistons' defense is probably the best ever, especially in the Wallaces the Pistons have clearly the best low post defense ever. Duncan is also the best PF ever, he should be able to handle this defense. Duncan missed too much of his sweet jumpers. Sometimes in this series Duncan felt uncomfortable about his jumpers. That shows in his 42% fg against the Pistons.

I mean, calling this guy all kinds of names that he's not clutch because of his poor ft% in crunch time in this series was totally not worth it. This is a player who has 3 MVP finals. I brings his best when needed. I dont know what he has to prove anymore. For me, he has to prove that he's not only the best PF ever, but one of best players ever. But for most, he has to prove that he is in fact the best player in the league and a clutch player. For me, that is so obvious.

Was Duncan getting too much praise for gm 7? I dont know. In 2nd half Duncan was the diffrence maker. If that aint clutch I dont know what.

Offchar: Please tell me, who's on the MVP level? If its not Duncan then who??? Please enlighten me. I must be a dumb ass because I cant find any player in this league who's more on MVP level than TD.

In my mind its clear that he's a MVP material everytime he puts on his adidas. Duncan is a go-to-guy. Just look at this Spurs team. Their starting PG is striky and really young. Their starting SG is abuot as wild as they can be and totally unpredictable, even Popp doesn't know what the hell he's doing. Their starting SF is a non-factor on offense and stays on the wing in most possesion. Their starting C sucks. Duncan has brougt this bunch of players to the finals. He would bring any team to the finals. The Spurs get lots of open jumpers because of Duncan and this team isn't even such a good shooting team.

I think Duncan is suffering for all the good things about him and him being a non-flashy guy. He's also not a swingman. Its a fact swingmen are favorites for most people because of their (usually) physical abilites, highlight dunks and all around abilites. Duncan doesn't have this things, he's almost boring. That he suffers from in the sense that a very few people really like him a lot as a player. When that happen people critise him more than he deserves and a few ones back him up.

Lets not forget one crucial thing. The Spurs are NBA champions right now, after beating a great team. Duncan is their main player and their MVP.

 
At 7:45 AM, Blogger Shepard said...

Q: Please tell me, who's on the MVP level?
A: Emanuel Ginobili, for his enormous effort on both sides.

quote: I must be a dumb ass because I cant find any player in this league who's more on MVP level than TD
A: Clash of different opinions, that's it. TD is among the best, but he isn't MVP. You have the old fat Shaq still making history (although this season it was more about the Flash), and Steve Nash, Amare Stoudamire, Allen Iverson etc. These guys step up every night, they give everything they can, no fear, no choke and good stats.

TD isn't boring for me. He's a true old-school guy, Big Fundamental.

quote: The Spurs get lots of open jumpers because of Duncan and this team isn't even such a good shooting team.
Agree, but every big man that is a threat, causes those open jumpers. Even Chris Webber does that.

quote: That he suffers from in the sense that a very few people really like him a lot as a player.
Damn, I like him as a player, but not as MVP. Because of him Kobe, Kidd, Pierce were disrespected.

quote: The Spurs are NBA champions right now, after beating a great team. Duncan is their main player and their MVP.
If you go by the rule - the best from the team is MVP - that's cool. But my MVP's are always players that particulary FIGHTING on the floor, guys like Manu, Rob (he doesn't play D?! what about all those steals?), even Bowen. I never liked media stars. And never will. ANd, if the Spurs are a team based on collective game, than let's say Duncan is a big part of the team, but not a player that can do it by himself only. There are players and players you know.. everyone that was involved ever in basketball knows what's the difference. TD is a player that fits in the team, but doesn't inspire the team.

 

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