Apparently the league will fine people who flop starting next season using official observers at games as well as replay. Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker, and Bruce Bowen will all be fined a mininum of 50 grand for their foolishness. Little by little, the NBA world is becoming a better place...lol.
As sorry as I am to see the Hornets get beaten on their home floor, I have the feeling now that this Spurs-Lakers series will be amazing. The Lakers match up well with them and I think that anytime you have 2 of the greatest coaches in NBA history playing chess it's going to be a good series. While I dislike Kobe Bryant, I think that I would rather see him go back to the NBA finals then the Spurs. I also am excited to see the two juggernauts of the east square off. I do feel that if Boston doesn't raise the caliber of its play that Detroit will knock them out in 6 games. Home wins against this Detroit team are NOT a given and the Celtics better be aware of who they are playing. At the end of the day, we are one step closer to a Boston-LA series and that makes me very happy.
But if they are going to win this series, here are some things they can look to do tonight.
1) Play uptempo.
The Spurs have a "Championship" gear that they have accessed in the past to give them an advantage against inferior teams. It's called "Keep the scores in the 70's till the end of the game." They pull this crap...ahem...strategy... out every time they make the NBA Finals, slowing the game to a halt in order to break the will of the other team and use their two finishers--Duncan and Ginobili--who are two of the best in late game situations.
In the last 7 years, there have only been TWO teams they could not do this to (although Lord knows, they tried): the Shaq/Kobe Lakers and the 7-seconds-or-less Phoenix Suns (not the Shaq Suns). They each had personnel that could run away with a game even if the Spurs tried to clamp down. So the Spurs were forced to run with them, return pressure on their defenses, and use their aggressiveness to stay in the game.
They respected these two teams enough, win or lose, to play fast in order to beat them. They surrendered to NOT playing Spurs basketball.
And tonight, that's what they need to do, because Chris Paul is an imposer. It's time for them to add a third team to that respect list. They just need to accept it.
2) Give the Hornets a heavy dose of Ginobili drives.
The Spurs "Big 3" do an excellent job of getting to the rim. But of the 3, Parker is least likely to make the bucket (from being face-down into the ground) and Duncan is least likely to drain the free throws. Ginobili, on the other hand (get it? he's left handed! whaaaat a crappy joke), has a knack for getting inside, drawing fouls AND hitting the free throws. In a series that has really swung heavily in either team's favor, we are due for a close game, and the extra free throws and buckets Ginobili provides make him the guy the Spurs need to look to in getting back to New Orleans.
3) Leave Duncan on Chandler, put Bowen on West.
Maybe I can only say something this stupid because I'm NOT a coach, but Bowen is a pest, and West is a hothead. Regardless of the size difference, in a hostile home environment, down 3-2, I don't see why the Spurs don't give a crack at this. If he's getting 38 on your big men anyway, why the heck not? Bowen is the most annoying player in the NBA, and his headgames have taken down MANY better opponents. Even if he doesn't play the most important possessions on West, I think the more time he spends on him tonight the better chance the Spurs have of getting him out of rhythm. And if Stojakovic goes too crazy without Bowen on him, well...ok I didn't really think that far ahead.
4) PLAY GROWN MAN BASKETBALL
That's right, Fabricio! You can't play tonight! The Spurs are the floppinest, complaininest, "I'm-gonna-lie-here-so-the-refs-can-possibly-call-a-flagrant"-est playoff team ever. I want to call them the San Antonio Derek Fishers, but again, that would be an insult to Fabricio, who is to flopping what Kareem is to the sky hook.
Look, the Hornets are a cocky, physical basketball team. They aren't going to go down from late-game flopping, taking charges, and fadeaway jumpers. The Spurs need to ATTACK tonight. On defense, on offense, on the boards, on the break, in every way possible. This team is showing its age, and while they still appear to have the gears to attack (25-year-old point guard in particular), they need to go all out. More than anything, I think this is the reason they never have won back-to-back titles--they just think it's gonna happen for them. And it takes postseason failure for them to realize "Hmm...we really should've attacked those guys." Well if they want to accomplish this for the first time (Please God don't let this happen)...they need to go to the hole, make hard fouls, and be the dominant villain they are supposed to be.
1) Chris Paul has to get to the rim. They are most dangerous when he is able to penetrate, like Tony Parker does.
2)David West has to outplay Tim Duncan again. In order for the Hornets to take the next step, West has to have a breakthrough performance on the road against the greatest power forward in NBA history. It's not as far-fetched a scenario as one might think. We could be in for something historical if he is able to do that with a bad back.
3) Peja and the bench have to step up. Someone else has to have a great game for them to beat the Spurs in San Antonio, whether it be Peja finding a way to get his shot off, Chandler playing great defense and throwing down oops from CP3, or one of the bench players putting in 13 or 14 points, the Hornets have to come at the Spurs as a three headed monster. Its especially big if Chandler plays well because it will be an emotional lift for the team knowing he is hurt.
4) Frustrate the Spurs with defensive pressure and offensive aggressiveness. The Spurs have a tendency sometimes to get chippy and have silly fouls called when they feel the game is slipping away; the Hornets need to cause this to happen in game 6.
5) Hit your free throws. Self explanatory. If you are able to get the calls driving to the basket, capitalize on them! As an add on, at least match them on the offensive and defensive glass! Tim Duncan should not grab 23 rebounds, Greatest forward of all time or not.
6) Make Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli jump shooters. The Spurs, even when shots are falling, are not as good a team when they aren't able to get to the basket. The Hornets have a unique and active front line that can form a wall and keep them out of the paint. When they do get in the paint, hammer them (cleanly though) and make them shoot free throws. Tony Parker should be sore after this one. No freebie layups, this is the Playoffs!
7) Make a patented third quarter run. Come out after the half and hit them in the mouth, whether its a 13-3 or 20-7 run, get out and up by 11 or more going in to the fourth, and your chances of winning game 6 go up exponentially.