24 May 2008

Spurs OKish

Yes, that was a pun in the title. And yes, I'm aware that the Lakers are not the Hornets or the Sonics. But on to business.

With the Spurs down 0-2 to the Lakers, the vultures are out in full force. SportsIllustrated.com's Chris Mannix, for example, says that "the prognosis for survival is grim." Mannix also notes that teams that have lost the first two games in best-of-seven series have a gaudy 14-208 series record.

But the Spurs are going to be okay. I make my argument using the same statistics that Mannix used to argue that San Antonio was in deep, deep trouble.

In game 2, the Lakers shot 54.9 percent, while the Spurs shot only 34 percent. That won't happen again - the Spurs are a much better defensive team than 54.9 percent would indicate. Anticipate a drop in the Lakers' percentage, and a rise in the Spurs'.

In game 2, Manu Ginobili shot 0-4 from 3-point range, while the Spurs as a team shot an underwhelming 26 percent. That shouldn't happen again - Ginobili's 3-point percentage is continually improving, while the Spurs have several gunners in Bowen, Horry, and (lately) Tim Duncan who should improve the team's percentage in the upcoming games.

In game 2, the Spurs shot 50 percent from the free throw line. That won't happen again - the Spurs are one of the most fundamentally sound teams in the league. They know how to hit free throws - they just didn't in game 2.

Are the Spurs in trouble? Yes, they are - they're down 2-0 to a very good Lakers team that very well could be their equal even under the best of circumstances. But let's not forget that the first two games of the series haven't exactly been the best of circumstances for the Spurs.

I'm not saying that the Spurs are going to come back and win the series... I'm just saying that we need to give them a bit more time, a bit more rest, a bit more trust before we give the time of death.

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