Denver-San Antonio Game Notes
Uh-oh, don’t look now but the TSF prediction (Denver in seven) might be coming true. Even though every single ESPN expert picked the Spurs in six, Denver looked like a team on a mission tonight. Doug Collins’ analysis was right on when he noted that San Antonio had never actually seen this Denver team. In fact, no one has really seen this team. Watching Denver tonight was like watching that kid you always knew had potential finally show and prove. At times they were scary good tonight, and they still weren’t as good as they can be. They were everything we thought they could be which was everything the experts believed they couldn’t be, and they’re just beginning to hit their stride. I feel for San Antonio, but this is good for the league.
Although Iverson and Anthony combined for 61, it was they way they scored that was most impressive. Anthony came out sizzling, hitting Ginobli (or was it Finley– they were so far out of the picture once Melo was done I couldn’t tell) with a quick double cross, hesitation at the foul line that was just plain ridiculous, then had the nerve to throw it down in traffic. The kid announced early and often that the last three playoffs were just that: the last three.
Then, just as soon as Anthony started to recede a little (the double team was a beast), Iverson stepped right up and put the team on his back. He went baseline. He hit a fade-away. He got into the creases for an easy bucket. What was remarkable about Iverson’s showcase was that he didn’t press at any point during the game. He made several deft passes around the basket and took what the defense was giving him. What he did was make the game look really easy, picking apart Vaughn, baiting Parker into silly fouls and sweeping across the lane for high-arcing tear-drops.
This may be the post-season when we see his greatness take another leap forward.
George Karl made a brilliant move by starting Nene on Duncan and allowing Camby to roam weak-side until the second half. Camby might’ve been a little too hype early on. He needed to get his blocks to settle himself down.
San Antonio apologists will probably look at the stat sheet and find relief in Duncan’s sub-par performance (14 and 10), but you’ve got to give the Denver D some credit. Camby gave him real problems on offense and Nene, who seems to be improving with every single game, gave him more than he could handle inside.
Someone needs to stop Jacque Vaughn before he injures someone. I respect the hustle, but dude is going to really hurt someone with those unnecessary dives for loose balls. Message to Vaughn: relax, “Pop” knows you’re a scrapper. That’s why they acquired you. You’re like Avery Johnson without the foul line jumper. You don’t have to go taking out Denver players to prove it.
Michael Finley/Robert Horry Sighting: The grizzled vets actually had some arc on their jumpers tonight. They hit a combined 5 three-pointers. Horry even caught a follow-up dunk, something I can’t recall seeing in years. Still, I’m not expecting that to be a nightly occurrence.
What exactly did Denver do? They got loose balls. They got long rebounds. They remained poised down the stretch.
What they’ll need to do better? Protect the basketball. Denver had 18 turnovers leading to 27 San Antonio points, which, when you think about is kind of scary considering San Antonio only had 15 turnovers.
The obvious next question: Will there be a game 2 let-up? If you’re a Denver fan, you have to like the way they left the court after the victory. They didn’t overdue it. You’ve also got to like the Iverson factor heading into game 2. Let-up doesn’t exist in his vocabulary. A more likely scenario is a San Antonio flare-up led by Parker and Ginobli.
Denver Concerns: They relied heavily on seven guys. The eighth, J.R. Smith, only played 4 minutes, while the rest of the bench didn’t see any action at all. Meanwhile, San Antonio played 11 guys, 10 of which saw at least 10 minutes of action. Also, you’ve got to expect Ginobli (9 points on 4-15 shooting) and Bowen(5 points on 2-3 shooting) to come out stronger in game 2 as well.