Friday, May 6

Match Game

If I were running USA Today, the first thing I’d do is give a raise to the guy who makes those cool matchup charts. You know the ones, where you’ve got the Sonics on one side, the Spurs on the other, and a check mark by each position player who has an advantage. Then you add up the advantages, and whichever team has more wins. Of course, it gives equal weight to the power forward position as it does to the bench, but, hey, it’s quick and easy and everyone loves it.

Well, I’m not running USA Today. I’m writing for some blog that’s the equivalent of the Valley Daily News. Actually, that’s an insult to the Valley Daily News. I think we’re more like the equivalent of Voice of the Valley, but without tractor ads.

That said, here’s my breakdown of the matchups in this series. You’ll have to imagine the check marks.

POINT GUARD – Mr. Longoria v Frodo
Edge: S.A.
Like the erstwhile Luke, Parker started out slowly in the first round, not that that stopped him from jacking up 17 shots in both game 1 & 2. A horrific 3-point shooter (below 30% in both post- and regular-season), Parker is a good option to leave alone outside the perimeter if the Sonics decide to double on TD. He turned the ball over much more than Ridnour, but his quick offensive moves make up for this fault. You only need to see his 21 ppg average against Seattle this season to know that he will have his way with Cool Hand Luke.

OFF GUARD – Jesus Shuttlesworth v My Sworn Enemy
Edge: Seattle
Now, it remains to be seen if Brent Barry will continue to start for the Spurs, being that his 34-year-old legs are going to have to chase around arguably the hottest player in the NBA right now, Ray Allen. Bones was an afterthought in the Spurs’ offense, going scoreless as often as he hit double-figures. Count on Bones to stand around outside the line and wait for the pass for a flat-footed 3, then give Manu a pat on the ass when Pop calls him to the sidelines. Expect Bruce Bowen to get the majority of time guarding Ray, if for no other reason than to take him out of the fantastic zone he’s currently enjoying. Nate’s planning on running lots of screens for Allen to free him up, but both MacMillan and Allen are expecting a much tougher go of it this round.

SMALL FORWARD – Rashard v The Instigator
Edge: Seattle
Bowen averaged an abysmal 3 points on 25% shooting in round 1, and is nowhere near the offensive threat Lewis is. ‘Shard did most of his scoring down low against the Spurs this season, and converted a high percentage (65%) of his non-3-point shots in four games. At 6’7”, Bowen’s going to need help on ‘Shard, and Lewis’ ability to pass out of the double-team will be crucial. (Cut to the hoop, Jerome!) A perennial member of the All-Defense Team, Bowen will spend much of his time on Allen, leaving us to wonder: Just who the heck is Brent Barry going to guard?

Edge: S.A.
Cancel those parade plans, Sonic fans, Tim Duncan has not left the building. While he played inconsistently against Denver, Duncan still averaged 22 points, including a 39-point barrage in game 4. TD averaged 26 against Seattle this year, one of his better marks against any team. Don’t expect to see too much of Evans in this series, though, as Mr. Glass played fewer than 20 minutes per game against the Spurs due to his extreme disadvantage against Duncan.

CENTER – Mohammed v The Hefty Bag
Edge: Seattle
This is a tough one to call, inasmuch as you have to predict which JJ will show up. Is it the second-coming of Dikembe Mutombo a la round 1, or the JJ we saw for the past 3 seasons? Mohammed is no stiff, either, but his 6’10”, 250-pound frame will get a workout against Big Game James. Even if JJ comes down a notch off his incredible series against Sac, he’s still a vital weapon for Seattle’s offense, and a useful shot-blocker on defense.

Well, that’s enough for one day. I’ll let Booth, Paul, or chunky go over the benches, coaches, mascots, etc. I’m gonna go look for Larry King’s column in the paper.

No comments: