UKmadness

San Antonio Spurs @ New Orleans Hornets – Game Preview

Posted by ibleedblue040 on May 3, 2008

With nothing new going on in the world of UK sports I thought I would do a game preview for old time sakes. Now this will be a little different than the game previews of the Kentucky basketball season but this might be how I do it for next season.

Matchups

Point Guard
Chris Paul vs. Tony Parker

Chris Paul has been flat out amazing in the playoffs, averaging over 24 points and 12 assists, and basically embarrased a future hall of famer in Jason Kidd. Paul makes all the right decisions when it comes to when to pass and when to shoot. In transition he almost never makes the wrong decision, if he should pass the ball he puts it right on the money, if he should shoot the ball he hits it most of the time. You cannot lay off of him because he has a new and improved jumper since last year, and obviously if you guard him tight he has the quickness to go around you and uses screens about as good as any player in the league.

Paul should play with a chip on his shoulder because of two reasons, one is because he got snubbed on the Most Valuable Player award. It blows my mind that Kobe Bryant won the award over him, Kobe does average 9 more points than Paul but other than that Paul owns Bryant in just about every category. Paul averaged 11.6 assists per game in the regular season compared to only 5.4 by Bryant. That right there is a 6 assists per game difference and that would translate to probably about 15 points per game with three-pointers and and one’s. Paul is also a much superior defender than Bryant, he led the league with 2.7 steals per game and Bryant only averaged 1.8, Paul shot better from the field and from the free throw line than Bryant and even though Bryant is 5 inches taller than Paul he only averaged 2 more boards per game. Bryant also turned the ball over way more than Paul, 3.1 to 1.2, Bryant does not even have the ball as much as Paul and still averaged 2 more TO’s per game. ALso, New Orleans was not even supposed to be a playoff team this season and they got the #2 seed in the best conference in league history! The Lakers on the other team were still supposed to be in the playoffs and Bryant has a much better supporting cast than Paul. Who is better without Bryant or Paul: Andrew Bynum or Tyson Chandler? Bynum is, what about Pau Gasol or David West? West is very underrated but Gasol is still better, what about Lamar Odom or Peja Stojakovic> Odom is way better. So it is obvious that the Lakers have the better players and yet Paul led this group of misfits to the #2 seed.

The other reason why Paul will play with a chip on his shoulder is because even though New Orleans is the higher see almost nobody is picking them to win the series. New Orleans was even the underdog in the first round against a 7 seed! And what happened there? Paul and Co. should not be overlooked because they pose very difficult matchup problems for the Spurs.

Tony Parker has been very impressive as well though, Paul has better numbers in the playoffs but Parker just might be exceeding expectations more so than even Paul is. Parker had three 30 point games against the Phoenix Suns in the first round, he only had three 30 point games in his whole playoff career prior to that! Parker also will make CP3 work harder on defense than Kidd did because Parker is lightning quick and is always moving, whether he has the ball or not. Parker also might be the only player better at running off screens than Paul, although it is pretty easy when you are doing the pick and roll with the best power forward of all-time in Tim Duncan.

Advantage: Chris Paul, New Orleans

Shooting Guard
Morris Peterson/Bonzi Wells vs. Michael Finley/Manu Ginobili

Finley will start but most of the minutes with the starters will go to Manu Ginobili. This is probably the easiest matchup to determine because Manu Ginobili can score any way a guard can score, he can kill you off the dribble, from three point range, off screens, and, although not very often, he can put you in the post. Ginobili has led the league in points per game off the bench each of the last two seasons and that means when he comes in he heats up very quickly. Ginobili makes all the right decisions and never takes a play off.

Morris Peterson will get the start for New Orleans but will split time with Bonzi Wells. Wells is the better player even though he comes off the bench and even though he does not jump up at you on paper he can play solid defense and is one of the best post up guards in the league. Ginobili could get in early foul trouble, but with his mental toughness and smartness on the court I just do not see that happening.

Advantage : Michael Finley/Manu Ginobili, San Antonio

Small Forward
Bruce Bowen vs. Peja Stojakovic

Although Bowen is the best perimeter defender in the league I do not see him completely shutting down Stojakovic because he is giving up a lot of height in this matchup. Stojakovic is 6’10”, the tallest starting small forward in the league, and has a very quick release. Bowen might get in Peja’s face but Stojakovic is tall enough to shake that off and shoot over him. And even though Stojakovic is not a good defender at all Bowen will not hurt you offensively aside from hitting the occassional three from the corner.

Advantage: Peja Stojakovic, New Orleans

Power Forward
Tim Duncan vs. David West

Although everyone will be focused on the CP3 vs. Tony Parker matchup this one might make or break the series. David West is much quicker than Tim Duncan and could put the Big Fundamental in foul trouble because of it. West will make Duncan come out and guard him because of West’s automatic jumper, and that will open up the middle of the floor for Paul to drive the lane and dish it off or take it in for the layup, whichever is the right play CP3 will do it. I am not sure if Duncan will guard West though because of the possibility of Duncan getting in foul trouble and I do not think that Greg Popovich will want Duncan to exert so much energy on the defensive end that he will not be able perform offensively.

Although I just raved about David West I think Duncan brings so much to the table that will not show up on the stat sheet that he might get the advantage. Duncan, along with Tony Parker, ran the pick and roll to perfection last series against the Phoenix Suns and Duncan really allowed Parker to get the open shots that he did because Phoenix were reluctant to leave Duncan for Parker. Also, you cannot overlook the differential in playoff experience. This is only the sixth career playoff game for David West and Tim Duncan has won four championships and has played in well over 100 career playoff games. Duncan will not allow the playoff pressure or the road crowd to get into his head and he will play with unbelievable mental toughness and maturity. This is the closest decision but:

Advantage: Tim Duncan, San Antonio

Center
Kurt Thomas vs. Tyson Chandler

I believe this is the second easiest decision because Tyson Chandler is so valuable on the defensive end and can change a game on the defensive end alone. Chandler might be the best defensive player in the league and there is no way that Kurt Thomas scores in double digits in more than 1-2 games in this series. Thomas’ calling card is his mid range jump shot but with Tyson Chandler at over 7’0″ tall I think it will be tough for Thomas to get that shot off.

Tyson Chandler is Chris Paul’s #1 target when he enters the paint and Chandler catches at least one alley oop every game. Chandler is just too athletic for Thomas and is just better on both ends of the court. Chander makes all of his teammates better because every player on the opposing teams is reluctant to drive the land and meet Mr. Chandler.

Advantage: Tyson Chandler, New Orleans

I believe that New Orleans wins the series in 7 games even though they are very inexperienced. CP3 causes too many problems and almost all of the matchups favor the Hornets and they have home-court in the series. I believe the NOH will win game one 97-93.

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