Friday, June 6
Spurs' sloppy play led to Game 2 loss
By Dr. Jack Ramsay
Special to ESPN.com
SAN ANTONIO -- The San Antonio Spurs went into Game 2 feeling very good after befuddling the Nets with a strong zone defense and very few turnovers in Game 1. They won't feel so good after they look at the tape of Game 2.
The Spurs fell into the same habits that have doomed them all season. They committed a lot of turnovers and had a horrible day at the line. The Spurs turned the ball over 22 times in Game 2 and only shot 14-of-25 from the free-throw line. You're not going to win many regular-season games that way, much less a game in the NBA Finals.
In addition, Tim Duncan had one of his worst games in the playoffs, committing four turnovers while shooting only 8-of-19 from the field and 3-of-10 from the line. Those aren't the numbers of a MVP and Duncan knows that. He seemed to be confused by the Nets' various double teams and by Nets center Jason Collins's man defense. Collins did a great job defending Duncan. Collins made Duncan work hard to get his shot off and did a very good job of digging at the ball and putting stress on his dribble.
The Nets did a very good job overall tightening up their defense. But the Spurs made it easier by not passing the ball very well after driving to the basket. This also led to several costly turnovers. The Spurs know that every turnover they make is an opportunity for the Nets to convert it into an easy two points on the break. It's why I was so surprised to see the way they sloppily handled the ball.
The Spurs were also very lax on the defensive boards as they allowed the Nets to grab 15 offensive rebounds and score 16 second-chance points. They seemed slightly intimidated by Dikembe Mutombo's presence and energy in the lane and allowed him to set the tempo too much. They have to continue to attack and knock down their jumpers, and Duncan definitely must play better if they want to return to San Antonio for another game. Too often, the Spurs would drive the lane and alter their shot because of Mutumbo rather than get him to move from his defensive assignment and make passes to open guys. They forced bad shots and tried to force plays that resulted in turnovers.
Also defensively, they let Jason Kidd have his way with them. He scored 30 points in a variety of ways and kept ending their runs with timely points and good passes to set up other scorers.
The only good thing the Spurs can take away from their performance is that, as sloppily as they played, they still only lost by two points. This isn't the greatest asset to take away from a game, but it may help them with their confidence as they travel east to play a confident Nets team at home.
Dr. Jack Ramsay, who is an NBA analyst for ESPN, is a regular contributor to ESPN.com.