As I write , the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat are locked in a tight contest that could go either way. The Spurs are leading 2-1 and have two more home games . Conceivably , they could close out the series at home but Tony Parker’s hamstring strain is a worry . Without him , their chances of winning decline drastically .
On one of the endless ESPN gabfests before the sries started , Julius Irving was asked to predict the winner and he replied , half in jest , that the winner of the fifth game would go on to close out the series. The way the series is poised right now , it looks like it is the fourth game that will be the critical one . If the Spurs win , it would give them heart and the Heat would be facing a 3-1 deficit away from home . If the Heat win , the series will be tied and Miami would have to be reckoned the favorite.
It’s been a pleasure watching the first three games . I think Popovich has to be the best coach in the business today and the Spurs the best team . ( Miami has the best personnel but San Antonio has the best team ).The Spurs passing and teamwork have are a delight to watch. This is the way basketball should be played. One of the plays that stays in my mind occurred about 3 seconds before halftime in Tuesday’s game . Duncan ripped down a rebound and threw a quick outlet pass to Parker …who fired it downcourt to a streaking Gary Neal ….who pulled up and swished a three-pointer just as the half- time buzzer sounded. Beautiful !! The second half yesterday was a basketball clinic as Greene and Neal went wild and everything the Spurs did worked to perfection.
I can’t understand all the criticism being hurled at LBJ and coach Spoelstra for Miami’s two losses . In the first game LBJ had a triple double ( 18-18-10) and I don’t know how much more he could have done . Bosh and Wade were MIA and the Spurs interior defense was ferocious . In the third game , LBJ did have s0-so numbers ( for him) but once again received little support from Bosh ; Wade was a little better than in the opener but still subpar. You also have to give credit to Coach Pops who pulled out all his tricks to shackle LBJ offensively.
When your shooters have a hot hand , it revs up the other players .With Greene and Neal were shooting lights out , there was nothing that Spoelstra ( or any other coach) could have done to stop the onslaught.
It has to be noted that San Antonio played exceptionally well for their two victories. In the first game , they committed only four turnovers , about 10 below their season average but were only able to pull away from the Heat late in a very close contest. In the third game , Greene and Neal shot 13 of 19 from three-point territory. Realistically , one cannot expect them to duplicate such efforts . The question is : Can they do well enough to help Duncan and Parker hold off the Heat? Tomorrow night , we’ll get the answer.
Yahoo Sports reports that Jason Kidd is in final negotiations to become the new coach of the Brooklyn Nets. This was in the works for the past few days but , I must admit, it still comes as a surprise. No doubt the nets hope that Kidd will duplicate the success of Mark Jackson with the Golden State Warriors . Like Jackson , Kidd is a star point guard with a keen basketball mind and is one of the all-time leaders in assists . But does such a background always translate to success as a coach ? It does not and there are plenty of examples to prove it .
Jerry West was one of the all-time greats . In three seasons as coach of the Lakers , his teams made the playoff every year but made the conference finals only once. Magic Johnson , another all -time Laker great, also met with indifferent success as a coach. Byron Scott did have a good record as a coach with the Nets but many people suspect that it was because of his stellar assistants , particularly Eddie Jordan. Scott was not able to duplicate his success with the New Orleans Hornets and the Cavaliers.
Yes , Mark Jackson succeeded with Golden State though he had no previous coaching experience. However , he had two things going for him . He had the nucleus of a good team and he had he benefit of teaming up with a smart GM . Jerry West joining the warriors as a consultant did not hurt either. Kidd doesn’t have those luxuries in Brooklyn . One of his problems is gifted but temperamental Deron Williams who is fast becoming known as a coach-killer. It will be interesting to see what happens with Kidd.
Before the Nets tapped Jason Kidd , they had a 4-1/2 hour interview with Brian Shaw , the veteran point guard who has had nine years of experience as an assistant coach with the Lakers and the Pacers . He has been called the most qualified assistant coach in the NBA and has the respect of players. But he has been repeatedly been passed over for a head coaching job . This has happened with the Lakers , the Pacers , the Kings and now the Nets . I do hope he gets a shot soon . Heck , I wish the Lakers would fire Mike D’Antoni and give the job to Shaw. I know Kobe would be happy . A few other players too.