The San Antonio Spurs, led by Tim Duncan, come in to town with the best record in the NBA at 21-3, but they are on the second night of a back-to-back and playing at altitude tonight to face our 15-9 Denver Nuggets.
I smell an opportunity.
You ever have that one team you just can't stand, besides the Lakers that is. You know, that team where you can list a litany of reasons why you dislike them ... and yet they all are counteracted by the fact that they are a really good team.
Enter the San Antonio Spurs.
I don't hate them. They just really, really, really irritate me. Yes, Gregg Popovich is a great coach yet his smug self assurance and the fact he was so confident against the Nuggets two years ago he rested his three stars and started mostly bench players really set me the wrong way. Yes, he did us a favor, and really that led to the Nuggets claiming the two-seed but...come on man, put up a fight. He's respected by everyone and it makes me ill. Yeah I said it.
Same goes for Tim Duncan. I swear, the next time I see his eyes bug out of his skull like that scene in Total Recall I'm going to throw my shoe at the television. Sure, he's "great" and all, but since he managed to go through nearly an entire playoff series against the Nuggets (in 2007) without committing more than ONE foul (thank you refs) he's been on my hate list. Petty? Yes, I don't care.
I don't really have a beef with Tony Parker, he kinda gets caught up in my general dislike of the Spurs. Yet Manu Ginobili? You better believe he's on the list too. I've never seen a player in my 25-years of watching NBA basketball that can engender so much ill-will without being a mean guy. I mean, let's face it ... the flopping is out of control. I'm aware that Chris Paul and Kevin Martin flop just as much, but there's something extra about Manu's flopping that sets him apart from the rest. Maybe it's because Ginobili's flops are deserving of an Academy Award? Maybe it's the miracle shots at a 45-degree angles that set me off? I don't know, but it's irritating, just, irritating.
Matt Bonner is from the same school of flopping, and he only seems to hit three-point shots against the Nuggets. George Hill is a very competent back-up point guard. Richard Jefferson seems to have revitalized his career by becoming a better role player and better defender. Antonio McDyess is still one of my all-time favorite Nuggets, but he's getting toward the end of his career.
All in all, quite a good team. GOD how they irritate me.
Nuggets of Wisdom
The last Nuggets game versus the Magic was a thing of beauty. For one of the few times this year the Nuggets didn't try to fritter away a lead, they kept things close for three quarters and then took command in the fourth. Kind of reminded me of the Nuggets of the two previous seasons. Let's see if we can repeat that against one of the toughest defensive teams in the league. Denver's ball sharing in the Magic game was fantastic and we are going to need a duplicate performance by our powder blue Nuggets if we are to beat the best team in the entire league (record wise). The Nuggets need Nene, once again, to be solid and aggressive. I seem to recall in 2007, Nene did pretty well against Duncan. Also it's another game without Chauncey Billups, so Ty Lawson and Anthony Carter need to step up their games tonight.
Carmelo Anthony had his most productive game of the season on Tuesday. He was efficient, which was great. Let's see if he can repeat that amidst the distractions. Also, J.R. Smith has been very solid the last three weeks. I'm hoping that he can continue to keep the knucklehead quotient down, and keep the good plays up. I'm sure coach George Karl would love it
This is a second night of a back to back for the Spurs. The Nuggets have been traditionally very good in these circumstances, but need I remind you that San Antonio came into Denver and beat the Nuggets TWICE last season (by 19 points each game). Those embarrassments need to be avenged. Last season was a bit odd because the Nuggets won twice in San Antonio and the Spurs won twice here.
Oppositions take: Pounding the Rock
P.S.: I would REALLY love it if we saw more of this.
J.R. Smith Dribbles Around Ginobili for the Slam (via OTRBasketball)