Down 2-3 in their series against New Orleans, the San Antonio Spurs head home for Game 6 tomorrow night, facing elimination from the 2008 NBA Playoffs for the first time.
Dropping last night’s pivotal Game 5, on the road, the reigning NBA champs, again, let the play get away from them during the 3rd Quarter, allowing the Hornets to fight their way back from a 3-pt deficit at the half (44-47) to assume control … with a 14-pt margin in their favour … by the end of these 12 minutes (72-58).
Did the Spurs look old and tired, once again, during this specific stretch?
Yes, they did.
Did they make several costly turnovers?
Yes, they did … 4, in total.
Did they shoot a putrid percentage from the field … missing open shot after open shot, whether near or far?
Yes, they did … finishing 5-18 (27.8 %) for the quarter overall.
On the other hand, did the Hornets do a terrific job defensively?
Yes, they did … registering 3 Blocked Shots (West/2; Chandler/1) and 3 Steals (West/2; Chandler/1) during this quarter alone.
Is all now lost for the Spurs? … knowing that, should they manage a victory at home (in Game 6), to square the series (3-3), they will still need to get a W, in the Big Easy, where they have been thoroughly outplayed so far?
Not by a long shot … at least, if Gregg Popovich will only stop being so stubborn and refrain from playing certain players who have let the Spurs down, on the road, to this point in the series.
When the Spurs went to their bench during the 3rd Quarter last night, they were let down by two of their key reserves … i.e. Robert Horry & Ime Udoka … who were both over-matched when asked to defend or score versus either Tyson Chandler or David West during this important segment of the game, where the Hornets pulled away from San Antonio.
As suggested in this space last week … The answer for the Spurs … the key player in a San Antonio victory at New orleans will be Brent Barry (G/F, 6-7, 210), who is that much bigger than Udoka (G/F, 6-5, 220) … who is only in his 1st year with the Spurs and doesn’t know yet what it takes to win big games on the road in the Playoffs … and quicker than Horry (F, 6-10, 240) … who is no longer the same ‘Big Shot Bob’ that stuck the fatal dagger in so many playoff opponents of yesteryear.
Expect the Spurs to win Game 6, at home … but, the more significant question is …
“Will Coach Popovich have solved the individual match-up riddle that is David West (PF, 6-8, 240) by the 3rd Quarter of Game 7?“
The Spurs attempt to repeat as NBA champions, for the first time, might just hang in the balance.