Stepien Rules: I look at Ginobili and part of me sees a guy who’s bald spot’s bigger ever time I watch him, while the other part sees a guy that blocks a Durant dunk straight-up, and explodes for almost 40 tonight in Cleveland. How much does Manu have left in the tank, and what’s he capable of down the stretch here?
SR: Popovich talked about the importance of getting Parker back ‘in rhythm’ come playoff time earlier tonight. Assuming he’s out 6 weeks, how long do you think it’d take him to get in that rhythm?
PS: Good thing Parker is still young and can bounce back rather quickly from the hand injury. Hopefully. Also he has been under the Pop system since he was 19 years old as a rookie from France. Not to mention this could be a blessing in disguise. He needed rest. Two ankle injuries, a bout with plantar fasciitis, stomach ailments, and now this recent hand injury. The time away from the court will do him wonders and he should get back in playoff rhythm with ease. Besides, his injury will not require surgery.
SR: As the Spurs jockey for position in the West, what is a likely first round match-up your hoping for?
PS: You know, I just don’t trust this team taking on any team from the upper crust of the West teams. Right now the Spurs are matched up with the Mavs. But the Jazz swept us, Lakers are the Lakers, Blazers are too athletic, Mavs recent additions of Butler and Haywood scare me which leaves the Nuggets which the Spurs have beaten in Denver. If any team I’d pick it be the Suns for obvious reason. You know, the Spurs dominance of the Suns in the playoffs. So you know Spurs nation is pushing for the sixth seed.
SR: Were you surprised a bit to see the Spurs not get this one considering LeBron was out – even without Parker – after playing it close all night? Where did the Spurs go wrong in your opinion tonight?
PS: No. I am not surprised. Let me put it this way, the Spurs lost to a Blazers team without half their squad earlier this season, lost to the Lakers without Bynum and a hobbled Bryant. I could go on and on but basically it appears if the opposing team is without their star players, the Spurs most likely will lose. Tonight the Spurs went wrong on both ends of the court. Offensively it was all Ginobili and Hill. No one else stepped up to contribute. The Spurs had three players in double digits scoring. Cavs had six. Which leads me to the defensive end. Again, the Spurs allowed six Cavs players to score in double digits. Their defense was porous and Richard Jefferson and DeJuan Blair got the Pop “treatment” after defensive lapses. Pop benched them for replaced them with Ian Mahinmi and Malik Hairston.
SR: If you saw these Cavaliers in the Finals, could they win it against whoever comes out of the West?
PS: Good question. If they go up against the Lakers, they got a shot. Gasol is softer than Jefferson’s defense, and their bench is suspect. Guys like Shaq, Big Z, Varajao will take it to Lakers’ Gasol, Odom, and Bynum. Artest will deal with Jamison but Lakers do not have anyone to contend with James but who really does? Lakers would expose the Cavs weak perimeter defense with Bryant running wild. Seven games, Cavs win. Against the Nuggets, it be tough for the Cavs. The Nuggs bigs are not soft. Birdman, Nene, Keyon Martin won’t back down. I don’t see anyone slowing down Melo from the Cavs and Chauncey Billups will be a handful. Nuggets in six. If it’s the Mavs then on behalf of Spurs nation. Please sweep the f#@K out of them!