ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The NBA Finals shifted irrevocably when Gregg Popovich inserted Boris Diaw into the San Antonio Spurs’ starting lineup for Game 3. After two games that were rather close, including a Miami win in Game 2, Diaw helped space the floor and move the ball, and the Spurs won three straight games in decisive fashion to win the championship. Kawhi Leonard may have been the Finals MVP, but Diaw was unarguably crucial to what the Spurs accomplished.
This summer, Diaw became a free agent, and without much drama he agreed to a three-year extension to remain a member of the Spurs. He announced the extension via Instagram with a photo of “GO SPURS GO” spelled out on a beach…
Then yesterday, Diaw actually signed the contract…while on a boat. As Diaw wrote in the caption, “Could i find a better place to sign my extension with the spurs? #gospursgo” No, I don’t think you could, Boris.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — WWD, short for Women’s Wear Daily, is a popular fashion trade publication. Besides covering the business news of the realm, they also look at the current news through a fashion lens. Which perhaps explains why San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was chosen as their Man of the Week. Which is quite an honor, although WWD seems to not quite approve of Pop’s sideline style.
WWD breaks down Pop’s suit from Game 2 of the Finals. I’m guessing that suit was probably the least important thing on Pop’s mind that day, but whatever. While they have nice things to say about Pop’s haircut (it “suits his powerful position”), they have concerns about his shirt, questions about the cut of his pants, and are really down on his shoes (“completely wrong for this outfit”). All in all, WWD says Popovich’s suit grades out at a C-.
The good news? When it comes to accessories, Pop has the game on lock. Because five rings goes with just about anything…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — If you hadn’t noticed, the San Antonio Spurs are doing it again — quietly, efficiently, ruthlessly winning their way toward another trip to the NBA Finals. They play their system, they keep pounding that rock, and they never, ever deviate from what got them here. While this has proven to be an effective strategy in terms of winning games, it’s not always all that exciting to watch for casual fans. This video does a terrific job highlighting exactly what makes the Spurs so good and so worth your time. You don’t have to be a fan, but if you love hoops, you should respect the game…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Last week we looked at the regular-season Horry Scale in full. Now, with the playoffs in full swing, it took just at a week to have our first postseason Horry Scale entry.
What is the Horry Scale? For those who are new around these parts, the Horry Scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety Kings-Pistons game?) and celebration (is it over the top or too chill? Just the right panache or needs more sauce?). Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the patron saint of last-second daggers.
One thing I’d like to clear up: The Horry Scale does not measure only a game-winning shot; the Horry Scale measures several facets of a Game-Winning Buzzer-Beater. So we’re talking about not only the shot, but also the play that creates the shot, the situation and the drama, the celebrations … basically, everything surrounding and including the shot. So when I gave Randy Foye a 3 Horry rating, that wasn’t only a reflection of his shot, which was admittedly remarkable, as I wrote, but also the play, which was awful. Taj Gibson’s lefty layup wasn’t the toughest shot, but that inbounds play was terrific. Basically, everything matters.
Counting the regular season, this gives us a record-setting 18 Horry Scale entries this season. Let’s take a closer look at Vince Carter‘s game-winning three in Game 3 against San Antonio from earlier today…
The corner three-pointer is supposedly the “easiest” three-pointer. Which doesn’t mean it’s easy, obviously. But it is a shorter shot than a straight-away or wing three. But what if you’re shooting from the corner and you’re fading away? And what if you’re covered as tightly as a smedium shirt by Manu Ginobili, with inches to get the shot off?
And what if you have less than 2 seconds left to release the shot? Well, add all those factors together and you’ve got a nearly impossible shot. Thing is, nobody told Vince Carter.
PLAYOFFS! PLAYOFFS! The pressure doesn’t get any higher than in the postseason. As for the play itself, Dallas had the ball down two, after Ginobili scored on the other end to give San Antonio the lead. You’d think Dallas might go either Dirk or Monta, both of whom have made visits to the Horry Scale this season. You would, however, be wrong. Because, of course, the Mavs went to Vince Carter instead…
Monta Ellis says Rick Carlisle saw how Spurs were planning on defending the last play and told Vince Carter he would knock down the shot.
To get Vince open on the inbound play, the Mavs stacked up Vince, Dirk and Brandan Wright, then ran Monta Ellis off the triple screen. As Ellis popped free at the top, Vince ducked to the corner, caught, spun and drained the shot. Good defense from Manu, better shot by Vince. Catch, spin, shot, bottom. Win.
Probably the best all-around celebration of the season. This is partially a function of it happening in the playoffs, when the intensity is already ratcheted up high. When the shot went through, the American Airlines Center went crazy. The Mavs all surrounded Vince and celebrated with him. Two other things that we should note? Right in the center of the Mavs celebration was owner Mark Cuban…
Hey, if I owned an NBA team and we won a playoff game on a last-second shot, I’d be up in that celebration, too.
Also, as the Mavs celebrated, we got a quick glimpse at stoic Popovich…
This is when it all counts. Heckuva situation, heckuva shot. As far as a grade, this one really had it all. I was thinking somewhere between 4 and 5 Horrys. And you know what? We’re going with 5 Horrys for this one, our first five Horry shot of the season…
Now it’s your turn! How many Horrys would you give Vince Carter’s shot?
Hey, Oscars … anything you can do, the San Antonio Spurs can do better. Tuesday afternoon, the Western Conference’s top-seeded squad took a cue from last month’s now infamous and star-studded selfie posted by daytime talk show celeb Ellen DeGeneres at the aforementioned award show, posting one of their own to kick off the team’s upcoming fan night festivities.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — We have previously observed Gregg Popovich‘s ability to turn any sideline interview into performance art. Last night, as the injury-plagued Spurs trailed heading to the fourth quarter against the Bulls, Coach Pop used the sideline interview with ESPN’s Mark Jones to really boil the game down to its essence…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Through the years, we’ve seen Spurs coach Gregg Popovich make some sort of performance art out of in-game sideline interviews. He doesn’t seem to like doing them, and he is at least blunt about his feelings. Yet last night on ESPN, longtime NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy took over the Popovich interview duties, and finally got Pop to embrace the in-game interview. Literally.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Just in case you haven’t noticed, right now the San Antonio Spurs have the best record in the Western Conference, at 13-1. They have won 11 games in a row, are 7-0 at home, and their last (and only) loss this season was all the way back on November 2.
Hey, we get it: The Spurs do what they do. They execute, they move the ball, they defend, they win. It’s not rocket science. But they do this with such remarkable consistency that it can become almost stultifying. People start to think of the Spurs as basketball robots — they have no feelings, no emotions, they just want to make the proper passes and find the open guys and oh hey the Spurs won again.
Which is why this video clip is so valuable: During the waning moments of a recent 30-point win over Cleveland, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had his big three (Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan) resting on the bench. And here, caught on video, we see Manu pull the old “Make Tim Duncan sit on the paper cup” trick. -
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Heading into the fourth quarter of last night’s Mavs/Rockets game, ESPN’s Chris Broussard had a couple of questions for Dallas coach Rick Carlisle. Unfortunately for Broussard, this was also the exact moment that Carlisle decided to break out his Gregg Popovich impression… -