Tuesday, June 11, 2013

COURTSIDE VIEW: Breaded Rolls and Flat Pop

Johnny J

The pick and roll and the pick in pop, has been around since I can remember.  They are one of the most uncomplicated types of offenses to run and one the most difficult to defend. But for a team that has been titled old and rugged, running this type of offense has made the San Antonio Spurs playing great team basketball. Each and every year under Gregg Popovich, the Spurs have been one of the top teams in the Western Conference. He has four championships since 1999 using the same techniques and he has found players to fill the void, to go with his offense. The pick and roll and pick and pop are ran to perfection by the Spurs because they have good players who run it in Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. When you have players who have been repeating the same songs over and over for a decade, the song must be a hit. Not to mention DJ Pop on the turntables. This song just turned from a hit to a classic.

When Duncan sets a screen or pick for Parker, the 14x All-Star can quickly roll to the hoop, anticipating a pass from Parker for an easy dunk or lay-up. That's called "pick and roll."  If the roll is guarded, Duncan can shoot the rock after getting the ball from Parker off the screen. That's called a "pick and pop."  The same goes for Parker.  If the screen setter is guarded, he can roll to the basket or come off the screen and shoot it. It's the customer's choice; you can either take the bread roll or a flat pop. It's flat because they do it so much that it's getting old. But it works! If a second defender has to help and guard against it, then that person leaves a wide-open shooter, because the floor is always spread out when ran. If you look at Spurs' guard Danny Green in game 2 against the Heat. He was 6-6 from the field, a ridiculous 5-5 from behind the arc (you dare to leave a player from North Carolina open, Miami?). You just get torched from a player that was just standing around.

Think of a young Steve Nash and a much younger Amar'e Stoudemire, who also ran the pick and rolls when the Phoenix Suns were a playoff team. Teams have to have a good point guard to run it and a good center or power forward, who can shoot and finish. The Spurs have that, but Tony Parker isn't just a good point guard, he is a great point guard!  So I call guards like him "Generals."  The floor Generals are the ones who give orders.  They can have the chef serve the dish down your throat or if you your food is rare, they can do it themselves. They have great fundamentals and basketball skills. Good awareness that helps guide the rock to its unnatural home. Its simple, the rock isn't suppose to know who's hands its going to land on, but the General does. He gave the order. Now who would you rather serve you: the chef or the waiter?

Every once in awhile, people call off work. When this happens, the restaurant is short-handed or in total disarray. In Game 2 of the Finals, this is what happened.  Everybody who was on the schedule, had a bad night. Serving the same food, the Spurs committed 17 turnovers.  It wasn't just the waiter, but everyone on staff. Parker had a bad shooting and serving night. It actually looked like the Spurs played better when he was not on the floor.  Duncan had a bad night, too and so did forward Kawhi Leonard.  It looked like they both wanted to call in sick. Although Leonard did go in to pick up his check by playing great defense on LeBron James. James was 7-17 from the field. After Leonard picked up his check, he returned an hour later not wanting to do the work for the check. You have to play both sides of the ball. If Parker and Duncan have a bad night, someone has to pick up their customers' orders.

I already knew this was going to be a long series.  As much as I wanted a sweep and my wallet wanted it to be a sweep, I knew it wasn't going to be one. In the end, I still have the Spurs coming out on top. You think just because the Heat did a good job defending the pick and roll in one night, that the Spurs are going to stop from moving forward?  Not at all!  It's just going to make them work harder at smoothing it out. The next three games are at the Alamo. For a team that has only lost one game at home in the playoffs and six in the regular season, it's going to be tough for any opposing team to disrupt the Spurs' flow at home. The concession stands are going to be packed. I heard all their going to be serving is breaded rolls and flat pop. Enjoy!

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