San Antonio Versus New Orleans PreviewWestern Conference Second Round
#2 New Orleans (56-26) vs. #3 San Antonio (56-26)
Season series: 2-2 (New Orleans has the higher seed based on a 34-18 record versus Western Conference teams, compared to 33-19 for San Antonio)
New Orleans can win if…Chris Paul is the best player on the court and the Hornets find an answer for the screen/roll plays the Spurs run for Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
San Antonio will win because…they are the playoff version of the Grim Reaper: these silent, deadly assassins kill their opponents without mercy and without fanfare. Tim Duncan's impact outweighs his numbers (which are usually quite good) because his presence on defense deters players from driving and his presence on offense draws attention that creates openings for Parker and Ginobili.
Other things to consider: The point guard matchup between Parker and Paul will be fun to watch. I doubt that Parker will regularly drop 30 on Paul the way that he did on Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns. The power forward matchup between Duncan and David West will also be interesting. Expect Duncan's length and savvy to give him the edge at both ends of the court. Manu Ginobili may be the X factor in this series. Assuming that Parker will not score as much as he did last round, Ginobili may become the focal point of the Spurs' offensive attack for significant stretches of time. I picked Dallas to beat New Orleans in the first round but added, "I would not be shocked if New Orleans wins." The Hornets proved to be a little better than I expected--and Dallas proved to be a little worse than I expected--but playing the Spurs in a seven game series is a big step up in weight class and New Orleans is not quite ready to make that jump this season.
posted by David Friedman @ 5:40 AM