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Suns 105, Spurs 86 – and Lactic Acid in the NBA April 27, 2008

Posted by Michael in News.
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This was ugly.

PHOENIX (AP) -A Frenchman put Phoenix on the brink of elimination, another brought the Suns back to life.

Boris Diaw fell two assists shy of a triple-double Sunday and the Suns avoided a first-round sweep at the hands of San Antonio with a 105-86 rout of the Spurs.

Diaw, starting in place of injured Grant Hill, had 20 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in one of the best playoff performances of his career.

It was also a lesson in the management of lactic acid.

The Spurs rested their starters in the fourth quarter, to prepare for the next game. That was a good move, given that Phoenix had a 30 point blowout lead. And Duncan was getting rest before then. This was a playoff game after one day off, rather than the usual two days off, so there was less time for lactic acid levels to get back to normal.

The Phoenix coach (Mike D’Antoni) should have done the same, but he’s too nervous to correctly manage the on-court minutes. He’s scared, and he kept his starters in until nearly the end of the game. Even the TV talking heads noticed this.

Coach Popovich is great about this. He has an aging team, and he understands that he has to manage the amount of lactic acid in the muscle tissue of his stars. In evenly matched games, lactic acid levels are going to be the margin of victory. The on-court experience for players is grueling, and much depends upon how much spring is left in their legs. It’s just lactic acid math.

That’s why some sports writers think the Spurs are unbeatable — because Popovich is properly managing the on-court minutes and injury risk.

It’s all about lactic acid. The Spurs are older, and thus at a disadvantage. But they have Gregg Popovich, and he is one smart Texan.

Here’s another reason why D’Antoni does not match up to Popovitch.

Coaching is math and psychology. The math is lactic acid. The psychology is the bench players.

Anybody can coach the stars. The real test is if you have the skills to coach the bench. You have to make them feel valued and cultivated as a role player when they come off the bench with specific skills for specific situations. That makes them part of the TEAM, and it makes them important. Like, for example, Robert Horry. Big Shot Bob is way past his prime; he is only on the Spurs payroll to make a clutch three-pointer in the playoffs.

Popovitch has cultivated the best bench player in the NBA, Manu Ginobili, who won the NBA’s Sixth Man Award this year. Pop elevated Manu from a nobody to an NBA star and an Argentinian national icon. On any other NBA team, Manu would be a starter, but he chooses to be a bench player for Popovich. He is so big in Argentina that he has to hire bodyguards for his family.

At Phoenix, Mike D’Antoni basically does not have a bench. His bench has no on-court minutes, and no confidence. That’s why he has to play his starters to death. He has incredible starters with guys like Nash and Shaq and Diaw, but he has no bench.

The Spurs got humiliated tonight, but they are going to beat Phoenix, for two reasons: math and psychology. Meaning: (1) Intelligent management of lactic acid, and (2) a bench that has been coached.

Does anybody want to make a bet on this?

Comments»

1. eddiebear - April 27, 2008

I blame Eva Longoria.

2. Cathy - April 27, 2008

The Spurs …are going to beat Phoenix, for two reasons: math and psychology.

What about their moral high ground?

3. Michael - April 27, 2008

The Spurs do not have a moral high ground. They are just good.

The Michigan Wolverine football team, on the other hand, has the moral high ground. Michigan represents truth and justice, against opponents like Ohio State that represent evil and depravity.

I thought you knew this.

4. skinbad - April 27, 2008

The Spurs do not have a moral high ground. They are just good.

True dat. Both statements.

5. Retired Geezer - April 28, 2008

Hey, that was a pretty interesting post, even for someone who doesn’t watch sports.

Hey, I’m a semi-retired Sprinkler Doc in the Spud State… bite me.

6. Barb the Evil Genius - April 28, 2008

Michigan represents truth and justice, against opponents like Ohio State that represent evil and depravity.

If you live anywhere near Columbus, be ready for the locals with pitchforks and torches to show up at your door.


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