Thursday, May 15, 2008
Hornets not ready yet, Spurs will win Game 7
"If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it's that you can kill anyone."
Sorry to go all Simmons on you, but I'm sure you all recognize that quote, from "The Godfather Part II," when Michael disputes Tom's assertion that it would be impossible to kill Hyman Roth, because there's no way they could get to him. In reference to the upcoming Game 7 in the already certified-classic Spurs-Hornets series, I would like to offer a variation of that line:
"If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it's that a young team with no collective playoff experience doesn't just up and beat a battle-tested championship team like the Spurs in the playoffs. In the NBA, you must fail before you can succeed."
Chris Paul is a child prodigy and a superdupersuperstar. David West is simply a stud. Tyson Chandler is a walking double-double and a human pogo-stick. Peja is still Peja. Julian Wright is a future star off the bench, and Jannero Pargo (as good a backup point guard as there is, basically) joins him.
This is a very good basketball team. They're better than anyone thought they were, even after winning 56 games in the most competitive conference ever. And next year, they'll be ready for anything.
But not this year. Not against this team. Not in this Game 7.
The fact that it has gone this far is a testament to the talent of the great CP3, currently playing his position as well as it's ever been played. But even MJ had to get dumped from the playoffs a few times by Detroit before he and the Jordanaires got over the hump. And before them, those same Pistons had to get demonized by the Celtics. The nubile Shaq-Kobe Lakers got their knocks from Utah. You gotta take your lumps first.
Monday's contest (why do we have to wait four days?) will come down to experience, for the Spurs, and a lackthereof, for the Hornets. Plain and simple. It will come down to the final moments. You'll see nervous, confused, never-been-there before looks on the faces of the upstart bugs. Probably a couple costly turnovers, a few mental mistakes. A missed chippy or two that went in when they were up by 20 in Game 1.
Meanwhile, the Spurs will be calm but urgent in their execution, and they will take advantage of every Hornets miscue. They will rise to the occasion, while New Orleans will be crushed by it's pressure. Or perhaps the Spurs will just take it from them. Same thing, really. Either way, they fall just short. Either way, they get schooled in big-time, serious playoff basketball. The Spurs will prove to be the better team not because they have better players or longer arms or livelier athletes, but because they know what to do in the heartwrenching moments that define this time of year, and the Hornets do not.
And then, next year, the two teams will meet again. The Hornets will be year better, while the Spurs will be a year older. And using that lesson learned, N'awlins will oust the elderly Spurs in symbolic sweepness, or something similar. Maybe it won't be 4-0, but it will be convincing. It will leave no doubt that the New West Order has officially begun. The Old giving way to the New.
But this year? The old is still young enough, and the young is not old enough yet.
Spurs in 7.