In Defense of Jarron Collins and a Short Spurs-Suns Game 3 Analysis

This is a bit of an expansion from a comment on Scott's Playoff Post today.

I want the calls for Jarron to be removed to stop.  Look, when Lopez is ready to play, I'm sure he'll do more even if he only plays the 8-10 minutes Collins has been providing.  What remains troubling, however, is the lack of an institutional memory.  Saying that Collins is useless and calling for Frye, Jones or Admundson to start is falling back into the D'Antoni Trap of thinking you need 5 viable scoring options on the floor.

In years past, I had also likened the Sp*rs to Rocky and the 7SOL Suns to Apollo Creed.  They were flashy with a hope of success while there's a proven means of success -- like going to college or playing defense.  Seems that this year, Creed has learned a little from Balboa.

Collins gives 4-5 minutes at the beginning of every half, and his assignment is to make Duncan work for his position or foul Duncan on the floor (i.e., not shooting) if Duncan gets good position.  Box out a little bit, maybe grab a few rebounds, take a shot if he's wide-freaking-open.  Make Duncan play hard for 8-10 minutes a game; that's about 25% of Duncan's playing time.  Look, Rocky slowed down when he hit 50 or 100 or something and had to fight that one guy in Rocky VI (or, seven; what was it?).  Make Old Man Duncan play hard.

Game 3 is not about winning or losing for the Suns.  It is about inflicting body blows to Duncan.

The Suns don’t need to win Game 3 (it would be nice to win, admittedly). They need to make Duncan keep working his *ss off. Compare it to the middle rounds of a boxing match. Winning Round 5 isn’t necessarily the key — wearing your opponent down so he’s vulnerable in Rounds 9-12 is the key.  Rocky knew this.

Let's compare to the last series:

Against Dallas, Duncan’s first three games saw him play 119 minutes (out of a potential 144), go 34-57 for 77 points with 30 boards and 8 assists.  The Sp*rs were up 2-1 at this point; they eventually won the series by riding their inertia and capitalizing on the Mavs' ability to choke.

In the next three games:

Duncan went 1-9 in Game 4, with 11 boards and 3 assists (a win in which Hil showed his stuff);

In Game 5, he was 3-9 for 11 points and 6 boards without an assist; (a huge loss in Dallas);

Game 6 saw him go 8-17 in 42 minutes with 17 points, 10 boards and 5 assists.

In his first two games against the Suns, Duncan goes 20-35, gets 45 points, 21 rebounds and 7 assists, while playing 77 out of 96 minutes.

He's a great pro, and he still has mad skills and oodles of BBall IQ, but he cannot take the Suns' relentless attacks.  For Game 3, what I'm most interested in is seeing how hard Duncan has to work on both ends of the floor.  He cannot keep it up for an extended series unless the Suns show mercy.

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