(Note: There's no way in hell I'll be liveblogging this one. It's not completely because the Kings have been outscored by a total of 64 points in the two games I've liveblogged this season. But it is mostly that.)
I was going to throw out "Francisco Garcia as Tony Parker's shadow," but Mr. Kevin Martin will be getting the start in place on Ron-Ron instead. (What the hell did Francisco do to Rick Adelman's mother, Dorothy Adelman, by the way? Yeesh.)
In last-minute reflection, however, the table does seem set rather well for Speedracer (that's Kevin Martin to you fresh faces around here) to have a monster game. Here are the reasons I would like to nominate:
- It's a good story. He was left off the playoff roster last season. He's vital this year. Yay.
- He's by far the fastest player on the Kings. It's actually not close. Francisco and Ronnie Price would have to be next on the list, but neither could beat Speed in a 100-meter dash with a three-step headstart. The kid is unbelievably quick - in fact, the second quickest player in this series. Which takes us to...
- Martin might be the only guy who can even visualize staying in front of Tony Parker. And staying in front of Tony Parker is like 90 percent of the battle. Once he gets past you, he'll lay it in or find someone wide open. If you don't let him get past you, he either has to try again, let someone else create, or shoot. You sure as hell aren't guaranteed a victory if you stop TP - Duncan barely got the ball on the post Saturday, and Ginobili is a fantastic creator in his own right - but you give yourself a better chance. If TP prances around like he did in Saturday's first half again, it's over.
- Kevin Martin is the Sacramento Kings transition game, pure and simple. Bonzi and Kenny can finish, too, but they don't get down the floor every time. (Hell, they're both usually under the rim getting rebounds.) I've never seen Martin trail the ball over the midcourt line. Getting into a quicker flow might put a bit of pressure on the Spurs, especially if the Kings trail a bit. You can't catch that team in an 80-possession game. Pick up the pace. You have to use Martin for that.
- Who's going to guard Martin? Parker's too small, Bowen's too big. It has to be Manu and Finley. Fin, of course, has fallen off a lot defensively. Balki is solid on D, but the more he has to work on that end, the less effective he is on the other side (where Bonzi will likely be checking him). If Popovich does throw Bowen on Bibby for stretches (he didn't have to the other night), then Parker might draw Martin-duty. The Kings have to (HAVE TO) exploit that.
- Bibby needs to show up. I don't think the team needs 30. But it needs something.
- Miller has to provide just a touch of help defense. A smidge will do.
- Shareef needs to abuse Nazr/Rasho/Horry. ABUSE.
- Bonzi (or hell, even Kenny) has to knock someone on their ass. Don't let the Spurs think the series is over.
- Brad and Kenny and Bonzi need to hit the defensive glass. Let Bibby and Speed run out. You've got to keep San Antonio from getting those offensive boards. They seem to score off each and every one.
- Adelman needs to stop trying to be the first coach ever fired in the middle of a playoff series. It's not worth the sappy Mark Kreidler column, Rick. It's just not.
(Yeah, the tone has changed a bit from Friday. But as someone much smarter and more well-read than I once said, "You would cry to if it happened to you. Bum bum bum-bum bum.")