I don’t know how many times I’ve struggled to find the keys before leaving the house, but it happens more than it should for a man who prides himself on being smarter than the average single celled organism. But in the NBA playoffs the key is what gets you the win - maybe not in every game but the series and ultimately the grand prize.
If you were watching from anywhere other than Saturn (okay, bad example, I’ll leave interplanetary talk out of this as it brings back some nasty memories of last year) you will have seen how important Fisher was in the last series and how inept Farmar was. Why? Is Fisher that much better a defender and scorer than Farmar? Is it age and experience? Well, yes maybe there all correct. But the key here, and as it turned out for the whole series, was Fisher was effectively the mentor for D.Williams in his time at Utah. That means that essentially Williams over-respected Fisher - or at least tried to show Fish how good he’d become. That gave Fisher a huge edge which he used as only a vet can do. Farmar was the venting point of Williams size and abilities - he immediately attacked Farmar and gained huge confidence over our number two point guard. Added to which Williams is a physical point guard like a young Kidd, Farmar was simply out-muscled by an angry Williams.
The bad news for us is that we don’t have the same key against the Spurs. Unfortunately we didn’t obtain Pau from them. We do have the 0.4 thing, but I suggest there’s a balance there with Horry on the other side of the fence these days.
I like what Turiaf can do to Tim Duncan on occasion, but I think we all know TD is not going to truly fear anyone on the defensive end the Lakers have over 48 minutes. So where is the key? For me the key this time round is in European players. The Spurs have Parker and Ginobli - that’s a pretty useful tandem of European stand-outs. The Lakers have Radman, Pau, Sasha and Turiaf. Of course all our Euro players are big-men - except Sasha. Sasha for me will be the key. Why? Because he’s a pain in the preverbial on defence and you can’t leave him alone for a second when the Lakers have the ball. His match-up with all-star and 6th man of the year, Manu Ginobli, will be the key here. For the Lakers to win Sasha doesn’t have to try to better Ginobli, he’s just got to pee off Manu enough to change his mental state. He went part way to achieving that in game 1 for sure.
Manu is one of those players who simply believes in himself - he thinks he is the Spurs best player (he may be right, but I rate him as 2) and his confidence and success allow Pop to give him a longer leash than he wants to. Sow the seed of doubt and we could be seeing him yanked and the Spurs giving in to the Lakers.
Of course there’s always plan B - give the ball to Mamba and let him use his skeleton key to unlock the path to the finals..