Key to Spurs success in Game 2: hitting mid-range jumpers


AT&T CENTER — San Antonio took 45 minutes to really shake the rust and get back into its normal rhythm, and it came painstakingly close to costing the home team Game 1. So how do they return to their normal levels of systematic efficiency? Ironically, the success of the Spurs’ offensive attack as this series goes on may depend upon the efficiency of the redheaded stepchild of the advanced statistical world.

The mid-range jumper.

Yes, the long-lost, mythical art form of metric lore. If San Antonio wants to exploit what Golden State is attempting to do defensively, the elbow jumper is going to be key, because the Warriors are going to leave it open all day. And it’s all going to start with Tony Parker.

If you’re a betting man, the most solid prop would almost certainly be Klay Thompson defending the Spurs’ point guard from the get-go. Most teams around the league with a serviceable, long-armed defender employ this defensive gameplan against San Antonio, and it’s taken away the pet moves Parker has perfected.

“It takes away my teardrop,” Parker said. “When you put a guy (on me) that’s the same size as me, I go to my reverse and do all those little tricky shots that I do in the paint. That takes that away, when you put a bigger guy on me.”

And we saw it in Game 1. Parker didn’t get loose around the rim until Thompson fouled out, when the comeback was initiated. But the fact of the matter is, Parker had great looks when popping off the high pick and rolls for most of the game. He just didn’t knock down the shots. Those opportunities will be there again, because Bogut looks like a statue in the paint.

When the player he’s guarding is the screen man in the pick and roll, Bogut is not budging toward a hedge. He’s sagging in the paint, just begging for the mid-range jumper from the ball-handler. And if Parker probes enough, Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw or Matt Bonner (or whoever Bogut is defending) will be left alone as well.

“The rest is the same. In the pick and rolls I have to make jump shots. They’re going to leave me open. I’m going to get 20 shots, Timmy’s (Duncan) going to get 20 shots,” Tony said. “That’s what they’re giving us, a little bit like the Lakers. Pop told me, if I have to shoot 25 times I have to shoot 25 times, same thing for Timmy.”

It’s not likely we’ll see any major adjustments from either side in Game 2. The Warriors were successful for three and a half quarters, and the Spurs always feel their system will get them the opportunities they want. Even from a defensive perspective, San Antonio is unlikely to change its strategy much. Parker said he expects to spend a significant amount of time defending Stephen Curry once again. It’s not like the sharpshooter was left open all night, he just killed every look he got.

And you can’t just put Kawhi Leonard on him from the start, because, just as we saw in Game 1, Golden State will attack Parker with whichever ultra-talented wing player he’s guarding. There will be adjustments made on Curry, just don’t expect anything drastic.

“If he’s going to shoot from halfcourt, there’s no defense against that,” Parker said. “Just hope he doesn’t shoot that well again.”

Hope. Pray. Make a deal with the devil. Whatever works.