Forget About Kidd: Spurs Will Roll Over Nets

By By Tye Smith

By Tye Smith

With the NBA Finals now upon us, the familiar, pathetic whining from the fans of the Eastern Conference can be heard around the country. These fans would have you believe that the New Jersey Nets have a good chance in the championship battle against the San Antonio Spurs. Most of us know how ludicrous it is to believe that a team from the East could beat a team from the West, but the argument goes something like this.

Nets Fan: The Nets are the hottest team in the NBA, having won their last 10 playoff games. No Western Conference team has a winning streak even remotely close.

Realist: This so-called streak is made up of victories against weak teams from the East. Let’s face it, the Jazz could go on a 10-game winning streak if they were playing teams like the Detroit Pistons and the Boston Celtics. Most Eastern teams wouldn’t stand a chance in hell of making the playoffs if they played in the West.

More importantly, the Spurs have a much more impressive regular season resume than the Nets. The Spurs won a league-high 60 games mostly against teams like the Mavericks, the Lakers, and the Timberwolves, compared to the 49 regular season wins compiled by the Nets against the pathetic Eastern teams.

Nets Fan: Jason Kidd is the best point guard in the NBA, and his leadership ability will be enough to carry the Nets to a championship.

Realist: Where were Jason Kidd’s leadership abilities when Phoenix gladly traded him to the Nets? I don’t mean to harp on the point, but Kidd wasn’t a league MVP candidate until he started playing in the East. Not surprisingly, a mid-grade player from the West can easily become a star when playing for a JV division.

Kidd’s biggest problem, however, is not his lack of skill, but rather the obvious lack of skill in his supporting cast. Relying on players like Richard Jefferson, Kerry Kittles and Jason Collins has to leave doubts in Kidd’s mind before passing the ball.

Nets Fan: What about Kenyon Martin? He has emerged as a vocal team leader for the Nets and his scoring has relieved some of the pressure on Kidd. K-Mart is a dominant inside force and will cause problems for Tim Duncan.

Realist: First of all, K-Mart is the worst nickname in the history of the NBA. How would you like to be named after a second-rate retail chain that recently filed for bankruptcy?

Bad nickname aside, Martin will be defending league MVP Tim Duncan in the Finals, and his chances of slowing Duncan are slim to none. The West is full of strong, defensive power forwards like Rasheed Wallace, Chris Webber, Kevin Garnett and Karl Malone. Duncan has faced talented power forwards all year, and K-Mart is nothing special comparatively.

Duncan is the most dominant player in the NBA, which has been aptly demonstrated by his back-to-back regular season MVP awards. To win even one MVP playing in the same league as Shaq and Kobe is impressive, but to win two straight is downright staggering.

In the 2003 playoffs, Duncan is averaging 24.9 points and 14.8 rebounds per game. Over one particular four-game stretch, he had more than 30 points and 15 rebounds in each game. In other words, Duncan is practically unstoppable.

Nets Fan: Who cares about Duncan? Without Shaq and Kobe to contend with, the Nets stand a legitimate chance.

Realist: Maybe you missed it, but the Spurs smacked the Lakers in six games in the second round. Logic dictates that if the Spurs kicked the Lakers’ asses, then the Spurs would be tougher opponents-not easier.

Nets Fan: The experience of being in last year’s Finals will help calm the Nets’ nerves and provide the confidence needed to win a title.

Realist: Experience is only helpful in the context in which it was gained. Last year, the Nets were swept by the Lakers in a humiliating series, which translates into a negative experience.

In 1999, the San Antonio Spurs made it to the Finals-and won the NBA championship. This translates into a positive experience, which will help Duncan much more than the Nets’ failed try.

Nets Fan: The Nets are coming off 10 days of rest, giving plenty of time for Jason Kidd’s sprained ankle to heal.

Realist: A 10-day layoff is never a good thing in the midst of a playoff winning streak, and if Jason Kidd’s ankle is sprained, the Nets might as well save face now and withdraw from the series. If they thought last year’s sweep was tough to swallow, playing the Finals without Kidd would be like playing a chess match without your queen-winning even one game would be nearly impossible.

The odds of New Jersey winning the series are already quite poor. The money line from Las Vegas on the Nets is +250 (in other words, if you bet one dollar, you stand to win two dollars and fifty cents).

If you want to take the Spurs, you would have to bet three dollars just to win one dollar. This is the casino’s way of telling us that the Nets are not going to win; no way, no how. The smart money is on the Spurs.

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