Watching the Hornets dismantle the Spurs tonight has me just awe-struck. I mean, I've watch many Hornets games all year and I've written as far back as Nov and Dec about how good Chris Paul and the Hornets are. But to me, they really are the best team in the Playoffs right now.

The reason why I'm calling the Hornets offense "easy offense" is because in contrast to the Spurs, everything seems so easy. The Spurs are trying so hard to get their scores, while the Hornets are scoring so effortlessly. And I don't think it's so much that the Spurs are playing bad defense, or that the Spurs offense is particularly bad. It's just that the Hornets are playing at such a high level both on offense and defense that they're on a whole other level right now skill wise than everyone else.

Take these 3 sequences for example.

1. The Spurs spent 20 secs off the shot clock working the ball from one side to another, but miss. With 10 seconds left in the 3rd quarter, CP3 races down the court past 3 Spurs and scores with 1 second left.

2. Ginobili hits a 3-pointer as the Hornets get crossed up on defense, that big shot cut the Hornets lead cut to 9. CP3 runs the PNR and finds Chandler on the alley-oop, lead back to 11.

3. Spurs made the adjustment to double West on the 1v1 ISO, 2 quick ball reversals later, Stojakovic hits a wide open 3-pointer to put the game away.

CP3 PNR Alley-oop to Chandler:

It's such a big part of their offense, I wrote about it earlier in the year.

Now you might be asking yourself, why does CP3 and Chandler run the PNR so well?? After all I've asked that very question myself. What is it about them that other teams cannot emulate, after all 75% of NBA plays are off the PNR. The reason why it works is because CP3 turns the corner on the ball-screen so quickly that they're basically playing 2-on-1 forcing Duncan to choose to cover CP3 or Chandler,

The counter to this would be to go underneath. So Duncan stays on Chandler, and Parker goes underneath. Only problem is that CP3 is a complete guard and will knock down the 3-pointer. As far as I can see, this play is unstoppable.

Double-team to Ball-reversal Corner 3-pointer:

This is just smart basketball. David West burned the Spurs in Game 1. We've all heard from the pundits that the Spurs do not have anyone that can guard him 1v1. So as soon as he gets the ball in the high-post 1v1 ISO, Duncan goes to double-team. West quickly reverses the ball to Mo Pete, then to Stojakovic in the corner. Notice the back-pick by Chandler to make sure,


Overshadowed in my post here is the Hornets defense. They've been playing inspired, CP3 is quick enough to keep up with Parker. They've scouted Ginobili and they know he likes to go left and they've stopped his ability to make that lateral step in the lane. Finally, they've prevented Duncan from turning into his defender, forcing him to take middle jump hooks. As they say, the devil is in the details, and the Hornets are locking in on those details.

I'm reminded by a quote by John Wooden, "I'd rather have a lot of talent and a little experience than a lot of experience and a little talent." The Spurs by no means are not untalented, but I think at times we overrate experience and underrate talent. Clearly, the Hornets have more talent and the talent is winning out over the experience.

If you're a fan of Steve Smith and his work with Oak Hill Academy, you should check out Steve Smith's new DVD on Building a High Scoring Transition Offense. Coach Smith has built Oak Hill Academy into a prep school powerhouse with famous alums in the likes of Jerry Stackhouse and Carmelo Anthony. Be sure to check out the X's and O's Basketball forum to discuss your favorite coaching topics.