With the Conference Finals now in full swing, and the Spurs exhibiting dominance that we haven’t seen since the days of Shaq and Kobe, Dime had a chance to catch up with TNT broadcasters Reggie Miller and Steve Kerr in a recent conference call to discuss all things basketball, including why James Harden is so good, why the Spurs are so good and why the age rule is so hard to get a handle on. Here’s what they had to say:
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On what it’s like for a shooter like Ray Allen to play with a hurt ankle:
Reggie Miller: I think it’s mobility. I think Philadelphia figured out something, continuing to go at his mobility – where it should be versus where it used to be. So I think that’s the hardest thing, his movement on the defensive end.
Steve Kerr: I would just add that routine is so important as a shooter. I know Reggie had a very regimented routine before every game, and I did the same thing. I heard Ray Allen is probably as organized as anybody in terms of his approach to the game. When you’re injured and you can’t put in all that work that you’re used to, I think it affects your rhythm and it affects your mind a little bit. If you miss a few shots, it can kind of get into your head a little bit.
On James Harden’s growth over the last year:
RM: I think people really underestimate the size of James Harden. He runs about 6-4, 6-5. I was telling a couple guys on the crew he reminds me, when gets on the high pick and roll, once he gets past the center and gets into the lane, he exposes the ball a lot like how Detlef Schrempf used to do it. He’s so strong with holding the ball out, it entices you to swing down thinking you’re able to strip him, but he’s just carrying you up to the rim and getting those and ones.
SK: He’s really their best passer by far, and that’s why he’s such a nice complement to Westbrook and Durant. You know those guys first and foremost are really thinking about scoring, and they’re really good at it…even though he’s coming off the bench, I think you can make the argument that, as soon as Wade and Kobe kind of move on in a few years, Harden’s probably the best two-guard in the league.
On Steve Kerr’s view of Greg Popovich and R.C. Buford keeping the team competitive over the years, from the perspective of a former Spur:
SK: Yeah it’s pretty amazing, very few coaches are able to adapt and change from what they once were, particularly when they were very successful at it. Tex Winter, my old coach in Chicago, used to say “you coach what you know.” I think that’s true for most coaches. With Pop though, it’s like he’s ahead of the curve and he’s seeing the league evolve, and so he’s evolving with it. The great thing about the Spurs is they still have the defensive foundation that they’ve built over the years, and so they’re able to shut teams down for four or five minute stretches. But offensively, this is their best team by far. They’re explosive, they shoot the lights out, they move the ball better than anybody in the league.
RM: I think as long as you have Ginobili, Parker and Duncan, those pieces will always remain the same and you can interchange a lot of the other parts. I agree with Steve – what Pop has done, with evolving, the rule changes, the league wants more fast play with no hand checking, he’s a risk taker. To go into the season and say, “I’m going to rest my guys. I don’t care about the league, or what our record is at the time or how many wins in a row we have, I’m going to rest my guys because I’m looking at the bigger picture.” It’s great.