The SuperSonics got a quick, painful lesson that their Game 1 effort isn't enough to win this deep in the playoffs. The speed of the game was much too fast for the Northwest Division champs, who scored the game's first basket and then surrendered nine consecutive points, falling behind for good en route to a rout.
The question now becomes, is it even possible for the Sonics to provide any resistance?
To avoid an 0-2 deficit heading back to Seattle, they must find a way to contain Tony Parker's penetration while keeping an eye on Tim Duncan inside. That proved to be an impossible mission in the opener, and it's a puzzle coach Nate McMillan knows his team will have to manage better.
"That's what makes them so good," McMillan said. "They have that inside presence, and any time you have a guy like Duncan it makes it tough and easier on everyone else. We have to find a way to limit their effectiveness."
Jerome James and Reggie Evans, tasked with handling Duncan, picked up two fouls in the first quarter and were pulled, never getting a solid rhythm and basically being non-factors.Danny Fortson, whose strength could potentially disrupt the Spurs big man, caught him with a slap that left a nasty mark under his eye, but aside from that had no impact defending him.
Because of the attention Duncan commanded in the post, Parker was able to get to the rim without fear of anyone being there to meet him. He blew by the slower Luke Ridnour at will, creating easy chances for himself and teammates.
"We really made Luke look bad on a couple of those by not stepping up. He was doing his job of bringing him to us, but we just were too slow in getting there," Sonics forward Nick Collison said. "We have to make sure we come cover and help. That's our job, and none of us bigs got it done."
No one in a Sonics uniform got much done Sunday, which is why they have to guard against trying to do too much tonight.
You'll hear that the Spurs did what they were supposed to do in holding serve at home if Seattle comes up short again, but winning isn't even the most important item on its agenda. With Games 3 and 4 scheduled for the friendlier confines of Key Arena later in the week, it's pivotal that the Sonics find their footing. They have to come out and look like they at least have a chance to hang. A repeat performance of Game 1 effectively ends this series.
As the Wizards' top defender, he has to do a better job staying in front of Wade, a feat that appears to be virtually impossible. One way to get to Wade is to try to get physical with him, so Hughes might be best served watching tapes of San Antonio's Bruce Bowen and taking a page out of his book.
"Everybody focuses on Shaq, and you look at the box score and Dwyane Wade's got 38 or 39 points," Wizards point guard Gilbert Arenas said. "You have to attack the guy who can score in bunches and who's not going to get doubled at the box. You have to try to cut out Dwyane as much as possible."
The key to toppling Miami has shifted to containing Wade, who is capable of taking over games. It's on Hughes to make him uncomfortable.
Matchup to watch
San Antonio's Bowen vs. Seattle's Ray Allen : As the bell rings for Round 2, it's still not a certainty that Allen will come out of his corner, but consider it a probability.
The Sonics guard rolled his ankle tripping over Bowen's tight defense in the second quarter and never returned. He walked with a slight limp Monday, an indication that his ankle should be healthy enough for him to go in such a big game. While his foot rested, Allen's mouth didn't, again repeating his dislike for Bowen's style.
"Same old Bruce. I got caught on his foot and it just turned. He's good for that. He's done that before. He's injured other guys before," said Allen. "I think so many people make excuses for him, as if he's out there doing something legitimate. But we've all seen what he does out there on the basketball floor."