The Spurs find themselves in an unusual position heading into Game 3 against the Hornets on Thursday night.
For starters, San Antonio, which is in the playoffs for the 12th consecutive year, trails a series 2-0 for the first time since 2001, when it was swept out of the conference finals by the Lakers.
On top of that, the Spurs' defense -- a staple during the team's run of three championships in the previous five seasons -- is searching for answers as the series shifts to San Antonio.
Yes, the Spurs committed too many turnovers (28) and shot poorly (41.7 percent) in two lopsided losses at New Orleans, and
"We have to find a way to get stops and play off of that,''
By now, everyone has concluded that Paul cannot be stopped. The MVP runnerup has been downright surgical in the postseason, probing the paint, finding open teammates and even hitting his jump shot on a scarily consistent basis. His ability to wait until the last possible second for a play to develop before setting up a teammate is killing the Spurs, against whom he is averaging 23.5 points (on 50 percent shooting) and 12.5 assists. Those are
Perhaps the Spurs' strategy against Paul will be one they have used when facing
Paul's dominance has helped expose another issue for the Spurs: contesting shots. Make no mistake, the Hornets are an excellent shooting team. They were second in the league (48.7 percent) during the regular season. All-Star
Correcting that problem is easy: Stay at home on the shooters. Yes, by staying at home the Spurs risk seeing Paul get to the rim repeatedly, but thus far every time a defender has helped on Paul, he has found an open shooter. Moreover, when the Spurs were scrambling to help, that often left
"We're in the groove right now," Chandler said. "I don't know if there's been a time this year when we've been really clicking like we are now."
The defending champions need to disrupt that rhythm -- and fast.