Spurs TV analyst Sean Elliott dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Friday to give his take on the Western Conference playoff picture, starting with the Rajon Rondo soap opera unfolding in Dallas.
“Thats been so bizarre – so bizarre,” Elliott said on Tiki and Tierney. “I remember the feeing around San Antonio when Rondo was traded to Dallas. A lot of people had this feeling of dread – like Dallas has possibly been handed the Western Conference because of his reputation and the way he’s played in the past and blending in with that team. Everybody thought it would be a natural fit and elevate their ball club – and it’s done exactly the opposite. No one really expected that. To see the confrontation with (Rick) Carlisle in front of everybody and just the way he played the first two games of the playoffs have just been out of character.
“I know he’s had some problems behind the scenes with Doc (Rivers), and to me, it just seems like it’s unfortunate because it’s going to be awfully tough for him to find a place to land next year,” Elliott continued. “I think there will probably be some teams that think that they can play with him and he can be a leader on their ball club, but it’s certainly not a good fit in Dallas. Boston improved after Rondo left. Obviously they knew something. It’s going to be tough for him, honestly. He’s going to have to find exactly the right fit for him next year. But it’s not going to be in Dallas.”
While Rondo is done in Dallas, Stephen Curry showed Thursday night why the Warriors are a legitimate threat to win the NBA title. Golden State overcame a 20-point fourth-quarter deficit to stun the Pelicans in New Orleans, 123-119, in overtime. Curry scored 40 points and hit seven three-pointers – including one to force overtime – as the Warriors took a 3-0 series lead.
“He’s just a phenomenal, phenomenal talent,” Elliott said of the MVP frontrunner. “I don’t even know what to say about him. We had a game against him earlier in the year, in February, where they dissected us in Golden State. I told people after the game, I haven’t seen a ball-handler like him maybe ever. He was handling the ball as if he was breathing. A lot of guys out there, when they’re handling the ball, they have to be aware of it. It’s not as second nature as it is with him. For him, (when) he was bringing the ball up the court, he didn’t have to look down at it at all. He knew where that ball was all the time. That ball listens to him. He knows how to get it done. He’s the best shooter at that point guard position I’ve ever seen – maybe the best shooter I’ve ever seen. He’s got the total package. There’s still ways to stop him. There’s still ways to try to control him. I think we’ve done a good job over the last couple years, but good grief, it’s tough to even think of an offensive player of his caliber over the last 15 or 20 years.”
The Spurs, meanwhile, salvaged a split with the Clippers after dropping Game 1 in Los Angeles. San Antonio won, 111-107, in overtime in Game 2 and will host Game 3 Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET.
“I didn’t like the way we played in the first game,” Elliott said. “Man, we looked terrible. We didn’t look like a team that had been to the Finals two years in a row and were battle-tested. We looked like we were a deer in the headlights – more concerned abut what to do with the Clippers as opposed to just going out there and doing our stuff and playing Spurs basketball. I thought we got back to that in Game 2. Even then, we were uncharacteristic down the stretch. Just didn’t take care of (the ball). So we have a lot of work to do.”
As a matter of fact, the Spurs look like they did against Dallas in the first round of the playoffs last year. That series went seven games.
“After that first round last year,” Elliott said, “I told all the people around me, ‘I just don’t know what we’re doing out there. We don’t look like we played the regular season. We look out of sorts a little bit, and I don’t know how we’re going to beat Portland or anybody else after that.’ All of a sudden, we found ourselves and we started playing good basketball. The rest is history.
“So I’m hoping that the same thing kind of happens where we at least give ourselves a chance,” Elliott continued. “We understand the Western Conference is loaded. Obviously the Clippers are much-improved. Same as Houston. Golden State’s a juggernaut right now. But we have to at least give ourselves a chance – and that means playing Spurs basketball. Then somebody has to beat us; we don’t beat ourselves.”