LB for Threeee! Thoughts on Why Leandro Barbosa is the Suns' Key Against the Lakers

Since we have to wait until Monday to get this started, BSOTS needs to fill some space.  It will give all us arm-chair coaches a lot of time to discuss, analyze and pretend to know what we're doing.  Mental masturbation, that is.

We can all remember Dan Dan Tony's love notes to LB.  "Go to the hoop."  "Don't worry about defense."  Those sorts of things.  Now, LB is a tested veteran.  He really needs to show up.  If he cannot perform in this series, against a team he traditionally plays well against, it's hard to see him as a member of the 2nd Unit next year.

Fortunately, he's also shown some flashes of defense this year.  The Suns need him -- as he's usually been able to do -- to sprint down court and capitalize on the plodding tortoises.

I've only pulled stats from the playoff games, but he's had some good regular season games, too.  Here is some video, and the poster apparently put things up in a foreign language.  That's good public relations, now that our Southern Border is open and our Western Border is closed.

 

I dug up his playoff numbers:

 

Date

W/L

Min

FG

FG%

3Pt

3Pt%

FT

FT%

ORB

DRB

TRB

AST

STL

BLK

TO

PF

PT

4/23/06

W

28:29

3-7

.429

1-2

.500

8-8

1.000

0

1

1

1

0

1

0

3

15

4/26/06

L

27:19

0-5

.000

0-2

.000

0-0

1

1

2

4

1

1

2

2

0

4/28/06

L

30:30

3-7

.429

1-3

.333

2-2

1.000

0

1

1

4

1

0

1

1

9

4/30/06

L

15:50

2-7

.286

0-1

.000

2-2

1.000

0

1

1

1

2

0

1

4

6

5/2/06

W

24:47

4-9

.444

1-4

.250

2-2

1.000

0

0

0

2

1

0

1

2

11

5/4/06

W

47:22

7-9

.778

2-4

.500

6-7

.857

0

0

0

2

2

0

2

5

22

5/6/06

W

31:00

10-12

.833

1-1

1.000

5-5

1.000

0

1

1

2

1

0

2

1

26

4/22/07

W

34:59

10-22

.455

2-7

.286

4-7

.571

0

5

5

1

2

0

2

1

26

4/24/07

W

26:26

11-18

.611

4-8

.500

0-0

0

2

2

3

2

0

1

3

26

4/26/07

L

36:07

7-18

.389

5-11

.455

1-2

.500

1

4

5

2

0

0

2

1

20

4/29/07

W

29:21

3-12

.250

2-9

.222

8-8

1.000

1

2

3

2

2

0

2

2

16

5/2/07

W

32:59

6-12

.500

3-7

.429

3-4

.750

1

0

1

1

3

0

1

3

18

 

As a rule of thumb: in the wins, Leandro Barbosa shoots a good percentage and/or gets to the line.

Although the Lakers are better -- much better -- than those 2006 and 2007 teams, they are not any faster.  The additions have come in the form of Derek Fisher and Pau Gasol (plus the subtraction of Kwame Brown).  The team is no faster than it's been in the past.  Whether Trevor Ariza for Ron Artest was a good move (I suppose there is some debate), Ron-Ron is definitely slower down the court than Ariza.

I don't think the Suns can win 4 by simply trying to run the Fakers out of the gym every night.  The bigs will need to contribute.  However, the Suns will need to be able to run.  It is their strength in this series.  The other strength is the bench.  Let me combine an analysis of the two.

I don't see Lamar Odom having much trouble coming out to cover Channing Frye.  Additionally, he doesn't need to be a big rebounder for the Lakers.  Last I checked, Gasol was ripping down a bunch and Andrew Bynum is prone to do so every once in a while.  Similarly, Gasol should not have great trouble covering Frye, but if Odom is not around, that does bode well for the Suns' offensive rebounding.  In sum, though, it should be tough for Frye to come off the bench and contribute big numbers.

The Lakers' small lineup consists mainly of Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar.  If Gentry can force Jackson to give those guys extended miniutes in order to keep up with the Suns, Gentry will be my new man-crush.  Even so, they can't run with Leandro.

I'm looking at LB as more of a barometer for the Suns.  If he's getting good looks and/or getting to the free throw line, the Suns are able to neutralize the Lakers' size.  This should also mean that other Suns are getting out in transition.  And it's not so much about fast-break points as it early offense points.  Amare has traditionally had a tough time with Bynum and, to a much lesser extent, Gasol defending him in the half-court.  Making Bynum move on that bum knee is going to be important for the Suns.

Barbosa's good performance against San Antonio in Game 3 was over-shadowed by Goran Dragic (and rightly so), but I'm cautiously optimistic that this shows he is back in form.  Perhaps he didn't break out, but last I checked Parker, Hill and Ginobili are pretty fast.  I don't know that there are any Lakers as speedy as one of those three.  More importantly, except for Duncan and Bonner, most of the other Sp*rs have adequate speed.  On the other hand, Fisher might actually be slower than Gasol, Bynum and Odom.

What I'm looking for is two things: (1) whether LB scores more points than shots he takes, and (2) whether he gets at least 13 points (you can probably tinker with those numbers, but you get the point).  He doesn't need to score a ton, but he needs to score and score efficiently.

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