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The NBA Life with Matt Bonner: Spurs success starting to mirror 2007 championship team
The Spurs throttled the Jazz in the first round and won their first six playoff games entering Saturday at the Staples Center against the Los Angeles Clippers. Veteran Spurs forward Matt Bonner of Concord says this year's team is starting to remind him of the 2007 championship squad on which he played.
SN: Did it seem like forever before you played the Clippers? There was a long wait (eight days) after you guys swept Utah.
MB: Yeah, it did seem like forever, and it was even more magnified because of the condensed schedule we played all year. Even two days off seems like a long time.
SN: Now you play four games in six days. Could that be a detriment to your squad?
MB: You know, the way we managed minutes during the regular season and stayed in rhythm during a hectic schedule has helped us. We've talked a lot about the depth on our team and hopefully that'll get us some more wins against a really good Clippers team. They're young. They're gamers.
SN: If you were writing a story about Blake Griffin, what type of questions would you ask him?
MB: I really like his Kia commercials. They make me laugh every time. I would probably try to explore his sense of humor and talk about what he finds funny. I would delve into his personality that way.
SN: What have been the biggest keys for the Spurs to have success in this series?
MB: I think it starts with rebounding. Their bigs are strong and athletic guys. The focus is on matching their physicality and really trying to shut down their perimeter.
SN: You need to body up Griffin when he faces the basket. Get right in his face and say, “I'm going to be here all series.”
MB: That's really bad advice. If he faces up and you body him. He's going to spin by you and dunk it.
SN: If you watched a Clippers game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, you'd think it was a different building from when the Lakers play there. From your perspective what is different about playing the Clippers at that arena?
MB: Definitely the biggest thing is the star power. If you have a big game against the Lakers, there are all kinds of celebrities sitting in the front row. You don't really see that with the Clippers, but Billy Crystal does go to every game. However, this year, with all the excitement and the addition of Chris Paul, you're seeing more stars on the bandwagon.
SN: It's been five years since the Spurs won the NBA title, yet the core players are still there. Is this team starting to feel like the 2007 team?
MB: I would say our depth reminds me of that championship team. Our second unit would come in, and those guys would just run the other team out of the gym. We have that this year. When we go to the bench, there isn't too much of a dip in ability.
SN: Now Chris Bosh (abdominal muscle) is hurt for the Heat. Things keep falling in place for the Celtics for making a run to the NBA Finals, don't you think?
MB: Yeah, but I think the Heat still have a capable front line and plenty of scorers when you've got Dwyane Wade and LeBron James on your team. The Celtics still need to get through Philadelphia. They had a tough loss in Game 2 and now they're on the road. You guys in the media like to look ahead, but, as players, we're focusing on the task at hand.
SN: The Celtics are probably going to need more than a Chris Bosh injury if they have a chance of beating the Heat. Maybe D-Wade's hip injury will flare up or something.
MB: You guys are awful. You've probably got voodoo dolls and are thinking, “Who can we take out today?”
SN: We're just looking at things realistically. The Celtics are running on fumes — but they are still running. How about the end of Game 2 when Kevin Garnett was whistled for a foul on a moving screen. That seemed pretty ticky tack.
MB: I would not want to be a ref in the last minute of a close game. The physicality gets revved up. There is so much moving and grabbing, and they can't call everything. Usually most of that stuff ends up getting let go by the officials. If you watch the replay, it was a moving screen, and they called it. It was unfortunate for the Celtics but that was the call. That's what I was saying. It's so tough when it gets physical at the end.
SN: The Hawks owner said KG is one of the dirtiest players in the league. Is he?
MB: No, I think he plays hard but thanks for putting me on the spot. I get better questions from the kids at my basketball camp.
Bonner discusses The NBA Life each week with radio broadcaster Chris Ryan and New Hampshire Union Leader reporter Kevin Gray. The interview appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News, and the radio show can be heard Tuesdays at 6 p.m. on WGAM 1250 AM, WGHM 900 AM, WKXL 1450 AM and 103.9 FM.