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Hello everyone. As promised in the post where I announced my participation in the World Championship, a quick take on our playoffs. We started badly because we lost Roy and Camby right away. Well, Marcus still played the first game but he injured himself before we took the plane to Phoenix. So we thought "OK, fine, we're on the right track." But we still managed to snatch Game 1 in Phoenix, we had a big game. I think Phoenix thought to themselves "it's fine, they don't have Roy, they have Camby playing on one foot." But actually we had a big game with Andre scoring 31points.
So we were happy, the goal was to take at least one away. As a result, the second game, we did not really play thoroughly and we got smashed straight away. We were too relaxed because we were feeling that Games 3 and 4 at home, we were going to win those. Eventually we let the Game 2 go. And I've hurt my arm late in the third quarter. Nash took my arm involuntarily and I went the other way. Then the MRI confirmed that I had a little sprain at the shoulder, and then it was pretty annoying. At the time I got scared. I did not want to have surgery after the playoffs because on the beach it's annoying, you can't do anything. No I'm just kidding but I was thinking of my summer though. If it was something that required surgery, I wouldn't go in the France team, I wouldn't grow, I wouldn't be able to work on my shoot. And at this time I got afraid not to be able to play Game 3 and since Roy wouldn't there I really didn't want to miss the game. But I decided to play and I don't think I should have. I say this now, with hindsight, but at that time it was impossible for me to miss the game. The staff told me, "You take the decision, but it would be good to rest anyway. In regular season you would have at least five days off, minimum." There they gave me the choice, it's the playoffs.
In the third game, it was hurting badly because I took many hits and I fell on it. And as a team, we had a poor game 3. We started too confident, thinking at home with the crowd behind us, it was going to be fine... and we ended up down by more than 25 at halftime. We lost this this one because we were too euphoric : we won one there, we came back home so we thought we'd beat them. We did not really play in a playoff state of mind but they were. They hit us straight away. It's that game that made us lose the series. If we won that game, knowing that Roy was returning on Game 4 (it was not announced, but we knew it), we could go to Phoenix leading 3-1.
Game 4 we knew that if we lost it was dead. Roy came back and knowing that your best player is back, psychologically it helps. So we had a big match, it was a good victory. Then we returned to Phoenix for Game 5. We had a good first quarter but then they were euphoric, they went on fast breaks, Nash had 11 assists at half-time, we couldn't do anything. In Game 6, I also defended on him. All in all I felt good on him. In Game 4, I think we also won because I managed to hinder him. In the last minute he did a pick-and-roll with Stoudemire, and Aldridge and I were on them. Between us there was a sizeable arms length and we could switch : on short sequences Aldridge could defend Nash and I could guard Stoudemire and deny him the ball. Anyways there was only on Frye and Nash that we had to switch on the pick and roll, because Frye only wanted to shoot three-pointers, he didn't want to get in the paint.
Just my take on the Game 6, they did a superb match. They showed a lot of things, including their experience. We lost but with everything that's happened this year regarding injuries, we could only be proud of us. It was super disappointed when same, of course, but there could only be proud of us. We were super disappointed of course but we could only be proud of us. But in the locker room, we were more angry than last year. Last year we were not supposed to be there, we were youngsters. Here it was important for us to pass. But we also know that we won't have two seasons like that. We all know what we have to do this summer to come back stronger next year.
Anyways, experience made the difference. This is not an excuse to hide behind, but it surely helped. We were on fire after winning the first game, we should have put things in perspective. Just because we won a game doesn't mean we would win the series. There are two or three things to fix I think. We've been losing in the first round for two years, next year it should be fine.
On a personal note, I was better in these playoffs than last year. One year ago, on the court I was in spectator mode. I'm not saying that last year I wasn't in the mood and all, but let's just say I was a little funked, in quotation marks. Here I was really in the game right away, I scored 18 pts in the first game. My shoulder bothered me but I could do something good in these PO. I think I did a rather good job but I could have done better. I would rate myself a 11/20 we'll say :) Maybe I could have had a 15 if my shoulder did not bother me. I was often guarding Nash. He loves to go left, so the pick was coming very often on my right shoulder, and that was hurting.
But it's been a month since I've done nothing, so no problem for the France team, don't worry.
The next part tomorrow !