"I'm sure they'll try it."
Those are the words from Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni when asked his thoughts on the San Antonio Spurs intentionally fouling Dwight Howard (aka Hack-A-Howard) during their opening playoff series against the Spurs which begins tomorrow.
After yesterday's Lakers practice session, D'Antoni spoke on the issue and stated there's only one thing the team can do – deal with it.
Hacking a player in general may be annoying to fans and the opposing team but if it is useful to win the game, why not use it? And with Howard being iffy at the foul-line throughout his NBA career, one can see why the Spurs will hack him if the game is close.
In two games versus San Antonio this season, he is averaged 47% shooting from the charity stripe. Overall, he shot 49% from the free-throw line during the regular season. With this sub-par shooting touch from the free-throw line, one can expect Spurs' Gregg Popovich to parade Howard to the foul line.
As for Howard, he also knows what is coming but is taking it in stride and says the Lakers will make San Antonio pay.
"If they want to do that the whole series, God bless them," Howard said when asked about the Spurs using a "Hack-a-Howard" strategy on Friday. "There's nothing I can do about it but go up there and shoot the free throws. Even if I make them, they're still going to do it. So, that's not my concern. My concern is what I can control on the defensive end and then on the offensive end, just dominate. If they foul me, they foul me. We're going to make them pay."
The door does swing both ways in this hacking topic.
If the Lakers want to hack Tim Duncan or the Spurs in general, they can as well. However, the Spurs shot an outstanding 79% from the foul line this season and Duncan shot 82% from the free throw line – the best in his career.
If the Lakers want to hack anyone it would be DeJuan Blair who shot 63% or Aron Baynes (if he does get time on the court) who shot 58% from the foul line during the regular season.
It may be a frustrating tactic to use but if it is the difference between winning a game or losing, I am sure any team will use it during the race to the NBA Finals.
We know Pop will and so do the Lakers.