If you're like me, you enjoy listening to the San Antonio Spurs' TV announcers of Bill Land, Sean Elliott and newly added Malik Rose. Land with his "Oh Mama!" whenever a Spurs player does a fantastic play on the court and Elliott for his dry, witty comments.
However, don't tell that to ESPN's David Thorpe.
In one of his ESPN chats, Thorpe was asked about local TV crews and which were his favorites. He mentioned a few but also gave his thoughts on the Spurs TV crew:
Celts and Spurs have terrific organizations, but their tv guys are not remotely objective or particularly informed.
Thanks Thorpe. I guess the fact they cover the Spurs should not weigh in your thoughts huh?
Do you expect them to be cheering for the opposing team? And did you just infer Land and Elliott are not knowledgeable about the game? In case you forgot, Elliott played the game, was an All-Star and won an NBA championship. Rose also played the game and gives insight to the Spurs inner-workings and also won a title with the Spurs. Land does say when the refs make the right call even if it does go against the Spurs.
Might want to rethink your thoughts on the Spurs TV crew Thorpe.
For a preview of tonight's game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Milwaukee Bucks, I got together one of the best Bucks writers I know, Frank Madden of BrewHoop.
Frank has been writing at Brewhoop since he helped start it back in October of 2007, but his Bucks fandom didn't start there.
Here are his answers to my questions about tonight's game:
1. The Bucks just had a great win over Dallas, which stopped their win streak at 12 games. The Spurs, like the Mavs, also have gotten off to a great start this season. What will the Bucks have to do to sweep Texas?
It always starts with defense for Scott Skiles, but teams that have given the Bucks trouble have generally had attacking guards who can draw defenders and get their teammates easy shots. Generally speaking, the Bucks try to crowd the lane and cut off dribble penetration as much as possible and force teams to beat them with jump-shooting--last time I checked, no team allowed fewer shots inside of ten feet than the Bucks. So preventing guys like Parker and Manu from getting to the rim is generally job one for the Bucks, and hoping the Spurs perimeter shots don't fall is closely related.
Offensively it's been a major struggle all season. Virtually everyone on the team has been well below their career averages in shooting efficiency, and even Jennings is still well below average in that department despite improving on his rookie year. Salmons and Maggette (though he's gotten to the line a ton) have not been able to finish around the hoop with any type of consistency, and that's a big issue given how much the Bucks rely on them to create offense. Jennings has improved from a year ago, but I think he has a way to go in terms of creating easy shots for teammates and managing the offense.
Bogut is the other key guy offensively, and he's been on a real roll since coming back from his back injury (21 ppg, 16 rpg over the last five). While he's a solid post player who needs touches down low to keep the offense balanced, it's also really important that the Bucks get him the ball on the go--off P&R, penetration, screens across the lane, etc. Everyone knows Bogut needs to touch the ball, but it's more difficult to keep him involved since he's not going to score unless he catches the ball within 10 feet of the hoop.
2. What's your early assessment of Larry Sanders so far this season?
The Bucks were a bit spoiled after getting Jennings 10th overall in 2009, but I think everyone has generally been pleased with what we've seen of Larry. He's a nice kid who works hard, has the physical tools to be a disruptive defender at both big positions, and he has a surprisingly nice stroke out to around 18 feet as well. I'm not sure how much longer he'll start at PF given Drew Gooden is getting healthy, but playing him next to Bogut makes the Bucks really hard to score on inside and could very well be the long-term pairing the Bucks use at the big positions.
That said, he has a very long way to go in understanding the NBA game and how to use his tools. He tends to settle for jump shots and has not distinguished himself as a finisher, which explains why his efficiency has been rather unacceptable for an athletic big man. Defensively, he doesn't have the kind of lower body strength to hold post position against really big guys, and that's also limited his effectiveness as a rebounder. He blocks a ton of shots, but he not surprisingly commits a lot of fouls as well and can be prone to biting on pump fakes. Overall, I'm not sure he'll ever develop the offensive game to be a major impact player, but his versatility as a defender should keep him in the league a long time.
3. It's still months away, but has Bogut done enough this season to earn an All-Star spot?
I think he has, but then again it's going to be very difficult at that position with guys like Al Horford and Joakim Noah competing for the same spot (I'll ignore Amare for the moment). Though he's a skilled guy around the hoop, his offensive numbers would be the main thing holding him back from an all-star perception standing point, as he's been playing through pain in his right arm for most of the season, has struggled mightily from the line and hasn't been very consistent in the post either. But Bogut's quietly developed into one of the league's best defenders over the past couple years, and Bucks fans have to be rather ecstatic that his rebounding (12.3 rpg, 2nd in the league) and shot-blocking (league-leading 2.9 bpg) have actually improved since his horrific arm injury last year. Though he doesn't have the pure physical talents of a Dwight Howard, he just reads the game exceptionally well--such as knowing when to take a charge vs. go for the block.
4. Who has been the Bucks' biggest surprise player this season? Douglas-Roberts, Delfino, Gooden or someone else?
Delfino was playing the best ball of his career early in the season, so losing him to another concussion has been a big blow. He's not exceptional at anything, but he's versatile, does all the little things, and could be a useful 25-30 mpg guy on any team in the league in my opinion. The Bucks especially miss his ability to space the floor, particularly now that Mbah a Moute has been starting at SF. Delfino was normally the guy parked in the weak side corner looking for open threes, which helped open the court for guys like Jennings and Salmons, but it's much easier for defenses to crowd the lane with someone like Luc at SF. Other than Delfino, CD-R has shown some nice scoring instincts off the bench since returning from eye injury, and that's been particularly useful given the struggles of Salmons and Maggette.
5. There is definitely potential for some great matchups, including Duncan-Bogut and Parker-Jennings. Which will be the key matchup and why?
I think it starts with Jennings/Parker. As mentioned earlier, the Bucks could be in for a long night if they can't adequately contain dribble penetration, and offensively everything starts with Jennings. The Bucks have been bad all season on that end, and much of their offensive strategy is predicated on high P&R action where they try to get Jennings going toward his preferred left. If the Spurs can show hard or double and force Jennings moving laterally rather than getting going towards the basket then Bucks become pretty easy to defend--they just don't have enough shooters or other shot creators to punish you. Brandon has generally been better about attacking and converting at the rim this season and he's also gotten his three point shot back over the past few weeks, but he's streaky and you never know what you're going to get. Teams are generally well-served trying to force him into mid-range jump shots, and if his shot isn't falling it's important that he find other ways to make the offense work.
Otherwise Salmons is usually the x-factor for the Bucks. Aside from Jennings, he's the other guy who the Bucks rely on to initiate offense, so when he's off--as he has been most of the season--then they have a really difficult time scoring consistently. Against the Mavs they had guys like CD-R, Dooling, and Ilyasova picking up the slack, but that hasn't been typical thus far.
6. What is your prediction for tonight's game?
I'd have a hard time predicting a Bucks win with a straight face, but I'd be surprised if they weren't competitive--after all, this is still a Scott Skiles team and they should be fairly confident after the Mavericks game. The Bucks have somehow been winning close games of late, which is interesting given their lack of a consistent go-to guy, and keeping the game close up until the last two minutes is generally the most you can ask for when playing a team like the Spurs. But I'd certainly favor the Spurs if the game goes down to the wire, simply because Salmons has been miserable late in games and neither Jennings nor Bogut are reliable late-game scoring options either.
Thanks to Frank for taking the time to answer my questions and make sure to look for my answers to his questions over at BrewHoop this afternoon.
Tiago Splitter is part of the San Antonio Spurs' future plans. He was considered to be the best big man outside of the NBA seeing how he was named ACB league MVP before coming to San Antonio.
However, a month and a half into his rookie NBA season, Splitter is having difficulty getting consistent playing time in coach Gregg Popovich’s frontcourt rotation.
When Splitter finally signed in July, most NBA observers believed Popovich had a new starting center to pair with Tim Duncan. The search for Duncan's side-kick was over. Right?
That hasn’t panned out quite yet. In fact, Splitter and Duncan have rarely been on the court together at all.
Splitter has played in 19 games averaging 4.5 points and 2.5 rebounds while shooting 50.8% from the floor in 11 minutes per ball game. He has scored in double figures on two occasions. The first came on a November 25 win over Cleveland Cavaliers where he had 18 points and five rebounds while playing 26 minutes and then scored 12 points and grabbed six boards in 24 minutes of action against the Golden State Warriors last December 8.
Clearly if given more playing time, Splitter could proved to be the big man the Spurs are hoping for.
However, the Spurs seem to take a very careful approach with Splitter and this have drawn some ire from some Spurs fans eager to see more of Splitter on the floor.
It's apparent he's eager to show the Spurs what he can bring to the table but hasn't got the needed break yet. Also, he has a clear grasp of the Spurs scheme, and even in limited minutes he has been effective and has shown excellent potential.
So why is he not getting the minutes? Here are some probable reasons:
- He is coming from a various injuries leading up to his arrival in San Antonio including suffering a strained calf muscle injury during training camp thus his learning process of the Spurs system slowed down.
- He missed the entire preseason including the first few games of the regular season.
- Besides Duncan, three of the Spurs frontcourt rotation players (DeJuan Blair, Antonio McDyess and Matt Bonner) are all back with the team making it difficult for Tiago to get significant playing time.
- Bonner has been effective in stretching the floor for the Spurs in the most part this season.
- McDyess continues to be a steady veteran presence providing some needed hustle and grit.
- After a slow start, Blair seems to be in tuned with the team's starting unit.
For Splitter it's like trying to fit to a team that is already made which can be tough. Let's face it, playing a supporting role is brand new for him but he will continue to get spot minutes until coach Popovich is comfortable enough to put him in for longer stretches.
Now here is food for thought: if the frontcourt is crowded, and he needs more time on the court to continue to adapt to the Spurs system, then why not send him to the Austin Toros for a few games and see what happens?
OK let the angry comments come in and the uproar from Spurs fans begin.
This is by no means any disrespect for Splitter or his game. What I know is with Toros, he can play a lot of minutes and his learning curve with the Spurs' complex system could be cut short. By doing so, the Spurs will see more of Tiago in action and will be able to pin-point what he needs to improve on and what schemes he needs to familiarize on.
And then, they could simply call him up when they feel that he's ready. Sounds like a win-win doesn't it?
What do you think?
• Think Manu Ginobili appreciates being a San Antonio Spur? Indeed he does! Check out what he said via Twitter on being with the Spurs franchise:
• Into stats? Then check out Express News' Tim Griffin's post on the Spurs' Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili tied for the team lead in plus-minus:
The Spurs clearly play better when Duncan is on the floor. Bonner has been the best 3-point shooting big man in the league. George Hill is playing at a level that could lead him to the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year.
• The Spurs face the Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow and if the Bucks get the win over the Spurs then they will lay claim to have won against all three Texas NBA teams:
They beat Houston at home on Friday night, using a 24-point, 22-rebound, 5-block game from Andrew Bogut to get it done.
On Monday in Dallas, the Bucks received a huge bench effort inspired by Ersan Ilyasova, Keyon Dooling and Chris Douglas-Roberts to snap the Mavericks' 12-game winning streak.
Now for maybe the toughest part. The Bucks headed to San Antonio on a charter flight after their 103-99 victory in Dallas. Next up will be the NBA's top team, the 20-3 San Antonio Spurs.
"That's big for us," Jennings said after the Bucks' victory improved their road record to 3-8. "But we've got another tough team, one of the best teams in the NBA, San Antonio. We've got to go in there and take care of business. (source jsonline.com)
The Spurs can't sleep on this Bucks team. They beat the Mavericks, Bogut plays very well against the Spurs and Jennings can catch fire and explode offensively.
• A contract between Time Warner Cable and Sinclair Broadcasting Group is still not renewed and if it doesn't get renewed by December 31, then San Antonio Spurs fans in San Antonio may not catch a few games on the CW channel after January 1, 2011. (source Express News)
• The Spurs recent victory was over the Portland Trail Blazers holding them to 78 points. Check out our fellow Bloguin blogger Beyond the Beat's four reasons why the Blazers lost to the Spurs:
First, their bench continued to struggle. They weren’t able to score consistently or keep San Antonio’s reserves in check. After combining to shoot 0-11 in victory over Phoenix, the duo of Rudy Fernandez and Nicolas Batum managed to make only three field goals in fourteen attempts. Overall, the unit was 7-26 shooting with a measly two assists and two free-throw attempts. They have some good players, but the bench is lacking an inside presence. This has allowed the Spurs to primarily defend the perimeter. In turn, a predictable offense was once again run.
Click HERE to find out reasons two through four. Do you agree?
• So that UFO Manu Ginobili saw in California turned out to be Red Bull skydivers:
"As soon as I saw the videos on the news I busted up laughing," DeVore wrote on redbullairforce.com, which also includes footage of one of the jumps. "It was us jumping with our night flares." (source smdp.com)
Note: We apologize for the poor audio quality, due to using a cellphone while out of town and in a bad reception area.
Jeff and I got together last night for our weekly ritual of talking San Antonio Spurs basketball and the latest news.
We started the show off by recapping the week since we last talked, which was a 4-0 run, including impressive wins against the Hornets, Hawks and Blazers. We also talked about whether or not the Spurs will be able to continue at this level of success throughout the season and Jeff and I both agree that it would be very difficult to top or repeat what they've done so far this season, but we still expect them to have a successful season and be a top seed going into the playoffs.
In the second half of the show, our topic of the week was whether or not the Spurs can sustain their current hot shooting and if fans can expect to see the same percentages throughout the season. Be sure to listen in to hear what our thoughts are on the topic.
Also make sure to tune in this weekend as we go live before the Memphis Grizzlies game. We'll also have live chat during the show and during the game, and if possible, a post-game show as well.
The Spurscast. The first and original San Antonio Spurs podcast.
Intro Music: "Hold on" by Korn
With a 20-3 record heading into a match-up with the Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow night, the San Antonio Spurs seem to have found the right balance between their offense and defense. This season the Spurs are averaging 106.4 points per game and allow 96.5 points per game.
So what does Tim Duncan have to say about the Spurs winning with offense and defense? Find out.
(video courtesy of woai.com)
The San Antonio Spurs are off to a fantastic start to the NBA season and unlike teams of the past during the Gregg Popovich regime, the Spurs are getting it done on the offensive end of the court.
This season the Spurs are averaging 106.4 points per game and allow 96.5 points per game. A far cry from the defensive teams Spurs fans have cheered for in the past. Though in the recent win against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Spurs reminded the NBA they can still get it done on the defensive end when they held the Blazers to 78 points.
With this new focus on offense, let's remember some of the best defensive players in Spurs history and name the San Antonio Spurs All-Time Defensive Team.
And if defense wins championships, then I'm sure this fantasy defensive team would have racked up NBA titles.
He was the 1992 Defensive Player of the Year, won the NBA rebounding title in 1991, won the blocked shots title in 1992, named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team four times and ranks high in rebounds and blocked-shots for the Spurs.
He was named to the NBA All-Defensive Team 13 times and has been the corner stone of everything the Spurs do defensively. Though his role on the offensive end has diminished this season, he is still the anchor of what the Spurs do defensively.
Granted he may have been an on-the-court and an off-the-court distraction but while he was with the Spurs, Rodman got it done on the defensive end. With the Spurs he won the won his third straight rebounding title averaging 17.3 rebounds per game in 1994. In his final season wit the Spurs, he averaged 16.8 in 1995. He was also named to the NBA All-Defensive Team in both seasons with the Spurs.
Need I say more?
Bowen was an absolute master as the Spurs perimeter defender before he retired from the NBA. While with the Spurs, he was named to the NBA All-Defensive Team eight times and was the NBA Defensive Player of the Year runner-up twice in his career losing out to Ben Wallace. A travesty in my book.
Though some called him a "dirty player" and not well liked among certain players in the NBA, ask Boston Celtics Ray Allen, there was no denying Bowen was an integral cog in the Spurs march to three NBA titles during his time in San Antonio and a feared defender for an opposing team's best player.
His legal troubles aside, when Robertson wore the Spurs uniform he was best known for his defense.
Robertson won the 1986 NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He led the league in steals in 1986, 1987 and 1991. Robertson still holds the top career steals-per-game average in the NBA, with 2.71 per game. Robertson led the Spurs in steals four of the five seasons he was in San Antonio, three times averaging more than three per game. He ranks second in club history in total steals, with 1,129.
He recorded a steal in a then-record 105 consecutive games. Chris Paul is surpassed Robertson by recording a steal from 2007-2008. He also recorded a quadruple-double with 10 steals. A category no other player who has recorded a quadruple-double has done.
Now try scoring on this defensive team.
• With the San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks owning two of the best records in the NBA and the Western Conference, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban still feel the Miami Heat are the cream-of-the-crop.
In an interview with NBA.com, here is what Cuban had to say about the Heat:
During a visit to San Antonio this past weekend, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said the Mavericks were probably the best team in the league right now. It’s hard to argue that opinion, given the 11-game winning streak the Mavs own after Thursday night’s win over New Jersey.
I brought this up with Mark Cuban before the game as he pounded away on the Stairmaster. Surely, he has to be pleased with the progress of the hottest team in the NBA, one that battling San Antonio for the league’s best record. But are the Mavs, in Cuban’s biased opinion, the best around?
“Miami is the best team in the league right now,” Cuban said simply.
Look it's perfectly understandable why Cuban didn't pick the Spurs seeing how these two teams are rivals but to pick the Heat is questionable. The Heat started out the gates slow and though they may be winning lately, they haven't exactly beaten the best teams in the NBA.
• Bring up the words "San Antonio Spurs" to a die-hard Phoenix Suns fan and you are probably going to get an earful on how much they cannot stand the Spurs and rightfully so. The Spurs have dashed the Suns NBA title hopes countless times and have crushed the hearts of their fans time and time again.
In an article from suns.com, a few current and past Spurs made their top 10 villains list including Manu Ginobili, Robert Horry, Bruce Bowen, Tim Duncan, and Tony Parker. Find out which other Spurs made the list at suns.com.
• By now all of Spurs fandom has heard about Ginobili witnessing a UFO. Listen to what he had to say about his UFO encounter in this video from woai.com:
• If you are fortunate enough to have season tickets and sit in the first three rows at the AT&T Center then you are in luck. The Spurs have made a new event-level club for about 300 season-ticket holders. It's called the Express Jets Courtside Club. (source sportsbusinessjournal.com)
And if you do have access to this new club, how about letting me in? Please. Come on!
Check out San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan and coach Gregg Popovich kidding around about Duncan's limited minutes and being on the bench more often.