So raise your hand if you had the San Antonio Spurs crossing the halfway point in the season with the best record in the NBA. Sir, sir, .....put your hand down.
The Spurs have been operating like the proverbial well-oiled machine. The offensive spacing and decision making has been, to put it simply, the best in the NBA. The Spurs' offensive system is much like a classic college basketball program with a well established coach at the helm. The system wins the team games as much as talent does.
For example, players like Gary Neal and Matt Bonner, are hitting big three-point shots every night because the system is operating at a high level. The system relies on a delicate balance of a number of factors relying on each other to get someone a relatively high percentage shot every time down the floor. It relies on constant movement and moving in space. Slashing and cutting and keeping the defense off balance. It works effectively on most possessions.That's the beauty of the Spurs' system. You can plug in two guys like Bonner and Neal who 29 other General Managers would pass up but possess discernible skills to Pop which make his system run.
That's the story of the season. Spurs' coach Gregg Popovich's system has all its necessary parts moving together again. This isn't just about getting everyone back healthy again, though that is a major factor. Having Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobilli and Tony Parker all healthy is necessary to make the system run. They are the straw that stirs the drink so to speak.
But Pop's system needs a good wing player to play tough defense and hit open three-point shots. Most good teams have a killer wing player who can light you up if you have no one who can compete with them physically. You need a good defensive wing player to slow them down, and if you are a wing player and can't hit a open three, you aren't playing for Pop. The Spurs haven't had these things in one player since Bruce Bowen was terrifying every wing player in the league.
Now the Spurs have the arrival of the new and improved Richard Jefferson. But his journey to this point hasn't been without bumps. Richard Jefferson was a absolute train wreck last year. Watching him play last year was like watching a car slide down a ice covered hill. You had no idea what was going to happen. After a summer of completely fine tuning his game with Pop, from getting proper form on his shot to really learning the ins and outs of the offense, he is playing committed, aggressive, defense and makes great decisions on offense. His three-point percentage is at a career high and he fits this offense like a glove. His cohesiveness with Manu and Tony makes it seem like he's been with the team 10 years. Jefferson gives them a big, athletic, wing player to throw at Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant or Shawn Marion. A player with his multitude of skills who accepts such a gritty, thankless role is very rare in this league. Without his emergence, the Spurs would not be on this record-setting pace. The Spurs have found the wing player they have been lacking in recent years probably since Sean Elliott. His improved play on both ends of the floor have as much to do with the Spurs being legitimate contenders as any other factor on this team.
Like any great coach he will tweak his system according to need. Pop's offense is reliant upon optimum efficiency. Like Kenny Smith on TNT said and I'm paraphrasing ''The Spurs system is relying on you to take dumb shots because they are going to take good shots every time down the court.'' With Timmy slowing down, Popovich saw the best way to get good shots and run the most efficient offense possible was to give the keys to the offense to the guards. Manu and Tony dictate the offense now. Henceforth, the Spurs became one of the highest scoring teams in the NBA. The conservative and methodical offensive philosophy is gone. Now it's slashing and dashing guards getting into the paint. It's outlet passes from Timmy and getting out and running. The offense operates at a feverish and at times risk taking pace. Point blank, it's the most exciting Spurs team fans seen in close to two decades, and it's highly efficient. Without this necessary style change, the Spurs would be stuck in that 6-8 playoff seed range, if that. The Spurs needed this if they wanted to kick open that window of opportunity a little wider for a run at the title.
So raise your hand if you had the San Antonio Spurs crossing the halfway point in the season with the best record in the NBA. Sir, sir, .....put your hand down.
Midway into the season and the San Antonio Spurs (35-6) continue their winning ways to the surprise of many.
With winning streaks of 12 and 10, sitting atop the NBA standings, a much improved offensive attack, and only suffering a two-game losing streak, Spurs fans might think this team would receive high marks at the midseason.
However, there is some room for improvement and concerns heading into the second half of the season.
In the meantime, just how well did the Spurs play in the first half of the season? To answer that question, let's see how the Spurs fared as I hand out my midseason grades for the Spurs by position.
Tony Parker is having one of the best seasons in his NBA career, he is facilitating and leading the Spurs' offensive attack and is having a career high (6.9 apg) in the assists department. George Hill has improved on the defensive end and is making a case for the Sixth Man of the Year award while rookie Gary Neal has made the Spurs' bench stronger and has been a pleasant surprise so far. Midseason Grade: A+
Manu Ginobili is playing like an MVP and is currently leading the Spurs in scoring and steals (18.9 ppg and 1.8 spg). The only problem is there isn't much depth and the shooting guard position. George Hill is splitting time between the point guard and shooting guard spots and rookie James Anderson had a good start to his NBA career earlier this season before getting injured. Midseason Grade: A
Stats wise, there is little difference between Richard Jefferson's first and second seasons. However, he is more consistent on both ends of the floor and is shooting better from the field while having a career-high (42.4%) in three-point shooting percentage.
Likewise, the Spurs have no consistent backup at the small forward position, they started the season with Bobby Simmons, and Alonzo Gee as backup small forwards and then later on turned to Ime Udoka before getting released by the team. However, they recently signed Larry Owens from the D-League to backup Jefferson. Midseason Grade: B
Surprisingly, the Spurs have used the same starting lineup all season unlike last season when Spurs' coach Gregg Popovich had numerous starting lineups.
First off, I know Tim Duncan has always been considered a power forward but this year more than ever, it is clear that Duncan is the Spurs' only legitimate center despite starting at the power forward position. Duncan is a having a career low in points, rebounds and minutes but he can still bring it on a given night.
Matt Bonner is also helping out as the teams' "stretch 4" and is shooting a career best 50.4% from behind the arc. Antonio McDyess is also been productive off the bench in limited minutes. As for getting the job done and effort, the Spurs power forward rotation may have exceeded expectations. The problem? The Spurs could have matchup problems in a playoff series because of their lack of size at this position. Midseason Grade: B+
DeJuan Blair has had an up-and-down season since being named as the starting center for the Spurs but has done a pretty good job recently. Let's not forget he is the smallest starting center in the NBA which could be an issue going forward in the NBA season.
Rookie Tiago Splitter still can't get consistent playing time and hasn't panned out as expected. Yes, the Spurs are winning with this frontline rotation in the regular season, but they can do better. Midseason Grade: C+
Overall, the Spurs have done an excellent job during the first half of the season but that doesn't mean their work is done. This team has some room to improve and maybe adding a rotation player or two will help them towards a strong second half push and bring that needed momentum heading into the 2011 playoffs.
What do you think? Agree with these grades? Leave us your thoughts.
• Express News' Tim Griffin reports Matt Bonner was out of the San Antonio Spurs' practice and Tiago Splitter is OK after his fall off a dunk late in last night's game against the Denver Nuggets:
Spurs forward Matt Bonner missed his second practice in two days as he recovers from a bone bruise on his right knee.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said that there is no immediate rush to get Bonner back into practice as the Spurs prepare for Wednesday’s game against Toronto.
But Tiago Splitter was back at practice after sustaining a wicked fall, landing on his rear end after a dunk in the final seconds of the Spurs’ victory over Denver Sunday night.
• Here is what Spurs' Manu Ginobili had to say about beating the Denver Nuggets:
• Here is some food for thought from NBA.com's 24-Second thoughts:
Meanwhile, here's a scary thought about the "boring Spurs" in the West: Only twice in the eight seasons since they moved into the AT&T have the Spurs (35-6) lost more games in the second half of the season than the first.
• For the first time since Tim Duncan's rookie season, Duncan will not be a starter for the 2011 NBA All-Star Game. Here is what he had to say about it:
• Speaking of the NBA All-Star Game, the Sports Jury picks Manu Ginobili over Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant for the 2011 All-Star Game:
Kobe Bryant will suit up to start his 13th-straight NBA All-Star game this coming February while Spurs stalwart Manu Ginobili rides the bench or quite possibly sits out altogether as Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook, and Steve Nash are certain to garner votes from the coaches after fan-voting is finalized.
I’m here to tell you that something is slightly wrong with the above and while you may not agree with what I have to say I hope to enlighten the folks out there who want Kobe to start simply because, you know, he’s Kobe Bryant.
I firmly believe Manu Ginobili deserves to start in the 2011 NBA All-Star game over everyone mentioned above including one Kobe Bean Bryant.
• Hoops Manifesto did its weekly NBA Big Questions and here is who they picked for Coach of the Year and if the Spurs will make the 2011 NBA Finals:
Gregg Popovich, Spurs- The Spurs were supposed to be over the hill, yet Popovich has them cruising with the best record in the NBA. This despite Tim Duncan contributing the least (statistically) he has in his whole career. A fantastic job by Pop thus far. - Jeff Fox
Gregg Popovich, Spurs - San Antonio's title teams were known for vicious defense, and a precise, exacting offense. They were a slow-paced team that not many people wanted to watch. So how did he transform this team into the run and gun Spurs that have the best record in the NBA? Gregg Popovich is that good. - Philip
And who did they pick to make the NBA Finals?
Boston over San Antonio - Celtics to get past the Heat in the conference finals and defeat the Spurs for banner #18. - brumbygg
• Hoops Manifesto also ranked the Spurs' "Big 3" of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan as the sixth best trio in the NBA:
|1||(3)||Miami||LeBron James-Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh||18.5|
|2||(1)||Lakers||Pau Gasol-Lamar Odom-Kobe Bryant||15.5|
|3||(7)||New Orleans||Chris Paul-David West-Emeka Okafor||15.3|
|4||(8)||Boston||Paul Pierce-Ray Allen-Kevin Garnett||14.0|
|5||(2)||Utah||Deron Williams-Paul Millsap-Al Jefferson||13.5|
|6||(5)||San Antonio||Manu Ginobili-Tony Parker-Tim Duncan||13.1|
• With-Malice picks which teams will make it to tne 2011 NBA Finals and Spurs fans may not like what they had to say:
Don: Boston vs LA. The Lakers complete history and get the three-peat.
Rob: Celtics to get past the Heat in the conference finals and defeat the Spurs for banner #18.
In case you missed it, in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter in last night's San Antonio Spurs-Denver Nuggets game, Spurs' rookie Tiago Splitter had a dunk which ended in him falling to the court hard.
First, thank goodness he didn't end up hurting himself with that fall. It was very reminiscent of the dunk which led to Milwaukee Bucks' Andrew Bogut's elbow injury.
Second, I was talking with John Karalis of Reds Army and we both agreed this was totally unnecessary by Splitter. If you look at the video, the Spurs were up by 11 points (108-97) with about 18 seconds left in the game when Splitter got the ball. The smart thing Splitter should have done was simply dribble the ball and let the game clock expire. The game was already a win for the Spurs yet he risked injury and it could have been seen by the Nuggets as Splitter rubbing it in. Got to be smarter on the court Splitter!
Hindsight is twenty-twenty they say, but looking back on the preseason predictions it is clear now that the NBA's best prognosticators had a few things wrong in their crystal ball image of the 2010-2011 Western Conference.
Halfway through the regular season, some trends are starting to emerge that are in stark contrast to the best predictions. Coming into the season, Marc Stein's ESPN Power Rankings had the venerable Los Angeles Lakers atop the Western Conference and, indeed, the NBA. The Oklahoma City Thunder, the Dallas Mavericks, and the Utah Jazz all made the list before the San Antonio Spurs were mentioned at number eight.
After an impressive seven game performance in the first round of the playoffs last season, the Thunder had turned a loss to the eventual world champion Lakers into high expectations for the 2010-2011 season. As one of the youngest teams in the league, and boasting what has turned out to be the NBA's best scoring duo, there was little doubt that the Thunder would wreak havoc in the Northwest Division. While the Thunder have certainly not disappointed, they have also not lived up to the expectations.
Stein's current version of the NBA Power Rankings has the Thunder in the spot that he had reserved for the Spurs in the preseason, number eight. They are currently atop their division, tied with the Jazz at 27-13, they are third and a full seven and a half games behind the Spurs in the West. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant remain a force to be reckoned with and average a combined 50 points per game so far this season. Where the Thunder have struggled is in getting production from their role players and in team defense, giving up 102 points per game.
The Mavericks were promised to be the leaders in the Southwest Division. With an uneventful off-season that was punctuated with the resigning of franchise player Dirk Nowitzki and the release of the lumbering Erick Dampier for Tyson Chandler, the Mavericks came into 2010 expecting to avenge their playoff loss to the Spurs and compete with the Lakers for best in the West.
Although things haven't quite panned out statistically the way Mark Cuban had hoped, the Mavericks may remain the Spurs biggest competition for Western Conference supremacy. Early in the season, they were healthy, and the Mavericks laid claim to matching the Spurs' 12 game winning streak. Since then, they have lost their star in Dirk Nowitzki and have come crashing back to Earth, losing four in a row by double digit margins including Dirk's first game back in the lineup. Though their performance without Nowitzki has exposed Dallas to criticism of a lack of depth and being a one-man show, their performance with him is scary and has led to a defeat of the Spurs in San Antonio early in the year. The time without Nowitzki has taken its toll however, and the Mavericks have fallen eight games back of the Spurs in the Southwest Division, landing them in fifth place in the Western Conference.
The Los Angeles Lakers were considered by most, if not all, to be the favorite in the West. Vegas lists only the Heat with better odds of winning the NBA Championship. Marc Stein summed up his predictions for the Lakers thusly:
The West, even with its usual array of 50-win teams, is starting to feel kinda '80s-like. Which is to say that the Lakers are a Muresan-sized favorite to go back to the Finals no matter how slowly they start because of health issues.
It wasn't the Lakers start that was slow; it has been the rest of their season. In a twist of irony for Spurs fans who are painfully accustomed to the stigma of age, Lakers' Kobe Bryant has for the first time in his career faced questions relating to his age and his ability to perform at the level that Lakers fans expect. The Lakers have posted a couple of lengthy losing streaks of late, and are beginning to look awfully one-dimensional, struggling with teams like the Los Angeles Clippers most recently and leaving spectators confused and wondering what is next for the World Champs. With the likes of Kobe and Phil Jackson at the helm, the Lakers will undoubtedly remain a force in the West and, along with the Mavericks, the Spurs most serious competition for a trip to the NBA Finals. Jackson, like Spurs' coach Gregg Popovich, is not seeking early season success or a seventy win season. The Lakers will be ready to play come playoff time, make no mistake about it.
Predictions are hard and often wrong. The Spurs not only top the Western Conference but the NBA. And it's not even close, statistically. Though half of the season is in the record books, there is a lot of basketball to play. The top teams in the West at the beginning of the season remain essentially unchanged, but the order is drastically different.
How drastic will the difference be after the next half of the season?
The San Antonio Spurs are at the half-way point of their season and it's time to see where this team stands heading into the second-half.
To discuss the Spurs' first-half of the season, I spoke with San Antonio's News 4 WOAI Sports Reporter Humberto "Humbie" Cervera to get his views on the Spurs in this Q&A. Enjoy and don't forget to visit woai.com.
Jeff: Here we are, midway through the NBA season and the Spurs (35-6) have the best record in the league. How much stock do you put in this team and are you surprised they have been playing this well?
Humbie: As I've said since the beginning, this team is one Manu ankle sprain from getting bounced out of the first round of the playoffs. So, I don't put a large amount of stock into this start. They've beaten a bunch of bad teams and when they had a back to back with two good teams they looked really bad. They're probably not as good as their record says they are, but they're also better than I thought they could be this year.
Biggest surprise in the first-half of the season: the play of Gary Neal or Tiago Splitter's less-than-stellar NBA debut?
Finding Gary Neal has been the biggest surprise so far. There's no way anyone, including the Spurs' staff, could have imagined the quality minutes that Neal has given them. He couldn't have been a better fit for the Spurs' system. As far as Splitter, I think a lot of us thought he'd have some growing pains. First he was hurt for camp and now he's learning a new style of basketball. I'm not expecting him to be 5-0 anytime soon, but I think he'll be a better Fab (Fabricio Oberto) by the end of the season.
After Tim Duncan, there seems to be some drop off with big men on the team. DeJuan Blair is a solid player but is undersized and can be exposed. This leaves Splitter who has started off slow, Matt Bonner who many feel is one-dimensional and isn't know for defense and Antonio McDyess is serviceable but how much can he give the Spurs. Should this be a concern?
The quality of play is the biggest concern for the Spurs especially on defense. They're worried about it and you can tell by the number of steals they have this year. Guards are being pushed to put more pressure on the ball handler and take chances trying to create turnovers. In years past, the Spurs had no problem funneling guards into their bigs. That's not the case anymore. I'd even argue that Tim (Duncan) isn't to be trusted defensively anymore. When you see Golden State attack Tim early on with (Andris) Biedrins in their game earlier this season, and be successful, there are problems.
Also, for all those Bonner haters out there. I think he might be the second best defensive post on this team. He's not going to lock down guys one-on-one, but he works hard, is good on rotations and RARELY blows an assignment. Just because he's not racking up lots of blocks doesn't mean he's one-dimensional.
Should the Spurs make a trade and if so for what position?
I'm not sure if they SHOULD make a trade. They could use more help in the frontcourt, but what they would have to give up would cripple the team. They need a big, but I think they're hoping Tiago will be their guy.
Overall thoughts on the team in the first-half and can the Spurs continue their winning ways in the second half of the season?
The Spurs are better than we thought they would be, but I still don't think they beat the Lakers (assuming they're at full capacity) in a 7 game series. I think they'll keep one of the top 2 seeds in the West, but expect a losing streak or three this second half.
Manu's influence will bring about more Hispanic basketball bloggers, players, scouts, General Managers, analysts and owners. He is helping the assimilation process of America's strongest new immigrant group by getting them interested in one of Americas most favorite pastimes. Basketball.
With trade rumors surrounding the Denver Nuggets, the San Antonio Spurs took advantage beating the Nuggets for the third time in as many tries this season.
The Spurs blew the game open with a 33-7 run in the second quarter en route to a 110-97 victory and extended their winning streak to six games.
Now it's time to look at the numbers on this Spurs' recent win.
52 - The Nuggets dominated inside the paint, outscoring the Spurs 52-22 on inside points.
51.5 - The Spurs shot the ball well from the field, making 35-68 (51.5%) of their shot attempts. The Nuggets made 37-86 (43%) of their field goals.
50 - San Antonio hit their shots from behind the arc, connecting 11-22 (50%) of their 3-pointers. Denver made just 6-16 (37.5%) of their shots from the 3-point area.
47 - The Spurs controlled the boards, outrebounding the Nuggets 47-38.
30 - Tony Parker had a game-high 30 points and added seven rebounds, four assists and two steals for the Spurs.
19 - Despite winning the game by a large margin, the Spurs were particularly sloppy committing 19 turnovers compared to the Nuggets' 10.
18 - Manu Ginobili chipped in 18 points and seven dimes for San Antonio while Al Harrington scored 18 points off the Nugget's bench.
17 - Nene had a solid game for the Nuggets, as he scored 17 points, grabbed seven rebounds and added five steals.
16 - Tim Duncan scored just nine points in 34 minutes, but grabbed 16 boards and blocked three shots for the Spurs.
15 - The Nuggets had 15 steals for the game, the Spurs only had seven, but they edge the Nuggets on fast break points 15-14.
14 - George Hill and Gary Neal led the Spurs' bench with 14 points a piece. Both players also shot a similar 3-5 from beyond the arc.
0 - Richard Jefferson and Neal did not commit a single turnover for the entire game.
Rookie Watch: Neal scored 14 points, grabbed two rebounds and had one assists in 24 minutes. Tiago Splitter had six points, three rebounds and one block in 14 minutes of playing time.
What's Next? The Spurs will host the Toronto Raptors at the AT&T Center in San Antonio on Wednesday.
Follow me on Twitter @RobbyLim21
• San Antonio Spurs' rookie James Anderson will likely head to the Austin Toros to rehab his foot injury by the end of the week reports Express News' Tim Griffin:
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said that No. 1 draft pick James Anderson will likely play in the NBA’s Developmental League by the end of the week as he recovers from a stress fracture in his right foot.
Popovich said that Anderson’s rehabilitation will be stepped up this week.
“This coming week, he’ll be going one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three,” Popovich said. “He’ll have his first contact and towards the end of the week he’ll be headed to the D-League.”
• While Anderson wil be headed to the Toros, the newest Spur, who will fill in for Anderson, Larry Owens signed a 10-day contract and had this to say about coming to the NBA's best team:
• Tim Duncan speaks about getting a fifth NBA title this season:
"That's in the back of our minds," Duncan admitted. "We want to have that top seed, that homecourt advantage throughout, all that stuff, every advantage that you can get you wanna take. So we're off to a good start, we have a good lead and we want to sustain it." (source nba.com)
• Though Spurs fans may be complaining about the lack of respect but coach Gregg Popovich doesn't care as usual:
Gregg Popovich knows the truth, and he couldn’t care less about any perceived lack of respect.
“We’ve never been the storyline, even when we’ve won championships,” the Spurs coach said Wednesday night in Milwaukee. “We’re pretty used to that. It’s just the lay of the land and the nature of the beast. (source Express News)
• Spurs' Manu Ginobili speaks about injuries:
• Project Spurs' Michael De Leon met Hirschof of Pounding the Rock at Friday's Spurs-Dallas Mavericks game and Hirschof speaks about his rookie experience covering a game. Thank goodness Mike didn't get smacked:
It was probably best that I didn't give any more effort into the catch. If I leaned back any further, I would have flipped out of my bear trap of a chair and, more than likely, smacked the Project Spurs representative. At least it would have been the perfect night cap for a bumbling rookie.
(videos courtesy of woai.com)
Welcome all San Antonio Spurs fans to the first "Views From The Couch" piece for here at Project Spurs!
I began writing the "Views From The Couch" column on November 19, last year. You can see volumes 1-6 here. The idea was to give a general analysis after every five games, regarding the Spurs play.
I’ve decided to tinker the column a bit now that I’m writing for Project Spurs. So, the new changes will be for me to post "VFTC" every Monday and discuss the games from Monday-Sunday each week. One quick note: In "VFTC" I like to use some jokes, so read it with the idea of getting a few chuckles. So, tighten your seat belt if you’re driving while reading this, or actually, stop your vehicle, park and just read. We need to be safe on the roads!
The Spurs just went 5-0 in the last five games. This included three games on the road, one back-to-back and one game against a Good Team. Four of the teams they played had losing records and the only Good Team they played, was missing two of its stars. Still, some of these teams put up a fight against the Spurs.
The Past Should Be Revisited
- @ Minnesota Timberwolves: Once the Spurs were up by 16pts during this game, the Timberwolves never had a chance of coming back. @Suga_Shane tweeted “Why does it feel like Minnesota and San Antonio have played each other 27 times this season?” With this win, the Spurs swept the Timberwolves for the season; the Timberwolves won’t have a chance to make the playoffs, unless they move to the Eastern Conference.
- @ Milwaukee Bucks: This game was on the second night of a back-to-back, where the Spurs haven’t been so good this season. The Spurs came out sloppy early, and were down 10pts in the first half. Things got chippy between Cory Maggette and George Hill, I tweeted: “Really Maggette? Stepping up to George Hill? Ask Bean, Hill doesn't care who you are, he won't back down. #Spurs” Defense saved the team on a night when shots weren’t falling, by holding the Bucks to 13 pts in the third and 18 pts in the fourth quarter. Ersan Ilyasova likes to sing his version of “The Killers” song ‘Human’: “Are we human? Or are we vampires?”
- Dallas Mavericks (Good Team): Dirk Nowitzki missed his ninth straight game and it really showed how the Mavericks have been slumping without him. The Spurs led by 15 pts at halftime and the game was pretty much over from there. I tweeted “Halftime: #Spurs lead 57-42. Every player from both teams has left to the locker room except Brian Cardinal. He has to sweep. #JanitorDuties”. Tim Duncan also had a statement for Father Time.
By The Numbers
- Record: 34-6, #1 in the entire NBA.
- AT&T Center: 21-2
- Opponents House: 13-4
- Vs. The Mighty West: 23-3
- Vs. The lowly East (I will keep calling the East this until all eight playoff seeds have +.500 records): 11-3
- Vs. Southwest Division opponents: 6-2
- Vs. Good Teams (Good Teams: All eight West playoff teams & Boston, Miami, Chicago, Orlando, Atlanta, New York): 13-5
- Gunslinging (times scored over 100 pts): 26/40 games
- Lowest points scored: 85 pts in Loss to Los Angeles Clippers
- Most points scored: 124 pts in Win vs. Houston
- Quality Wins (Win by +10 pts): 11 times
- Blowouts (Win by +20 pts): 5 times
- Closing Time (Games decided by five pts or less): 9-2
- Scoring average: 104.6 ppg
- Hold opponents to: 96.8 ppg
- Victory Margin: +7.8 points
Top 5 Players
- Manu Ginobili: 18.9 ppg, 4.7 ast, 1.8 stl, 31 mpg, 1.0 identifying UFO spacecrafts
- Tony Parker: 17.2 ppg, 7 ast, 1.4 stl, 33 mpg
- Tim Duncan: 13.8 ppg, 9.3 rbd, 2blk, 29 mpg
- Richard Jefferson version 24.2: 12.8 ppg, 3 PT 42%, 31 mpg
- George Hill: 11.1 ppg, 1 stl, 28 mpg
- Honorable Argentinean: Manu Ginobili
Manu was the leading scorer in four of the last five games averaging 19.8 ppg (25 pts vs. Indiana, 21 pts vs. Minnesota, 19 pts vs. Minnesota, 23 pts vs. Milwaukee, 11 pts vs. Dallas.)
Listen To Malik Rose
For a few of the road games, Malik Rose has been doing commentary in Sean Elliots place. In the national circuit, Sean Elliot is seeing as one of the most biased announcers in sports. Malik Rose tops Elliot by saying sentences like “For the Spurs to come back all the way down, I know they’ll come back and win, they got this!” But listening to Rose these last few games I’ve learned two very valuable things from him: 1.) Rose portrays the knowledge that the Spurs use in their system. He will say terms like “Player X just made a Rim-Run.” “We used to do those all the times in practice, etc.” I’ve noticed some words like this; so if you’re a big basketball IQ person, Malik really provides some in depth terms that the pros use. 2.) Malik is really good at dissecting opposing players; he will explain a play thoroughly enough, that he gives you a quick glimpse into what that players next move was and his usual habits and tactics. So, try to push his bias aside and gain some knowledge from Malik.
Is The Offense Slowing Down?
Looking at the last five games, the Spurs only averaged 97.8 ppg. In two of those games, they were down double digits and had to make comebacks to win. In the five games, the Spurs only topped 100 pts twice. They only averaged 10 fast break points through the last five games. You have to remember, they were playing four opponents with losing records and in the Milwaukee game, it was on the second night of a back-to-back; but why couldn’t they put up 100 pts easily, on four bad teams? I know it’s just five games that I’m basing this question on, but could this be a sign of a future occurrence to come? I really hope the team isn’t starting to lose its energy or maybe opponents have found ways to slow down the new high-powered offense? Regardless of the reasoning for the let down in offense, the defense is really starting to ratchet itself up by holding teams to 89.4 ppg these last five games. And if you recall, the defense helped the Spurs make a comeback against Indiana and Milwaukee.
What We Learned
These last five games taught us that this years Spurs team is buying into the “Play four quarters of basketball” concept; being down double digits twice and winning both games on the road shows the team has the mental toughness to say “OK, things aren’t going our way right now, but if we keep playing for four quarters, we’re going to have a chance at the end.” The team also knows how to ”take care of business.” When they had a big lead on the Timberwolves, they didn’t let them have chance of coming back. The Spurs knew Dallas was wounded without Butler and Nowitzki, so they came out attacking and just took care of Dallas in “another day at the office” format.
The Week Ahead
The Spurs play four teams this week from Sunday-Saturday. The week also features one back-to-back. Three of the teams ahead are Top 15 teams in the NBA.
Game 41. Sunday, 1-14-11. Denver Nuggets (Good Team): The Nuggets are #12 in the NBA at 25-16 and have gone 7-3 in their last 10 games. The Spurs are 2-0 thus far against them, but Carmelo only played in the first meeting. He’s currently in the midst of all the trade rumors, @PeterBurnsRadio has the best idea on how to solve Carmelo's problem: “How to make NBA interesting: #Knicks #Nets game on Feb 12. Winner gets Carmelo. I'd watch.” Oh and you seriously need to read my fellow writer Robby Lim's gameday preview for tonight's Spurs-Nuggets game. I hear he is Nostradamus at predicting the final outcome of the game.
Game 42. Wednesday, 1-19-11. Toronto Raptors: The Raptors are #25 in the NBA at 13-27 and have gone 3-7 in their last 10 games. This shouldn’t be difficult for the Spurs, because Chris Bosh left the Raptors looking like the town in “Jumanji” after all the elephants stampeded through it.
Game 43. Friday, 1-21-11. New York Knicks (Good Team): The Knicks are #13 in the NBA at 22-17 and 5-5 in their last 10 games. Wilson Chandler had 31pts in the last game against the Spurs, and New York is one of the FEW teams to defeat the Spurs this season. Let’s hope the Spurs can even the series.
Game 44. Saturday, 1-22-11 @ New Orleans Hornets (Good Team): The Hornets are #11 in the NBA at 25-16 and 7-3 in their last 10 games. The Spurs are 2-1 in the series against the Hornets. What’s the over/under on number of times David West smiles during this game? Two? One? Negative three?
(All stats used as of 01-15-2011)
Photos D. Clarke Evans/NBAE/Getty Images, okgscene.com
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