Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich will be coaching the Western Conference All-Stars at the 2011 NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles.
With the Spurs win over the Golden State Warriors, they have clinched the top spot in the Western Conference through games played through February 6.
This season, Popovich has guided the Spurs to the league’s best record, earning consecutive Western Conference Coach of the Month honors for games played in October/November and December. The Spurs have enjoyed double-digit winning streaks of 12 and 10 games this season.
In his 15th season as head coach, Popovich has led the Spurs to four NBA titles (1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007) and is one of only five coaches in NBA history to have guided his teams to at least four championships. Popovich entered the season with a career mark of 736-362 and a winning percentage of .670, which ranked fourth in NBA history. His playoff career winning percentage of .618 (102-63) is the eighth best in NBA annals, while his 106 playoff wins are the third most in league history.
Popovich coached the West team during the 2005 All-Star Game in Denver, which the East won 125-115.
Now the question is, will Popovich be coaching any of the Spurs' big three as part of the Western Conference reserves.
• According to probasketballtalk.com, the San Antonio Spurs are not playing fast, but teams are trying to play like that against them:
I have a theory as to why teams shoot so fast against the Lakers and Spurs — those are two good defensive teams once they get set. Both teams are disciplined about positioning and forcing penetration to help. So it benefits teams to push the pace on them and try to get early offense before they get set. You don’t want Manu Ginobili up in you guiding you to a waiting Tim Duncan, or Ron Artest in your face pushing you to the long arms of Andrew Bynum. But that is what those teams do well if you let them get set.
• Los Angeles Lakers' Andrew Bynum talks about how he grew up idolizing Spurs' great Tim Duncan:
• Former San Antonio Spurs' player Garrett Temple will soon make the Milwaukee Bucks his new team according to Fanhouse:
FanHouse has confirmed that the Bucks are expected to call up Erie BayHawks guard Garrett Temple from the NBA Development League. Temple, a versatile 6-foot-6 guard, earned three call-ups last year from the D-League as he played in 27 NBA games split between the Houston Rockets,Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs.
• Yahoo! Sports listed the all-time NBA players with the most scoring titles and Spurs' legend George Gervin came in third:
3. George Gervin - 4 times
George Gervin led the NBA in scoring three years in a row from 1977-78 to 1979-1980. He also led the league in 1981-82 all while playing for the San Antonio Spurs. Gervin is currently the 8th best scorer in NBA history with a 26.18 average.
• What if sports compared the 2011 Spurs team to the title teams of 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007 and for Spurs fans, the conclusion will be music to their ears:
The '11 Spurs still have an arduous road ahead to claim the championship crown. But as our simulation illustrated, they have more than enough ammunition in their arsenal to compete with their historical contemporaries.
• Express News' Tim Griffin talks about the Spurs holding onto their number one ranking on most polls despite the loss to the New Orleans Hornets.
• Who were the worst pro teams to make the playoffs? Well according to jsonline.com, the 1987-1988 Spurs' team made the list:
8.1987-'88 San Antonio Spurs: Other NBA teams of this era, like the 1985-'86 Chicago Bulls, made the playoffs with a slightly worse record than the 31-51 Spurs. They went 18-39 after a 13-12 start.
With the Spurs heading West to take on the Golden State Warriors tonight, Jeff Garcia and I had a chance to talk to Joshua Russell of Bloguin's Warriors Court. Here are his answers to Jeff's pregame questions. Look for my answers to Joshua's questions about the Spurs on Warriors Court.
1. How would you asses the Warriors at the midway point of the season?
Given that for a good part of the year, the Warriors have had some big injuries, the sample size is smaller than a full half year. David Lee, Andris Biedrins, Stephen Curry, #6 overall pick Ekpe Udoh, and Lou Amundson have all missed multiple games due to injury. Given that, for only a couple of weeks, the Warriors have had their full complement of players and we are starting to see what this team can be - which is good, not great. The Warriors are clearly a couple of players away from real contention. Their guard play has been very good and their front court play has been sub par.
2. Over the offseason, the Warriors traded for David Lee. How has the trade worked out so far?
It's easy to say that the trade has worked out better for the Warriors than for the Knicks from a talent standpoint. David Lee is one of those players that has been injured so we haven't seen him in his element for that long. What I've seen, I can't say I've been blown away but I think he's a nice player. I am most disappointed in the way he seems to get outrebounded. I am anticipating guys like DeJuan Blair to push Lee around a bit. I thought he was a more tenacious rebounder than he has shown so far. But, his offensive game is expanding and he's a much better passer than I thought. On most nights, he's the third or fourth best player on the team and I was expecting him to be #1 or #2.
3. Looking at tonight's game, we have a fantastic guard matchups: Curry, Ellis versus Parker and Ginobili. Is this the key matchup or is it at another position?
It is going to be the most fun matchup to watch for sure. Monta Ellis and Tony Parker are probably the two quickest players in the NBA, especially with the ball so that will be fun. Another key matchup will be at the #3 with the Warriors Dorell Wright and Richard Jefferson. Being a University of Arizona alumnus, I am a big fan of Jefferson. But Wright is having a great year and is shooting lights-out on threes. The player who wins this match-up might give their team the real competitive edge.
4. The last win Golden State had against the Spurs was back in 2008. Heading into tonight's contest, how would you attack the Spurs?
That's a tough one. I was at the game in Oracle a few years ago when the Spurs beat the Warriors by 40 and it still hurts. For the Warriors to win, Curry and Ellis both have to have their jumpers working and Andris Biedrins and David Lee have to limit the damage from Tim Duncan, DeJuan Blair and the Spur's bigs. And, the Warriors have to commit to playing tough defense the entire game. It's going to be a REAL challenge, no question.
Listed generously at 6'7'' and weighing 270 pounds, San Antonio Spurs' DeJuan Blair is considered small by NBA center standards. However, what he may lack in height, he makes up for in strength. As he carries the hope of his neighborhood on his shoulders.
This Pittsburgh native is from an area in Pittsburgh known as the Hill District, and he is an inspiration to everyone in it. He can't go any where in it without being recognized. His Uncle Michael Smith says, ''"You ride through here with him, you get tired of beeping the horn."
DeJuan's story goes like something out of a story book. He comes from a neighborhood with a poverty rate at 40% and is known as Pittsburgh's most dangerous. ''The Hill,'' as it's called by residents, has been so neglected from commercial development, there hasn't been a grocery store there in 30 years. He rose up out of this to become a high school basketball star. Being recruited by what he said was 18 schools at one point. But the native son chose to stay home in Pittsburgh, within walking distance of ''The Hill." In an area of such strife, a local hero can reach mythical proportions, and he has.
"Everybody likes him. I can't explain how much he means to people around here. I liked the other schools and coaches he was looking at, but what did they have that he couldn't get in his own backyard? I told him he had the chance to change the face of an entire city. I truly believe that he can and he will," said his uncle Michael Smith.
The word hero is used a bit too liberally these days. But DeJuan Blair is the embodiment of the idea of what a hero should be. So many Hill District residents can identify with him. He grew up poor and because of his spirit and determination he was able to have a great deal of success. They see DeJuan as a symbol of hope. They see him doing it and think I could do it too.
By any measure, DeJuan has achieved the American dream. He's a successful professional basketball player and very active off the court in his community doing charity work. He's never forgotten where he came from. He started a charity basketball event with Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Lamar Woodley last year raising money for various Pittsburgh area charities. This is on top of his many Hill District community center activities he does for kids.
It's nice to see an athlete strive to be a champion of public service as well as a champion on the court. And he's providing people with what only someone from their neighborhood can. Hope.
• The topic of the San Antonio Spurs being boring raises its ugly head again but this time the Spurs are given respect:
Popovich and Duncan to the NBA are like vegetable platters at a full buffet, well-intended but barely noticed. They are the primary reasons why San Antonio, the model American franchise, is relegated to the tiniest corner of the league's marquee.
That's how it is, and that's how the Spurs like it. (source mercurynews.com)
• Though the Spurs lost to the New Orleans Hornets giving them their seventh loss of the season, the Spurs are not out of making team history to get 70 wins:
• And although the Spurs may have a shot at 70 wins this season despite the loss to the Hornets, we are reminded even the 1996 72-win Chicago Bulls team were beaten badly as well:
• Basketball Reference crunches the numbers and show the Spurs rank high as one of the best teams in the NBA:
According to this, we can be about 94% sure that the best team is either San Antonio, Miami, Boston, the Lakers, Chicago, or Orlando.
• TNT's Charles Barkley is picking the Spurs as one of four teams to win it all this season:
"Like I said, I think the Lakers are clearly in the mix. But San Antonio and Dallas are both terrific teams and I'm waiting to see on Utah how Mehmet Okur comes back. They could be there. But I think all four of those teams are pretty evenly matched." (source thenational.ae.com)
• The debate continues on whether Spurs' coach Gregg Popovich or Los Angeles Lakers' coach Phil Jackson is the better coach of the decade:
• Former Spurs' player Bruce Bowen recently spoke at his Alma Mater of Cal State Fullerton and noting he wants to give back to the school that started it all for him:
Cal State Fullerton graduate and former San Antonio Spur Bruce Bowen was the guest speaker at the Titans’ men’s basketball chalk talk Saturday, Jan. 22.
Known for his defensive tenacity in the NBA, where he routinely guarded stars like Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade, Bowen went over how he was so successful. He also spoke about his time as a Titan and how he wants to give back to the school that started it all. He likes the direction the university and men’s basketball program are headed in.
“Having the opportunity to come back and see where I was at one point, looking at how the university has changed so much, they always talk about how things change and get better in life as you move on. This university has definitely gotten a lot better,” Bowen said. (source dailytitan.com)
• Read Express News' Tim Griffin's notes from the Spurs-Hornets game.
The San Antonio Spurs played four games this past week (three opponents were Top 15 teams) and finished 3-1 in those games. The week included an undefeated three game home stand and ended on a bad note, with a loss in Weezys (Lil Wayne) hometown of Nowlins. Let’s get started!
The Past Should Be Revisited
Denver Nuggets (Good Team): The Spurs started the game slow, Denver had a 12-point lead early. In the second quarter, the Spurs exploded by scoring 37 points. Tony Parker went off scoring and ended the half with 16 points. @risenfenix11 tweeted “Parker must've seen Eva on tv #playingpossessed” At halftime, @russbengtson tweeted “CARMELO UPDATE: He still hasn't been traded during a game he's playing in.” Once the third quarter was over, San Antonio had built a 15-point lead; the rest of the game was history. Tony Parker ended with 30 points on the night.
Toronto Raptors: A 10-0 run to start the game, it looked like the Spurs were going to run Toronto out of the building from the tip off. Yet at the end of the first, Toronto led by 1 point? Yes, the Spurs managed to make what looked like a blow out, a very close game for one half. In the first quarter I tweeted “Bargnani's mother probably told his father: "I don't care if it's a boy or girl! Where naming the child Andrea!” #Spurs#Raptors” The Spurs finally showed up in the third quarter with a 33-point quarter and held Toronto to just 16 points. In the third, Duncan threw an amazing bounce pass while running the fast break for an easy layup to a fellow Spur. I tweeted on this play “#TimDuncanPointGuardNames: Timmy Kidd, Magic Duncan, Pistol Tim Maravich, Rajon Duncan, Tim Rose, Tim Nash, Timmy Parker, CPDuncan” The game was pretty much over from that point on. Manu Ginobili had 23 points to lead the team.
New York Knicks (Good Team): DeJuan Blair had a stellar game (22 points), in the second quarter @madcowheff tweeted “DeJuan Blair also likes to steal picnic baskets in the off season.” This was a close game early, but by halftime, the Spurs held an 11-point lead. In the third, the Spurs lost their offense and only scored 16 points. The Knicks made a run in the fourth quarter getting within four points, but Tim Duncan didn’t let them get any closer. In the fourth quarter, after making a mistake with the game locked up, Coach Pop grilled Gary Neal. @Suga_Shane tweeted “Pop will keep coaching you until you die.” Tim Duncan had a “rare” monster game by leading with 21 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists and 5 blocks.
@ New Orleans Hornets (Good Team): When Tiago Splitter is your leading scorer with 11 points, it probably means your team lost by 24 points. At halftime, the Spurs only trailed by 3 points, but in the third quarter, New Orleans outscored them 31-10. It was over from there, in the third when the Hornets were up by 24 points, @madcowheff tweeted “Its cool, my team might lose tonight, but my team will still be in San Antonio in 2 years. #Spurs” I too, was very bitter about losing, but encouraged myself by saying “How many teams fans out there can count total losses with only 2 hands? #Spurs & #Celtics, that's it #GoSpursGo!!”
This week was midseason review week at Project Spurs and all of our staff joined in on the fun with our series of posts. In case you missed any of them, here's our midseason review wrapup.
• Midseason review Q&A
On Monday, Jeff Garcia talked with Humberto Cervera of News4WOAI to get his views on the San Antonio Spurs at the halfway point of the season. While many overlook the San Antonio Spurs' flaws due to their success this season, Humbie was the voice of reason saying "this team is one Manu ankle sprain from getting bounced out of the first round of the playoffs ."
• The West's Best: Then and Now
Jason Rogers wrote about how hindsight is 20/20 and even preseason predictions by some of the most respected writers have been wrong so far this season.
"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."
• Spurs Midseason Grades
Project Spurs' lead staff writer Robby Lim gave out his midseason report card. Not surprisingly, the Spurs centers received the lowest grade of C+, while the guards brought home straight A's.
"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."
"This is what happens when you give a chess master like Popovich all the pieces he needs to run a competent offense. In the past couple of years Popovich was always missing a needed key weapon necessary for playoff success."
• Scene 1 Over: Rookie Intermission
Project Spurs' newest writer, Paul Garcia, took an in-depth look at the Spurs' rookies and how they have performed in the first half of the season. Paul says Tiago Splitter is a year away from being an effective big man, James Anderson can be another weapon in the Spurs' high-powered offense and says Gary Neal isn't likely to cool down anytime soon.
• Spurscast #235: Midseason Review
Jeff Garcia and I got together to talk about the Spurs at midseason and answered three questions about the surprises, disappointments and areas to improve on as they take on the second half of their schedule. John Karalis of Red's Army also joined in on the fun to give his view on the Spurs from an outsider's perspective.
Jordan Rivas looks back at everything we at Project Spurs and other bloggers and media outlets were wrong about when assessing the Spurs chances this offseason. In the process, he also makes me crave pretzel M&Ms and compares himself to Luke Skywalker, Frodo Baggins, Neo from the Matrix, Harry Potter and Alice. That alone is reason enough for reading his post.
• Life After Death: Health Meets Pride
Our resident alt tag champion, Nick Kapsis, says health could be the biggest reason for this year's turnaround and says the Spurs have a renewed dedication to the regular season after being bounced out of the playoffs at the hands of the Phoenix Suns.
"Turns out, what they needed all along was to be broken down to be built back up—the mind’s health is the body’s wealth. There may be no more preventative measure than a properly conditioned mind. Health and professional pride have the Spurs back in the fight. Alone atop the league, the Spurs breathe on their own."
• Spurs rookies among midseason surprises, disappointments
I closed out midseason review week here at Project Spurs with a look at some of the surprises and disappointments of the season to date. The Spurs record, the discovery of Gary Neal and the struggles of Tiago Splitter are discussed at length.
Feel free to leave a comment on this post or any of the individual posts for your take on the above topics.
• Last night, ESPNs Marc Stein wrote in his Weekend Dime post; if the New Jersey Nets buyout Troy Murphy’s contract, San Antonio would be one team in play to make a run at him:
There would be unquestioned interest in Murphy if he went the buyout route and became a free agent -- starting with Orlando, Dallas and San Antonio -- but the Nets are hoping to swap him for a similar expiring contract before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. And Murphy naturally wants to land with a contender to end his run as the guy who has appeared in more games than any other active player (639) without tasting the playoffs.
• Thursday, Bill Simmons wrote a column titled The Best NBA Allstar Game Ever? In the column, Simmons discusses who he has as All Star reserves; he feels Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are worthy for the reserve positions:
On Manu Ginobili: Manu Ginobili: Reclaimed "Only a few guys get better when it matters and he's one" and "Night in, night out, it's just hard to imagine anyone being more entertaining" status after bad ankles nearly derailed his career. Hey, here's another fun 2011 subplot: the three best foreign players ever who didn't play college ball in the U.S. (Dirk, Manu and Pau, in that order) playing on the same team.
On Tim Duncan: Tim Duncan: Our 12th man. That's right, the greatest power forward of all time is the D.J. Mbenga of the 2011 Western Conference All-Stars.
• In yesterdays Chat Wrap with the fans, Bill Simmons also gave his take on the Spurs early success and why the great record may not matter:
Careful, San Antonio - you're the only "veteran" team that hasn't been nipped by the injury bug yet. it's coming. I don't think there's ever been more of a "let's see who's healthy in May" season than this one. Homecourt doesn't matter, seeds don't matter... it's going to be 100% who's healthy and feeling good.
• San Antonio Express News writer Tim Griffin explains why Tim Duncan’s monster game last night against the Knicks, was a rare feat that only few have ever accomplished.
• Before the Knicks game last night, word came out that George Hill would be out with a thumb injury, here’s what WOAI’s team gathered.
• After the win against the Knicks last night, Tim Duncan expresses why Coach Pop will be thrilled to coach in the All Star Game!
Fellow Bloguin NBA blogger Jeff Fox from Hoops Manifesto is questioning if San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan is All-Star worthy.
Currently, Duncan is fifth in voting and more than likely will not be voted into the starting line-up by the fans. If so and if the eventual Western Conference coach, Spurs' Gregg Popovich, does not pick his own player onto the team, Duncan would miss his first All-Star game.
After evaluating the field of Western Conference big men who might make the squad over Duncan, here is what Fox had to say:
So where does this leave Tim Duncan? Probably battling with nine other players for three or four roster spots. But Spurs fans should be able to rest easy - Duncan will probably make the team. He is still one of the League's best defenders (not to mention players) playing on the League's best team. This year should make it a perfect 13 for 13 for Duncan being selected for the All-Star Game.
As much as Spurs' fans might like to see Duncan continue his All-Star appearance streak, I'm sure all he cares about is winning and not personal awards.
With that being said, why not let the man himself speak about the possibility of not being voted to the All-Star game:
SAN ANTONIO SPURS (37-6) vs. NEW ORLEANS HORNETS (28-16)
Manu Ginobili 18.9
Tim Duncan 9.7
Tony Parker 7.0
David West 19.0
Emeka Okafor 10.4
Chris Paul 9.7
The San Antonio Spurs (37-6) begin a difficult and road-heavy stretch of their schedule tonight when they visit the New Orleans Hornets (28-16) at the New Orleans Arena.
The Spurs will try to end the Hornets' seven-game winning streak as they open their three game road trip against another surging Western Conference team. New Orleans is coming off a dominating performance in a 100-59 victory over Atlanta last night.
The Hornets' winning streak is the second-longest in the league behind San Antonio.
The Spurs have held the Hornets to 92.7 points per game while winning two of three meetings this season, including a 109-84 home victory on December 5 in which San Antonio shot 58.6% from the floor.
New Orleans has allowed 100 points or more in regulation nine times this season -- twice against San Antonio. The Hornets have been especially stingy during their seven-game winning streak, giving up 86.3 points per game and are 17-5 at home this season.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Offense -- The Spurs has to get Duncan involved on the offense early to set the tone on the inside. He should get enough help from Ginobili, Jefferson, Parker and Blair on offense.
Defense -- Containing Chris Paul will always be key, but the Spurs should also focus on limiting David West on the offensive end. Taking control of the rebounds is also a must.
Offense -- Their offense starts with Chris Paul and David West. Plus they should get added offensive boost from Belinelli and Okafor.
Defense -- Contain Duncan on the inside and limit Ginobili, Parker, and Jefferson's dribble penetrations. They also have to be wary of the Spurs outside shooters.
Spurs -- George Hill - sprained right thumb (day-to-day), Matt Bonner - sore right knee (day-to-day)
PREDICTION: The Hornets are playing well lately, especially on the defensive end of the floor, they will bring that confidence tonight against the Spurs. However, even with the best record in the NBA, the Spurs are still improving and are slowly getting better on defense.
The Spurs must avoid a slow start and match the Hornets' energy. The team that controls the rebounds and dominate on the inside will win this game. The Spurs will with this game 99-93 and extend their win streak to nine games.