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
- @ Indiana Pacers: this was a close game throughout; the Spurs fell behind 15 pts at one time and entered the fourth quarter down 11 pts. @Courtside tweeted this in the fourth: “The Spurs are down 9 in the 4th to a team with a Furnace-A-Game Giveaway.” Defense helped the Spurs get this win, by holding the Pacers to just 12 pts in the fourth quarter.
- Minnesota Timberwolves: I tweeted this as the game started “1st observation: Luke Ridnour looks like an athletic version of Michael Cera.” Manu had a big game with 16pts in the first half. The game was close throughout, but the Spurs always kept a comfortable 7-10pt margin. [Quick Note: I went live to this game and noticed why the Timberwolves are one of the worst teams; Darko Milicic got called for a technical foul and went to the bench. Immediately, Michael “Super Cool Beas” Beasley went up to him and gave him a high five! “That’s the spirit Beasley! Provide enthusiasm when your teammate gets a technical! Those are definitely winning ways!”]
- @ 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
Follow Paul on twitter! @24writer