The San Antonio Spurs own the best record in the NBA (50-11), were the first team to 50 wins this season and own the lead in the Southwest Division.
Despite that, Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki thinks the Los Angeles Lakers, not the Spurs, are the team to beat:
"I think the Lakers to me are still the heavy favorite in the West. After that, there are a bunch of teams bundled up. But I still think the Lakers are the heavy favorite in the West.''
"They've won two (titles) in a row, they're long and they got the same players and they got the best player in the world,'' Nowitzki said.
Of course Spurs fans "favorite" Maverick Jason Terry agreed with his teammate and in an ironic twist, actually complimented the Spurs' success this season:
"No question, the Lakers, always, because they're the champs,'' Terry said of who the favorite is in the West. "But what San Antonio has done makes them a favorite, too. We're chasing all those guys and we're going to play out this underdog role."
I understand the Lakers are the defending champs and own the crown but shall I remind Nowitzki and Terry the Spurs are 2-0 against Los Angeles. Also, it's the Spurs the Mavericks are chasing for the number one seed and not the Lakers.
The San Antonio Spurs own the best record in the NBA (50-11), were the first team to 50 wins this season and own the lead in the Southwest Division.
He may not have enjoyed the spotlight and spoils that came with the NBA All-Star Weekend like teammate Gary Neal did. He may not make ESPN’s top 10 Plays of the Night like Los Angeles Clippers forward and dunk expert Blake Griffin does. Heck, come to think of it, most NBA fans across the country probably don’t even know who he is until he substitutes in the game. At least that’s the case now for San Antonio Spurs forward Tiago Splitter.
Though his rookie season may not be playing out the way many had hoped, the 6-foot-11 Brazilian has no doubt already given coaches and fans plenty of reasons to salivate over his future with the Silver and Black. Sure he has been sidelined with injuries for a good portion of his first year, and his averages may not be the best. But make no doubt about it, each time he has stepped on the court he has more than made his presence known.
Splitter is currently averaging 4.1 points and 2.7 rebounds per game. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? Considering he’s averaging 11.2 minutes per game and has played in 41 total games this season, those aren’t bad numbers at all. Also keep in mind that most of the time he’s playing these low minutes with some of the Spurs’ biggest game changers — Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili or Richard Jefferson — are watching from the bench.
To be able to produce the kinds of averages he is when he is not, only speaks volumes about his talent, it gives the Spurs an added asset when they need to rest their two veteran big men, Tim Duncan and Antonio McDyess. And his play is phenomenal. The next time he subs into the game, keep an eye solely on him, and watch what he does. He’s always chasing loose balls, placing himself in position to grab the rebound and defending some of league’s best big men.
Fellow Bloguin brother Jeff Fox of Hoops Manifesto sent out his weekly questions this past weekend and there was one question I could not pass on answering.
Jeff asked if former San Antonio Spurs player Dennis Rodman should get into the Hall of Fame.
"When Dennis wasn't busy being a malcontent and drawing all the wrong kinds of attention to him and his team, he was one of the best power forwards in the game. I didn't like him much because he decided to trash David Robinson and the Spurs team when he left, but let's be honest, the man was a beast. His rebounding numbers are off the charts and he led the NBA in rebounding for seven consecutive seasons. However, he was a bit one-dimensional, and someone like Artis Gilmore, who has been passed over again and again, was more of a complete player and put up better overall numbers. So I think Rodman should make it in, but if I had my way, Gilmore would have made it in before him."
This isn't the first time I make my case for Gilmore. Last year I also wrote about the travesty of an NBA and ABA great like Gilmore not making it into the hall.
After a career like that, you almost have to question the committee. How can a player that accomplished so much on the collegiate level, in the ABA and the NBA, not get a single vote?
You could say he never won a title, but neither did several other Hall-of-Famers, including recent inductee Karl Malone. Maybe it was his low-key, no hype personality, like current Spur Tim Duncan, but regardless of his personality, his numbers and accolades can speak for him more than he will.
To read the rest of my answers, and the panel's answers, to the other big questions, make sure to visit Hoops Manifesto.
The San Antonio Spurs picked up their 50th win of the season last night in a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
With over a month left in the regular season, they have already matched last season's win total.
George Hill, who struggled in his first start for the injured Tony Parker against Memphis, must have shaken off any remaining rust on his way to 22 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan, DeJuan Blair and Gary Neal all scored in double figures for the Spurs while former Spur Alonzo Gee put up 18 for the Cavaliers.
With the win, the Spurs are now 5.5 games ahead of the Dallas Mavericks. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is also just 10 wins away from eclipsing Red Auerbach for second place in most coaching wins with one team.
Jeff Garcia spoke to Glenn Moore of the Dugout Sports Show before the game. He had this to say about last night's game:
"With Tony Parker out, I want to see Ramon Sessions play well against the Spurs. Also, I want to see Hickson bang around with a guy like Blair. The Cavs have been giving up a lot of offensive rebounds to their opponents. If the Cavs can get fast break points and control the glass, they have a chance. I say the magic continues in Cleveland and they beat the Spurs, 109-105."
"As long as TP is out, that is what he is going to have to do. He will have to accept that role and give us some fire from that position" - Tim Duncan on George Hill.
In Black and White
Spurs bounce back against Cavs (San Antonio Express-News).
San Antonio Easily Dismisses Cleveland (Cleveland Plain Dealer).
If George Hill is sitting on the waiver wire, grab him now. He struggled in his first game, but I don't foresee that happening again. He is seeing a major increase in playing time since Tony Parker is out and the Spurs will be counting on him to deliver. His 22 points, five rebounds, five assists and field goal percentage should help in several categories and, while it wasn't the case last night, he's known to be very accurate on his corner threes.
Cavs forward Samardo Samuels is definitely one to put on your watch list. He was promoted to the starting lineup prior to last night's game and he did not disappoint. Samuels finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds, and while I don't expect him to consistently put up those kinds of points, he's had big nights when given decent minutes and will have more opportunities now as a starter.
The Four Factors
• The San Antonio Spurs were in contention to sign free agent swing man Corey Brewer but it appears he will be heading to the Dallas Mavericks:
Free-agent-to-be Corey Brewer -- armmed with financial packages from the Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs and Mavericks -- is close to signing a contract with the Mavs. Dallas, according to a source, is expected to give Brewer a three-year contract in excess of $7 million once he clears waivers Thursday. (sportsblogs.star-telegram.com)
• In last night's Spurs' loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, Grizzlies' Marc Gasol was ejected for pointing to the big screen above the court. Check out the video.
• Mavericks, Jason Kidd spoke on how much Dallas must play consistent basketball with the Spurs playing so well:
"This was another dress rehearsal for the playoffs," said point guard Jason Kidd, who got the 107th triple-double of his career. "San Antonio is playing extremely well. So are the Lakers. We have to keep playing consistent basketball, especially as we get closer to the playoffs." (americanchronicle.com)
• Who is the NBA 2011 Coach of the year? NBA.com discussed many candidates but Spurs' Gregg Popovich took most of the votes. Here is a sample:
Fran Blinebury: Gregg Popovich. The annual flaw in the Coach of the Year voting is that it rarely goes to the guy whose teams finishes with the best record in the league. It seems he’s expected to be a big winner. Well, virtually nobody that I saw in any preseason predictions expected the Spurs to finish with the No. 1 record in the league. Pop has rejuvenated Richard Jefferson, remade his offense, still complains about his defense and he’s got the Spurs sailing along with the best record while the Heat, Lakers, Magic, Knicks, etc have drawn all the headlines.
• The WNBA will announce that San Antonio will host the next WNBA All-Star game:
The WNBA All-Star game will be played on July 23 at the AT&T Center, multiple sources have told the San Antonio Express-News.
WNBA, Spurs Sports & Entertainment and county officials are expected to make the announcement at an 11 a.m. news conference Thursday at the AT&T Center, site of the game. (Express News)
Hit the jump to read about the Sacramento Kings memorable moments which involve the Spurs, Boston Celtics fans keeping an eye on the Spurs, a new episode of Fundamentals with Coach "B," and more.
The San Antonio Spurs have called up Othyus Jeffers from the Iowa Energy of the D-League according to his teammate Courtney Sims:
Jeffers is a 6-5 guard-forward and has averaged 21.2 points, 9 rebounds, 48% shooting and 3.1 assists with the Energy. In his rookie year with Iowa, he was named to the 2009 D-League All-Star Game, having averaged 19.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
He played with the Utah Jazz on two 10-day contracts last season and played well enough to finish out the season with the Jazz. The Jazz waived Jeffers six days prior to the start of this season.
With the San Antonio Spurs facing the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight, here are some pregame thoughts from head coach Gregg Popovich on the Cavaliers, last night's loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, former Spur Alonzo Gee and more.
Here are the pregame thoughts from Cavaliers coach Byron Scott.
(video Glenn Moore, Dug Out Sports Show)
The San Antonio Spurs (49-11) will be looking to shake off a bad loss to the Memphis Grizzlies lastnight as they face the Cleveland Cavaliers (11-48) for the second and final time tonight in Cleveland.
The last time these two teams met resulted in a 116-92 win by the Spurs in San Antonio. Tony Parker led the way with 19 points and nine assists while Tiago Splitter added 18 points off the bench.
Also for the Spurs, they are 7-4 this season on the second game of back-to-back game situations and will continue to play without Parker who will be out for two to four weeks due to injury.
As for the Cavaliers, they recently traded for Baron Davis, Luke Harangody and Semih Erden but Davis and Erden will not be in action tonight.
Also, Cavaliers' Samardo Samuels will start in the place of injured Antawn Jamison, JJ Hickson will move to the center spot, and former Spur Alonzo Gee will get the start tonight at small forward replacing Christian Eyenga. Anderson Varejao will also be out of action due to a foot injury.
The Spurs should not take this Cavaliers team lightly. Cleveland has defeated the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks recently and have won two straight over the Spurs in Cleveland.
To talk about tonight's matchup, I turn to friend of Project Spurs Glenn Moore of "The Dugout Sports Show" your one-stop site on the Internet for all things Cavaliers and Cleveland sports!
In this Q&A Glenn talks about LeBron James leaving Cleveland, what the Cavaliers have to do to defeat the Spurs, and much more.
Jeff: First off what's the status of Antawn Jamison and will he be playing tonight against the Spurs?
Glenn: Jamison won't be playing tonight against the Spurs. He had successful surgery yesterday on his fractured left little finger. He will be out of action for the next 5-7 weeks. This is a huge blow for the Cavaliers, has he has been a true leader on and off the court. But, this could be looked as an opportunity for young guys to step in and make an impression.
Has the city of Cleveland and Cavilers fans gotten over LeBron James signing with the Miami Heat?
While the San Antonio Spurs will face the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Quicken Loans Arena there will be at least one familiar face waiting for them tonight.
Cavaliers small forward and former Spur Alonzo Gee will be getting the starting job tonight against his former team and after the Spurs big loss to the Memphis Grizzlies last night, Gee knows the Spurs will be quite upset:
"They're going to be pretty upset,'' Gee said of the Spurs. "They're going to be fired up to come in and play hard and try to get a win so they're going to be ready to play tonight."
"It was going to be tough regardless of whether they won or lost. We've just got to be ready to play and just come and give 100 percent." (cleveland.com)
Gee started the season with the Spurs but was released and has done a solid job for the Cavaliers off the bench. This season he has averaged 3.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, started six games for Cleveland. He has posted season-highs in scoring with 12 points against the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets.
Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott had this to say about Gee and his development:
"He’s not as nervous or thinking as much offensively,'' Scott said. "He’s just kind of going with the flow of the game. When he has his opportunities to take it to the basket or take a jump shot he has done that, so I think he’s been pretty patient offensively, but aggressive as well. That’s something I want him to continue to do.''
The San Antonio Spurs own the NBA's best record at 49-11. They have gone on 12 and 10 game winning streaks, are 2-0 against the Los Angeles Lakers, have split the two meetings with the Dallas Mavericks, and are 3-0 versus the Oklahoma City Thunder this season.
Undoubtedly, the Spurs are the best in the NBA and in Texas.
But don't tell that to TNT's Charles Barkley who has been insistent all season long the Spurs are not the best team in the NBA or in the state of Texas.
Well it seems the Chuckster is at it again, this time saying the Mavericks can beat the Spurs, and even puts the Lakers above the San Antonio.
Oh and just for good measure, Barkley feels the the Thunder can beat the Spurs in the playoffs.
Though he does mention the Spurs do lack size, which Spurs fans tend to agree, it seems Barkley may need to re-evaluate his thoughts about the Spurs.
“Well, see the problem is that is one of the reasons I can’t predict a winner right now because the way it ends right now I think Dallas can beat the Spurs but I am not sure that they can beat the Lakers and right now they are scheduled to play in the second round of the playoffs. I got Dallas and the Lakers ahead of the Spurs to be honest with you. To be honest with you, if the season ended today I think Oklahoma City can beat the Spurs because I think the Spurs are a little overrated to be honest with you because I think they play very hard, they play very smart but I think they are missing a big guy to be honest with you. Tim Duncan is struggling on the downside of his career but I just don’t think they don’t get enough easy baskets because their two best players are Parker and Ginobili, and I love Ginobili, but I believe in jump shooters being your go-to guy to be honest, that was my only knock on Oklahoma City. I always tell people you don’t win with jump shots. They have gotten better around the basket defensively but I think Dallas and the Lakers are the two best teams in the West.” (sportsradiointerviews)
Alright Spurs fans time to chime in with your thoughts. You think Barkley makes good points about the Spurs or is he just full of it?