According to several sources, San Antonio Spurs' coach Gregg Popovich has been named the December Western Conference Coach of the Month. This is his second consecutive month winning the award.
Popovich has led the Spurs to the NBA's best record of 29-4 and a 13-2 record for the month of December.
According to several sources, San Antonio Spurs' coach Gregg Popovich has been named the December Western Conference Coach of the Month. This is his second consecutive month winning the award.
Superman has kryptonite. Cut Samson's hair and he is weakened. Take away Ralph Hinkley's (aka The Greatest American Hero) super-suit and he is powerless. Better yet, just hide the suit's instructions for those who remember the TV show.
At the rate the San Antonio Spurs are winning this season, they appear to be almost unstoppable. Try to run on them, and they can run as well. Play a half-court game, and the Spurs can play a half-court game too.
This begs the questions: with the Spurs off to an NBA best 29-4 record, do the Spurs have any weaknesses? Let's find out.
Granted the Spurs do have Tim Duncan but after him there is a drop-off.
The Spurs currently have the smallest starting center in the NBA with DeJuan Blair. Sure Blair has the strength, and rebounding prowess but he can be exposed against bigger centers. Matt Bonner is too one-dimensional, Antonio McDyess hasn't been playing a lot but is serviceable. Still, he lacks the speed and height to contend with other younger bigs in the NBA. Think Pau Gasol.
Tiago Splitter was signed to hopefully address this weakness; however, he has not acclimated himself to the NBA style of play, let alone get the needed time on the court to develop. His progress has been at a glacial pace.
In the same vein, who can the Spurs turn to should one of their bigs go down with an injury? Basically, where is the insurance? Right now the Spurs have a 13 player roster and adding another big would come in handy.
This lack of size could be an issue against teams such as the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, or the Denver Nuggets.
One thing lurking when a team has been winning as much as the Spurs have been is complacency. This has popped up from time to time this season. Case in point the Spurs' loss to the Los Angeles Clippers and barely beating the Minnesota Timberwolves in overtime. This Spurs team cannot take a quarter, a half, or a night off. Every game is crucial and with NBA teams using the Spurs as a measuring stick, the Spurs carry a target on their back and will get the opposing team's best effort.
Sure the Spurs are not an old team as in seasons past but the core of the Spurs is Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, have lots of mileage on their legs, and they are not spring chickens anymore. Duncan and Ginobili are in their 30's and Parker is 28 years old but a 28 year old with lots of mileage.
Ginobili has been logging more minutes than he has in his NBA career. Last season he averaged 28.7 minutes per game and this season he is averaging 31.5 minutes. Duncan has obviously lost a step or two and is in his 14th season. As mentioned, Parker has lots of mileage on his legs despite his young age. Add in the mix, McDyess is in his 15th season, and Richard Jefferson is in his 10th season.
Also factor in health. Duncan, Parker and Ginobili all have dealt with individual injuries and with their age and mileage, you have to worry if their injuries will re-occur for them. Splitter has dealt with numerous nagging injuries prior to joining the Spurs and in training camp while James Anderson is recovering from a foot injury, though is said to be returning to the squad soon.
However, these weaknesses might have been remedied. The Spurs have brought in more youth such as Gary Neal, George Hill, DeJuan Blair, Tiago Splitter and James Anderson to help rest the Spurs' aging core. Also, Duncan, Parker and Ginobili rested this past summer and Duncan's minutes have been reduced during the season which would mean a fresh Duncan come the stretch run for the playoffs.
Peaking too soon
There is always the spectre of peaking too soon. At 29-4 you have to understand to play at a high level for 82 games, including the playoffs is a challenge. There will be some drop off as the season progresses and Spurs fan can only hope this team didn't peak now instead of when it really matters -- the final weeks leading up to the playoffs.
Before the Spurs ended chances of season-long speculation regarding whether or not all-star guard Tony Parker would be changing his zip code this summer, Parker and the New York Knicks were linked several times through countless rumors this offseason.
Parker ended the talk by proclaiming San Antonio was where he wanted to be loud and clear on media day and the Spurs obliged with a four-year, $50 million extension.
So when the Spurs meet the Knicks in Madison Square Garden tomorrow night, most Spurs fans are thankful Parker, who is averaging 17.7 points and 7.1 assists this season, will be suiting up in silver and black instead of wondering what he might look like in orange and blue.
Mark J. Miller of Yahoo Sports says that nightmare could've been close to becoming a reality.
Parker tells the paper that the New York Knicks were on his mind as his probable destination if the Spurs didn't bring it on his new contract. "Right now, I'm very happy with my decision," Parker said, according to the paper. "I always felt the Spurs are my family, and my first option was San Antonio, but if they didn't want to keep me, New York was definitely my first option."
With one stroke of a felt tip pen, Parker will face the New York media tomorrow night answering questions about the Spurs league-leading 29-4 record instead of the possibility of fitting in real estate scouting on the road trip.
On the first episode of the Spurscast for 2011, Jeff and I got together to talk about the last week in Spurs basketball, including their 1-0 start in 2011 over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
After our weekly recap, we go over our likes and dislikes of the past week to finish off the first half of the show.
In the second half, we talked about our topic of the week. This week we are asking if the San Antonio Spurs should now be considered the team to beat? Jeff and I offered differing opinions and welcome yours in the comments, as well as on Project Spurs if you'd like to debate the topic.
The Spurscast. The original Spurs podcast.
Intro Music: Even Flow by Pearl Jam.
• Want to win a pair of free tickets to a San Antonio Spurs home game this month? Of course you do! All you have to do it follow @projectspurstiq on Twitter to enter. Easy huh?
• The Spurs are off to a fantastic season and some feel they might be able to get to 70 wins. However, don't say that to coach Gregg Popovich:
The question received a predictable eye roll and exasperated sigh from Gregg Popovich. Are the Spurs thinking about 70? Yes, as in 70 wins.
"No, Jesus," San Antonio's no-nonsense coach replied. "You still drunk?"
Spurs opponents are the ones often feeling flattened by a post-New Year hangover. Popovich's 15th team is off to the best start in franchise annals, owns the league's best record by a startling four games and, to be fair, is on a 72-win pace.
"I wouldn't give it a moment's thought -- now or ever," Popovich added when pressed on 70. "I just think it's a ridiculous thought." (source nba.com)
• Popovich also spoke on the Spurs winning big games:
• Express News' Tim Griffin reports on injured Spurs' rookie James Anderson who should be back in action soon:
“He’s closer to the floor than he is to the bed,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’s closer to wearing a uniform than he is to wearing civilian clothes.”
Popovich said last week that he expects Anderson to return to the Spurs playing time by the end of the month. But he won’t accompany the team on a road trip this week that will include games at New York, Boston and Indiana.
“He’ll get a lot more out of the rehab here than he will on the road trip,” Popovich said.
• The Spurs extended their lead over the Dallas Mavericks in the Southwest Division with a recent win over Dallas. However, the Mavericks were without Dirk Nowitzki who was out with a knee injury. Now add Caron Butler to Dallas' injury list and he could be out for the entire season:
Missing Dirk Nowitzki for the third consecutive game because of a sprained right knee and Shawn Marion because of a thigh injury, the Mavericks suffered another blow when starting forward Caron Butler injured his right knee in the first quarter. The extend of his injury wasn't immediately known. (source latimes.com)
Though I'm sure Spurs fans would want to see how this team does against a fully healthy Mavericks team, but these injuries only help the Spurs in the Southwest Division.
• Speaking of the Mavericks, owner Mark Cuban recently said his team is cocky and points to the Spurs as a model for his team:
Cuban’s biggest concern about his team is that the Mavs have a tendency to get "too cocky."
But Cuban doesn’t believe the Mavs, a team loaded with accomplished veterans who don’t own championship rings, have fully bought in to the concept. He points to the Spurs, the team the Mavs are chasing in the West standings, as an example of a team that has embraced that obsessive approach. (source espn.com)
• Tim Duncan speaks on the Spurs executing on the court:
(videos courtesy of woai.com)
The San Antonio Spurs extended their win streak to four games on New Year's Day and start 2011 off on the right foot with a 101-74 blowout of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Spurs got out to an early lead over the Thunder with a 31-point first quarter and the Thunder found themselves playing from behind for the rest of the game.
When the Thunder tried to fight back, it didn't help that they missed countless shots at the basket and were held to to 33 percent shooting on the night.
Tim Duncan led all scorers with 21 points to go along with nine rebounds and a blocked shot. George Hill came off the bench for 16 points and Tony Parker notched a double-double with 14 points and 10 assists.
Before the game, Jeff Garcia spoke with fellow Bloguin-ite Rob Kelley from Thunder Ballers and got his prediction on last night's game.
"The fact that the Spurs have an extra day off certainly will help them, but I feel that the Thunder are ready for their signature win of the 2010-2011 season. It comes against San Antonio tonight!"
“We got beat by the best team in basketball. They handed it to us pretty fare and square. They’re as good of a defensive and offensive team that we’ll face. We turned the ball over way to many times to stay in a game, against the best team.”
- Thunder coach Scott Brooks.
In Black and White
Spurs hand Kevin Durant's Thunder worst loss of season (The Oklahoman).
Tony Parker is averaging a career-high 7.1 assists per game to go along with his 17.7 points per game. That combination along with his 51 percent shooting from the field are enough to keep Parker as one of your starting guards.
Thunder forward Serge Ibaka is a player you may want to add to your watch list. He finished the game last night with 14 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots. While he may not help in your points category every game, he's consistently putting up good rebound and block numbers.
Tweeting the game
"the @spurs are on FIRE right now.. destroyed the thunder, beat the lakers, mavericks, nuggets, BEST RECORD IN THE NBA omg.." - @mkhan_mvp.
"Timmy had a great shooting night. Double-double for @tp9network. #Spurs hold Thunder to lows of 36 @ half & 74 for the game. I love my team." - @Mustang44Sally.
The Four Factors
The Spurs are coming off two fantastic wins over the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks as they continue to maintain their hot start to the NBA season. Playing against the Thunder will be yet another measuring stick to see how the Spurs fare against a very young squad like the Thunder, a team they beat earlier this season, 117-104.
To discuss tonight's matchup, I turn to fellow NBA blogger here at Bloguin Rob Kelley from Thunder Ballers, the best Thunder site on the Internet. Seriously you need to check it out!
In this Q&A, Rob talks about the expectations on Oklahoma City, what the Thunder should do to get the win over the Spurs, his key matchups and more. To read the Q&A I did with Rob, click HERE to visit Thunder Ballers.
Jeff: I have to admit, I came into the season expecting the Thunder to be right there with the Spurs and Lakers. I know they have a solid record (23-11) and lead their division but it just seems the Thunder haven't really gotten over that hump to be a power in the Western Conference. Is it simply that this team is still too young?
Rob: I think to some extent, the expectations are a little too high, including my own. People have to remember that yes, this is a very young team, and that they were just the 8th seed in the Western Conference last season. While they gave the Lakers quite a scare in the first round, this team still has room for improvement. The fact that they currently hold the 4th seed and have battled a few injuries is definitely a step in the right direction.
Do you feel the Thunder need more veteran leadership or should Kevin Durant be the one to be more vocal with his teammates?
I think that Kevin Durant is a great leader, but that Russell Westbrook has also stepped up his game in a huge way. Adding a veteran would be ideal, but I don't see this team making many - if any - moves by the trade deadline. They want to continue to grow as a team together.
James Harden is making quite the case for Sixth Man of the Year. Aside from his glorious beard, what has been his most significant growth this year as a player?
Ha! That beard is coming in quite nicely! I think that Harden is learning his role this season. Coming out of Arizona State as the third overall pick, many people expected him to be an immediate starter. I feel that he will be a starter one day, but for now, he is developing into a Sixth Man of the Year candidate and is a key piece of the puzzle for this team going forward.
Let's talk about the game tonight. The Thunder have given the Spurs some trouble in past seasons. However, this isn't your grind-it-out Spurs team anymore and will run. What should the Thunder's game plan be heading into tonight's contest?
This is such a different Spurs team in so many ways, it is almost tough to come up with a game plan. When these two teams last played in November, it was all about the backcourt for San Antonio. (Tony) Parker and (Manu) Ginobili combined for 45 points, while (Richard) Jefferson and (Matt) Bonner had 18 and 21 respectively. Bonner hit all seven of his 3-pointers, so OKC cannot allow him to sit behind the line and wait for Parker and Ginobili to drive and dish.
What matchup will you tell Spurs and Thunder fans to watch and what's your prediction?
I'm looking forward to watching (Russell) Westbrook and Parker. Any time you get to watch two elite point guards play, it is something worth watching. I love to watch great ball distribution. The fact that the Spurs have an extra day off certainly will help them, but I feel that the Thunder are ready for their signature win of the 2010-2011 season. It comes against San Antonio tonight!
Our fellow NBA Bloguin blogger Don at With Malice did his monthly NBA power rankings and took a different and refreshing spin with the rankings.
This time he compared the teams to actors and compared the San Antonio Spurs to actor Tom Hanks:
2. San Antonio Spurs - If San Antonio were an actor, they'd be... Tom Hanks. Year in, year out, one of the best. Getting on in years, and at times can be difficult to watch, but pretty much always gets the job done.
Let's just hope Don means to compare the Spurs to the war hero character Tom Hanks played in Saving Private Ryan:
And not the cross-dressing character Tom Hanks played in the TV sitcom Bosom Buddies:
Check out the rest of the NBA power rankings by visiting With Malice.
Arianné is back for the latest Spanish edition of the Spurscast. In this episode, Arianne recaps the recent San Antonio victories for the Spanish speaking Spurs fans.
Remember, Project Spurs was the first San Antonio Spurs blog to have a Spurs podcast and the first to have a Spanish podcast for Spanish-speaking Spurs fans.
Arianne regresa con el Spurscast en Español mas reciente con los juegos de pretemporada de los Spurs.
Y recuerden que Project Spurs fue la primera página de Internet en tener un podcast de Los San Antonio Spurs y la primera en tener un podcast en español para los fanáticos de habla hispana.
Esta semana les tengo el repaso de los últimos cinco juegos de los Spurs y algunos chismesitos involucrando la mini confrontación que hubo entre George Hill y Kobe Bryant de los Lakers durante uno de estos juegos.
Como ven parece ser que los San Antonio Spurs deciden continuar con su supremacía en la NBA a pesar de haber sufrido una derrota contra los Magic de Orlando el pasado jueves 23 de diciembre. El equipo de los Spurs aun sigue ocupando el primer lugar como mejor equipo de la NBA con 28 victorias y tan solo 4 derrotas.
Comenzamos el repaso con el juego donde se enfrentaron los Spurs nuevamente con los Nuggets de Denver el pasado miércoles 22 de diciembre. El juego fue en casa de los Spurs y aunque los Nuggets nos llevaron la delantera por 9 puntos, los Spurs no dieron su brazo a torcer, recuperandose pronto durante el ultimo cuarto del partido y derrotando así a los Nuggets 109 a 103. Para este juego Gary Neal fue sacado de la banca para demostrar su potencial dentro de la cancha anotando 22 puntos, incluyendo 10 justo en el ultimo cuarto. Quien lo igualo en anotaciones fue Manu Ginobili, ya que el también contribuyo con 22 puntos.
Continuamos con el enfrentamiento que vivieron los Spurs contra los Magic de Orlando el pasado jueves 23 de diciembre. Lamentablemente este juego fue el que rompió la racha victoriosa de 10 juegos ganados consecutivos que llevaban ya las Espuelas. El juego en ningún momento fue favorable para los Spurs ya que siempre se mantuvo en la delantera el equipo de Orlando. Tony Parker y Gary Neal fueron los mayores contribuyentes en anotaciones para este juego, aportando con 16 puntos cada uno. La puntuación final para este juego fue de 123-101, esto a favor de Orlando Magic.
Nuestra siguiente confrontación fue contra los Washington Wizards, el pasado domingo 26 de diciembre. El juego fue en casa de los Spurs y resulto ser bastante favorable para las Espuelas ya que siempre se mantuvieron al margen con la delantera venciendo así a los Wizards 94-80. Para este juego Manu Ginobili anoto un total de 21 puntos logrando 5 de 7 intentos desde la linea de 3 puntos. Tony Parker también aporto con 20 puntos y logro un rompe récord de temporada de 14 asistencias esa noche.
Y ahora seguimos con el juego de la semana. El juego de los Spurs contra los Lakers de Los Angeles que se llevo acabo el pasado martes 28 de diciembre en casa de los Spurs. El juego anadio una victoria mas a la admirable lista de triunfos que siguen manteniendo a los Spurs en primer lugar como mejor equipo de la NBA. Tony Parker se lucio en este juego contribuyendo con 23 puntos logrando 10 de 18 tiros mientras Dejuan Blair le siguió en contribución con 17 puntos consiguiendo así vencer a los Lakers 97-82. Lo que dejo mucho de que hablar fue el encuentro que tuvo George Hill de los San Antonio Spurs con Kobe Bryant de los Lakers durante este juego ya que se hicieron de palabras en la cancha durante el segundo cuarto del partido. Afortunadamente el encuentro no llego a mayores pero si enorgulleció a los fanáticos del los Spurs el hecho de que HIll se hubiera defendido de inmediato.
Y justo anoche jugaron los Spurs contra los Mavericks de Dallas. El juego fue bastante emocionante ya que aunque los Mavericks jugaron con una muy buena defensa, jamas lograron empatarse con los Spurs, siendo que los Spurs siempre mantuvieron la delantera. Gary Neal nos sigue dejando anonadados con sus excepcionales tiros ya que contribuyo a la puntuación final con 21 puntos y Tim Duncan con 17 y 11 rebotes. La puntuación final fue de 99-93, esto a favor de los Spurs.
Bueno amigos de Project Spurs, yo con esto me despido! Les deseo nuevamente un feliz año nuevo! De corazón les deseo que se cumplan toditos sus deseos y que logren todas sus metas propuestas para el 2011!