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.
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.
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
Follow Paul on twitter! @24writer
As reported earlier this week by Project Spurs' Michael De Leon, the San Antonio Spurs have officially signed Larry Owens from the D-League:
The San Antonio Spurs today announced they have signed forward Larry Owens from the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League to a 10-day contract. Owens is the second call-up of the 2010-11 D-League season.
Owens, a 6-7 forward, has spent the past two seasons with the 66ers. This year he has started in all 23 games for Tulsa, averaging 12.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 31.1 minutes while shooting .462 (108-234) from the field, .373 (25-67) from three-point range and .743 (52-70) from the foul line. He’s scored in double figure 18 times, including a season-high vs. Iowa on Nov. 26. Owens recorded a double-double in the season opener with 16 points and a season-high 13 rebounds at Bakersfield on Nov. 19. (source spurs.com)
|SPURS||Manu Ginobili 18.9||Tim Duncan 9.3||Tony Parker 7.0|
|NUGGETS||Carmelo Anthony 23.5||Carmelo Anthony 8.2||Chauncey Billups 5.3|
Amidst the trade rumors surrounding two of their star players, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, the Denver Nuggets (23-16) have put together an impressive winning streak in the last week, routing their last three opponents by an average of 30 points.
The San Antonio Spurs (34-6) will look to win their 15th consecutive home game tonight when they meet the Nuggets at the AT&T Center.
San Antonio won both meetings with Denver last month, and while rumors are heating up that the Nuggets could deal Anthony and Billups to New Jersey this week, the Spurs were preparing as if both would be playing.
The Spurs will try to extend their winning streak to six games. They opened a four-game homestand with a 101-89 victory over Dallas last Friday, as Tim Duncan finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds in 24 minutes while DeJuan Blair and Tony Parker each scored 18 points.
San Antonio's home winning streak is its longest since a 16-game run from December 11, 2004 to February 23, 2005, while their 40-game start is the best in franchise history and the best for any NBA team since Detroit went 35-5 to open the 2005-06 season.
The Nuggets may have their best chance to get a win against the Spurs after not being at full strength in the previous two meetings. Anthony missed a 109-103 loss December 22 following the death of his sister, while Billups was out with a wrist injury in a 113-112 defeat last December 16.
Denver comes in after closing a four-game homestand with blowout victories over Phoenix, Miami and Cleveland. Anthony had 12 points and nine rebounds in a 127-99 win over the Cavaliers last Saturday.
The Nuggets are 5-12 on the road but they've won three of their last four games at San Antonio including both visits last season.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Defense -- Contain Anthony, Billups, J.R. Smith and Aaron Affalo on the offensive end, control the boards and keep up with the Nuggets' running game.
Offense -- They have seven players averaging in double figures and have a good mix of inside and outside game with Anthony, Harrington, Affalo, Nene, Martin, J.R. Smith and Billups.
Defense -- Defend the Spurs' drive and kick game, contain Duncan on the inside. Limit Ginobili, Parker and Jefferson's dribble penetrations and be wary of the Spurs' outside shooters.
Spurs -- James Anderson - stress fracture (out), Matt Bonner - knee (day-to-day)
Nuggets -- Ty Lawson - sprained left ankle (day-to-day), Chris Andersen - knee (day-to-day), Kenyon Martin - knee (game time decision).
PREDICTION: The Nuggets are on hot streak and are definitely thinking payback as they enter this game and will try their best to steal one in San Antonio.
However, the Spurs are playing some of their best basketball right now and are equally determined to extend their winning streak to six games. Expect another close game with the Spurs winning it, 111-108.
Follow me on Twitter @RobbyLim21
• San Antonio Spurs' Matt Bonner will be out of action for tomorrow's game against the Denver Nuggets reports Express News' Tim Griffin:
Spurs forward Matt Bonner will miss Sunday’s game against Denver with a sore right knee.
Bonner injured the knee late in the second quarter of the Spurs’ 101-89 victory over Dallas. He scored six points on a pair of 3-pointers in 7:54 of playing time before the injury.
• What did Spurs' coach Gregg Popovich have to say about the win over Dallas? Let's find out:
• Aside from lunging into the seats at the AT&T Center in last night's Spurs-Mavericks game, when asked how many Spurs should be at the 2011 NBA All-Star Game, Antonio McDyess had a quick, succinct answer:
And when asked how many Spurs should be this time, McDyess didn't hesitate.
“Three,” he said, and everyone knows which three. (source Express News)
• However, as much as McDyess and the rest of Spurs fandom would like to see Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili start for the Western Conference All-Stars, it would appear this will not happen:
• Speaking of All-Stars, check out Duncan posterizing the Mavericks from last night's game:
• The Spurs' Baseline Bums get some recognition and were bringing the noise at last night's Spurs-Mavericks game:
They’re not the same raucous group that harassed game officials and visiting teams at HemisFair Arena for 20 years, but the Baseline Bums still make their presence known at Spurs home games.
“Dallas is an arrogant team and the Spurs are more down to earth.” (source kens5.com)
• Air Alamo had some thoughts on the possible Carmelo Anthony trade and Tim Duncan.
• John Wallace's (former NBA player and Syracuse Orangemen) son, John Wallace Jr., is lighting up the court and picked up a move from Spurs' Ginobili:
Besides the dunk — which John Wallace called “nasty” and the best he’s ever had — John Jr. dusted off a sweet move he borrowed from Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs.
Both are left-handed guards and Wallace makes his son study how the gifted NBA star moves and sets up shots. John Jr. used a jab step to his left, drove to his right, pulled up and banked home a shot from the right side of the basket. (source blog.syracuse.com)
(videos courtesy of woai.com)
What? Another non-classy moment from Dallas Mavericks' Jason Terry during a Spurs game? I know shocking!
In case you missed it from last night's San Antonio Spurs-Mavericks game, Mavericks' guard Jason Terry decided to add to the list of reasons Spurs' fans do not like him with this cheap-shot to Manu Ginobili:
Clearly Terry lowers his shoulder and adds a bit more after the hit but you got to hand it to Ginobili. He could have lost his cool and said something to Terry but he just walked away.
Now I know Spurs fans want to weigh in on this new incident involving Terry and the Spurs. So what do you have to say Spurs fans?
The San Antonio Spurs caught a break, with Dirk Nowitzki still out with an injury, the Dallas Mavericks proved no match to the league leaders.
The Spurs built an early lead and routed the Mavericks 101-89.
Here are the numbers that stood out in this Spurs' latest win.
79.3 - The Spurs had a huge advantage from the foul line making 23-29 (79.3%) free throws. The Mavericks made just 11-18 (61.1%) of their foul shots.
52 - San Antonio owned the boards, outrebounding the Mavericks 52-39.
46.2 - The Mavericks shot the ball well from the 3-point area making 6-13 (46.2%) three-pointers. The Spurs connected on 6-16 (37.5%) from beyond the arc.
45 - San Antonio hit their shots from the field, they made 36-80 (45%) of their field goals. The Mavericks weren't bad either, making 36-83 (43.4%) field goal attempts.
18 - Tony Parker set the tone on offense leading the Spurs with 18 points and six assists. DeJuan Blair had a great game, he registered a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
16 - Tim Duncan had another solid performance scoring 16 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one steal in just 24 minutes of action.
13 - J.J. Barea and Dominique Jones scored 13 points a piece from the Dallas bench.
6 - Matt Bonner scored six points in just eight minutes and was not able to play in the second half because of aggravating an injury. Antonio McDyess provided a boost from the Spurs' bench with six points and 10 boards.
0 - For the third straight game, Duncan did not commit a single turnover. Richard Jefferson had seven points and five rebounds and zero turnovers in 30 minutes of action.
Rookie Watch: Neal scored eight points, grabbed three boards and had two assists in 26 minutes. Tiago Splitter had one point, three rebounds and one assists in 15 minutes of playing time.
What's Next? The Spurs will host the Denver Nuggets at the AT&T Center in San Antonio on Sunday.
Follow Robby Lim on Twitter @RobbyLim21