Is it fair to say right off the bat that the San Antonio Spurs won't win a title this year? Are we ready for that? Is that too un-politically correct for a Spurs site?
OK how about this: I'm more certain this season than I have been in any previous season that the Spurs will not win a title.
The reason for that is because their ultimate success would be contingent on two opposing factors: 1) the accelerated progress of the Youth Movement (George Hill, DeJuan Blair, James Anderson, Tiago Splitter) and 2) the continued consistent health of the Big Three.
Both of these need to happen throughout the season, but especially going into the post season. Understand, however, this is a catch-22; if the Big Three get hurt, the Youth Movement is forced to pick up extra minutes/shots/responsibility and as a result grows rapidly, but then the Big Three isn't healthy.
If Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili stay in the lineup consistently and avoid missing more than a couple of games, Youth Movement never picks up those large chunks of minutes needed to fertilize their rapid growth. It's possible for there to be another model for this - for the young talent to develop quickly and the veteran core stays healthy, but it's unlikely.
What's more likely is the Spurs rallying to 54-28 record, a first round victory, and a second round exit, probably to a team like the Oklahoma City Thunder.
You may be thinking, "What if both of these conditions are met?" "What if the Spurs young players make great leaps and Big Three stays healthy?" Oh, well in that case the Spurs are absolutely winning a title. . . fingers crossed?
Is it fair to say right off the bat that the San Antonio Spurs won't win a title this year? Are we ready for that? Is that too un-politically correct for a Spurs site?
It appears the ankle sprain that Spurs forward/center Matt Bonner suffered in last night's win at Indiana will keep him out about two week, according to MRI results.
Spurs forward/center Matt Bonner underwent an MRI earlier today after injuring his right ankle in last night’s game vs. Indiana. The MRI confirmed Bonner suffered Grade 2 right ankle sprain. He is expected to be out of action for 10-14 days.
This leaves the Spurs pretty thin in the paint. Antonio McDyess will likely play extended minutes and it appears Tiago Splitter will be coming back right when the Spurs need him most. He's expected back on Monday against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The San Antonio Spurs blew an early double digit lead but they leaned on their experience and defense to pull away in the fourth quarter for a 122-109 opening night victory over the Indiana Pacers.
It was a good win and here are the numbers that stood out in this first Spurs game of the new season.
122 - This is the most points piled up by any Spurs team on opening night since Tim Duncan came into the league.
80.6 - The Spurs made 29 of 36 (80.6%) from the foul line, including 5-5 from Manu Ginobili and DeJuan Blair. It's not stellar, but they did a good job of converting their free throws compared to the Pacers who made just 19 of 28 (67.9%) of their foul shots with Mike Dunleavy going 1-4.
53.2 - The Indiana Pacers had a great shooting night as they shot 53.2% from the field. The Spurs weren't bad either, as they made 50.6% of their shots. But it also mean that the Spurs have a lot of work to do on the defensive end of the floor.
45 - The Spurs shot well from behind the arc, making 9-20 (45%) shot of their attempts. Including 5-9 from Ginobili and 2-5 from rookie James Anderson.
29 - The Spurs shared the ball better as they finished with 29 assists for the game. Nine of them coming from Tony Parker. The Pacers had 20 assists.
28- Roy Hibbert had a monster game as he led all scorers with 28 points including 8-8 from the free throw line.
27 - With Richard Jefferson getting into foul trouble, the Spurs gave Anderson some extended minutes. Anderson responded by scoring 10 points on 4-8 shooting from the field in 27 minutes of action.
23 - Duncan had a great game leading the Spurs with 23 points, 12 boards, 4 blocks, 3 assist and 3 steals, all this while also shooting 10-12 from the field. The Spurs took care of ball pretty well, as they committed just 14 turnovers compared to the Pacers' 23.
16 - Jefferson may had trouble staying on the floor, but he made the most out of it scoring 16 points in 21 minutes including a 3-pointer that sparked the Spurs' rally in the final period.
15 - After scoring just 1 point in the first half, George Hill made his presence felt on the offensive end after half time scoring 15 of his 16 points. The Spurs also had a 15-9 advantage on steals against the Pacers.
1- Duncan, Jefferson, Blair and Antonio McDyess committed just one turnover each for the entire game.
What's Next? The Spurs will face Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday October 30 in San Antonio. The Hornets also won their season opener over the Milwaukee Bucks 95-91. Paul had 17 points and 16 assists in that game.
I said throughout training camp and the preseason that Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili looked to be in the best shape I had seen them in the past three years.
The proof was certainly in the pudding in the Spurs 122-109 season-opening win on Wednesday night.
“I feel great. In the first half, I was a little too excited and tried to create so I had to settle down," Parker said. "But it’s the first game of the season and you want to try to do good.”
Parker ended the game with 20 points, nine assists and three steals. If there was ever any doubt about it, I can tell you after watching that Tony Parker is officially back.
He seemed to have the same speed and elusive moves that made him impossible to guard in the 2007 NBA Finals.
While Parker was just one of six players in double figures for the Spurs, the Pacers went into the lockerroom after the first half with three of their own scoring in double digits.
The Spurs had been up by 10 points at one point in the first half, but Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and Darren Collison kept chipping away at that lead and went into the half with only a one point deficit.
While the Spurs scored 66 points in the first half, the Spurs' shaky defense kept the Pacers right there with them.
"Pop kind of made it clear at halftime, it was a very poor job. It's good that we made a lot of shots," Spurs guard Manu Ginbili said. "The good thing is that we stepped up in the second half, it was much better, 44 points compared to 65 in the first half so we improved."
One of the players the Spurs clearly needed to step up their defense against was Danny Granger. Granger seemed to be hitting every shot and exited the first half with 19 points.
Granger would only score seven more points in the second half and the Spurs controlled the boards, got some of their second unit going and relied on their veteran leadership to open up another big lead in the fourth quarter.
George Hill, who had been struggling through a preseason shooting slump that saw him only make 23 percent of his shots, came alive at the right time.
It seems his slump may be over for now, after scoring 16 points and making 50 percent of his shots.
"With any player, once one goes in, you start to find the touch you need," Hill said. "Once the first one went in, I knew if I could get a couple more open ones like that, my chances were better."
10 of Hill's points came in a crucial fourth quarter run that the Pacers just could not fight back from.
Tim Duncan, who faced stiff competition all night in third-year center Roy Hibbert, was also instrumental in the second half, scoring 13 of his 23 points.
"I started to get going but overall I really felt like I let the team down." Hibbert said. "I let Tim get going in the fourth quarter."
"I thought we did a much better job in the second half to slow them down a bit and continue our offense," Duncan said. "It was a good win for us and a good start to the season. Obviously we have a lot of work to do throughout the season to get a little more consistent, but that’s what it’s all about.”
The Spurs will look to go 2-0 on Saturday night against the New Orleans Hornets.
• Bonner suffers ankle sprain
Matt Bonner suffered a sprained right ankle in the second half. X-rays were negative, but Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said it will keep him out a while.
He’ll be out for a while," Popovich said. "I don’t think a long while, but he’ll miss some games.”
• Anderson's debut
Spurs rookie James Anderson started his rookie season off on the right foot Wednesday night, scoring 10 points in 26 minutes. Anderson got some hefty minutes at backup small forward and spent about five more minutes on the floor than Richard Jefferson.
"He was great tonight. He had a little deer in the headlights look for a while, just getting used to the pace of the game and being out on the floor," Duncan said. "As he calmed down and tried to get his rhythm, he hit some big shots. Defensively, he was really trying hard and he just has to get used to the speed of these guys.”
Line of the night
Tim Duncan - 23 points, 12 rebounds, four blocked shots, three assists, three steals.
While Tony Parker isn't highly regarded in fantasy circles, his 20 point, nine assist and three steal night on 50 percent shooting from the field may give you another reason to take a second look at him. If James Anderson continues to play as many minutes as he did last night, and you're in a deep league, he can be had easily to fill out one of your bottom of the roster spots.
Tweeting the game
@mg_indy - Spurs-Pacers hilites fail 2 make the cut on SportsCenter last night. But we WERE able to see clips of the Nets-Pistons classic. SMDH
@miseree1 - Well the Spurs did their job. Maybe now the Cowboys can do their job.
@ChaseReynolds - Great win last night #Spurs! James Anderson is legit, @DeJuan45 is a beast and Splitter comes back after Saturday. The forecast is bright!
Kens 5 - Opening Night Slideshow.
Indy Cornrows - Spurs take advantage of Pacers' depth issues
Michael De Leon, Project Spurs
The Spurs brought in the exact pieces they needed this offseason. They addressed the need for a center by bringing over Brazilian big man Tiago Spliter and the Spurs realized that three-point shooting was a weakness in last year's playoffs and worked on a cure by drafting James Anderson, re-signing Matt Bonner and signing Gary Neal to a multi-year contract after a surprising summer league showing. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili all look to be in great shape after an offseason free of any international play. George Hill also looks to have a breakout year and DeJuan Blair has done enough this preseason to get me excited. The Spurs will finish 54-28 and it'll be a tossup in the Western Conference Finals between the Spurs and the Lakers.
Jeff Garcia, Project Spurs
Prediction: 55-27, second in Southwest Division
A quiet youth movement has been going on in San Antonio (Tiago Splitter, James Anderson, George Hill, DeJuan Blair) to compliment the veteran core of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker in the hopes of bringing another title to the Alamo City.
But will it be enough? No.
With the other Western Conference teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers adding Steve Blake and Matt Barnes to strengthen their already loaded squad, the Dallas Mavericks adding Tyson Chandler to play along side Brendan Haywood to form a formidable duo in the paint, Houston Rockets welcoming the return of Yao Ming, and the Oklahoma City Thunder returning in tact, it will be a tough road back to the promise land of the NBA Finals. Frankly, it seems like a fifth title will not be in the Spurs future this season.
Robby Lim, Project Spurs
The Spurs just got younger, deeper and more athletic. The arrival of Tiago Splitter and the development of DeJuan Blair will make a huge impact. How Jefferson performs in his second season will be key, and it will be interesting to see if George Hill can elevate his game even further.
However, the Spurs will still need Duncan, Ginobili and Parker healthy to get things done. They definitely improved from last season and if rookies James Anderson and Gary Neal fit into their roles then expect another 50+ win season from the Spurs.
SEASON PREDICTION: 52-30 second in West.
Jeff Cerda, Project Spurs
At the beginning of every season every NBA team has the highest expectations for the way their season will play out and the San Antonio Spurs are no different. The Spurs have been a title contender year in and year out since 1998 and fans should not expect anything less in the 2010-2011 season. With Tim Duncan’s hall of fame career winding down this will probably be the last chance the team has at another title. Duncan will still be the player we know with probably a slight drop off in statistics and I believe Tony Parker will have a great season considering this is a “contract year” for him. Manu will be Manu and I think DeJuan Blair’s stats will improve because he will be given more playing time, which he rightfully deserves. Two things to watch for is the play of Richard Jefferson and Tiago Splitter. With a year under Greg Popovich’s system, Jefferson has no “excuses” for the lack of production this year and I think he will definitely be a better player than he was last year. It has been a long wait for Splitter and the fans are hoping that the wait was well worth it. Given Splitter’s international basketball track record, he’s shown signs of brilliant play and the expectations in San Antonio are no less. He may struggle early considering he did not get much playing time in the preseason but I would expect him to be a consistent contributor come January/February. I predict that the Spurs will win more games than last year(50-32 in 2009-2010) and get a 4 or 5 seed in the still competitive western conference. Given the age of Tim Duncan and injuries that seem to always plague the team late in the season, I think they will get out of the first round but fall short in the second round.
Tim Griffin, San Antonio Express-News
The Spurs will play better early, even as Tiago Splitter struggles early to regain game shape. That early start and a rejuvenated Richard Jefferson will boost them to a 55-27 record and a Southwest regular-season title. They will beat Portland in the first round of the playoffs, but lose to Oklahoma City in the Western Conference semifinals.
Joe Alexander, San Antonio Express-News
I think the Lakers are likely be in for the kind of nagging injuries all season that the Spurs had last year. If the Lakers are healthy at the end, they'll still win the West. If things were going normally in Denver, the Nuggets would be my No. 2 pick. Their issues go beyond just Carmelo's situation. A healthy Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili and the addition of Tiago Splitter make the Spurs a top four team in the West.
Here is part two of our live season preview show last night, recorded just in case any of you missed the live show/chat. This is from the 8 p.m. hour. We had interviews from Humberto Cervera of News4WOAI and Tim Griffin, who has been blogging on the Spurs for the San Antonio Express-News.
If you missed our live season preview show last night, we've got you covered. We released part three, a Pacers preview with Jared Wade in our gameday Q&A earlier, and now we will be posting part two in an hour.
Thomas Vegas joined me to start the show to answer some questions about the Spurs newer players and if we will see any difference in Richard Jefferson this season.
Jeff Garcia joined in about five minutes in to talk about his outlook for the season and we finished things off with a great interview with Richard Oliver of the San Antonio Express-News and Fox Sports Southwest.
With the Spurs tipping off the 2010-11 season tonight against the Indiana Pacers, I talked to Josh Dhani of Always Miller Time for the first Gameday Q&A of the season. I also had a chance to talk to Jared Wade of Eight Points, Nine Seconds as part of our live season preview show last night and I've included that audio at the bottom of this post.
1. How does the addition of Darren Collison help the Pacers?
The addition definitely helps out. T.J. Ford is decent, but it isn't good enough for Indy to contend. The point guard spot is by far the weakest. Even though Indy had to give up Troy Murphy for him, I still believe Tyler Hansbrough and Roy Hibbert can become a good bunch.
2. Danny Granger is probably the most underrated NBA player. Do you think this is the year he gets the credit he deserves?
Yes, defintiely. With a much a much more improved team, Danny Granger can step up as the full-time leader. And with a good point guard and a center prepared for a breakout season, Granger can make himself one of the Top 10 players in the league by the time the season ends.
3. Manu Ginobili comes into this season in great shape after an offseason free of international play. While he went through a slump early on in the preseason, he got through that over the final two preseason games. How will Indiana defend him and keep him from torching Dunleavy?
Mike Dunleavy needs to get Ginobili good on defense. But if Dunleavy can't handle him and Ginobili gets on a roll, I expect Indy putting in Dahntay Jones, a defensive-stopper, and tame Manu.
4. What is the injury status for tonight's game?
Mike Dunleavy, Danny Granger, and T.J. Ford are a bit banged up, but it has healed down. They are all at least 99.9% to go.
5. What is your key matchup of the game and what is your prediction?
I think it is going to be Tim Duncan versus Roy Hibbert. Last season when the Spurs beat Indiana 100-99, Hibbert guarded Duncan fairly well throughout the game. However, Duncan got him last, getting the game-winning shot over Hibbert. Roy is much more improved, having MMA training and working out with legenary center Bill Walton over the summer. I expect Hibbert to try to bring some revenge.
Thanks to Josh for giving us his insight on the Pacers, and make sure to listen to the audio below. It is the third hour of our live season preview show from last night, which includes a game preview from Pacers blogger Jared Wade.