SAN ANTONIO SPURS (2-2) vs. CAJA LABORAL (0-1)
|SPURS||DeJuan Blair 13.8||DeJuan Blair 8.0||Manu Ginobili 4.0|
|CAJA||Mirza Teletovic 24.0||Mirza Teletovic 9.0||Marcelinho Huertas 11.0|
The San Antonio Spurs will begin a preseason game home stand against the reigning Spanish League champions Caja Laboral. If that team name sounds familiar it's because it is Tiago Splitter's former team before joining the Spurs this offseason.
Laboral dropped their first preseason game 110-105 against the Memphis Grizzlies. They were led by Mirza Teletovic with 24 points and Fernando San Emeterio who added 15 points, going 5-6 from the field, including 3-3 from behind the arc.
This game will also feature Marcelinho Huertas who displayed an all-around game at the 2010 FIBA World Championship averaging 11.2 points, 1.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists including his 32 point outburst against Argentina. Also, former Spurs' player Marcus Haislip, who now plays for Caja Laboral, will be making his return to San Antonio.
The Spurs are coming off a 106-80 loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Pittsburgh. A game where four of San Antonio's starters (Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Richard Jefferson) didn't suit up.
DeJuan Blair tried to please his hometown fans as he scored 8 points, grabbed 11 boards and dished out 5 assist against the Cavaliers but the Spurs had an atrocious shooting night.
They only shot 37% from the field, including 3-11 from Blair. It will be interesting to see if coach Gregg Popovich will give Splitter (who is recovering from an injury) a chance to play against his former team. Although knowing Popovich, Splitter might only be a spectator on the sidelines for this game.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Offense -- Inside scoring will be key for the Spurs, against the Grizzlies, Caja Laboral gave up 62 inside points while scoring just 34 in the paint.
Defense -- The Spurs will have to guard Caja Laboral's outside shooters. The Spanish team connected 42.1% of their 3-point attempts against the Grizzlies.
Offense -- The visiting team will have to stick on what they do best and that is hitting the outside shots. They are also a good fast-breaking team, they had a 28-13 advantage on fast break points against the Grizzlies.
Defense -- Caja Laboral surprised the Memphis Grizzlies with their full court trapping defense during the first half, as they held an 11 point lead in the second quarter and forced the Grizzlies to commit 24 turnovers. But they also have to limit the Spurs' inside points to have a chance in this game.
Spurs -- Tiago Splitter - strained right plantaris muscle (out). Matt Bonner - sprained left thumb (probable)
Caja Laboral -- None
After missing the game against Cleveland, Duncan, Ginobili, Parker and Jefferson might see some action against Caja Laboral. Still, expect more minutes for the camp hopefuls as the team continues to determine which players to keep. The reigning Spanish League champs will play hard in this game like they did against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Last season the San Antonio Spurs brought in Garrett Temple out of the D-League's Rio Grande Valley Vipers late in the season to fill in for the injured George Hill and immediately made an impact not only on the court but in the eyes of Spurs' coach Gregg Popovich who referred to him as his favorite.
Now entering his first full season with the Spurs he is hoping to build on his performance and develop other aspects of his game including being a vocal leader.
I caught up with Temple (averaging 3.8 points, 2 rebounds, and 1.8 assists in the preseason) in Pittsburgh for a preseason matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers and spoke about his performance in the preseason, being a vocal leader, and much more.
Right before the Q&A we were talking about the Spurs' 106-80 loss to the Cavaliers.
Jeff: Tough loss against the Cavaliers but it seems on the defensive side of the court is what led to this loss.
Garrett: Our effort was really there but we made a couple of mental mistakes defensively that let the Cavs get easy baskets but the effort was there. Coach (Popovich) was putting in a couple of different situational things that we need to do defensively and I think we did a pretty good job carrying out the defensive principles.
In the first few preseason games, your shot hasn't been falling. However, against the Cavaliers you started to connect on some shots.
Yeah I haven't been shooting that much just in general in the last couple of games. I talked with the coaching staff and they told me to relax, let the game come to me and if I have an open shot to take it. That's what I tried to do tonight. I was able to get some guys a couple of shots as well get my own shots.
I was sitting on press row and noticed during the fourth quarter Popovich was going to you to direct the team. At one point I saw you directing Marcus Cousin on where to be on certain plays. Are you trying to be a more vocal leader?
The Spurs are looking for that. They want a guy that's vocal and takes control. Marcus is a guy that hasn't been in this system. I been here and I know what they are looking for. I was just trying to let him know what he needs to do to try to make the team and to be a contributor on the team. I try to be like that with everybody. Also I listen to people like Tony (Parker) and George (Hill).
With the regular season inching closer, how would you assess your game and the state of the Spurs?
First of all, the state of the Spurs is we are still a work in progress. We have a lot of new guys, young guys and with Tim (Duncan), Manu (Ginobili) and Tony (Parker) we are all willing to learn from them as well as Richard (Jefferson) Antonio (McDyess) and Matt Bonner. But us other guys have to find our role, find out how we are going to fit in and let defense be our staple again.
As for me, I just need to relax. Play more like I did tonight. Knock down shots and just guard, guard, guard!
Must be great to finally be heading back home to San Antonio after road games in Mexico City and in Pittsburgh. Speaking of which the next game is against Tiago Splitter's former team Caja Laboral. Has to be exciting not only for him but for the rest of the team.
Yeah Tiago has that injury but he is a great guy. His former team is coming in and he will see his friends but it's just great to come back home. We had a long road trip and we are ready to play again in front of our home crowd at the AT&T Center.
Can't wait for October 27 against the Indiana Pacers can you?
(smiles) No I really can't!
On this Spurscast special, Project Spurs was in Pittsburgh to cover the San Antonio Spurs preseason game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Joining me on the show was Glenn Moore from The Dugout Sports Show who was in also in Pittsburgh to cover the Cavaliers.
Though the Spurs did lose the game, 106-80, keep in mind they were without Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Richard Jefferson.
Despite the loss, there were some bright spots to discuss such as the improved play of Garrett Temple, the hustle of James Gist and DeJuan Blair, who was having a homecoming, showing a bit more of an outside shot.
With the loss the Spurs drop to 2-2 in the preseason and will next face Tiago Splitter's former team, Caja Laboral, in San Antonio.
San Antonio Spurs' guard Tony Parker is in a contract season and could be a free agent after this season.
However in an interview with L'Equipe, Parker says no contract offer is on the table but isn't in a hurry and wants to stay with the Spurs.
"I feel great," he told L'Equipe. "I'm ready. I cannot wait to start the season. I am one hundred percent. I seem to have my twenty years' legs back."
He also told the paper that he knows that negotiations for his next contract are in progress, "but there is nothing on the table. I'm not in a hurry either. I want to stay in San Antonio, but I do not mind. I just want to make a big season and the contract will come naturally." (source hoopsnotes.com)
This is great to hear seeing how during the offseason he mentioned he wouldn't mind testing free agency and the constant rumors of being traded to the New York Knicks. Though he did squash those trade rumors during the 2010 Spurs' Media Day.
During the preseason he is averaging 8.3 points, 3.7 assists, 1.7 turnovers in 20.3 minutes.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS (2-1) vs. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (3-1)
|SPURS||DeJuan Blair 15.3||DeJuan Blair 7.0||Manu Ginobili 4.0|
|CAVALIERS||J.J. Hickson 15.5||J.J. Hickson 9.3||Ramon Sessions 4.8|
The San Antonio Spurs will continue their preseason road trip as they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers today in Pittsburgh, PA. This will be a homecoming for Spurs' DeJuan Blair who played two years for the University Pittsburgh before coming to the NBA.
Both teams are coming off preseason victories.
The Spurs got an exciting 100-99 win over the Los Angeles Clippers in Mexico City courtesy of Gary Neal's last second 3-pointer off a play drawn by Manu Ginobili. Can you say coach Manu?
The Cavaliers on the other hand used a balanced offensive attack to beat the Dallas Mavericks 85-79.
It's notable that Alonzo Gee had only played one preseason game so far while James Gist and Bobby Simmons have played in all three preason games.
Curtis Jerrells is also making a strong case at making the roster. In three games he is averaging 8 points and 2.3 assists on 64.3% shooting from the field. Garrett Temple on the other hand has not been playing well. This is something to watch for in the remaining preseason games.
Meanwhile, the Cavaliers have used their preseason games to see where they at without LeBron James. In four preseason games, six of Clevelands rotation players are averaging at least 21 minutes of playing time.
The Spurs will be without Duncan, Ginobili, Parker and Jefferson against the Cavaliers. All four players flew back to San Antonio after the game in Mexico City but Antonio McDyess will be available to give the team some frontcourt help.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Offense -- Blair continues to impress this preseason. His thinner frame and a full season in the Spurs system is paying dividends. He will have to rely on some offensive help from Jerrells, Neal, and Matt Bonner as they will play without the 'Big three' and Richard Jefferson.
Defense -- The Spurs will have their handful on defense as four Cavaliers are averaging in double figures led by J.J. Hickson's 15.5 points per ball game.
Offense -- With Ramon Sessions leading their offensive attack, the Cavaliers look smooth on the offensive end of the court. Hickson has been solid on the inside, Daniel Gibson is hitting his outside shots and rookie Manny Harris is making his case to make the team.
Defense -- Blair is the only Spur averaging in double figures. This means the Cavaliers can focus on limiting his touches inside the paint. However, they have to be wary on the Spurs' outside shooters. Jerrells, Bonner and Neal has been shooting the ball at a decent rate in these preseason games.
Tiago Splitter - strained right plantaris muscle. (out)
Matt Bonner - sprained left thumb (probable)
Anderson Varejao - sprained ankle (day-to-day)
With the exception of Blair playing major minutes, expect the Spurs to give more playing time for their camp hopefuls especially since Duncan, Ginobili, Parker and Jefferson will not join the team in Pittsburgh. The Cavaliers might just stick to their usual rotation giving their regulars at least 20 minutes of playing time.
I have bad news for all of the Spurs fans in Pittsburgh who bought up tickets in bunches for tonight's Spurs vs. Cavaliers game at the Peterson Events Center.
Four of the starting five will be MIA when the game tips at 6:30 p.m. CST tomorrow.
Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Richard Jefferson have all been given the night off and flew back to San Antonio after last night's win in Mexico City, writes Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News.
Luckily for Pitt fans, that should mean plenty of playing time for DeJuan Blair, who's number 45 jersey will likely be displayed throughout the arena.
George Hill will likely start at point guard, but the rest of the starting spots could go to several different candidates who have been battling it out in training camp.
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After suffering a strained plantaris muscle in his right calf, San Antonio Spurs' rookie Tiago Splitter will be out of action for up to two weeks. He missed the Spurs' road preseason game in Mexico City against the Los Angeles Clippers and will miss the preseason game in Pittsburgh against the Cleveland Cavaliers as he continues to recover:
Though the initial prognosis for Splitter indicated he would be re-evaluated seven to 10 days after straining the muscle on the third day of training camp, it may be another 10 days to two weeks before he is cleared to play. In all likelihood, he won't be ready to suit up against Caja Laboral, the team he led to the Spanish League title last season. (source Express News)
The immediate health of Splitter should be something the Spurs need to watch closely. Prior to joining the team he was already dealing with a litany of injuries.
During the summer Splitter was injured at the Super Four Basketball tournament in Brazil suffering a left thigh contusion where he sat out the rest of the tournament. Also, days before the 2010 FIBA World Championship he sat out of a tune-up game in France also due to injury. Let's not forget he played in the Spanish Finals this summer with his former team Caja Laboral.
He then joined the Brazilian national team at the 2010 FIBA World Championship where he averaged 25 minutes per game and there was a report the Brazilian national team was hiding a leg injury he suffered while in Turkey.
Granted Splitter is young and will be able to bounce back but leading up to joining the Spurs he has had a long offseason and might not be coming in fresh.
However, it is quite possible with little rest in the summer, Spurs fans could hear more news regarding Splitter suffering from nagging injuries once the regular season is underway.
Seems Splitter is the one in need of time to rest more than anyone on the team.
According to the San Antonio Express-News, San Antonio Spurs' coach Gregg Popovich may stick to his preseason lineup once the regular season comes around.
Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson, Tim Duncan and DeJuan Blair have made up the starting core through the first three preseason games.
“I want to give it a look and see how I feel about it,” Popovich said before the Spurs' victory over the Los Angeles Clippers at Palacio de los Deportes. “I might make a different lineup for a couple of games, or I might leave it the same if I like it. It's a little early to say, but I like what I've seen so far.”
The most significant moving part is not likely to be Ginobili, a former NBA Sixth Man of the Year, but Blair, a 6-foot-7 second-year center.
Popovich was hesitant to pair Blair with Duncan at times last season, preferring to play his All-Star power forward with big men who can spread the floor.
I don't doubt that Popovich will try to move Ginobili back on the bench sometime this season to give his second unit another go-to scorer, and while Tiago Splitter could shake things up when healthy, it's hard to argue against Blair in the starting lineup.
Through three games, Blair is averaging 15.3 points and seven rebounds per game.