- New York Times - The NYT jumps on the DeJuan Blair bandwagon. There was nothing really new in the article but it's always great when the Times is writing a profile on Blair.
- Express-News - Buck Harvey discusses Manu Ginobili and his lack of a contract extension. It's evident that the Spurs are rightfully hesitant to give Ginobili an extension until they know what kind of health he is in.
- Express-News - Allen Iverson is no Manu Ginobili says Mike Monroe.
- Oregonlive.com - Richard Jefferson as the Spurs defensive stopper? I wouldn't go that far but he has shown effort on that end of the court.
- ESPN - John Hollinger lists (Insider) the top disappointments of the NBA season so far. Included on his list is the Spurs defense. Can't say I'm shocked.
- NBA.com - Yes, the Spurs have started slow, and yes, they typically turn things around. However, with an easier first half of the schedule than second half it would be nice if they would start winning on the road.
- 48MoH - Graydon Gordian takes a look at the Spurs shot chart from their win against the Mavericks. He finds that the Spurs did a good job making sure to take shots around the basket and from three point range, the two most important areas.
- 48MoH - Timothy Varner shows how the Spurs supposed three point specialists are in a slump to start the season. The Spurs lived and died by the three too much last year and this is definitely something we should keep an eye on.
- 48MoH - This is a must read by Varner from last Monday. He breaks down the Spurs defensive struggles and focuses on their lack of rebounding. I won't tell you what he concludes because you should read it for yourself, but I will say that I agree wholeheartedly with him.
- PTR - Classic Aaron Stampler. He breaks down the Spurs recent games with Ginobili-colored glasses.
"I was just thinking, first we spend so much money to acquire Dyess and RJ. I mean, why are Dyess and Blair coming off the bench and playing less time. Against Portland, in minimal minutes, Dyess gave us hope, then Blair was getting all the rebounds. I was thinking, why not pop let Bonner sit and just play 10 mins? Why is he exceeding more than 20? Dyess showed us that if he played long enough we would have won that game. My question is, why is Pop doing this? When will he end this experiment and just let our team cruise to winning? Right now I don't like listening that the triumvirate of LA, Boston and Cavs will win. -Ty"
Ty, as you have probably seen by now there have been a few lineup adjustments, notably Bonner has been playing off the bench the last two games and Bogans has been starting. So far this seems to be working, with two Spurs wins. To be honest, we'll probably continue to see several lineup adjustments until Pop finds the rotation that works best. With so many new players this year, it's going to take time before everyone finds their role and the roster is able to attain that chemistry they've had over the last decade. I have a feeling, though, that it'll only be a matter of time before we see Antonio McDyess in the starting lineup.
It’s important to note that during this preseason, the Spurs thought of not filling the final spot. But Hairston did make the cut and Coach Popovich played him in crucial late game situations. That speaks volumes. It shows Pop has confidence in him.
In addition, Roger Mason is currently struggling and contributing little to the team. In seven regular season games, Mason is only shooting 28.3% from the field and is woeful beyond the arc at 22.2%. Why not give Hairston a shot to perform and prove himself. Sit Mason and give this young fella some time on the floor. Let's take it a step more. Why not rest Michael Finley and play Hairston. Finley is a liability on defense and when his shot isn't falling, he pretty much is not going to contribute anything to the Spurs.
Adding him into the mix can be a good thing. He has proven he can step up in regular season games when he had an impressive game last year against the Denver Nuggets when he scored 12 points, grabbed 5 boards and added 1 block and a steal on 6-of-8 shooting in 20 minutes of action.
What do you guys think? Should Pop give Hairston some time on the court? Who would you bench for Hairston? Please leave us your comments and thoughts.
By Robby Lim
In the last couple of games, the Spurs seem to be more focused and play with urgency. Jefferson, Manu and George Hill are all stepping up their games lately with Duncan and Parker out with injuries. But it’s important to note a change in Popovich’s rotation in the Raptors and Mavericks games, which has done wonders for two role players -- Keith Bogans and Matt Bonner.
I gathered some statistics which show that Keith Bogans plays better as a starter while Matt Bonner is better off the bench. Take a look.
Off the Bench
Minutes Per Game: 8.3
Points Per Game: 0.7
Rebounds Per Game: 0.3
Assist Per Game: 0.7
Field Goal Percentage: 33.33%
Minutes Per Game: 25
Points Per Game: 9.0
Rebounds Per Game: 2.3
Assist Per Game: 1.0
Field Goal Percentage: 60.0%
Off the Bench
Minutes Per Game: 31
Points Per Game: 14.5
Rebounds Per Game: 6.5
Assist Per Game: 2.0
Field Goal Percentage: 43.47%
3 Point Percentage: 53.8%
Minutes Per Game: 20
Points Per Game: 6.0
Rebounds Per Game: 3.2
Assist Per Game: 1.2
Field Goal Percentage: 37.93%
3 Point Percentage: 28.6%
It goes without saying the more time a player gets on the court, the better stats a player will give a team. However, the Spurs won their last two games with Bogans starting and Bonner coming from the bench. If stats don't lie then Coach Pop needs to listen. This change might just be what the Spurs need to continue their winning ways.
What are your thoughts on this role reversal for Bogans and Bonner and should there be more players trading roles on the Spurs roster? Leave your comments below.
This is the recorded version of our live react/recap show after the Mavs game last night.
Jeff and I break down the game quarter by quarter, look at the box score and eat some crow after predicting a double-digit loss to the Mavs.
Jeff's Shiny Spur was Richard Jefferson and Roger Mason was his Rusty Spur. We also took a look at the upcoming schedule and Jeff put a new Spur on the hot seat.
The Spurs are now on a two-game win streak and one game above .500. If you didn't get a chance to participate live, we'll be back live next Thursday for the Jazz game.
When I looked at the schedule for this week in thinking about which game I should do a Q&A on, tonight's Mavericks game stared me right in the face and with the way the Mavs showed the Spurs the door in last year's playoffs, I knew this was the game. I got a chance to talk to Rob Mahoney of The Two Man Game to preview tonight's game.
1. A lot of people are ignoring Dallas when it comes to talking about who will come out of the Western Conference. What would you say to the people that say it'll be between the Lakers and Celtics to decide who will go on to the Finals?
I would say 'Wise up.' These things rarely turn out exactly as planned. An injury here, a Gasol trade there, and the entire conference landscape can change in the blink of an eye. The Mavs have all the offensive weapons necessary to be a dangerous team, and the defense is looking rock steady. Dallas certainly has the power to significantly alter the playoff picture, whether it's winning it outright, taking out a contender before falling short, or even something as simple as wearing down a team like the Lakers with a tough road ahead.
2. Both the Mavs and Spurs added some key pieces in the offseason with the Spurs getting Jefferson, McDyess and Blair among others and the Mavs picking up Shawn Marion, Tim Thomas, Drew Gooden and Rodrigue Beabois. Which team made the changes that will have the most impact this season?
It's gotta be the Spurs. Jefferson, McDyess, and Blair can all be huge factors in the Spurs' rotation, whereas Shawn Marion is the only Mavs addition performing up to snuff. Drew Gooden has been alternating between shades of bad and awful, and though I'm holding out for a turnaround, I don't think he can match Blair's activity level. Thomas and Beaubois are relegated to role player duties, and though each has their respective strengths, they're not going to improve the team on an every-night basis. That's the impact that Jefferson, McDyess, and Blair are having, and though it hasn't quite come together for SanAn on the defensive end, I wouldn't worry. That Popovich guy is pretty good at his job, so I hear.
3. Does Jason Kidd have a chance against Tony Parker, assuming he plays, or will Carlisle adjust and start Kidd with Barea, who has given the Spurs fits?
I wouldn't be surprised if Carlisle used either Kidd, Howard, or even Shawn Marion to defend Parker from opening tip. Countering TP's speed with length could be the most effective approach when Barea isn't on the floor. Even though J.J. does cause some problems for the Spurs (as you mentioned), I just don't see Carlisle fiddling with his starters right now. Josh Howard is still working his way back from an ankle injury, and establishing an early game rhythm with Howard and the rest of the starters is going to be key.
All of that said, I wouldn't completely count Kidd out. While he's not exactly as fast as lightning these days, the Mavs' D has looked much better this season than in years past. I'm hoping that those improvements will help Kidd to contain Parker should that be Carlisle's match-up of choice, but otherwise the defensive game plan may be geared towards taking away the rest of the Spurs' 3-pointers. Or hey, maybe TP sits out tonight and spares Rick the headache.
4. Does anyone on the Spurs have a chance against Dirk Nowitzki, and what do you think Pop will have to do to keep Dirk from going off like he did against New Orleans?
Dirk has always been in a strange no man's land when it came to San Antonio (not that other teams are necessarily more equipped). Bruce Bowen and Tim Duncan were both great defenders, but Dirk could take advantage of either player in different ways. For the record, I don't think the current Spurs cast has a chance against Dirk, but if I had to nail down the best possible option, I would probably go with Richard Jefferson. Smaller, athletic defenders don't consistently give Dirk trouble like they used to, but given the other match-ups (Bonner? McDyess? Blair?) it's definitely worth a shot.
5. Spurs fans like to call Dirk "Irk" and sometimes say "there's no D in Dallas." After watching your latest Moving Pictures video, would you say that is just a misconception? Is Rick Carlisle the reason for this focus on team defense?
I think it's a huge misconception. Earlier in his career, Dirk was miserable on defense. But he's shown remarkable improvement since that time, and his public perception has just never caught up. He's not as slow on the perimeter as others may have led you to believe, and a surprisingly decent on-ball post defender. The only reason Nowitzki doesn't log more time at center is mostly due to an attempt by Carlisle and his staff to shield Dirk from needless fouls.
As for the Team D, it's a combination of Carlisle's mentality and the additions of Shawn Marion and Quinton Ross. Defense, defense, defense has been the company line since the end of last season, and was items A, B, and C on the agenda at training camp. It shows, and the Mavs' defense (1st quarter against Houston last night excluded) has looked awfully strong.
6. In your opinion, what is the key matchup for tonight's game and what's your prediction?
The ankles of Tony Parker and Tim Duncan vs. The Spurs' medical staff. Those two change everything, and if their 'doubtful' status translates into watching from the sidelines, the Mavs should be able to coast to a win despite their tired legs.
Mavs by 14.
Though it's worth noting that the Spurs beat the Mavs under similar circumstances last year, although if I remember correctly it was without Duncan and Ginobili. Fingers crossed that we don't see a repeat of that flub.
Thanks to Rob for taking the time out to answer our questions. Feel free to comment below with your thoughts on his answers.
Live Show Tonight
We'll be going live right here on ProjectSpurs.com starting at 6:30 p.m. CST tonight to preview the Spurs vs. Mavericks game.
Aside from previewing the game, we'll be taking your calls throughout the night at 210-757-0847 and have two giveaway.
The live stream will be audio only and we'll also have a live chat set up to interact with us and chat with other Spurs fans.
We'll stop right before the game starts and when it ends, we'll be back live for postgame recap and react, and we'll have plenty of time for your calls to talk about the game, win or loss.
Again, we will start at 6:30p.m. CST and go until about 7:25 p.m.and come back on right after the game. Look forward to talking to you all tonight.
As some of you know, last month I was a speaker at the Sports Media 360 conference in Cleveland. Joining me as a speaker was Brian Cuban of The Cuban Revolution and brother of Dallas Maverick's owner Mark Cuban.
Talk about two worlds colliding or as Brian said "It was a WTF moment." Here we had a Spurs blogger meeting the brother of Mark Cuban. Though we didn't have a WWE cage-match fight for the honor of the Spurs and Mavericks, we did become good friends and he was kind enough to give Project Spurs an exclusive interview.
So with today being the first time the Spurs and Mavericks play each other this season, we thought it would be fitting to release this interview today. We talked about the Western Conference, discussed Spurs-Mavericks and many other topics. Of particular interest are his experiences with Spurs fans in San Antonio. Joining me in the interview was my partner, Michael De Leon who went to the douchebag move (as Michael put it in the interview) of calling the Mavericks chokers. Enjoy.
Thanks to Brian for giving us this interview. Please leave us your thoughts on this exclusive interview and please visit The Cuban Revolution where you might find a familiar face being interviewed on his show.
By Dan Ehrlich
Contributor to Project Spurs
The 2009-10 season is still very much in its infancy. The Spurs have only played a handful of games so far, and it is clearly too early to make any firm conclusions either way. There is no doubt that the thumping of Chris Paul’s Hornets on opening night gave us a hint of how good the team can potentially be, with a bench that some say is the best the team had in recent memory.
Not long after that, though, the Spurs also displayed early season jitters in heavy losses at Utah and Portland. Being at the 0.500 mark is not too surprising. The fact remains that the wins so far all came at home, and that the Spurs are still winless on the road so far. They have in fact lost their first 3 regular season road games for the first time in 16 seasons, and all of them in pretty emphatic fashion. The reason that this is cause for concern, in my view, lies in the schedule for the remainder of the season.
Having a sneak peek into what’s awaiting the Spurs in the months leading to mid-season, an unusually home-heavy schedule is revealed. By the time the team embarks on its annual Rodeo Road Trip in early February, the Spurs would have already played 29 home games versus only 17 road games. That is quite a significant discrepancy, which then of course has to be balanced out by a very road-heavy schedule in the second, and crucial half of the regular season. In February, March and April, the team will go on no less than 24 roadies, with only 12 games at the AT&T centre.
Why is this a potential cause of concern, you might ask? Shouldn’t a home-heavy schedule allow the Spurs the get into a good run of wins, given their great start at home? That is of course a plausible argument, and there is obviously a good chance the Spurs will head into the latter half of the season sitting on a very good record. My concern is actually more around what happens if the Spurs do not capitalize on this opportunity and head into a very tough stretch run needing to win a lot of tough road games in order to get a good playoff seed and to avoid playing teams like the Lakers or the Nuggets early on in the battlefield that is the Western Conference Playoffs.
To see why this is a cause for concern, and why the next few weeks could prove crucial to the season, here are a couple of points to consider:
Let’s remind ourselves that the Spurs are not normally at their best in the first half of the regular season. Pop usually uses this time of year to determine the most efficient rotations; the starting unit and the pecking order on the bench. He cares more about players learning the system and gaining experience than winning every game. This season, more than most, there is a lot of jelling and system-learning to do for multiple key rotation players such as Jefferson, McDyess and Blair. As a result, fans and experts alike expect the Spurs to have some early-season rustiness, leading to a sub-par game here and there that can give a perennial lottery team such as Memphis a surprising road win in the Alamo City.
Most of those who have followed the Spurs over the past couple of seasons know that Pop will choose some nights to rest one or two of the "Big Three" in order to save them for the playoffs, especially in the second night of back-to-backs. He would do that even if it means sacrificing the game for it. This point is actually mainly applicable for the road-heavy second half of the season.
Starting February, the Spurs have eight back-to-backs, where the second leg of those back-to-backs include games at Portland, New Orleans, Orlando, Phoenix and Denver. Most fans would agree with me that resting key players in such games would make those games extremely hard to win, despite having a great bench this year. Let’s not forget the above opponents will all have playoffs seeds to fight for. If the Spurs do not come into this stretch of the season with a decent record, there is a danger of either getting a low playoff seed, or risking injury to key players by playing them more than Pop would ideally want.
The Western Conference’s top echelon is as competitive as it has ever been. LA Lakers, Portland, Denver, Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, maybe even Phoenix and Utah, could all pass the 50-win mark. A couple of extra losses here or there could mean facing the Lakers very early on, maybe even in the first round.
Given the above points, it gets apparent to me that this regular season could turn out to be much tougher than expected if the Spurs don’t capitalize on the upcoming string of home-stands and head to the Rodeo Road Trip with only an “OK” record. It will be important for Pop and the coaching staff to very carefully plan their approach to the schedule so that, on one hand, the new players are still given the time they need to get confident and to learn the Spurs system, but on the other hand, the team also does not lose sight of what is coming later in the season and realises that they cannot afford to drop many home games early on.
In the coming few weeks, the Spurs play at home to teams such as Oklahoma City, Milwaukee, Golden State, Philadelphia, Sacramento, Charlotte, LA Clippers, Minnesota, New Jersey and Memphis. These are all games that the Spurs should really win at home, with or without any early season rustiness. And I do think that resting the Big Three in the second leg of back-to-backs later in the season is probably more important as far as the playoffs are concerned than anything else. To be able to do that, the Spurs will have to make sure enough wins are earned in the easier, home-dominated, first-half schedule.
Getting 60+ wins suddenly sounds a tad harder now. All of this is actually one of the reasons why I personally predicted only 54 wins for the Spurs this season, and the more I think about it, the more I realize even 54 would actually be a very good achievement considering the circumstances. I hope, of course, that the Spurs prove my concerns to be completely baseless by playing like road warriors later on in the season and therefore compensating for any silly early home losses. However, I’d still rather have the luxury of being able to rest our big three late in the season to keep them fresh for the playoffs by capitalizing on the extended home cooking the Spurs are about to get in the upcoming few weeks.no comments
By Robby Lim
The Spurs season is still in its infancy but so far it would seem the Spurs can’t find a groove. There are times they look a step slow on defense and times where they can’t find their shooting touch.
Some Spurs fans might get easily worried or frustrated about the slow start and rightfully so. After seeing the summer acquisitions, and the hype surrounding the Spurs heading into the new season, it’s perfectly normal to get excited and expect immediate results. But the truth is it doesn’t work that way. Having great talent is one thing. Building team chemistry is another.
Now you might ask why do teams like the the Lakers, Celtics, Nuggets and even the Suns have all great starts, while the Spurs have struggled?
Those teams didn’t change their roster as much as the Spurs did. The Lakers basically swapped Ariza for Artest. The Celtics simply added Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels to the mix. The Nuggets retained their core and drafted Ty Lawson and signed Aaron Afflalo while the Suns returned to their old running game while acquiring Frye.
The Spurs, on the other hand, are almost an entirely new team. They’ve added new pieces in Richard Jefferson, Antonio McDyess and DeJuan Blair. They also added Theo Ratliff, Keith Bogans and Marcus Haislip, all who need time to develop chemistry among themselves and with the returning players from last year's Spurs team.
The point is that the other teams mentioned are quite familiar with each other. They retained their core and have fewer guys that need to learn the system. For a team game like basketball, familiarity and chemistry are of great importance. It’s one thing to add a piece or two, but having a roster overhaul is a different story.
It is also important to note that despite their early struggles, the Spurs starters are getting a lot of rest. In five games, no Spur has averaged at least 30 minutes of playing time. This means Pop is not forcing it. He’s still in the "break in" mode so to speak.
As Pop put it, "the chemistry between the new Spurs and old Spurs — the learners and returners, is still a work in progress."
Pop has his work cut out for him. This year is probably the most challenging chapter in his coaching career. If the Spurs are to compete for a title, the learning curve for the newcomers needs to be shortened.
Championship teams are not built overnight. It’s a process and for a team like the Spurs, positive results might take a while.
With that being said, I’m inclined to believe the Spurs will continue to improve as the season goes on. By mid January or early February, it’s safe to say that we could see a different Spurs team. A team that is more focused, winning, and passed chemistry 101 with flying colors.
Please leave us your thoughts on the Spurs slow start and if it is more to it than just a chemistry issue.