After losing two games in a row to the Philadelphia 76ers and the Detroit Pistons to end the Rodeo Road Trip, the Spurs return home to host the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight in the AT&T Center.
Well the last time the Spurs were in a slump, we used the power of Yoda to motivate the team and the team picked up a win against the Sacramento Kings to snap their losing streak. Seems we need to send in the bigger guns.
The Spurs have everything a team needs to run rampant on the NBA. You can talk about changes to the team or any other excuse for this team's poor performance this season but what they simply need is a hard kick in the ass. And who better to give them a much needed wake up call than Apollo Creed.
Arianné Villanueva is back for the latest Spurscast in Spanish. In this episode she recaps the Rodeo Road Trip.
Remember Project Spurs was the first Spurs blog to have a Spurs podcast and the first to have a Spanish podcast for Spanish speaking fans.
Arianné Villanueva esta detras para el mas nuevo Spurscast en Espanol. En este episodio se recapitula el viaje por carretera Rodeo.
Y recuerdas que Project Spurs fue el primera pagina de internet a tener una podcast de los Spurs y el primer para tener un podcast espanol para los fanaticos de habla espanol.
According to noticiasdealava.com, Real Madrid will make a bid for Tiago Splitter's services this summer.
"Incluso a aquellos que tienen marcado a fuego en su piel el logotipo de la NBA, como es el caso de Tiago Splitter. El pívot brasileño, cuyo concurso el próximo jueves ante el Khimki sigue en el aire, es el nuevo y principal objeto de deseo de un club que el pasado domingo vio cómo el todopoderoso Barcelona le pasaba por encima como una apisonadora. Según ha podido saber este periódico, el Real Madrid, alentado por un Ettore Messina consciente de que en el despacho más grande del Bernabéu hay un hombre dispuesto a satisfacerle, ha engrasado durante esta Copa del Rey la maquinaria necesaria para completar una operación que puede culminar con el cinco baskonista en Madrid a final de temporada."
The article goes on to mentions things that will make Spurs fans doubt if he will come this summer. For one Real Madrid has plenty of money to throw at Splitter and two his buyout is still high.
The Spurs drafted Splitter in the 2007 NBA Draft. The NBA allows it's teams to pay up to $500, 000.00 to buyout a foreign player's contract and Spurs fans still remember the unsuccessful buyout negotiations the Spurs had with Luis Scola. The Spurs will have the midlevel exception to use should Splitter decide to come to the NBA.
In short, there are a lot of factors why the Spurs are not playing at a level they want or expected to be. Yes, some of the players have underachieved and bringing in six new players into a complex system is a tough process.
But haven't they played enough games to resolve those issues?
After a busy summer, the Spurs were expected to challenge the Lakers for West's supremacy and compete for the NBA title this year. Coach Gregg Popovich even quipped at the time "If we don't win it, I should probably be fired, without a doubt."
Now, the Spurs are not considered a title contender and their offseason trade for Richard Jefferson has not panned out.
Does that mean coach Pop needs to be replaced? No! First and foremost, Popovich is one of the greatest coaches in the NBA and his four titles with the Spurs speak for itself.
However, this year is different. It could be the most challenging one in Popovich's tenure as a coach of the Spurs. Now is the time where he has to be riskier with the lineup and prove why he is considered one of the best coaches in the NBA.
Acquiring enough talent is one thing. Making them work together is another. I’m not putting all the blame on Pop, but he has his share of faults. He needs to make a lot of adjustments and he has his work cut out for him.
Now Pop, I never won four NBA titles nor a Coach of the Year Award but if you are reading this, here are some suggestions which could help to turn things around for the Spurs.
Mixing up the offense
The Spurs are enjoying a season high in scoring, averaging 100.6 points per game and are currently 8th in the league in offensive efficiency rating. So offense is not a problem right?
Think again. The Spurs are relying heavily on jumpers and the team is attempting 67% of their shots on jump shots. It might be due to the fact that this team has a lot of good shooters in Roger Mason Jr., Matt Bonner, Michael Finley and even Keith Bogans.
But equally, they have players with the athletic ability to knife into the lane and create their own shots or create plays for their teammates such as Jefferson, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and George Hill. So far, it hasn’t been put to good use. 70% of Ginobili's and Jefferson’s shot attempts are on jumpers.
Here is a stat to ponder -- the Spurs are 19-18 when they have more 3 point attempts against
The recent game against the Philadelphia 76ers highlighted the Spurs' inability to close out games and their deficiencies on both ends of the floor. On offense they couldn't make any shots in the fourth quarter with Tim Duncan taking only 10 shots the entire game. Their transition defense was painful to watch and they were outscored by the Sixers 33-18 in the final period and 38-15 on fast break points.
Obviously, the defense needs to get better but Pop may need to mix up the offense a little by giving more isolation plays for Jefferson, Hill and Ginobili. Feed the ball to Duncan more on the post rather than relying mainly on jumpers to produce points.
Enough of the chemistry excuse
The Spurs have pointed to team chemistry as one of the main reason for their struggles. But the fact is DeJuan Blair has fit in nicely, Keith Bogans seems comfortable with his role and Antonio McDyess has been playing well lately while Ian Mahinmi hasn't had enough minutes on the floor to affect the jelling of the team.
Utilize and maximize the roster
I also want to point out Pop’s reluctance to use younger players (besides Hill and Blair) to prove their worth and find out what they can possibly contribute to the team.
Recently, Malik Hairston was recalled by the Spurs to replace Tony Parker on the active roster while Parker is recovering from injury. Hairston has proven that he can defend at the NBA level and tore up the D-League averaging 29 points. Granted that was against D-League talent but he has not been given enough playing time to able to produce consistently.
Mahinmi is foul prone and needs to improve. But he has potential and when he was given enough time, he performed well enough. Sure it was against the New Jersey Nets but his energy and hustle could help the Spurs in short stretches. However, he continues to ride the bench.
The same thing can be said of Theo Ratliff when he was a Spur. Early in the season, Popovich used him for short stints to provide some defensive presence and toughness. Ratliff proved he can still jump and block some shots. But he was sent to the Charlotte Bobcats for a future conditional pick.
For the Spurs to be able to compete at a higher level, they need to maximize the use of talent of their current roster and figure things out soon.
It’s not too late for this team. There is plenty of basketball left to be played. For all we know the Spurs might turn the corner in the next few games. But they have to do it with a sense of urgency because from now on, every game counts!
For Pop, it's time to back up the words he said in the summer when this team was assembled. This current Spurs team can get it done. Otherwise, it could be another long off-season for the San Antonio Spurs.
What do you think? How much blame falls on Pop for the Spurs’ woes? Leave us your thoughts.
Every month, a different Bloguin NBA blog hosts the MVP/ROY voting. This month, Jeff Fox over at Hoops Manifesto hosted and he asked us to vote for our top ten MVP candidates and our top five Rookie of the Year candidates.
Of course as a Spurs fan, two of my votes went for Tim Duncan and DeJuan Blair, but rightfully so, and it appears more than a few of the other bloggers agreed.
10) Tim Duncan (25 points)
If this is what washed up looks like, I'll take it. Sure the Spurs may be floundering in the middle of the pack in the Western Conference, but keep an eye on Duncan. He's been solid all year long and is the rock of this Spurs team. Just when we were ready to hand the reins over to Tony Parker, Duncan shows us he's still got plenty left in the tank.
Aside from myself, other bloggers participating were Mookie from A Stern Warning, College Wolf from TWolves Blog, Gene Zarnick of Favre Dollar Footlongs, Ezellion from The Blue Blitz, Zach Harper of Talkhoops.net, Lives from Knicks Fanatics, Sean Francois of Hoops Heads North and Don from With Malice.
Visit Hoops Manifesto for the full ratings.
An MRI exam on Monday showed that Parker, the Spurs' starting point guard, has a mild strain of the left iliopsoas, which sounds more like small dinosaur than a small group of muscles on the front side of the hip joint, which is what it is.
The good news: The team's medical staff has not ordered Parker to sit out for an extended period of time.
Though team doctors have said Parker does not have to sit Parker for an extended amount of time, earlier today, I offered the long-term benefits of Parker sitting out a few games to heal up heading into the stretch run of the Spurs regular season.
Since this past summer, these have been Parker's injuries:
- Playing for the French National team he suffered an ankle injury.
- Was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis.
- Suffered an ankle injury in November versus the Portland Trailblazers.
- Suffered a mild strain to his hip joint.
It is said the Rodeo Road Trip is the gauge of how this Spurs team will do in the second half of the season. A 4-4 record should speak volumes. Spurs fans seen the team's ability to pick up wins against sub .500 teams during the season but on the road trip they dropped two games to teams with losing records.
If this team wants to keep their dimming hopes alive they have to figure things out now. Any wasted opportunities from here on out could cause their season to end sooner than later.
Maybe in the next few games, they will turn the corner and will finish strong to end the regular season. But Spurs fans may not be holding their breath to see this happen.
The Spurs are not showing a winning attitude right now and it's understandable if a lot of fans are getting frustrated or have given up on them this season. As for me I'm not counting them out yet. I'm holding on to whatever hope I have left.
However, Spurs fans keep this in mind. The last time a Spurs team went 4-4 on the Rodeo Road Trip was in 2007 when they won a championship.
In a recent article from the San Antonio Express News, ailing Tony Parker was reported to have participated in light practice after the Spurs recent loss to the Philadelphia 76ers before the team headed to Auburn Hills, Michigan to play the Detroit Pistons.
Hobbling Spurs point guard Tony Parker participated in the team's light practice before leaving Philadelphia for Detroit this afternoon, and remains a game-time decision for Sunday's game against the Pistons.
Parker has been dealing with a litany of injuries this season, the most recently being a lingering hip flexor strain that has been bothering him since a Feb. 8 loss at the Los Angeles Lakers.
A litany of injuries indeed. Not only is he suffering from the hip flexor injury, he also suffered from a bout of plantar fasciitis and suffered an ankle injury this past November. Spurs fans should also not forget he played this past summer for the French national team where he suffered an injury to his ankle. He sat out of the Pistons game to have an MRI to reveal the extent of the hip flexor injury. It was also reported this particular injury has not responded well to treatment.
Rest seems exactly what the doctor would order for Parker and it's time the Spurs coaching staff give it to him.
In the short-term it does not matter if Parker misses some games. The Spurs will be done with the Rodeo Road Trip and George Hill is more than capable of running the point guard position while Parker rests. Not to mention Roger Mason did run the point for the Spurs last season. Granted these two players are not at the caliber of Parker but Spurs fans must consider the long-term benefits of a well rested and healed Parker. And Parker's style of play must be considered. His ability to get into the paint lends to him getting banged up by the big men of the NBA. Not to mention he falls on the floor so many times which only heightens his risk of a major injury, which could lead to him being out for the season.
Should the Spurs make the playoffs, this Spurs team will need its floor general ready to go. Currently the Spurs are seventh seed in the playoffs hunt. This would pit them against the second seed, the Denver Nuggets and Chauncey Billups. The Spurs would need a healthy Parker to go at Billups and the Nuggets. Not to take anything away from Hill, but Parker's ability score in the paint, familiarity with the team, and playoff experience would only help the team's chances at success in the playoffs. A banged up Parker would not.
I am not proposing the Spurs sit Parker for the rest of the season but a week off would do him wonders. And when he would come back, monitor his minutes and save him for the post-season.
The way this Spurs team is playing this season, it is not out of the realm of possibility this team might miss the playoffs for the first time in the Tim Duncan era. With 28 games remaining in the Spurs season, every game counts. Especially in the Western conference. And a healthy Parker is one of many factors for the Spurs in making the playoffs or not.
The Spurs have announced they have recalled guard Malik Hairston from the Austin Toros to replace the injured Tony Parker on the active roster. He joined the team tonight in Detroit for their game against the Pistons on the Rodeo Road Trip.
The San Antonio Spurs announced today that they have recalled guard Malik Hairston from the Austin Toros, the NBA Development League team owned and operated by the Spurs.
Hairston, who was assigned to Austin on 1/14, has appeared in 15 games for the Toros and averaged 29.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 40.8 minutes.
Hairston has appeared in 21 games for the Spurs this season and averaged 0.5 points in 3.5 minutes.
Hopefully Hairston can get some playing time for the Spurs this stretch run for the Spurs. However playing behind guards such as Manu Ginobili and Roger Mason, it would be difficult for him to get some heavy minutes on the court. He has proven he can play in the NBA and brings youth, explosiveness and aggressiveness for the Spurs.no comments