Join us as we live blog/chat tonight's Spurs-Bulls game.
With the Spurs-Bulls game coming up tonight, who better to ask than Chicago sports superfan Sarah Spain for our first Gameday Q&A of the season. Sarah blogs at No Spain No Gain, hosts the Fantasy Players Minute and has a bevy of freelance experience in reporting, writing, acting, modeling and radio work. Sarah may have an unhealthy obsession with Michael Jordan, but there's no questioning her knowledge of the Bulls as you'll see with the following six questions I posed to her for tonight's game.
1. With Derrick Rose likely to see limited minutes in the opening game vs. the Spurs, what will the Bulls do to stop Tony Parker?
The Bulls have a committed and determined defender in Kirk Hinrich, who is still the team's best defender on the ball. Parker is always gonna be tough to cover, but Hinrich will do a solid job if Rose doesn't have the speed--or stamina--to stick with him.
2. The Bulls seemed to be a playoff favorite after they almost upset a KG-less Celtics team in one of the best NBA playoff series I've ever watched. With Gordon now in Detroit, do the Bulls have enough to improve on last season?
It's always difficult to lose your leading scorer--especially if you don't get anything in exchange for him. It's easier to deal with, however, if that guy never stepped up on defense and never really seemed to buy into the team. Gordon may have led the Bulls in points for the last four seasons, but he never really led the Bulls. Do they have enough talent to make a deep run in the playoffs this year? I don't think so. They need a big man if they hope to make it past Cleveland, Orlando, Boston, etc. Have they put themselves in a position for that to happen in the next couple years? I say yes.
3. We saw John Salmons emerge in the playoff series with the Celtics. With Gordon's loss, what will Salmons' role be for this team?
The hope is that Salmons will be the guy he was in the playoffs last year, but with even more opportunities now that Gordon is gone. He's bigger and stronger than BG and he's a much better defender (don't take much). Few people in the league can get hot like Gordon, but if Salmons can be a consistent producer and prove that last year wasn't a fluke, he'll make getting over Gordon a lot easier. If Rose has an off night, Salmons and Hinrich are going to have to step up offensively for the Bulls to have a chance.
4. The Bulls made a very underrated offseason acquisition by picking up Jannero Pargo. What are your thoughts on his addition and does that move pave the way for Kirk Hinrich to finally be traded?
It's always nice to have a guy on your team who wants to be here. Pargo signed with Chicago despite getting longer and larger offers from other teams because he's a Chicago kid and he feels comfortable coming back to play for his hometown team again. He should get consistent minutes and is a dangerous shooter, but I don't think he's the answer when it comes to the Hinrich situation. Hinrich is far too valuable in situations like Thursday night, for instance, when D. Rose isn't at full strength. Until they bring in a legit, big-time guard to share the court with Rose, the Bulls can't afford to lose Captain Kirk.
5. I said on our season preview show for the 8th seed that some days Tyrus Thomas looks like a future all-star and some days it looks like the only chance he has to be an all-star will be with the D-League. Is this the year he finally lives up to his potential and is able to remain consistent?
Man I sure hope so. I've always been a big fan of freak athletes. There's nothing more fun than watching a guy take over a game with nothing but natural, God-given, freak-show athleticism. When Tyrus is on, he's got the energy, the length and the hops to be a real force. When he's off, he looks like a high school kid who loses track of the game when his favorite cheerleader does the splits on the sideline. He can be responsible for some brutal turnovers and his bouts of immaturity are to be expected from a rookie, not a guy heading into his fourth season. As a person, I think Ty is a great kid. All reports from preseason point to him having a breakout year; let's hope they're right.
6. The obligatory two-part question. What is the key matchup for Thursday night's game and what is your prediction?
Tim Duncan vs. whatever combination of guys we throw at him. Defending dominant big men has been a problem for the Bulls for years. With D. Rose not at 100% the Spurs win a close one.
We want to thank Sarah for devoting her time to giving us a closer look at the Bulls. If you want to read more from her, be sure to visit No Spain No Gain where you might also find pictures of a familiar face here at Project Spurs slamming jello-shots.
What are your thoughts on tonight's game? Do you have a prediction? Feel free to leave a comment and give us your take. Be sure to also come back tonight at 6:30 p.m. CST for our Spurs-Bulls live blog/chat.
After a 10-hour live marathon show leading up to the Spurs opening night game against the Hornets, Jeff and I decided that we were not done and came back live for our post-game show. We took more calls, had one more giveaway and talked about the stomping the Spurs gave the Hornets.
Make sure to check here on Project Spurs for notification of our next live show. We will be live blogging theBulls game tonight so come back here at 6:30 p.m. CST for that.no comments
We all hear about NBA conspiracies. The Spurs and their fans are no strangers to them. NBA schedule makers hurting the Spurs, Stern fixing it so Spurs lose in the playoffs, etc.
However in Tim Donaghy's book "Blowing The Whistle: The Culture of Fraud in the NBA", Donaghy mentions an incident involving himself and Dick Bavetta scheming to fix a game between our Spurs and the Denver Nuggets in 2003-2004.
Excerpts were released and it is something I am sure the NBA does not want its fans to read.
Here is the excerpt:
Bavetta told me Denver needed the win and that it would look bad for the staff and the league if the Nuggets missed the playoffs by one game. There were still a few games left on the schedule before the end of the season, and the standings could potentially change. But on that day in Oakland, Bavetta looked at me and casually stated, "Denver will win if they need the game. That's why I'm on it."
I was thinking, How is Denver going to win on the road in San Antonio? At the time, the Spurs were arguably the best team in the league. Bavetta answered my question before it was asked.
"Duncan will be on the bench with three fouls within the first five minutes of the game," he calmly stated.
As it turned out, Denver didn't need the win after all; they locked up a spot in the playoffs before they got to San Antonio. In a twist of fate, it was the Spurs that ended up needing the win to have a shot at the division title, and Bavetta generously accommodated. In our pregame meeting, he talked about how important the game was to San Antonio and how meaningless it was to Denver, and that San Antonio was going to get the benefit of the calls that night. Armed with this inside information, I called Jack Concannon before the game and told him to bet the Spurs.
To no surprise, we won big. San Antonio blew Denver out of the building that evening, winning by 26 points. When Jack called me the following morning, he expressed amazement at the way an NBA game could be manipulated. Sobering, yes; amazing, no. That's how the game is played in the National Basketball Association
If you take a look at the boxscore from that game, Duncan did get two fouls and the Spurs had more free-throws (53) than Denver (18) and won the game.
Here is another excerpt regarding the Spurs and the Phoenix Suns.
My favorite Tommy Nunez story is from the 2007 playoffs when the San Antonio Spurs were able to get past the Phoenix Suns in the second round. Of course, what many fans didn't know was that Phoenix had someone working against them behind the scenes. Nunez was the group supervisor for that playoff series, and he definitely had a rooting interest.
Nunez loved the Hispanic community in San Antonio and had a lot of friends there. He had been a referee for 30 years and loved being on the road; in fact, he said that the whole reason he had become a group supervisor was to keep getting out of the house. So Nunez wanted to come back to San Antonio for the conference finals. Plus, he, like many other referees, disliked Suns owner Robert Sarver for the way he treated officials. Both of these things came into play when he prepared the referees for the games in the staff meetings. I remember laughing with him and saying, "You would love to keep coming back here." He was pointing out everything that Phoenix was able to get away with and never once told us to look for anything in regard to San Antonio. Nunez should have a championship ring on his finger.
If this is all true, then it might verify our fears as NBA fans that the league tinkers in the outcome of games. And by the way, the NBA has threatened to sue the publisher.
Think Donaghy is full of it? Leave us your comments.
Thanks to John at RedsArmy for the head up on this Spurs related news.
According to Chris Broussard of ESPN, Warrior's guard Stephen Jackson might be close to getting his wish and be traded out of Golden State to . . . the Spurs. Please note other teams such as the Cavaliers, Nuggets, Hornets and Clippers are rumored to be in the mix for his services. However in exchange, Manu Ginobili, who is in the last year of his contract, would be the player Golden State would likely want in return.
It is no secret Jackson does have on-the-court issues especially in recent months with the Warriors. But when he was with the Spurs in 2003, he was on his best behavior and didn't rock the boat, especially with a team made up of veteran guys like Robinson, Duncan, Ferry, Willis, and Kerr when they marched to capture the 2003 NBA title versus the Nets. Jackson was clutch and important during the 2003 championship run.
After the 2003 season, the Spurs did offer Jackson a generous contract offer, 10 million for three years, but he and his agent balked and ended up taking a lower contract from the Hawks, 2.1 million for two years.
If this rumor is true, should the Spurs part with Manu Ginobili? Let's weigh the pros and cons.
- Jackson is younger than Manu
- Jackson is healthier and hasn't been hampered with chronic ankle injuries like Manu
- Jackson might be the best player we can get in return for an older, worn down player like Manu
- Is clutch, and knows the Spurs system
- Surrounding Jackson with vets like Duncan, McDyess, Parker, Ratliff and RJ will keep his attitude in check
- Manu is an integral part of the Spurs system and as we all know, the Spurs go as he goes
- Loyalty to Manu. Manu has been clutch, has given his all for the Spurs en route to helping them get three of their four titles
- Jackson's current contract is currently $7.65 million. Will the Spurs be willing to take on another large contract, already knowing they are over the cap?
- Manu proved his worth in the Hornets game, still showing he can get to the rim, hit the three, and be a spark plug off the bench
- Manu would be sent to an inter-conference team
What are your thoughts? Leave us a comment on your thoughts on if you would like to see this rumored trade happen and vote in the poll as well.
We'll be live from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. central talking Spurs, the NBA and tonight's home opener against the New Orleans Hornets. Throughout the night, we'll have interviews with John Karalis of Red's Army, Glenn Moore of the Dugout Sports Show, Zach Harper of Talk Hoops and Cowbell Kingdom, Rey Moralde of The No Look Pass, Sarah and mW of HornetsHype and Brian Cuban of the Cuban Revolution. We'll be taking your calls throughout the day.
Call (210) 757-0847 and we'll answer any calls or let you get something off your chest. We'll also be giving away a few giveaways throughout the day for callers and chat participants. If the audio messes up at any time, let us know in the chat and we'll work on fixing it asap.
Jeff and I got together for our annual preview of the Spurs season. In the first part of the show, we talk about the Spurs' new additions and departures, take a look at the Southwest Division and the Western Conference.
On the second half of the show, we bring on Carlos Santiago and Theo Harris to talk about the Eastern Confernce and break down our favorites from one to eight.
To end the show, we make our awards predictions and talk about where we think the Spurs will finish this season.
Spurs fans throughout the world! Tomorrow stop by here starting at 9am CST for a whirl-wind marathon live show leading up to game one of the Spurs home opener versus the New Orleans Hornets.
We have scheduled guests from the NBA blogging world and a surprise interview we will play for those who tune in. But more importantly we want you, the Spurs fans, to be the star of the show. We will also have giveaways and much more!
The call in number for tomorrow is 210-757-0847. Hope to see and hear from Spurs nation all day!no comments
1. Los Angeles Lakers: They are the reigning NBA champs and until some team can show they have what it takes to knock them off, they are the favorites heading into the new NBA season. So what did the champs do in the offseason? Nothing much aside from adding Ron Artest and re-signing Lamar Odom. They did lose Trevor Ariza to the Houston Rockets in the process. But does the addition of Artest guarantee a return trip to the Finals? No. The question heading into the new season is their backcourt. Fisher is older which leaves Farmar and Brown at the guard position. If they pan out then the Lakers are the team to beat in the West.
2. San Antonio Spurs: Reloaded is an understatement. They "stole" Richard Jefferson from the Bucks in the offseason for a bunch of old guys, drafted DeJuan Blair, and recently added Keith Bogans as a hopeful replacement for the recently retired perimeter defender Bruce Bowen. Add to the fact Tony Parker is coming off a great season, Manu Ginobili recovered from injuries, George Hill's tremendous showing in the 2009 Vegas Summer League, and Duncan losing 15 lbs., the Spurs seem ready to go and can be seen as the biggest threat to the Lakers in the Western Conference. However keep an eye out on Tony Parker. He played for the French National team this summer and did suffer a minor injury. Expect Coach Pop to rest him early on in the new season.
3. Denver Nuggets: Heading into this new season, the Nuggets remain basically the same as last year. No major movements were made. They did draft Ty Lawson and added Aaron Affalo as a replacement for the loss of Dahanty Jones. Standing pat seems to be the best for this team. They made it all the way to the 2009 Western Conference Finals, so why fix something that isn't broke.
4. Dallas Mavericks: They added Shawn Marion, resigned Jason Kidd (though for too long of a contract), signed Drew Gooden, and Tim Thomas. Basically the Mavs added solid veteran leadership to the squad to compliment Nowitzki, Howard and Terry. Also keep an eye out for Rodrigue Beaubois. This guy opened lots of eyes in the 2009 Vegas Summer League.
5. Portland Trailblazers: The young, hungry Blazers added veteran leadership at the point guard position with Andre Miller and return their young nucleus. Roy and Aldridge are budding stars and with Martell Webster coming back, things are looking good for the Blazers this season. Remember this team won 54 games last year.
Project Spurs writers looked through their crystal balls yet again in hopes of finding out who would win the NBA's awards this season and seeing exactly how far this Spurs team will get this season. These are our picks. Be sure to leave your thoughts and predictions in the comments.
Michael De Leon
MVP - Kobe Bryant
I've got Kobe repeating as MVP. In my opinion, he is still the best player in the NBA and I expect him to make another trip to the NBA Finals. Whereas we may see Lebron's numbers dip a bit with the addition of Shaq, I'm not seeing the same for Kobe with the Artest signing. If anything, Kobe's assist numbers should improve a bit now that he has several options. Look out for Carmelo Anthony as my darkhorse pick.
ROY - Blake Griffin
While you might expect me to make the homer pick of DeJuan Blair here, after watching Griffin this preseason, he seems ready to make an impact for the Clippers immediately...well after he comes back from his injury. Griffin impressed me with an array of low post moves and athleticism.
DPOY - Dwight Howard
Anytime you average 2.9 blocks per game, you really don't need to do much more to be worthy of this award. But Howard also also averages close to 10 defensive rebounds and one steal per game. More importantly than stats, though, is the fact that he changes the game when he is in. Players become aware of him as soon as they try to get into the paint and his blocks make players second guess or alter their shots.
6th Man - Lamar Odom
With the addition of Artest, it looks as though Lamar Odom will be coming off the bench for the Lakers. Odom should inject some life into the Lakers' second unit and if he stays focused and confident, he may even improve off of last season's numbers. If his personal assistant keeps enough candy stocked, the sky is the limit.
Most Improved - Anthony Randolph
While I had Aaron Brooks penciled in here, I think Anthony Randolph will end up winning this award. He looked good towards the end of his rookie season and if the preseason is telling of his season, he'll have a breakout sophomore year. If given starters numbers, I think you can expect about 16 and eight a night and possibly two blocks to go with that.
Spurs 09-10 Record: 60-22
As David Thiessen says later in this post, the Spurs will look to start slower at the beginning in hopes of bringing it all together and having everyone healthy for a deep playoff run. I see some improvement in the wins category from last season with the pieces added over the offseason, but I can't see them getting past 60 since they will drop a few games here and there while sitting the big three.
Finals Matchup: Lakers vs. Celtics
The Spurs will take the Lakers to seven games in one of the best Western Conference Finals matchups we will have seen in the last decade, but as much as I would love to see the Spurs go on to win a fifth ring against the Celtics, I think the Lakers will end up winning game seven but going on to lose to the Celtics.
MVP - Lebron James
He IS the Cavaliers. They will only go as long as he goes. He will lead them to a top seed in the East and capture the MVP trophy. But will it be enough for him and the Cavs to come out of the East?
ROY - Blake Griffin
The complete package. He has the strength for the low post and the athleticism for perimeter play. A lot is riding on this Rookie's shoulders for the Clippers now and into the future.
6th Man - Marquis Daniels
A very "under the radar" pick up by the Boston Celtics but a vital one for the Celtics. He will provide instant offense off the bench as well as present match-up nightmares for opposing teams.
MIP - Aaron Brooks
. No T-Mac. No Ming. Brooks will have to lead the Rockets and keep them afloat until T-Mac returns. Because of this expect his minutes and numbers to increase.
COY - Nate McMillian
Now that he will have a healthy Blazers squad, expect him to lead the team to a better record they had last year and challenge the West's elite teams.
Spurs - 59-23. 1st in Southwest Division.
MVP - Dwyaye Wade
If healthy, Dwyane Wade might be the best scorer in basketball and the Miami Heat will call upon him to carry them again. Not only can he score but he can also rebound and distribute the ball. The only real knock on him is that he can't shoot the three. I see LeBron's numbers dipping slightly as the Cavs will not need to rely on him and the voters will want to reward Wade.
ROY: Blake Griffin
Griffin is head-and-shoulders above the rest of the rookie class, even our beloved DeJuan Blair. Griffin's game still needs work, particularly his jump shot, but he is an athletic beast who could approach 20 and 10 this year with the Clippers leaning on his athleticism around the basket.
DPOY: Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard won this award last season by winning 542 of the maximum 595 points in the voting process. The runner up was LeBron with 148 points. The voters love big numbers and Howard provides them with his blocks and rebounds. I expect him to dominate this award for many years to come. 6th Man: Manu Ginobili This award is always hard to predict because you never know who will play at 6th man all year. I would say J.R. Smith but I expect him to start most of the season. In the end I think it will come down to either Jason Terry or Manu Ginobili, and I'll go with a healthy Ginobili.
Most Improved: Anthony Randolph
This is another tough one to predict. There are many different interpretations and ways to go with this award, but I'll go with Anthony Randolph taking a huge step from his rookie campaign to his sophomore campaign. From everything I've read he is finally out of Don Nelson's doghouse, and if that's true he could have a monster season statistically. He can score, rebound, and block shots and has been compared to Kevin Garnett.
Coach: Scott Brooks
I'm a fan of what the Oklahoma City Thunder have done so far and I think Scott Brooks did a great job after taking over for P.J. Carlesimo. If Brooks can somehow get the Thunder into the playoffs, which is a big if, then he should deserve this award.
Spurs 09-10 Record: 57-25
I think the Spurs will start the season slowly and drop a few games they shouldn't because it will take a while for the current roster to jell. There will be a learning curve with the Big Three sitting most of preseason and not playing much with the new faces. Eventually they will figure things out and finish the season strong and winning the division, but I don't see them cracking 60 wins.
Finals Matchup: Spurs v. Cavs
The Spurs will meet the Lakers in a much anticipated and hotly contested Western Conference Finals, but the Spurs will be able to pull through. In the finals they will meet an improved Cavs team, with the Spurs winning their fifth title.
MVP - Dwyane Wade
There's been this LeBron James/Carmelo Anthony hype going around for the past couple years (with good reason), but people seem to forget there's a third slice in the NBA's triangle of the future - his name is Dwyane Wade. He played phenomenal last season and if the Heat can come up even a couple of notches in the East, it will be enough to stir up a strong D-Wade for MVP campaign.
Rookie of the Year - Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin can flat out play. He's got an NBA ready body and a decent base set of moves in the post. I'm not exactly predicting spectacular things from him, but with the Clippers he will get plenty of opportunities and he'll play well.
Defensive Player of the Year - Dwyane Wade
Yes, I'm being controversial on purpose. I don't take the DPoY award seriously. Bruce Bowen never won it once, therefore it loses all credibility. People base the award on stats, not defensive impact. D-Wade affects the game defensively beyond just his statistics, he takes his defensive with pride and tenacity and before Jermaine O'Neal joined the squad he was his team's best shot blocker as a guard. He won't win it, but honestly no one should care who does.
6th Man - Rasheed Wallace
This is always a tricky one because, with the except of Leadnro Barbosa of the Suns, highly talented players can come in and out of the starting lineup frequently. I think for the most part 'Sheed will come off the bench, finish games, take big shots, provide solid D and generally get starter level minutes. And even if he doesn't get enough shots in Boston to rack up big stats, the NBA hype machine will churn out a vocal campaign for another Celtics drenched award season any way it can.
Most Improved - Rodney Stuckey
I have reservations about Stuckey's game, in particular his decision making and occasionally shot selection. That being said, the void left by the departure of Allen Iverson means Stuckey's role with the Pistons is going to expand and he'll get more opportunities to make plays. The Pistons believe this guy can be a big player for them and Stuckey is either going to ride that to a big year or a huge bust - if I had to bet, I'm going with the former.
Coach of the Year - Gregg Popovich
People casually throw out the idea that Gregg Popovich could win coach of the year every year, but that somehow that would be unfair. Well fine, but he hasn't won one in a while and I'd like to start testing all this lip service he gets paid while tallying a bunch of third place votes every year. He maintains the best system in basketball and continues to prove his ability to switch in interchangeable parts year after year. Plus when he grows his beard out he can part large bodies of water with a staff - he deserves more than one coach of the year award for his career.
Spurs Record: 60-22
I think on paper the Spurs are a much better team than last year. They have more adaptiveness and depth to respond to injury. Richard Jefferson will take his time feeling a way into the system, but his additional offense will still buy us a couple of extra wins. If Roger Mason blossoms (likely) and DeJuan Blair can contribute (I think so), that counts as gravy. I wouldn't be surprised if we pace for last year's record most of the year and go on a tear to end the season heading into the playoffs.
Finals Matchup: Spurs v. Cavaliers, SAS def. CLE in six games
When the Spurs decide to retool the way they did this off season, people better take notice. I don't think they'll go into the post season as a favorite in the West (L.A will go in with the hype), but I think the additional offense will a) find stride after a full regular season and b) limit the physical wear on Tim Duncan, giving him more juice for a post season run. This might be the last time I call Cleveland for a Finals trip if they don't make it. I still think LeBron can will his team to that level and I still think Shaq is good enough to make a difference. I do think they'll need extra bursts of offensive help from different people to make it past Boston, but they can do it. What they can't do? Match up defensively with the Spurs. Spurs win the title in six games.
MVP - LeBron James
Over the years it has become clear that the W/L record of a player's team is just as important as the individual contribution of the player - and probably rightly so. So although Wade's value to Miami is probably even bigger than LBJ's to Cleveland (with Shaq in the middle now plus other reinforcements), the Cavs will probably win the East and Miami may struggle to get home court advantage (and maybe even the playoffs in general). And LBJ will probably continue to average crazy numbers in multiple categories. So it's an LBJ MVP repeat for me.
ROY - Blake Griffin
I'd love to say DeJuan "Rebounding Machine" Blair here. I think (and hope) that he will have some monster game, with Rodman-like rebounding numbers and even a couple of scoring sprees. However, he will not get enough regular minutes to allow him to produce great numbers on a nightly basis. Griffin seems NBA ready and on top of that arrives at a Clippers team that cleared the starting spot for him by trading Zach Randolph.
DPOY- Ron Artest
It's a shame not to have Bruce Bowen as one of the strong candidates anymore. Ron Artest is on a Lakers team that will need his defensive abilities more than anything else this year in order to try and repeat. He is unpredictable and probably adds uncertainty to the Lakers' title aspirations because of that, but noone doubts his defensive prowess and he'll probably focus on D more than anything else this season. Most importantly, being on a very visible platform in L.A. will undoubtedly help his cause even if he doesn't turn out to be the league's best defender this season.
6th Man - Manu Ginobili
We all know that the H word is permanently associated with Manu. If he's healthy, he's one of the best players in the league, period. It's a big IF, as we all know, but I have a good feeling this year and I am betting that he will produce one of the best seasons of his career. Some people view him as a starter this year, but I think that now with RJ in the starting lineup, it is even more essential that Manu comes off the bench to do the things that only Manu can do. Sorry Barbosa and Jason Terry - the crown goes back to a healthy El Contusion.
Most Improved - Trevor Ariza
I'm excluding Gilbert Arenas, simply because not playing a whole season at all, then playing great the next, does not consititue "an improvement" in my books, especially as he has already played great in years past. I think it's going to be Trevor Ariza because in Houston he will get a lot more opportunities to shine than in a loaded Lakers team, and even more so with Yao and T-Mac out with long-term injuries, hence allowing Ariza to be the go-to man for a big chunk of the season.
Coach - Doc Rivers
I'd love to vote for Pop here (and I would if I could influence anything!), however this is the regular season and I don't think the Spurs will be at their best then. The Celts, with KG returning to health and Rasheed Wallace providing additional firepower, will give the Cavs a run for the East crown and may even de-throne them if they stay relatively healthy. Rivers will be rewarded accordingly.
Spurs 09-10 Record: 54-28
This Spurs team has a potential to win 65 wins or even more, however there are a couple of things to remember. Firstly, this is the regular season. Pop will probably sit the Big Three in a couple of games (or even more). He may also have injuries to the key players here and there (I hope not, but let's be realistic). And most importantly, I think it will take time for the new players - and there are many of them this year - to gel and to play well together. Pop may also tinker with rotations quite a bit in the first half of the season, sacrificing another game or two in the process. Hence, for me, in the regular season it's another typical 50+ Spurs record.
Finals Matchup: Spurs vs Celtics
I think that come playoff time, the Spurs will be ready to rock and roll. They will have serious battles, of course, with the West being so loaded, but I really do believe they will prevail. Kobe and the Lakers will be tough, but they may not be as motivated as last year now that they've already won it without Shaq. In the East, I see the Celtics experience triumphing over the Cavs in a 7-game series. Spurs vs Celtics will be a series for the ages.