Tag:San Antonio Spurs
Posted on: March 25, 2011 1:50 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2011 1:51 pm
 

Spurs sign Butler; anything to take from it?

Posted by Royce Young

The Spurs have signed 2010 second round pick Da'Sean Butler for the rest of the season. Yep, the same second rounder that has for some reason garnered a bunch of interest lately.

The reason? Because Butler was a for sure first round pick before blowing his knee out in the Final Four, which killed his stock. He taken 42nd overall by the Heat who ended up cutting him to make room for one of their super old big men (I forget which one).

Now Butler has finally been cleared to play and the Spurs jumped on him. It's unlikely he'll play at all for the San Antonio but will finish up rehab on his knee while maybe watching his new team make a championship run. Not bad. (Butler is a 6-7 small forward and the Spurs say he'll be placed on the inactive list.)

This just feels like one of those savvy Spurs signings where they might find a diamond in the rough. All they did was give up a roster spot to let Butler practice with them. They get to evaluate him, see if they want to put him on their summer team and maybe have a nice role player for next season. Butler can play.

Again, he was the key piece for the West Virginia team that made a run to last year's Final Four and with him, the Mountaineers have a really good chance against Duke and maybe are the ones hoisting a trophy at the end. Who knows.

Point is, Da'Sean Butler is a pretty good player. The question is about whether his knee has recovered and if he can hold up for an NBA season. The Spurs, being a franchise that lives off these type of calculated risks, were willing to go for it. And it might just pay off for them. If it does, would anyone be surprised?
Category: NBA
Posted on: March 23, 2011 11:15 pm
Edited on: March 23, 2011 11:26 pm
 

Popovich: Tim Duncan will be ready for playoffs

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich says Tim Duncan will be ready to play in the playoffs. Posted by Ben Golliver. tim-duncan

Is it possible the San Antonio Spurs big man Tim Duncan isn't injured as badly as we all feared?

When news of Duncan's ankle sprain first broke, the first timeline was set at roughly 2-3 weeks, with additional time away from the court seen as a possibility once an MRI revealed that the sprain was between a grade one and a grade two. 

On Wednesday, MySanAntonio.com reported that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich put an unofficial timeline on Duncan's absence, suggesting that he might miss "four or five games" and sending a reassuring message that Duncan would be ready in time for the playoffs, which begin in roughly one month.
Coach Gregg Popovich said Wednesday he expects to have  the two-time MVP back in time for the start of the playoffs. “Once he gets back on the court in a couple of days, we’ll be able to tell more,” Popovich said. “But four or five games for sure.”
Asked again before tonight’s game if team doctors had given him any indication Duncan might not be ready for the start of the playoffs, Popovich was adamant. “No, no, no,” he said.
If Duncan were to miss five games, he would actually only sit through the rest of March, as the Spurs have a busy week this week, facing the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday, the Blazers again on Monday and the Boston Celtics next Thursday. A four-game absence would see Duncan back on the court for the Celtics game on March 31. A five-game absence would set his return for April 1 against the Houston Rockets.

The Spurs, who carried a league-best 57-13 record into Wednesday night action, conclude their regular season schedule on April 13 against the Phoenix Suns. All that really matters for the Spurs is the playoffs, however, and it sounds like Duncan will meet that timeline with plenty of room to spare.
Posted on: March 22, 2011 1:54 am
 

Did the Spurs peak too early?

Tim Duncan is out for a while, but is that the least of the Spurs' problems? 
Posted by Matt Moore




It seems like everything's fine in Spurs World. Sure there were a few losses to the Heat and Lakers, but they've been blasting teams just the same. They're going to finish with well over 60 wins. They blasted the Warriors into smithereens on Monday night by 15. All's well with San Antonio, and it's just a matter of resting up and getting ready for the playoffs. 

Yeah, about that. 

Let's start with the news that Tim Duncan will be out for a "while" according to the always-effusive Gregg Popovich after spraining his ankle. X-rays were negative for Duncan's ankle but the fact remains that the Spurs will be finishing the season, save possibly a handful of games with their Hall-of-Fame power forward. Then all they have to do is get his conditioning back to NBA-level, re-establish chemistry and rotations that might have shifted with him out and hope that he doesn't suffer any more trouble in a 34-year-old body that's played 1,745 games in its career. 

But that's not the real issue. Duncan's had physical problems before, nearly every season. The real question is whether this Spurs team peaked too early. 

The winner of the NBA championship is rarely the best team the entire season. It is often times the team that was the best, consistently, throughout the course of the season. But there are peaks and valleys. The Lakers and Celtics both struggled in the second half of last season. We're not talking "didn't look like world-beaters." We're talking "didn't look like Bobcat-beaters." But they always do find their groove at the right time, which is, you know, the playoffs. Otherwise they wouldn't be champions. The Celtics managed to instantly manifest themselves as contenders in the playoffs. The Lakers showed late-season signs of life before rolling over the West on their way to the title. The Spurs? They looked nigh-on unbeatable in December, but as the season progresses, they seem to be limping to the start of the second season. And I'm not just talking Duncan's ankle. 

For example, the Spurs have been 24-12 this season against playoff teams. But they are just 5-5 in their last 10 games against playoff teams. In their last eight games against playoff teams, they have a negative efficiency differential (they are being outscored by their playoff opponents per 100 possessions). Perhaps you're thinking that's just the result of the 110-80 loss to the Heat. But in reality, in those last eight playoff matchups, they had a negative efficiency differential in four of the contest. When they were successful, they outscored their opponents by 12.6 points per 100 possessions. When they were not, they were outscored by 19.7 points. Here, try this one. Let's throw out both Heat games, one a dominant Spurs laugher and the other an embarrassing Heat blowout. The result is that in their last six games against playoff opponents non-Heat, when they win, they outscore the other team by 6.1 points per 100 possessions. When they lose, they are beaten by 15.5 points per 100 points. 

But those are just numbers, really. They can be spun anyway, and who cares if the Spurs haven't been dominant in what is customarily a coasting period. But the same concerns are present in their play. The Spurs have taken their high-octane offense, good-not-elite defense approach as far as they can, and now have to become something else. Instantly. A team which features George Hill, still relatively inexperienced, and DeJuan Blair often starting and Matt Bonner as their fourth big in the rotation has to become a defensive stalwart. This team is often spoken of as if it resembles those championship teams, but the makeup is wholly different outside of Duncan, Popovich, Ginobili and Parker. The core is the same, sure, but one of the central structures of those teams was a series of veteran wing defenders. Those wing defenders have been replaced by a core of bigs including Bonner, the aging aged Antonio McDyess, and the inexperienced Tiago Splitter, still working his way into the rotation.

The Spurs are obviously a contender for the NBA championship. You can't win that many games and not be one. But at some point, the question has to be raised whether they peaked sometime in the NBA's hidden months or whether they have that extra gear that defines championship teams. It would be some sort of bizarre twist of fate if the best regular season team of the Popovich era was also unprepared for the postseason. That would be interesting, humorous, and it is definitely not something you want to bet on. But the question is there. 
Posted on: March 21, 2011 10:43 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2011 4:30 pm
 

Duncan (ankle) out next 3 games, possibly weeks

Tim Duncan reportedly out 2-3 weeks with an ankle injury. 
Posted by Matt Moore and Ben Golliver.

Update (Tuesday)

The San Antonio Spurs informed the media on Tuesday that an MRI on Tim Duncan's left ankle confirmed the sprain, but that the team has not yet set an official timetable for his recovery. Duncan will miss at least the next three games, however, as he will not travel on the team's upcoming road trips which includes games at the Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies

MySanAntonio.com reported that the Spurs said Duncan's ankle sprain was between "grade one and grade two" and that the Spurs plan to release an official timeline later this week. The diagnosis is relatively good news, because a grade three sprain is really bad. Still: anything worse than a grade one sprain will keep a player sidelined for multiple weeks. 
-----------------

Original Post: Tim Duncan is reportedly out 2-3 weeks according to Sean Elliot of the Spurs' broadcast network via Art Garcia of NBA.com after spraining his ankle against the Warriors in the Spurs' win Monday night. This wasn't via an official release, but does sound in line with what you would expect given there being no reason to rush Duncan back prematurely.

The timing isn't all that terrible for the Spurs, who have been resting Duncan on and off for the past few weeks with such a considerable lead in the Western Conference playoff race. But he'll have to try and recover in time to get back for the playoffs, and then the concern of course is getting back into a rhythm with him. Luckily the Spurs are likely to face either the Grizzlies or Rockets in the first round, two teams they have considerable matchup advantages over (though the Grizzlies could be probelematic). All things considered, this one could have been a lot worse, but it's also yet another disturbing sign as the Spurs come off one of their most successful regular seasons in team history with significant concerns about their ability to reach the Finals. 

In the meantime, DeJuan Blair will get even more time, and this means the Spurs will be trotting out the most hilarious frontcourt tandem, ever: DeJuan Blair and Matt Bonner, otherwise known as "Please Score On Us In The Paint At Your Own Discretion." It's like a trance band, only with an unhealthy love of Pitt basketball and sandwiches. 
Posted on: March 15, 2011 2:33 am
Edited on: March 15, 2011 2:39 am
 

Spurs' defensive woes a sign of the times

The Spurs get trounced in a meaningless regular season game against the Heat, but does it bely a concerning trend regarding their defense?
Posted by Matt Moore




Somewhere, in the bottom of his cold, unfeeling heart, Gregg Popovich knows what the loss to the Heat represents. In the grand scheme of things, it's a blip, a bump in the road, nothing to be concerned about. The team's still 54-12, still the best team in the league, still a juggernaut and a near-lock for homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs. Popovich will remain a big picture guy, never overreacting to a single game of the regular season. But somwehere he knows the really concerning thing to take away from the Spurs' 110-80 loss to the Heat Monday night. 

The Spurs entered Monday night 7th in the league at defensive efficiency (which estimates points per 100 possessions, removing the element of pace and providing a more true image of defensive productivity). That's not as good as they typically are, but it's still a top ten mark. But they also entered Monday night's game against Miami having averaged giving up 102 points per game in March, as opposed to their typical mark of 97. Their season defensive efficiency has been a solid 101.1. In March? The Spurs have averaged a 108.5 defensive efficiency, including marks of 117 to Memphis, 112 to the Lakers, 114 to Detroit,and the abomination, a 122 mark to the Heat. For reference, the worst team in the league, the Cleveland Cavaliers, average a 110 defensive efficiency. So in a supremely small sample, this month the Spurs are surrendering a defensive efficiency that would be the worst in the league if spread over the season. Looking at the Spurs' defensive efforts per game, you'll notice some solid efforts betrayed by huge breakdowns, with a concerning increase as of late. 




Now, that's a small sample size to consider, but given that the Spurs have not played brilliant defense all year, it's got to be concerning for Popovich. This is especially true when you look at the kind of style that has led the Spurs' huge winning percentage. They've been an offensive juggernaut, with one of the best marks in the league. They've been balanced, they've been consistent, they've been impressive. But beneath it is the defense, the mark that's always held the Spurs up in the playoffs, even when their regular season success was limited. The Spurs have always won championships with stellar defense and deliberate, efficient offense. This season, when they've had the most regular season success in team history, it's been their offense propelling them forward while their defense has been quietly inconsistent. What's more, their defense is trending slightly worse as the season goes on. As teams are finding their playoff gears, the Spurs are giving up some of their worst defensive efforts of the season. In the chart below, I found the differential for the past month, starting with the February 17th game against the Bulls, for the Spurs defensive efficiency against their season average of 101.1. So for example, they surrendered a 122 efficiency against the Heat (shudder), so I subtracted the Spurs' season average of 101.1 from 122 to find the difference between what the Spurs normally do, and what they've done this month. The results are stunning.




If you're not big on the whole numbers vibe, essentially the Spurs have only performed at or better than their season defensive average three out of their past twelve games. Even in the first romp against the Heat, the Spurs allowed their average of 101 points per 100 possessions. In three of those games, against playoff teams in L.A., Memphis, and Miami, the Heat have allowed more than 15 points more per 100 possessions in those games. That's bad. 

Against the Lakers a week ago, it was their positional physical disadvantages that were prominent. DeJuan Blair, Antonio McDyess, and Matt Bonner were helpless to keep the Lakers off the glass, and it was the length of L.A. that gave them the advantage. Conversely Monday against the Heat, it was positional skill matchups that aided the Heat. George Hill was isolated in space against Dwyane Wade, as the Heat deliberately forced the double then started their perimeter rotations, finding open threes. Then when Matt Bonnner was inserted and placed against Chris Bosh, the Heat ran that mismatch into the ground, and it resulted in point after point. When Popovich was forced to switch Blair onto Bosh putting Bonner on Joel Anthony, the Heat ran a play for Joel Anthony... let me restate that one more time for emphasis... the Heat ran a play for Joel Anthony that resulted in an open dunk. Bonner's arguably the best bench three-point shooter in the league, but he's a nightmare for the Spurs defensively, and it showed. 

So now the Spurs try and forget about this loss, shrug it off as "one of those games," focus on the huge win they had two weeks ago against the same team and keep pushing forward. But as their fans continue to wonder why they don't receive as much respect as other star-laden teams, this game should serve as a notice. Previous years it was simply a matter of overlooking a great team that often proved everyone wrong by winning championships. But this team has an issue on defense, and if they don't find the extra gear by the time the playoffs roll around, they could be in a world of hurt and fall short once again of the fifth title for Duncan's Spurs. 


(All per-game defensive efficiencies courtesy of HoopData.com. Basketball-Reference.com calculates defensive efficiency using a slightly different formula, as a result, the Spurs' defensive efficiency season average is calculated at a slightly higher 104.3. The effect would be standardized across the different per-game efficiencies, meaning the impact would be the same, but it should be mentioned there is a differential there.)
Posted on: March 15, 2011 12:23 am
Edited on: March 15, 2011 3:14 am
 

Heat find formula against Spurs in rout

Heat dominate Spurs using the formula they need to be successful. Question remains: can they sustain it?
Posted by Matt Moore



If the Heat's stretch of losing 6 of 7 and five in a row displayed everything that was wrong with their makeup, chemistry, gameplan, coaching, and approach, the way they've responded in their three-game winning streak shows the mirror image. After winning a tough game against a motivated Lakers team, then stomping an overmatched Grizzlies team Saturday, the Heat put together their most impressive performance of the season against the Spurs Monday night, destroying them 110-80

The game featured the formula that you would have wanted to see all season from the Heat. Defense setting the pace to provide transition opportunities, and the Heat taking advantage of mismatches nearly every time down the floor. It's not easy -- it was never going to be easy in the first season with all the pressure, an inexperienced coach, and such a poor supporting cast. And this game does nothing to erase the belief that the Heat are headed for a second-round outage. After all, all they did was split the season series with the Spurs, with each team winning by 30. But what Monday night's game showed is what they're capable of against an elite team. And the results were impressive. 

The Heat won almost every statistical category, from shooting percentage (54 percent to 38 percent), rebounds (47-33), assists (25-17), and split turnovers with 11. How they got there, though, was the key. The Spurs did what they do best, work to stretch the floor and create open corner threes. Part of the Spurs' 27 percent 3-point shooting effort can be notched up to just an off night, but a large chunk of it should be accredited to a Heat defense that constantly ran off the three, forcing players like George Hill to dribble and re-adjust to step-back threes. By the third quarter, Manu Ginobili was in a position to try cross-court passes which resulted in more turnovers, which prompted more fast breaks which lead to more points.


That transition offense is the biggest pendulum swing for the Heat. The idea among many is that come playoffs, the strength of Miami's offense, their ability to run with the amazing athletes they have, will be limited in the grind of playoff-style basketball. It's a sound belief, given what we know of the history of the playoffs. But in that history, we have rarely seen a team with this kind of offensive talent on the floor. Perhaps the Showtime Lakers are really the only comparison, though the Heat lacks a playmaking point guard like Magic Johnson, no matter how talented in distribution LeBron James is. The Heat will try and rely on that athleticism to overcome the kind of defense that traditionally wins titles. Against San Antonio, the best team in the league record-wise, the formula worked. 




Not to be ignored in this game was the ability of the supporting cast to create opportunities for the Triad. Chris Bosh had 30 points, with many of them off pick and roll situations. In particular, in the second quarter, Bosh went right at Matt Bonner. With Tim Duncan trying to stay out of foul trouble, Bonner was forced to guard Bosh. The Heat repeatedly went to Bosh in the post, and he worked him over on consecutive possessions. Similarly, Wade had gone to the post against George Hill, forcing similar problems for the Spurs, who had no real answer. 

Then, you had possessions like the one where the Heat blocked a Blair attempt at the rim, Wade ripped out in transition ahead of the pack, and found James cutting down the middle for one of the best highlights of the year. The Spurs were helpless against it, and it showed not only the athletic ability and basketball acumen, but the raw emotion the Heat is playing with right now. And that's really been the missing ingredient.



(HT: Get Banged On )

Miami has started to play like it cares, consistently. And while nothing short of a trophy hoist in June will quiet those who doubt them (nor should anything less), the heat have discovered who they are, and it's who they thought they were, all those months ago. 

They just had to reach a point where they wanted it enough. Now we'll see if they want it enough against defensive challenges like Chicago and Boston. Otherwise victories like Monday night's will be forgotten as easily as the disaster the Heat had less than two weeks ago in San Antonio.  The map hasn't changed. But at least the Heat have found their compass.
Posted on: March 15, 2011 12:23 am
Edited on: March 15, 2011 3:14 am
 

Heat find formula against Spurs in rout

Heat dominate Spurs using the formula they need to be successful. Question remains: can they sustain it?
Posted by Matt Moore



If the Heat's stretch of losing 6 of 7 and five in a row displayed everything that was wrong with their makeup, chemistry, gameplan, coaching, and approach, the way they've responded in their three-game winning streak shows the mirror image. After winning a tough game against a motivated Lakers team, then stomping an overmatched Grizzlies team Saturday, the Heat put together their most impressive performance of the season against the Spurs Monday night, destroying them 110-80

The game featured the formula that you would have wanted to see all season from the Heat. Defense setting the pace to provide transition opportunities, and the Heat taking advantage of mismatches nearly every time down the floor. It's not easy -- it was never going to be easy in the first season with all the pressure, an inexperienced coach, and such a poor supporting cast. And this game does nothing to erase the belief that the Heat are headed for a second-round outage. After all, all they did was split the season series with the Spurs, with each team winning by 30. But what Monday night's game showed is what they're capable of against an elite team. And the results were impressive. 

The Heat won almost every statistical category, from shooting percentage (54 percent to 38 percent), rebounds (47-33), assists (25-17), and split turnovers with 11. How they got there, though, was the key. The Spurs did what they do best, work to stretch the floor and create open corner threes. Part of the Spurs' 27 percent 3-point shooting effort can be notched up to just an off night, but a large chunk of it should be accredited to a Heat defense that constantly ran off the three, forcing players like George Hill to dribble and re-adjust to step-back threes. By the third quarter, Manu Ginobili was in a position to try cross-court passes which resulted in more turnovers, which prompted more fast breaks which lead to more points.


That transition offense is the biggest pendulum swing for the Heat. The idea among many is that come playoffs, the strength of Miami's offense, their ability to run with the amazing athletes they have, will be limited in the grind of playoff-style basketball. It's a sound belief, given what we know of the history of the playoffs. But in that history, we have rarely seen a team with this kind of offensive talent on the floor. Perhaps the Showtime Lakers are really the only comparison, though the Heat lacks a playmaking point guard like Magic Johnson, no matter how talented in distribution LeBron James is. The Heat will try and rely on that athleticism to overcome the kind of defense that traditionally wins titles. Against San Antonio, the best team in the league record-wise, the formula worked. 




Not to be ignored in this game was the ability of the supporting cast to create opportunities for the Triad. Chris Bosh had 30 points, with many of them off pick and roll situations. In particular, in the second quarter, Bosh went right at Matt Bonner. With Tim Duncan trying to stay out of foul trouble, Bonner was forced to guard Bosh. The Heat repeatedly went to Bosh in the post, and he worked him over on consecutive possessions. Similarly, Wade had gone to the post against George Hill, forcing similar problems for the Spurs, who had no real answer. 

Then, you had possessions like the one where the Heat blocked a Blair attempt at the rim, Wade ripped out in transition ahead of the pack, and found James cutting down the middle for one of the best highlights of the year. The Spurs were helpless against it, and it showed not only the athletic ability and basketball acumen, but the raw emotion the Heat is playing with right now. And that's really been the missing ingredient.



(HT: Get Banged On )

Miami has started to play like it cares, consistently. And while nothing short of a trophy hoist in June will quiet those who doubt them (nor should anything less), the heat have discovered who they are, and it's who they thought they were, all those months ago. 

They just had to reach a point where they wanted it enough. Now we'll see if they want it enough against defensive challenges like Chicago and Boston. Otherwise victories like Monday night's will be forgotten as easily as the disaster the Heat had less than two weeks ago in San Antonio.  The map hasn't changed. But at least the Heat have found their compass.
Posted on: March 12, 2011 1:14 pm
 

Video: The bat returns to San Antonio

Posted by Royce Young

This time, Manu Ginobili wasn't playing hero. He cited the eight rabies shots he had to take as the reason he wasn't messing with the bat.

“I was not gonna get close to that thing. It came close a couple of times, but I said, ‘No, I’m not it,” said Ginobili. “I took eight shots last time, and I’m not going to repeat that. Somebody else. That was painful, uncomfortable.”

Instead, he gave a little wag of the finger and let someone else deal with it. Smart, Manu, smart.

 
 
 
 
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