Tag:San Antonio Spurs
Posted on: January 3, 2011 7:29 pm
Edited on: January 3, 2011 7:32 pm

CBSSports.com NBA Videos: 01.03.2011

2011's first weekly dose of CBSSports.com NBA video content. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Welcome to the first week of 2011, and here's the year's first serving (a big helping) of CBSSports.com NBA video content. 

Get it started with the Starting Five, a question and answer rundown of some of this week's hot topics. Yours truly joined hosts Adam Aizer and Greg Urbano to discuss the injury to Kevin Garnett, the Miami Heat's surge, the Houston Rockets' playoff chances and whether Chicago can contend. Also, do the San Antonio Spurs have what it takes to win 72 games? 

Take a look and have a listen.

Also this week, Aizer and Urbano break down the NBA Coach of the Year race to date. Texas shows well in the discussion, with Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle and San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich among the leaders. 

But, wait, there's more. The guys also discussed their weekly power rankings, which you can watch right here

And if you're looking for even more NBA audio content with a fantasy focus, check out this week's CBSSports Fantasy Basketball Podcast, which discusses recent injuries to Mavericks forward Caron Butler and New York Knicks forward Danilo Gallinari. You can also read more on Gallinari's knee sprain here.
Posted on: January 3, 2011 9:29 am

Shootaround: 1.3.11: A cake for a king

Posted by Royce Young
  • Can the Spurs win 70? Don't ask Gregg Popovich: “No,” Popovich told a member of the visiting media when asked if the milestone has crossed his mind. “Are you still drunk from (New Year's Eve)? Now if we lose three in a row you're going to say, ‘Is it time to panic, do you think?' ... Come on.”
  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: "Fate can have a crazy, cruel side. When in a nasty mood, it sends wicked twists. Caron Butler won't let karma break him, even though his knee buckled in front of his family, friends and a couple of hundred kids he bought tickets for at the Bradley Center on Saturday night. Don't weep for Butler. He wouldn't want it that way. Yes, he's gone, probably for a significant portion of the season, maybe all of it. And he becomes a free agent on July 1. The timing of this injury was horrible for the Mavericks and disastrous for Butler and his family. He was on his way to a nice season and would have been an in-demand free agent. Now? Who knows?"
  • However, the Wizards are defending better. Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "The Wizards weren't necessarily looking to turn around the season when they dealt away the former face of the franchise, Gilbert Arenas, to Orlando for Rashard Lewis on Dec. 18; the primary goal was to better clear the slate in order to rebuild around John Wall. So while the team's 2-6 record since making the trade is still unsettling, the dramatic changes on the defensive end have been startling. In the past eight games, the Wizards (8-24) have allowed just one opponent to reach triple digits after their foes scored at least 100 points in 16 of the first 24 games. The Wizards are surrendering just 91 points per game since the trade, compared with giving up 105.8 before."
Posted on: December 31, 2010 2:52 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:56 pm

2011 NBA expectations: Who's ahead, who's behind?

How are the NBA's 30 teams stacking up to pre-season expectations heading into 2011? Posted by Ben Golliver mavs-spurs Before the start of every season, the NBA's best statisticians and odds-makers weigh in with predictions for how all 30 teams will fare. The predictions themselves are often forgotten after a month or so, but what they represent -- expectations -- live on with fans throughout the NBA calendar. If a team is expected to win big and falls short, disappointment is unavoidable. If a team was projected to be middling and thrives, excitement knows no bounds. 2010 gives way to 2011 on Saturday, so here are year-end assessments for all thirty teams, based on how they have performed relative to pre-season expectations. To gauge that progress, I combined six projection modes -- including Las Vegas over/unders, Basketball Prospectus's system, John Hollinger's forecasts and multiple Basketball-Reference projection systems -- to create an aggregate projection for each team. I then compared that aggregate projection to a simple extrapolation of each team's progress, to see who was ahead of the curve and who was falling short.   Note: Next to each team below is their current record, along with the expected difference between their year-end record and pre-season expectations.  For example, if a team was projected to win 41 games and is now on pace to win 46 games, that team is 5 wins ahead of projections.  
Exceeding big expectations The teams in this group were expected to be playoff teams, but have so far outpaced those expectations in a meaningful way. San Antonio Spurs (28-4, 20 wins ahead of projections) -- Not only do the Spurs hold the league's best record, they sit in the top spot for beating expectations, currently on pace to finish a whopping 20 wins ahead of where the experts thought they would be. Last season's injuries and questions about the aging group were causes for concern entering the season, but so far have not yet troubled the San Antonio machine in the slightest. Dallas Mavericks (24-7, 16 wins ahead of projections) -- Another veteran group that has defied questions about its age and chemistry to reel off an impressive start. A tweak that caused MVP candidate Dirk Nowitzki to miss some time has slowed their pace, but only slightly. Boston Celtics (24-6, 15 wins ahead of projections) -- The Celtics came flying out of the gate looking for revenge after falling in the NBA Finals last year, but recent injuries to Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett have pulled them back to Earth ever so slightly. How long Garnett is forced to sit with his leg injury will be a crucial factor in determining whether Boston remains this far ahead of projections. Chicago Bulls (20-10, 9 wins ahead of projections) – With so many new parts added via free agency, odds-makers hedged a bit on what Chicago was capable of. So far, despite the loss of Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose has the Bulls looking poised to make a nice playoff run. Utah Jazz (22-11, 9 wins ahead of projections) – The Bulls of the West, if you will. Utah lost Carlos Boozer and Wesley Matthews and added Al Jefferson, and that turnover left people scratching their heads, unsure of what to expect. So far, Deron Williams, like Rose, has made sure the winning has continued in Salt Lake. Oklahoma City (22-11, 7 wins ahead of projections) – The early-season storyline, that the young Thunder might not be ready yet, has not materialized in full. Instead, the Thunder are on pace to post a big win total number and potentially advance to the second round of the playoffs. Atlanta Hawks (21-13, 7 wins ahead of projections) – A new coach, the same old players and improved divisional competition left the prognosticators split on what to expect from the Hawks. So far, the optimists are looking smart thanks in large part to the vastly under-appreciated Al Horford.    Los Angeles Lakers (22-10, 3 wins ahead of projections) – A lull these past few weeks notwithstanding, it wasn’t that long ago people were talking about the Lakers as a potential 70-win team. Obviously, that pace would have put them ahead of any pre-season expectations, and their current pace isn’t too shabby, either. Exceeding low expectations

The teams in this group were expected to be average or below-average, and have instead risen above their respective expectations. New York Knicks (18-14, 9 wins ahead of projections) -- The Knicks are arguably the biggest over-achievers in the league, as not much was expected from this group. There's a reason New York feels rejuvenated: Amar'e Stoudemire and his band of misfits are way out-playing what people thought they were capable of. Credit guys like Landry Fields and Wilson Chandler for helping make that happen. Indiana Pacers (13-17, 3 wins ahead of projections) – The Pacers were truly awful last season, their lottery selection of Paul George didn’t make a lot of sense and they dumped Troy Murphy during the offseason, so there was plenty of cause for pessimism. Instead, the Pacers have shown solid flashes and have usually been competitive, a step forward that fans surely appreciate even if the team is still below .500. New Orleans Hornets (18-14, 3 wins ahead of projections) – There was a litany of reasons to be down on the Hornets early in the fall: a new coach, a new G.M., a rehabilitating superstar, a bungled ownership transition. Instead, New Orleans got out to the hottest start in the league and remains ahead of projections, although things have been rough in recent weeks due to the NBA’s ownership takeover and discussion of relocating the franchise.  
At or near expectations
The teams in this group are who we thought they would be, or close enough. Philadelphia 76ers (13-19, right on projections) – A high lottery team last season, first round pick Evan Turner has yet to truly impact games, but Doug Collins has the Sixers on track for mediocrity again anyway. Detroit Pistons (11-21, 1 win behind projections) – A disjointed roster split between has-beens and not-yets had predictors down on the Pistons entering the season, and they were right on the money. Toronto Raptors (11-20, 1 win behind projections) – Chris Bosh’s departure for Miami left the statisticians expecting a gruesome year in Toronto, and that’s what it’s been, although trade acquisition Jerryd Bayless has added a spark.
Miami Heat (25-9, 1 win behind projections) – After assembling a superstar cast and weathering choppy waters early, the Heat are right on pace for the dominant regular season that was expected. Memphis Grizzlies (14-18, 1 win behind projections) – The Grizzlies have been the same “could be good, but it doesn’t work out” team for years now. Rinse and repeat again this season. Los Angeles Clippers (10-23, 2 wins behind projections) – Blake Griffin’s arrival has lifted spirits for LA’s other team, but they’re actually behind where experts thought they would be due to Baron Davis's disappointing play and an injury to Chris Kaman.

Falling short of big expectations

The teams in this group were expected to be major playoff players and have so far fallen behind what was expected of them. Orlando Magic (21-12, 3 wins behind projections) – Otis Smith blew up his roster in December because it was failing to reach the sky-high expectations established by the last few years of solid play. Will the new-look Magic, with Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson, be enough to get Orlando back on the winning track? Portland Trail Blazers (17-16, 11 wins behind projections) – Portland has disappointed this season more than any would-be playoff team, and it’s no surprise why: Brandon Roy and Greg Oden have been non-factors due to knee injuries. The Blazers will use the next six weeks to assess whether it’s time to blow it up and try again. Milwaukee Bucks (12-18, 12 wins behind projections) – After a solid showing in last year’s playoffs and some development from 2010 Rookie of the Year finalist Brandon Jennings, things were on the upswing for the Bucks entering the season. Their goal of competing for the Central Division title hasn’t materialized, and Jennings is now sidelined with a foot injury.

Falling short of low expectations

The teams in this group weren’t projected to make the playoffs, but have been even worse than that so far in 2010. Houston Rockets (15-16, 3 wins behind projections) – Another scratched year from franchise center Yao Ming has left the Rockets spinning in circles, but they’ve recovered from a horrendous start to return to the fringes of the Western Conference playoff picture. Minnesota Timberwolves (8-25, 5 wins behind projections) – The Timberwolves were expected to be one of the league’s worst teams, and they’ve disappointed even on that count, being completely abysmal. Kevin Love excluded. Golden State Warriors (12-19, 5 wins behind projections) – Reoccurring ankle injuries to Stephen Curry have spoiled a great start for Monta Ellis and left Golden State behind their goal of competing for a playoff spot. Washington Wizards (8-22, 5 wins behind projections) – Like the Timberwolves, nothing much was expected from the Wizards in what is a full-scale rebuild, but injuries to No. 1 overall pick John Wall have reduced the hype train that surrounded the Dougie-ing future superstar during the league’s opening weeks. Phoenix Suns (13-17, 6 wins behind projections) – After Amar’e Stoudemire departed for the Big Apple, Phoenix was expected to take a step backwards, but instead has taken two steps back. The acquisition of center Marcin Gortat was a nice move, but it’s hard to imagine that it will be a season-changer, especially because the perpetually disappointing Vince Carter is along for the ride now. Sacramento Kings (6-23, 14 wins behind projections) – Year two of the Tyreke Evans era and the addition of uber-talented big man DeMarcus Cousins were supposed to herald progress in Sacramento. Aside from a stupendous Evans buzzer-beater this week, there hasn’t been much to cheer for from the worst team in the league. Cleveland Cavaliers (8-24, 18 wins behind projections) – LeBron James took his talents to South Beach and left a disaster area in his wake. Everyone knew it would be really bad in Cleveland, but it’s been even worse. The Cavaliers are currently further behind expectations than any other team in the entire league, by a wide margin.
Posted on: December 31, 2010 2:41 am

The ballad of Gary Neal

Undrafted first-year player lighting it up for Spurs as they take down Dirk-less Mavericks
Posted by Matt Moore

When I tried talking to then-Spurs-assistant-GM, now-Hornets-GM Dell Demps in Summer League about the sharp shooting perimeter speedster on the Spurs' SL squad, Gary Neal, he got a grin on his face. The kind of look the fox gets when he hears the farmer as he reaches the henhouse while the fox is safely in the woods. Neal lit up Vegas, but like so many players, no one thought much of it. After all, that was summer league. How good can a guy who was undrafted and spent two years in Europe, really be?

Turns out pretty good. Neal was instrumental in the Spurs' win over the Dirk-less Mavericks Thursday night. Neal hit five of his eight three point attempts on his way to 21 points. It was the same kind of performance who caught scouts' eyes at Summer League and the kind of performance that Tim Duncan (courtesy of the San Antonio Express) says has "taken" his teammates' respect:

Duncan on Gary Neal, who now has three 20-point games in six: "He hasn't earned our respect, he's taken it. He's a stone-cold shooter."
via Twitter / Jeff McDonald: Duncan on Gary Neal, who n ....

Stone-cold, indeed. Neal is averaging 16 points per 36 minutes and shooting 38% from the arc. He's been the kind of player the Spurs always seem to find, who come in, fill their role, play within themselves, and produce. Neal's perimeter speed was on display in Vegas, as he jetted off curl screens to find his way to open shots. Neal also possesses that ability to make the little plays, as he did in the fourth quarter on a broken play, catching a desperation kick-out with time running down and calmly nailing a dagger. Neal before Zod. That he's doing it with so little experience only exaggerates the legend. 

Neal split his college time between La Salle and Towson, before winding up in Europe. Now he's downing the Mavericks with ridiculous shooting and fitting in on Pop's team. If there's a guy more fun to root for in the NBA right now, it's hard to see. Neal's no feel-good case, he's a legit assassin, as Timmy pointed out, and the kind of player that the Spurs have used to win championships. Yet another chamber loaded for the Spurs.
Posted on: December 30, 2010 2:46 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:56 pm

Report: Nick Van Exel's son confessed to murder

The son of former NBA player Nick Van Exel reportedly confessed to committing a murder in Texas.  Posted by Ben Gollivernick-van-exel

WFAA.com out of Dallas is reporting that the son of former NBA All-Star Nick Van Exel has confessed to murdering his neighbor in Texas on Wednesday night.
Nickey Van Exel, son of former Dallas Mavericks player Nick Van Exel, was arrested Wednesday night in connection with a recent murder. 
Bradley Bassey Eyo was found shot to death near Lake Ray Hubbard the day after Christmas. Investigators determined he was murdered at a Garland home in the 6900 block of George Brown Drive and his body later dumped at the lake, less than a mile away.
Police said 20-year-old Nickey Van Exel turned himself in Wednesday and confessed to the crime. He's a neighbor of the victim.
WFAA.com also reports that Nickey Van Exel is being held on a $1 million bond. The elder Van Exel, who is just 39 years old, retired after the 2005-2006 NBA season after playing 13 seasons in the NBA. He spent his early years with the Los Angeles Lakers before bouncing around the Western Conference, making stops with the Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs. He averaged 14.4 points and 6.6 assists for his career and made an All-Star game in 1998.  Known for his explosive scoring ability and quickness off the dribble as a player, Van Exel joined the Atlanta Hawks coaching staff as Player Development Instructor this fall.
Posted on: December 30, 2010 2:07 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2010 4:50 pm

Dirk Nowitzki is a game-time decision tonight

Posted by Royce Young

If we learned anything watching the Mavericks play the Raptors this week, it's that Dirk Nowitzki is important. So with a game tonight against the best team in the entire league, I think it's safe to say the Mavs are hoping Dirk can go.

Rick Carlisle says Nowitzki is out for tonight's game against San Antonio, but general manager Donnie Nelson told Dallas Basketball that Dirk wants to at least try.

In other words, we'll pretty much know if Dirk is starting around game time.

Carlisle told reporters, "He’s still going to be day-to-day. He’s doing better, but not in a position to put him out there.”

So it's probably leaning towards the not playing side more than the playing. The season is long and even though this game against San Antonio is big for a multitude of reasons, it's not that important in the grand scheme. No reason to take any chances.

The Spurs have said they're planning as if Nowitzki is playing. San Antonio knows the Mavericks and Dirk as well as anyone out there, so they'll be ready in terms of gameplan no matter what happens with Dirk.

But by the sounds of it, Dirk is trying to push it a bit. He's probably ready to go but again, no reason to take a risk on something like this in December.
Posted on: December 30, 2010 2:02 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2010 2:09 pm

The best in Texas right now? A Maverick answer

The Spurs are great, the Mavs are better this season. Here's why they're the Best in Texas. 
Posted by Matt Moore

Who's the best in Texas? The Dallas Mavericks, that's who. 

Let's start by admitting that this is largely like asking what's better, pancakes or waffles. Done right, they're both pretty awesome with syrup. The Spurs are a deep, talented team that executes with consistency and is led by a smart, capable head coach and an all-world power forward. The Mavericks are a deep, talented team that executes with consistency and is led by a smart, capable head coach and an all-world power forward. Both teams are top teams in the league, both teams are capable of beating anyone on any given night, and both teams are reasonable in having championship aspirations at this point. 

That said, while the Spurs currently entertain a 2.5 game advantage over the Mavericks, it's been the Mavericks who have staked their claim as the best team in Texas this year. Consider this: The Spurs are 6-3 against teams in the top ten in point differential . The Mavericks are 9-2, an absolutely ridiculous mark , including wins over Miami, Oklahoma City, Orlando, and Utah. They swept the Heat in two meetings. They have beaten the Celtics. Now the Spurs have also beaten the Heat, have beaten the Lakers, have beaten the Jazz and the Thunder. But the Mavericks have been just slightly better against elite teams, including ... a November 26th 103-94 win over San Antonio. 

So how did Dallas get this good? Consistency and depth. The Mavericks, more than any team in the league, including the Celtics, Lakers, and Spurs, have played consistently well quarter to quarter. With the improved depth at center as Tyson Chandler turns back the clock, and with a four-guard rotation that will only improve with the return of Rodrigue Beaubois, the Mavericks have solid depth at nearly every position. Jose Juan Barea is always surprisingly good, the annoying player you can't believe is sticking you with daggers. Jason Kidd is still incredibly talented even at his age. Have you ever taken a look at how fast he is in transition? Unbelievable at age 37. Jason Terry is still lighting it up. And DeShawn Stevenson is a well-rounded shooting guard who amazingly isn't a liability under Rick Carlisle's tutelage. 

Small forward, though, may be the best situation for the Mavericks. They're able to combo with Caron Butler and Shawn Marion (who's having a renaissance year).  Marion's physical athleticism and Butler's precision makes for a great matchup combination. Being able to adjust his lineup to whatever the opponent throws at him is a considerable asset for head coach Rick Carlisle. At power forward, Marion is a capable small lineup option, but we all know the real answer is Dirk Nowitzki (who's a gametime decision Thursday night). Nowtizki has played at an MVP-level this season, rebounding well while continuing to be an absolute monster from the elbow down the stretch. Dirk has the ability still to pump-fake and drive, keeping opponents glued to their stance instead of bodying him, and when that big frame rises up at the elbow, it's nearly impossible to defend. The Mavericks only go as far as the Big German takes them, but he's got a track record of going pretty far. The knock on Nowitzki has been about his playoff performances, where he's a career 46% shooter, averaging 25 points and 10 rebounds per game. That he ran into Dwyane Wade going Nova in '06 and a disastrous matchup advantage for vintage Don Nelson in '07 should not confuse the greatness of his career. 

And center has been a huge upgrade with Tyson Chandler playing at a tough level for any Western center. Having Brendan Haywood as your starting center is okay, not great, but having him as a backup is a boon, even if he is struggling this season. That's six more fouls the Mavs have to throw around a night, and that size has been missing for years in the Big D. Redefining the Mavs as an offensive juggernaut that can also defend (currently 6th in defensive efficiency ) changes the game for Dallas, and that's what's happened this season.

The Spurs are a great team and a legitimate championship contender. They're also the last team to knock off the Mavericks in the playoffs. But right now, with the Spurs having some inconsistencies game to game, and with Duncan having a bigger drop-off than Dirk, the Mavericks are the best squad in the Lonestar state. We'll find out if that's true heads-up Thursday night when the two meet.

Posted on: December 30, 2010 1:36 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2010 1:54 pm

The best in Texas right now? Has to be the Spurs

Posted by Royce Young

If you want to just do this all simple like, start with the standings. San Antonio is 27-4, which is the best record in the league. Dallas, while owners of a very nice 24-6 record, is two and a half games back of the Spurs.

So we're done here, right?

Actually, there's a lot more to it.

No doubt the Mavericks good. Really good. Forget that loss to the Raptors without Dirk. Every good team loses to someone they shouldn't. And when you're missing your very best player, you've got a good excuse too. But what separates San Antonio from Dallas right now is that the Spurs don't have a Dirk.

Wait, I know what you're thinking. That should make the Mavericks better , right? Not having a great, MVP-type player like Dirk Nowitzki is what makes San Antonio better than Dallas? Does not compute, right?

But it does. Because the Spurs are 27-4 despite not having a guy score 20 points a game. The Spurs are 27-4 with Tim Duncan averaging career-lows all over the place. The Spurs just whipped the defending champion Lakers with Duncan scoring two points and grabbing four rebounds. Tim Duncan, two points, four rebounds! Can you ever imagine the Spurs beating a good team five years ago with Duncan playing like that?

The Spurs are 27-4 because of Gary Neal. Because of Richard Jefferson's rebirth. Because of DeJuan Blair. Because of Matt Bonner. No team understands the role player concept and how each guy has value more than San Antonio. That team works completely in unison. It's like an engine on a 2001 Honda Civic. Nothing all that spectacular, nothing all that flashy. But everything works perfectly together.

Not to say the Spurs don't have some serious players though. You could make a legitimate case for Manu Ginobili as an MVP candidate. He's been the glue for San Antonio the past decade and when he's healthy like he is currently, he one the biggest X-factors in the league. Tony Parker is healthy again and playing at an All-Star caliber level. George Hill is one of the most underrated combo guards in the league.

And then there's the trump card for the Spurs. It starts with a "g," ends with two more "g's" and a frown. Rick Carlisle is a nice NBA coach, but he's not Gregg Popovich. Coach Pop is one of the few NBA coaches that you really know makes a difference with his team. Phil Jackson, Jerry Sloan, Vinny Del Negro (just kidding)... only a handful of coaches genuinely make their team better despite who's on the roster. Popovich is the leader of that pack. His team's are always ready, always prepared and always focused. Look at the Spurs' home record this season (18-2 and undefeated in December). That shows that his team is never not ready.

Popovich wasn't afraid to make a subtle switch either. San Antonio is running more than ever despite that not being the ideal game for Duncan. But it works for the other pieces and Duncan has adapted. The Spurs are averaging almost 106 points per game, which is fourth in the league. Their point differential is an impressive +8.4 compared to the Mavs' +5.6.

Those things are tangible parts to settling this debate. But it's not always about what meets the eye with the Spurs. They're the league's best and by default, Texas's best, because they march to the company line that's carried them to four titles. There's a reason they're great, even if it's not painfully obvious.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com