The San Antonio Spurs played four games this past week (three opponents were Top 15 teams) and finished 3-1 in those games. The week included an undefeated three game home stand and ended on a bad note, with a loss in Weezys (Lil Wayne) hometown of Nowlins. Let’s get started!
The Past Should Be Revisited
- Denver Nuggets (Good Team): The Spurs started the game slow, Denver had a 12-point lead early. In the second quarter, the Spurs exploded by scoring 37 points. Tony Parker went off scoring and ended the half with 16 points. @risenfenix11 tweeted “Parker must’ve seen Eva on tv #playingpossessed” At halftime, @russbengtson tweeted “CARMELO UPDATE: He still hasn’t been traded during a game he’s playing in.” Once the third quarter was over, San Antonio had built a 15-point lead; the rest of the game was history. Tony Parker ended with 30 points on the night.
- Toronto Raptors: A 10-0 run to start the game, it looked like the Spurs were going to run Toronto out of the building from the tip off. Yet at the end of the first, Toronto led by 1 point? Yes, the Spurs managed to make what looked like a blow out, a very close game for one half. In the first quarter I tweeted “Bargnani’s mother probably told his father: “I don’t care if it’s a boy or girl! Where naming the child Andrea!” #Spurs #Raptors” The Spurs finally showed up in the third quarter with a 33-point quarter and held Toronto to just 16 points. In the third, Duncan threw an amazing bounce pass while running the fast break for an easy layup to a fellow Spur. I tweeted on this play “#TimDuncanPointGuardNames: Timmy Kidd, Magic Duncan, Pistol Tim Maravich, Rajon Duncan, Tim Rose, Tim Nash, Timmy Parker, CPDuncan” The game was pretty much over from that point on. Manu Ginobili had 23 points to lead the team.
- New York Knicks (Good Team): DeJuan Blair had a stellar game (22 points), in the second quarter @madcowheff tweeted “DeJuan Blair also likes to steal picnic baskets in the off season.” This was a close game early, but by halftime, the Spurs held an 11-point lead. In the third, the Spurs lost their offense and only scored 16 points. The Knicks made a run in the fourth quarter getting within four points, but Tim Duncan didn’t let them get any closer. In the fourth quarter, after making a mistake with the game locked up, Coach Pop grilled Gary Neal. @Suga_Shane tweeted “Pop will keep coaching you until you die.” Tim Duncan had a “rare” monster game by leading with 21 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists and 5 blocks.
- @ New Orleans Hornets (Good Team): When Tiago Splitter is your leading scorer with 11 points, it probably means your team lost by 24 points. At halftime, the Spurs only trailed by 3 points, but in the third quarter, New Orleans outscored them 31-10. It was over from there, in the third when the Hornets were up by 24 points, @madcowheff tweeted “Its cool, my team might lose tonight, but my team will still be in San Antonio in 2 years. #Spurs” I too, was very bitter about losing, but encouraged myself by saying “How many teams fans out there can count total losses with only 2 hands? #Spurs & #Celtics, that’s it #GoSpursGo!!”
By The Numbers
- Record: 37-7, #1 in the entire NBA.
- AT&T Center: 24-2
- Opponents House: 13-5
- Vs. The Mighty West: 24-4
- Vs. The lowly East (I call the East this because all eight playoff seeds don’t have +.500 records): 13-3
- Vs. Southwest Division opponents: 6-3
- Vs. Good Teams (Good Teams: All eight West playoff teams & Boston, Miami, Chicago, Orlando, Atlanta, New York): 15-6
- Gunslinging (times scored over 100 pts): 29/44 games
- Lowest points scored: 72 pts in Loss to New Orleans Hornets
- Most points scored: 124 pts in Win vs. Houston
- Quality Wins (Win by +10 pts): 12 times
- Blowouts (Win by +20 pts): 5 times
- Closing Time (Games decided by five pts or less): 9-2
- Scoring average: 103.9 ppg
- Hold opponents to: 96.6 ppg
- Victory Margin: +7.3 points
Top 5 Players
- Manu Ginobili: 18.6 ppg, 4.8 ast, 1.8 stl, 31 mpg
- Tony Parker: 17.4 ppg, 6.9 ast, 1.4 stl, 33 mpg
- Tim Duncan: 13.6 ppg, 9.6 rbd, 2.1 blk, 29 mpg
- Richard Jefferson version 24.2: 12.2 ppg, 3 PT 42%, 31 mpg
- George Hill: 11.2 ppg, 1 stl, 28 mpg
Honorable Rajon Mutumbo: Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan really showed his point guard talent by dishing 4.8 assists per game this week (Denver 4 assists, Toronto 4 assists, New York 8 assists, New Orleans 3 assists.) He also didn’t let anyone get easy buckets as he averaged 2.8 blocks per game (Denver 3 blocks, Toronto 3 blocks, New York 5 blocks, New Orleans 0 blocks). For all those that think Duncan is done or on his last legs; I dare you to try and score on him! I dare you!
Is The New Richard Jefferson Version 24.2 Software Crashing?
Early in the season I wrote this:
The Spurs upgraded their software this offseason by going from Richard Jefferson version 24.1 to the newly released Richard Jefferson version 24.2! This new software is by far outshining the old version! Check out these numbers:
RJ version 24.1 (09-10 season): 47% FG, 32% 3pt, 74% FT, 4.4 Rb, 2 ast, .6 stl, .5 blk, 1.3 TO, 12.3 points per game
RJ version 24.2 (Through first 10 games): 54% FG, 46% 3pt, 77% FT, 3.8 Rb, 1.7 ast, .9 stl, .5 blk, 1.2 TO, 17.0 points per game
Now, fast forward to today, these are Jefferson’s current stats:
Through 44 games: 47% FG, 42% 3pt, 4.3rbd, 1.3TO, 0.6stl, 0.5blk, 12.2ppg
Look at those numbers! His production this year and last year is almost identical; except for his 3pt shooting percentage, which he’s increased. But other than that, Spurs fans, I’d hate to say it but it’s looking like we may be getting last seasons Jefferson back, only with a better 3pt shot.
His production is starting to slip mightily. Here’s how he’s declined through the months:
As you can see, Jefferson’s production is starting to sink lower and lower. In fact, this past week, through the four games, he only averaged 6.7ppg.
I dug just a bit further to see what kind of production he’ll give in the playoffs:
Combined average against Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans, New York, Orlando, Portland, Utah, Oklahoma City: 11.63ppg
Combined average against Western Conference playoff teams: 9.6ppg
Word to Spurs fans: Don’t expect Jefferson to come in and be this great X-Factor who was saving his best performances for the playoffs. The Jefferson you see right now is most likely the Jefferson you’ll see in April, but hey! He’s a better 3pt shooter!
There’s one stat I looked at very closely: FGA (Field Goal Attempts) minus 3ptFGA (3pt Fied Goal Attempts) minus (Dunks/ Alley Oops, Fast breaks). Why? As I watch every Spurs game, I’ve begun to notice that Jefferson is no longer aggressive in attacking the basket. He’s relied so much on his three pointers that as soon as he gets an open look, he fires away. This is not a bad thing, but I feel it does turn him into a one-dimensional player and opposing teams will know this and use it as an advantage against the Spurs. Jefferson shoots 9 Field Goals per game, four of those are 3 pt field goals and usually two are layups/dunks from alley oops or fast breaks. That means that on average; he may only attack the basket 2-3 times per game. For a player with his athletic ability, he needs to be getting to the free throw line more than three times per game. If the Spurs players and coaching staff can somehow teach Jefferson to use both of his abilities (3 pt shooting/ driving the lane) at a 50/50 rate, I think Jefferson can increase his scoring and become a deadly weapon for the Spurs. Gary Neal is only a rookie and he already understands how to do this; the majority of his shots are 3 ptrs, but he is also comfortable driving the lane and scoring with a teardrop or 15 foot jumper. If Jefferson can learn to utilize his talents, watch out!
Back to Backs: A New Hope
The Spurs latest loss came on the second night of a back-to-back game. It’s an ongoing theme with these back-to-backs. The Spurs have played seven of them so far and have finished 3-4 in that stretch. The Spurs are only scoring 97.4ppg while their opponents score 102ppg. That’s a -5 losing margin in those games. I looked a little further and noticed something though; of the Spurs four back-to-back losses, three have been to Good Teams (Orlando, Boston, New Orleans.) And ALL back-to-back second night games have been on the road.
The Spurs production on back-to-backs might be looking brighter though in the future. There are still eight-second night back-to-back games left on the schedule. BUT, only one of those games is against a Good Team (Portland). The other seven are all against -.500 teams. So, when you look at the schedule down the line, you’ll see many more back-to-backs, just don’t automatically chalk up the Loss, the Spurs should win the majority of them in the second half of the season.
What We Learned
This week, the Spurs have progressively shown their team defense is slowly making progress (Holding opponents to 95ppg). It’s not at the best in any form, but in most of their games, there will be a quarter where they will just shut a team down. It’s still January, so the team has time to keep progressing. If they can learn to consistently play lockdown defense for four quarters you will begin to see more Blowouts because the offense is still reaching 100+ points comfortably.
The Week Ahead
This week, the Spurs have three games: Only one is against a Good Team. The other two opponents will make the Spurs work hard for a victory.
Game 45. Monday, 01-24-11 @ Golden State Warriors: The Warriors are #18 in the NBA at 19-24 and have gone 6-4 in their last 10 games. The Spurs are 1-0 thus far against the Warriors. After getting his tattoos at Alcatraz, Monta Ellis is ready to run against the Spurs; well, first he needs to make sure Stephen Curry takes his nap and reads all his Blues Clues books.
Game 46. Wednesday 01-26-11 @ Utah Jazz (Good Team): The Jazz are #11 in the NBA at 27-17 and 4-6 in their last 10 games. The Spurs won the first meeting of the season against Utah. The game is in Salt Lake City, where the crowd typically pressures the referee to make calls. Utah also signed Deron Williams panther tattoo to play against the Spurs for this game.
Game 47. Saturday 01-29-11 Houston Rockets: The Rockets are #17 in the NBA at 20-25 and 4-6 in their last 10 games. The Spurs are 1-0 so far against the Rockets and it took overtime to beat Houston. During this game, for every Houston point scored, fans in China will vote five more times for Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady and Steve Francis in the All Star Game.
All stats used as of 01-22-2011
Follow me on twitter: @24writer