This past week, the San Antonio Spurs gathered three victories as they had a two game road trip and finished with a win at home. The AT&T Center is presently filled with dirt, paraded by ranch folks and tuned to the sounds of Lady Antebellum.
(Advice: READ NEXT SENTENCE IN NASCAR VOICE) So get out your lasso, start twirling it up above your head and send it on out to rope your laptop or desktop computer! It’s ‘Views From the Couch!’ Time!
The Past Should Be Revisited
- @ Golden State Warriors: The Spurs began their two game road trip in “Warriors come out to playyyyyyy” territory; everything was going normal in the first half and then utter silence captured the arena. There was Tim Duncan, sitting down, clutching his knee with just a few minutes remaining in the half. He was helped up by his teammates and was able to walk to the locker room on his own. From that point on, the game didn’t matter. Reporters and viewers stayed quietly tense through the entire half, waiting for any word on Duncan. Then, right before the third quarter, Tim Duncan went onto the court and began shooting warm-up jump shots. After those 18-20 minutes, the entire Spurs Nation could finally exhale. In the third quarter; Antonio McDyess threw down an exhilarating dunk, I tweeted “McDyess used to dunk on those horizontal rims the Aztecs used to use. #OldManSwag” Duncan finished the night with 16 points and 7 rebounds. He was ok, the Spurs won (holding Golden State to only 44 points in the second and third quarter combined) and everyone could be at ease knowing Duncan would be fine.
- @ Utah Jazz (Good Team): In the first quarter, @PeterBurnsRadio tweeted “There is no way Kirilenko is cashing in on the Kirilenko Rule with that haircut. No way.” This was a close game throughout; but going into the fourth quarter, the Spurs had a 10-point lead. Utah put up a fight, getting near the Spurs in the last quarter, but the Jazz’s comeback wasn’t enough.
- Houston Rockets: Midway into the first quarter, I wrote, “When does Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady and Steve Francis come in for Houston?” This was a close game for two quarters, and then in the third, the Spurs defense held Houston to just 20-points. The Spurs extended their lead in the fourth quarter to finish off the Rockets. After the game fellow writer Nick Kapsis (@Kap10Jack) tweeted “Blair’s line: 6-12 FG, 2-2 FT, 14 PTS, 12 REB, 3 AST, 3BLK & +12 for the night. 21 years old… Just scratching the surface.”
By The Numbers
- Record: 40-7, #1 in the entire NBA.
- AT&T Center: 25-2.
- Opponents House: 15-5.
- Vs. The Mighty West: 27-4.
- 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: 7-3.
- Gun slinging (times scored over 100 pts): 32/47 games. Vs. Good Teams: 16-6 (Good Teams: All eight West playoff teams & Boston, Miami, Chicago, Orlando, Atlanta, New York.
- Blowouts(Win by +20 pts): 5 times.
- Closing Time (Games decided by five pts or less): 9-2.
- Lowest points scored: 72 pts in Loss to New Orleans Hornets.
- Most points scored: 124 pts in Win vs. Houston.
- Last 10 games: 9-1.
- Scoring average: 104.4 ppg.
- Hold opponents to: 96.9 ppg.
- Victory Margin: +7.5 points.
Quality Wins (Win by +10 pts): 14 times.
Top 5 Players
- Manu Ginobili: 18.8 ppg, 4.9 ast, 1.8 stl, 32 mpg.
- Tony Parker: 17.5 ppg, 6.9 ast, 1.4 stl, 33 mpg.
- Tim Duncan: 13.6 ppg, 9.4 rbd, 2 blk, 29 mpg.
- Richard Jefferson version 24.2: 12.3 ppg, 3 PT 41%.
- George Hill: 11.3 ppg, 1 stl.
Player of the Week (Honorable Argentinean)
Manu Ginobili: Manu led the Spurs this week by being the go-to scoring option once again, and racking up the assists (vs. Golden State 20 points 7 assists, vs. Utah 26 points 7 assists, vs. Houston 22 points 4 assists).
Richard Jefferson Version 24.2 Update
It seems the Spurs called in a tech team to work on the Richard Jefferson 24.2 software; last week I wrote the software might be crashing, this week the software was showing signs of revival. Here’s an in depth look!
Vs. Golden State: 9pt, FG 4-10 (3pt 1-4)
Vs. Utah: 14pt, FG 6-12 (3pt 2-6)
Vs. Houston: 18pt, FG 7-8 (3pt 2-3)
“But what does it all mean Bazzle?”-Austin Powers
It means Jefferson was finally being aggressive and attacking the basket. He took 10 shots per game and only 4 of them were three pointers. That means he was attacking the rim 6 times per game. That is a considerable difference compared to his season attempts.
What happens when Richard Jefferson is aggressive and a strong part of the offense? The Spurs averaged 111ppg and won by an average of 10.33ppg. Now let’s see if this software continues to progress in the future.
Let’s Play 21: Manu vs. Kobe vs. Wade
This past weekend I saw two non-Spurs games on Sunday afternoon. First, it was the Miami Heat vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder. Followed by the Los Angeles Lakers vs. the Boston Celtics. As I was watching both games, a question popped in my head: “Kobe, Wade, and Manu are the three best shooting guards in the NBA this season; they all play extremely hard, yet Manu gets the wins gracefully, why is that?”
I wanted to get the answer to my question and apply it to what it could potentially for-see in the future. Let’s look at each player’s stats so far:
- Manu Ginobili: 47 games played, 31.5mpg, 18.8ppg, 3.8rbd, 4.9ast, 1.77stl, FG 44%, 3PT 37%, FT 87%, FGM 5.7- FGA 13.1.
Team Ranking: #1 (40-7), accounts for 18% of scoring for the Spurs.
- Kobe Bryant: 48 games played, 33.3mpg, 25.5ppg, 5rbd, 4.8ast, 1.29stl, FG 46%, 3PT 31%, FT 82%, FGM 9.0- FGA 19.4.
Team Ranking: #5 (33-15), accounts for 25% of scoring for the Lakers.
Dwayne Wade: 43 games played, 36.8mpg, 25.5ppg, 6.8rbd, 4.2ast, 1.37stl, 1.05blk, FG 50%, 3PT 30%, FT 73%, FGM 8.9- FGA 18.
Team Ranking: #3 (34-14), accounts for 25% of scoring for the Heat.
By their stats, Kobe and Wade look better than Manu. But, Manu may be the last man standing when you look at 2 particular stats:
(1.) Minutes per game: Manu averages the least amount of minutes while being on the #1 team. In the long run, Manu might be able to rest even more if the Spurs are able to lockup home court early. Meanwhile, Kobe and Wade will continue to play even MORE minutes to stay on the Spurs track, while not getting leaped over by the other contenders.
(2.) What if you took each player off of their team? This would reflect who essentially has the best supporting cast (strong supporting casts are needed to win championships). Here’s what I found:
Spurs with no Ginobili: 85.6 ppg
Lakers with no Kobe: 77.9 ppg
Heat with no Wade: 76.1 ppg
As you can see, the Spurs supporting cast almost has an +8 point margin over the Lakers and Heat. So, while Kobe and Wade will be the starters in the All Star game, Manu will be on the bench waiting to come in. But, there’s a good chance in June, Manu will be the first to get to 21 and be the only one left standing.
Is the Defense improving?
The motto is “Defense wins Championships”, well it turns out, that’s true. As much as we fans are enjoying this new high-octane-Spurs-offense; the reality is in April, the game will slow down and it will be the better defensive team who will hoist the trophy. I took apart how many points the Spurs are holding teams to on a month-to-month basis, to see if there has been any improvement.
October: Allow 104 ppg
November: Allow 98.13 ppg
December: Allow 95.87 ppg
January: Allow 95.73 ppg
As you can see, the defense is making small strides in improving. There are still 3 months to play, so the Spurs can get the defensive numbers within the leagues top two defensive teams. Although, those two teams have minor flaws:
#1 Boston Celtics: 91.6 ppg- The Celtics play in the Eastern Conference, which when you look, it means they play a lot of -.500 teams regularly. If the Spurs can get within 93ppg defensively I’d equate that to what the Celtics are at.
#2 New Orleans Hornets: 91.7 ppg- The Hornets are a really good defensive team but they don’t have the offense to support them (96 ppg).
I think if the Spurs can get their defense to hold teams to 93 ppg while the Spurs score 103ppg by April, they will be a force to be reckoned with.
The Week Ahead
The Spurs begin the Rodeo Road Trip this week; two of these games will be against Good Teams and the other game on the second night of a back to back.
Game 48. @ Portland Trailblazers (Good Team): The Trailblazers are #14 in the NBA at 25-22 and 5-5 in their last 10 games. The Blazers have a great home crowd, so the Spurs will have a good road test to start with. Also, don’t call Wesley Matthews “Wes Matthews”; Portland fans, nor Wesley, do not like the name mix-up. It’s too bad Marcus Camby is injured; if he were healthy, we’d have the opportunity to see a member of the ‘Shawn Marion All Stars’ shoot a jump shot!
Game 49. @ Los Angeles Lakers (Good Team): The Lakers are #5 in the NBA at 33-15 and 6-4 in their last 10 games. In the last meeting, the Spurs won handily with Tim Duncan only scoring 2 points and grabbing 4 rebounds. The game Thursday will be on national television, with a chance for the Spurs to send another statement toward the defending champs. Whether the Spurs win or lose this game; Charles Barkley will still think the Mavericks are the best team in Texas, the Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup, and The Masters.
Game 50. @ Sacramento Kings: The Kings are #27 in the NBA at 12-33 and 4-6 in their last 10 games. This will be on the second night of a back-to-back, where the Spurs are currently 3-4. A good sign is the Kings won’t have a point guard because Beno Udrih will go into the fetal position once he see’s Gregg Popovich on the court. As @yowhatupT put it “As a Spurs fan, I’m still stunned I live in a place where Beno Udrih is applauded”
Follow Paul on twitter: @24writer