2018-19 Spurs 10-Game Evaluation: Volume 6

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Over their last 10 games, the San Antonio Spurs have continued to play mediocre basketball, where they won four straight games, lost four straight, and then finally, won a game in Memphis followed by a loss in Toronto.

The Spurs showed that when they have their nine rotation players available for a game, they can compete with anyone, as the Spurs were 16 seconds away from having their second win against the Raptors Friday evening.

Now that 60 games have been logged this season, let’s review where the Spurs stand on each end of the floor after their last 10-game performance.

If you’re new to the 10-game evaluation series, here are Volume’s 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Most of the stats used in this evaluation are from CleaningTheGlass.com and on CTG, a ranking is provided for the stats. I created the following rating system based on the rankings:

Elite – Rank near Top 5

Good – Rank near Top 10

Average – Rank near 15th

Improvement – Rank near 20th

Ugh – Rank near 25th

Ouch – Rank near 30th

Section I. Scoring

Where do the Spurs frequently take shots from?

Offensively, the Spurs have continued to remain an elite offense for most of the season, despite having the unpopular shot selection of preferring the most mid-range looks and the least amount of rim shots. They had a slight increase in their 3-point attempt percentage over the last 10 games, which barely moved them from 30th to 29th in frequency from three.

Section II. Ball Movement

With White being out for a chunk of the last 10 games, the Spurs had to shift the point guard duty back onto the shoulders of Bryn Forbes and DeMar DeRozan. The turnover percentage remained low without White, but as you can see from the data above, the Spurs moved the ball less overall and that in-turn resulted in less made baskets being assisted on. The Spurs’ good-to-great shot passes continue to rank in the top 10 through 60 games.

Section III. Defense

Where do opponents shoot from and how accurate are they against the Spurs’ defense?

As it has been the theme all season long for the Spurs, defense continues to be their biggest area of weakness, and it didn’t help that over the last 10 games, their best available perimeter defender White was injured for some of those games. As the numbers show above, the Spurs slipped in several categories defensively over the last 10 games. They still have the same philosophy of limiting rim shots from the opponent (3rd), and instead they force the opponent to take mid-range shots (5th). They’re top-10 in limiting corner 3s from the opponent and about average in allowing the tougher above the break 3s. The Spurs are also elite still in not letting opponents get many second chances by limiting offensive boards and not fouling the opponent too often.

The problem over the last 10 games for the Spurs’ defense was that opponents shot very well against the Spurs’ defense from all three levels – the rim, mid-range, and three-point range. One stat that’s not listed above is opponent fast break points. The Spurs just had their worst 10-game stretch of the season in allowing fast break points to the opponent.

GamesOpponent Fast Break Points
1-1016.5
11-2011.4
21-3013.9
31-4010.9
41-5014.8
51-6022

 

With the Spurs already struggling to guard teams in the halfcourt (26th), it makes it that much tougher when teams are getting 22 points in the open court, as was the case over the last 10 games. Some of those fast break points should decrease with White back, but he’s just one defender, and he alone can’t guard or get back for the other four players his teammates are supposed to guard. Decreasing fast break points typically comes down to communication and each defender making sure to guard someone, even if it’s not their assignment as soon as a shot is missed, made, or a turnover occurs.

Now, to provide a visual glimpse of which specific Spurs players are excelling or not playing well on each end of the floor, you can study the two charts below. Each chart shows the 1st, 15th, and 30th ranked offenses and defenses, where the Spurs are ranked, and where each specific player would rank.

For most of the season, the Spurs’ second unit of Patty Mills, Marco Belinelli, Davis Bertans, and Jakob Poeltl have been providing efficient offense, statistically better than the best offense in the league of the Warriors. However, over the last 10 games, Bertans and Poeltl’s offense slightly dipped, which leaves only Mills and Belinelli as the only two Spurs players scoring efficiently better than the Warriors when they’re on the floor.

The defensive visual display shows just how tough it’s been for the Spurs defensively this season with their personnel. None of their defenders are better on the floor statistically than the first ranked Bucks and only two rotation players (White and Gay) have a better defensive rating than the league average defense of the Blazers. While the Spurs score their most points per 100 possessions when Belinelli and Mills are on the floor, on the flipside, they give away their most points per 100 possessions during those stretches.

Section IV. The Competition

Opponent is…Spurs Record
.500 and Above13-17
Below .50020-10

 

Seeing that 61% of the Spurs’ wins this season have come against below .500 teams, the Spurs should be able to maintain a playoff seed. According to Tankathon.com, San Antonio right now has the 7th easiest schedule to end the season with a strength of schedule of 47.8%. The only other two Western Conference teams with easier schedules left are the Jazz (1st) and Kings (4th). But, the Spurs would need to make sure they’re focused for those games against below .500 teams, as those types of teams have defeated the Spurs this season when they’re weren’t respecting their opponent.

Section V. The Next 10

The Spurs’ next 10 games will take place from February 24 to March 16. During that span, they’ll face the Knicks, Nets, Hawks, and Mavericks on the road. At home, they’ll face the Pistons, Thunder, Nuggets, Bucks, Knicks, and Blazers.

Data gathered from CleaningTheGlass.com, NBA.com/stats, and HoopsStats.com as of 02/24/2019 at 2:00 PM CST.

 

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