The San Antonio Spurs have gone 1-4 in their last five games and currently, have a 7-6 record. After the first four games, it looked like their defense would take quite a while to improve and their offense was their strength. Over the last five games, however, the Spurs have had difficulties in both areas.
In their first eight games, the Spurs ranked 7th in scoring on plays in the half court at 97.1 points per 100 half court possessions. Since November 4th, the Spurs ranked 27th in scoring on plays in the half court at 83.5 points per 100 possessions. The first suspect is their shot distribution. In the last five games, the Spurs have taken more threes and less mid-range. In those same games, they have ranked 7th in 3 point percentage.
Their mid-range shooting has struggled, though. They ranked 6th in mid-range accuracy through November 3rd and have ranked 23rd in that category since. Their accuracy at the rim has fallen as well, being ranked 17th through November 3rd and has ranked 23rd since.
The answer to why the Spurs have shot worse in almost every category may be the absences of Rudy Gay and Pau Gasol, who have both only played one game since November 4th. The Spurs have shot 42.1% on all mid-range shots with Gay on the court this season, 5.4% better than they have on those same shots since November 4th. The Spurs see a similar, but not quite as large, change with Gasol on the court.
Another reason why the Spurs offense has been worse in that time frame is that every rotation player has shot worse since November 4th other than Gasol, Gay, and Derrick White, according to NBA’s stat page. As stated, Gasol and Gay have only played one game each in that span and White did not play before November 7th. In the first eight games, the Spurs had an effective field goal percentage of 48.0% on shots with a defender within 0-2 feet, according to NBA’s stat page. Since then, the Spurs have had an effective field goal percentage of 30% on shots with a defender within 0-2 feet. The Spurs also went from shooting an EFG% of 45.2% to 39.2% when the nearest defender was between 2-4 feet.
These numbers will be something to monitor for the Spurs. If the shooting numbers from recent games continue, larger adjustments to the offense may be needed. It is likely that some of these shooting problems been nothing more than a couple games in a row of poor shooting performances, and that the Spurs will return to their previous numbers. If the Spurs still find their offense struggling in 10 more games or so, the Spurs may have to make changes to their offensive philosophy. In the meantime, as Gay should return soon, the improvements that the Spurs made on defense should return again. If not, the offensive problems will become even more costly.
All stats from CleaningTheGlass unless stated otherwise.