Spurs @ Magic
I took some interest in this game because I’ve been hearing the line about the resplendent Spurs, since Tony Parker went out and they have somehow “miraculously” managed to win 8 of 9 since the injury thanks to “Manu,” as the ESPN guys noted beforehand. I took this with a grain of salt, especially considering the caliber of the opponents the Spurs were able to beat.
They snuck by the Suns, but after that?
New Orleans – beat ‘em twice – a below .500 team. Memphis – a .500 team. Beat the Knicks – one of the worst team in the league. Beat the Wolves, Clippers, and the Heat (all .500 or below .500 teams). You see a pattern here?
Context, people. Context. Which is why it was no surprise to see what came tonight:
A 110-84 drubbing courtesy of the second-hottest team in the league (behind Cleveland), the Magic.
The game started out fairly close enough, with the Spurs down by 5 at the end of the first. Pop talked with Lisa Salters between the first and the second quarters and prophesized what would end up killing the Spurs in the game – the Magic’s outside shooting and horrible perimeter defense by them, which was the case in only the first.
* Spurs reliant on outside shots.
* Magic attacking inside, TD just wasn’t fast enough to keep up with D-12.
* A few quick inside scores by the Magic, and the Spurs defense slowly started leaving the outside shooters open. Magic would kick it out and shoot, or pass it back in catching the defense off guard. After that the Magic just hit their threes, and the Spurs stayed in by making their own shots too. Pop wasn’t satisfied, and then in the second…
Turnovers for the Spurs, missed shots. Started off the second with both teams throwing up crap. Then the Magic went back to their Q1 strategy – attack, open up the perimeter. It also didn’t help that the Spurs stayed with their bench for an extended period of time. This all led to a double digit lead, and that was the game. They continued to build on it taking advantage of the Spurs’ turnovers, poor shot selection, slowness on defense, and poor spacing on offense. The game was decided in the second.
So hopefully this will end the myths about the Spurs being resurgent. They’re not – they are done.
Wow. I just got done watching the first 3 quarters of the Celtics-‘Cats game tonight (3/4/2010). And it was an eye opening experience about just how raw Tyrus Thomas still is, and how much of a headcase he is. And this is from a huge Tyrus fan. Many people I know have likely mocked me in the past for my unwavering support of this guy, and I am known as someone who is a huge Tyrus defender. Even when everyone was ripping on him unfairly during his many rough times here in Chicago, I almost homeristically defended him. But after seeing this game, I may have to change my tone on him (somewhat, at least) after watching this one. This was painful. Brutal.
Bottom line: The Bobcats lost this game tonight (104-80) about 70% because of Tyrus. Here’s why:
First Quarter, Tyrus checks in. Immediately, he starts doing the thing that let’s admit it, we all hate – taking those jumpshots with his poorly timed release that pretty much guarantees he’s going to miss. There is something seriously wrong with his form – when he puts up the shot, it’s like he’s almost overhead passing it towards the hoop. In the first minute he’s out there, he goes 1-3 – the one shot he makes being an incredible self-created drive to the hoop which ends up being a reverse dunk. Just incredible. But on the defensive side, there are 2-3 straight plays where his poor basketball IQ is exposed – he tries to go for the highlight reel steal, and then he tries to go for the highlight reel block as a help side defender, leaving his man wide open. In both cases, the Celtics pass it off to the now-open man for an easy two at the basket. The last play of the quarter, Nate Robinson is going off, having hit a 3 that gives the Celtics their biggest lead of the night. As time is expiring, Nate goes up in Tyrus’ face at the 3 point arc and puts it up again. Tyrus casually extends his arm, almost as if he doesn’t think Nate will make it, with little to no effort in defending the shot.
Made to beat the buzzer. Ugh. Tyrus stays in to start the second and again, Nate goes off for the first shot of the quarter with a shot in his face. After a few more bonehead plays–including where he tried falling down after no whistle, and just launching the ball up there (instead of passing it) and airballing a wide open 2 from the corner, Larry finally pulled him. By this time, what had been a 6 point Celtic lead before Tyrus checked in had become a 17 point Celtic lead by the time Tyrus came out.
Then he put in DJ Augustin while Tyrus was out, and he pretty much cut the Celtics lead to 3 on his own. This kid should not be in Brown’s doghouse. Shame, but in Q3 once Felton came back in the Celtics started to open it up again, with about a 10 point lead, and then when Tyrus came in – once again, it ballooned to 20 – all the plays that I describe afterwards were either on or caused fast break plays for the Celtics (the Celtics, a 30 year old average team – getting fast breaks – caused by Tyrus missteps). This time, he once again did the falling jumper expecting to get the foul (this is literally where Tyrus falls to the ground and tries to feign contact…must be a new thing) and this time misses. As he’s running back on defense, the guy who he thinks fouled him (Marquis Daniels) gets pushed unnecessarily hard (by Tyrus) as he’s bringing the ball up the court. Shoved down to the ground, and it wasn’t even a fast break – he was setting up the freaking offense. What the hell, Tyrus. Immediate technical, and well deserved. Then he looks back to his coach, throwing his hands up Nocioni style, but at that point even I got pissed. A tech FT, and then by the next play the lead was 22 (right before which, Tyrus got the ball, pump faked, then drove to the hoop and promptly was stuffed, then just watched the play go the other way for about 10 seconds before deciding to go and play some defense).
I turned off the game at that point. I see he had a good game stats wise (5-12, 15 points, 10 rebounds), but let it be known that they mostly all came in the 4th quarter, after the game had already been decided. They mean nothing. Tyrus Thomas may have had one of the worst games I’ve ever seen him play, and today he showed a side that I REALLY don’t like – thuggish basketball then trying to cover it up by whining to his coach about it. He is going to need some serious work. To Larry Brown’s credit, he seems to be patient with him, but man oh man. Horrible, horrible, horrible.
Cross posted to Blog-A-Bull.
First off, thanks to everyone for loving my “request” to Gar yesterday. Like I said I’ve been on cloud 9 since, but man today’s all star game was just off the chains. LOVED it. And of course, the D-Rose factor. SO glad he actually ended up playing. But hey…did you guys know, that D-Rose followed in Gar’s footsteps yesterday and was workin’ the 2010 class on his own today???? Yeah, true story here. And I have pictures to prove it.
Now some of you may have already known about this so that was one strike, but today Rose was on a roll. Here’s kind of how it went down from my vantage point in the 400 level.
“Umm….wow…108,000 people watchin’ me on that big screen….wow….”
“Oh man…forgot, coach and Gar, like, told me to talk to some of these players…man! what am i gonna say.”
*Shooting around* “Um, cool, there’s that Chris Bosh guy right next to me. Maybe I should go talk to him, he might be a good pick up this summer”
10 minutes later…..
“Ummmmmm…hey Chris….do you….um…..wanna come play with us this summer?”
Bosh: “Yeah, we’ll see kiddo. I mean my team is doing pretty good right now so I don’t know, but we’ll see. You never know.” *Turns back to game*
“Maaannn…that didn’t go too well….Gar and Pax are gonna kill me. Ummmm…man, think of something Pooh! Come on! Oh wait…who’s that….”
“Hey, um, Joe…you think you got what it takes?”
Joe starts cracking up. “Wassup Derrick! Yeah man I know what you’re talking about, the agent told me all about it, I’m totally ready to go if your front office is. He knows your owner really well or something and told me he’d take care of all of this. Awesome man! Can’t wait for next year!”
“Hehehe…cool man! Yeah! Now I can sit back and have fun, mission accomplished”
Horford sits alone at the end of the bench, seething in anger and disbelief as he watches Rose blatantly tampering with his current teammate. “I will get you for this, Derrick Rose, if it’s the last thing I do,” he thinks villainously.
“Aw wait…ummmmm…man, I forgot, I actually gotta play in this thing. Damn, I was hoping my injury could have just gotten me a nice front row seat to this…hey coach, ummmm…can I like, come in or….aw man, he’s not even listening to me.” Just then…
Rose turns around off in the distance and sees Gar Foreman yelling at him.
“Aw, hey Gar, how you doin’.”
“Forget that Derrick, we have a new strategy now. Some crazy fan yelled something at me yesterday, and then it actually set off a lightbulb in my head. I now know what we have to do. We have to go all out for LeBron now. Stop wasting your time with Joe Johnson!”
“But…um….Gar….he was like, um, really excited to maybe play with me and–“
“Derrick! Forget it! Look, there’s LeBron coming your way! Now go make me proud, son!”
“Aw man…wow…it’s LeBron…umm…he’d be a really cool teammate. Man, this is gonna be hard.”
“Umm….hey, LeBron…ummmmmmm…..I, uh…….yeah…..ummmm…..”
“Oh hey, what’s up D-Rose! How you been kid.”
“Ummmmm….I uh, wanted to see if you like, uh…..wanted to come play with me next year……..”
“Oh yeah, sure! I’d love to, at next year’s all star game, and you know we got the Olympics coming up too, and…”
“No, um, actually I was talking about the Bulls.”
“OH…..well….hmmm…..” *LeBron mentally sighs, wondering when the circus will end.
“Kid, listen…2010 free agency is six months away…all I’ll say is, I’m open to anything this summer. Sure.”
“Aw thanks LeBron, that’s like, really cool.”
“And because I like you so much kid, I want you to come to the Sunday night party I’m throwing with Jay-Z!”
“Oh wowwwwww…umm….well, I turned 21 so I think I’m Ok…”
* LeBron laughs* “I love this kid.”
“Alright my fellow noobs….let’s go get ‘em–oh wait, ummmm….I forgot Dwayne Wade! He’s tying his shoes…so ummmmm….maybe I can impress him with my play on the court………”
And so on. The purely hypothetical scouting adventures of Derrick Rose, ladies and gentlemen. All pictures taken by yours truly. My twitter feed (where I have also posted these pictures) is at illegaloffense.
Section III—Replay Review Process
a. All replay reviews would be conducted by the officials as a crew after gathering as
much information as possible. In cases of conflict, the crew chief would make the final decision.
b. The crew shall have a maximum of two minutes to review the video, and, following
that, make a ruling. The officials would be given a reasonable amount of additional time
beyond two minutes for review of flagrant fouls/penalty 2 and player altercations.
c. If the replay system is not working, the crew chief will use the nearest courtside TV
d. The call made by the game officials during play would be reversed only when the
replay provides the officials with “clear and conclusive” visual evidence to do so.
e. The officials will use the following to make their final decision in the order listed
below regarding scoring, timing or fouls at the end of any period.
(1) Game clock or shot clock on top of backboard.
(2) LED lights.
(3) Game clock on the facades of the balcony.
(4) Game clock on score boards hanging from the ceiling.
(5) Superimposed TV clocks.
e (ct’d). The officials will keep both teams on the court at the end of the second period if
instant replay is being used to determine if a foul was called prior to expiration or if there is
any question whether the shooter committed a 24-second violation, 8-second violation or
boundary line violation where time may be added to the game clock.
f. The officials will keep both teams on the court anytime instant replay is used at the
end of the fourth period or overtime period.
Protests are not permitted during the course of a game. In order to file a protest, the procedure, as set forth in the NBA constitution, is as follows: “In order to protest against or appeal from the result of a game, notice thereof must be given to the Commissioner within forty-eight (48) hours after the conclusion of said game, by E-mail or fax, stating therein the grounds for such protest. No protest may be filed in connection with any game played during the regular season after midnight of the day of the last game of the regular schedule. A protest in connection with a playoff game must be filed not later than midnight of the day of the game protested. A game may be protested only by a Governor, Alternate Governor or Head Coach. The right of protest shall inure not only to the immediately allegedly aggrieved con-testants, but to any other member who can show an interest in the grounds of protest and the results that might be attained if the protest were allowed. Each E-mail or fax of protest shall be immediately confirmed by letter and no protest shall be valid unless the letter of confirmation is accompanied by a check in the sum of $10,000 payable to the Association. If the member filing the protest prevails, the $10,000 is to be refunded. If the member does not prevail, the $10,000 is to be for-feited and retained in the Association treasury.
“Upon receipt of a protest, the Commissioner shall at once notify the member operating the opposing team in the game protested and require both of said mem-bers within five (5) days to file with him such evidence as he may desire bearing upon the issue. The Commissioner shall decide the question raised within five (5) days after receipt of such evidence.”
In this young season, there have been several surprise stories. Brandon Jennings is looking like the steal of the draft. Allen Iverson has already quit on the Grizzlies quicker than anyone imagined possible. Elton Brand is completely done. The Cavs are struggling with Shaq. Jermaine O’Neal can still play. The Rockets are playing unbelievably well without Yao and Tracy. Tyreke Evans is a monster.
But perhaps the biggest surprise story so far, in my opinion, has been the emergence of the Phoenix Suns, starting off the season 7-1 in what promises to be their first full year with the SSOL philosophy back in effect, and without Shaquille O’Neal in the middle. I think the Rockets starting off well is a close second, but since the Suns have the better record, and considering the “sun was supposed to be setting,” I feel inclined to try and analyze just what is going on. With this Suns team, at first glance, you cannot help but be amazed. They knocked off the Celtics IN BOSTON. Steve Nash is dishing out dimes like there is no tomorrow. Channing Frye has emerged as a legitimate beast in the middle. Amare looks good. This team is headed to the Western Conference Finals, possibly the NBA finals, right? Right?
Unfortunately, I am going to have to come in and rain on the parade. I can’t just believe this out right. I have to *analyze* this before I become a believer.
Believe me, I want to jump on the bandwagon. It’s great to see teams bucking the “conventional wisdom,” so to speak, and overachieve. After all, it was the Suns that brought the run and gun fun back to the NBA with the D’Antoni/Nash offense. The talk coming out Phoenix suggests that there is a greater sense of “team” philosophy than ever before. Nash and Hill signed deals this offseason that suggest they are in this for the long haul. Amare is saying all the right things. Hugs and good vibes all around, right?
Let’s take a closer look at these wins.
The Suns have beaten:
–The Clippers (by two points, on opening night)
–The Warriors (a team in complete and total disarray right now)
–The Wolves (possibly the worst team in the NBA right now)
–The Heat (close game that required Steve Nash to go off for 30, 25 of them in the second half in order for them to secure the win)
–The Celtics (now this win I can give them credit for)
–The Wizards (another team in disarray, with Mike Miller out, Nick Young out, Antawn Jamison out, Javale McGee out)
–And last night against the Sixers (by four points, with the only offensive threats being Lou Williams and Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand having completely regressed)
Still, a win is a win, I suppose. OK, so how did they perform against these teams last year? Maybe we can see if anything changed. I am going to go ahead and discount the Terry Porter era and just focus on the Gentry days. Surely, since the Suns are at full strength, they should be crushing these teams much more than when they were without Amare for the post-All-Star stretch last year, right?
–They blew out the Clippers two nights in a row last year, but barely managed to hold them off on opening night.
–They still beat the Warriors twice post-All-Star break.
–They beat a Philly team that made the playoffs last year by 10, in this run they could not hold them off until the final minute of play
–They still crushed the Wolves.
–They lost to the Heat last year, unable to contain D-Wade
–They got blown out by Boston, without KG.
–They still crushed the Wizards.
OK. Maybe I am wrong? I guess having Amare back full-time in a SSOL system is a good thing. What about Nash? What is he doing differently?
He’s scoring, passing, and shooting better than he has in years. Look at the numbers. When you see something like that, you start to wonder. But that’s not all.
Jason Richardson’s scoring average hasn’t been this high since he first arrived in Charlotte. Hmm…
Grant Hill is averaging 8.6 rebounds per game. Grant Hill. The last time he averaged that many boards, he was in his third year as a Piston. Maybe we’re on to something?
Amare is still a weapon, but it appears that the eye surgery may have long lasting impact. One way to tell immediately is by his FT% numbers. Historically he’s been a great shooter, averaging about 75% from the line, but this year he has dipped to an uncharacteristically low 68%. There’s only one explanation. But with that said, he must be conscious of this, as his FGA has gone down by 3 attempts per game. In spite of this, still playing well? Hmm…could only be one other thing.
Finally, Channing Frye. After a promising rookie year with the Knicks, he hit a sophomore wall, and then was banished to Portland’s bench to essentially languish, until this year gave him the opportunity to become a unique, deadly weapon that quite frankly no one could see coming and teams are probably not prepared for – a 44% shooter from behind the arc. Compare this to last year, when Phoenix’s starting center was a 37 year old behemoth who could barely get up and down the court anymore, let alone hit free throws.
But I think this is the one key point that has completely thrown opposing defenders off. A 3 point shooting center who has no history of ever being a good three point shooter. Combine this with the Suns’ run and gun pace, and it’s no wonder why they have jumped out to the record they have jumped out. Opposing teams cannot scout for something like this.
It’s also telling that their only loss of the year so far came to an Orlando Magic team which also features a host of shooters. So essentially, the way to beat this Suns team is to beat them at their own game. You have to out run them, and out shoot them. The Celtics going down to them proves that if your center is not prepared/ready to play perimeter defense, you have no chance. The victory against the Celtics, Frye did not play too well, shooting 1/4 from behind the arc and scoring only 8 points, but the biggest impact was that he essentially pulled Kendrick Perkins out of the paint and left the rebounding situation at Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, who were then outmuscled by Hill and Amare. The battle of the boards was, therefore, predictably a draw (the Celtics had 3 more boards…woo hoo?) and it also allowed the Suns to get off higher percentage shots (59 points in the paint) as a direct result of drawing the 3rd front court member out of there.
It will be interesting to see how long this continues. For now, I consider myself humbled and stumped. The Suns are for real. Only injuries, or equally athletic frontcourts with versatility, can stop them.
I just got finished watching one of the better games of this season. High flying, a semi-SSOL form of the offense, and a bunch of European/International guys just jacking it up at will, with a final score of 131-124.
And yes, it involved the San Antonio Spurs. Seriously.
I have seen the future of Spurs basketball, and it’s a post Duncan-ian/Parker-ian sort of future.
The Spurs have looked pretty awful so far this year. After a solid opening night victory against the New Orleans Hornets, they have been less than impressive, getting manhandled by the Bulls, Jazz, and Blazers. Sure, they’ve had a few wins, but nothing impressive. This after many experts and analysts previewed them to be a serious threat to the Lakers after a summer of retooling, picking up Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess via free agency, and drafting Mr. “Look ma, no ACLs!” DeJuan Blair.
So tonight, when the news hit that not only would Tony Parker be out due to his ankle sprain suffered in the loss to Portland, but now Tim Duncan would also be out with a swollen left ankle, you had to wonder just what was going to happen. Probably a bad loss against the big bad Raptors, at full strength with Chris Bosh putting up serious numbers early in the season, averaging a shade under 30/12.
Well, you didn’t remember that the Spurs still had Manu available. But this was an interesting experience, because for the Spurs’ big 3, this was the first time since April 19, 2006 that the team was playing with “just” Manu in there and neither of the others. So what were they going to look like? Man, oh man. I think Popovich must have planned this or something, because I have no idea where the hell this came from.
The defense pretty much went to hell in the first 3 quarters. It was a back and forth affair, with both teams just exchanging buckets back and forth, back and forth. On the Raptors’ end, Bosh went to the foul line 17 times total during the game. If this were any other night, I’d say that was inexcusable, but you couldn’t argue with the results as it kind of took him out of his element (yes, he made the shots but you didn’t see him getting into the paint all that often). A lot of 3 balling was going on from both teams, but one thing that was encouraging was how George Hill basically stepped into Tony Parkers’ shoes early, running the point, and just kept attacking the Raptors’ interior defenders. Matt Bonner also looked solid, finishing with 18 points on the night on a mixture of 3s and inside scores.
But what struck me the most about the Spurs was how quickly they were just chucking shots, letting things go, and then quickly getting back on defense only to see the Raptors do the same thing. This lasted until the 4th, when Manu Ginobli laid down the gauntlet and basically said “enough is enough.” He started swarming on defense, becoming a one man show, and in about 5 minutes ran the point unebelievably. Time after time, he’d draw defenders away from the perimeter and calmly kick it out to a waiting Bonner, Richard Jefferson (24 pts, 7 assists), or Antonio McDyess would do the same. At times I remarked to myself that he ran the point better than Parker (no joke). And Toronto, instead of switching it up with a zone perhaps, or just manning up and cutting off help defense, would stupidly fall for the same trick, over and over again. In the end, the Spurs’ shots just kept falling while the Raptors finally became exposed to some real defense in the last several minutes, and that was that.
To put things in perspective, if you get a chance to watch this game, go back and watch it. The Spurs had not scored over 130 points since April 10, 2005 when they beat the Warriors (I’m talking pre “we-believe,” pre-Nellie, Biedrins rookie year, Mike Montgomery Warriors) in double OT. And the last time the Spurs scored over 130 in regulation was February 4, 1993 against the Pacers, featuring a lineup of David Robinson, Sean Elliott and Avery Johnson.
So like I said, who knows when we’ll see something like that again. Well, now that I think about it…to be honest? If Timmy D and Tony P are out for an extended period of time? We could very well be seeing this high-scoring, Suns-lite sort of offense on Wednesday, against the Mavs…a team that is no stranger to this sort of run and gun play themselves.
And man, it’s gonna be fun. So even if you hate the Spurs, hop on board for just a little bit and check out the Manu show.