Offensive rating: Spurs – 107.5 (2nd), Jazz – 103.2 (11th)
Defensive rating: Spurs – 101.1 (13th), Jazz – 104.0 (23rd)
Pace: Spurs – 94.5 (9th), Jazz – 94.5 (10th)
Time: 8 p.m
Radio: WOAI-AM 1200, KCOR-AM 1350
Three takeaways from last night’s game.
Who needs 3-pointers? You would think that a team that thrives on the 3-pointer like San Antonio would be subject to bouts of inconsistency. That would make intuitive sense; when their shots aren’t falling, the game won’t go in their favor. Yet, the Spurs have went 16-8 in games where they make less than seven 3-pointers in a game. They can continue to win because of the diverse nature of our offense. Danny Green, Stephen Jackson, Patrick Mills, Gary Neal, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are capable of slashing towards the rim and creating for themselves. Unlike a lot of teams, our shooters also present us with the potential of, whenever necessary, making something out of nothing. 3-pointers will not always fall and when they don’t the Spurs have an excellent fallback plan and the duo of Ginobili and Parker that have a knack for finding open spaces in the defense.
DeJuan Blair, Matt Bonner, Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter are also different in their own ways — Blair is great at creating extra opportunities for the offense, Bonner spaces the floor for our creators, Duncan can knock down the long 2-pointer and work down low, and Splitter does his work on pick-and-rolls. The different skill sets that they possess — no one is redudant, the healthy DNP’s are more of a function of the amount of depth we have — also make it easy on Pop and, subsequently, much harder on the defense.
Defensive rebounds. Currently, the Spurs have grabbed more defensive rebounds than their opponents in eight consecutive games. This isn’t surprising per se — considering the Spurs are the No. 1 defensive rebounding team — but it’s something I’d like to talk about (briefly, I promise). While the Spurs don’t create a lot of extra possessions for themselves, they do something that really is, if not more so, as valuable. And that is preventing the other team from creating extra possessions, a pretty abstract concept, I know. Against a team that executes consistently well like the Spurs, a less efficient needs those extra possessions to supersede their disadvantages. And, because of this, we shouldn’t be that surprised — we should, a little, given the longevity of our success this month — the Spurs are beating their opponents by 13.2 points per game.
Kawhi Leonard’s little “rookie wall.” Leonard, in a five game sample size, is averaging five points, 2.8 rebounds and a 47.8 field goal percentage. Yes, he’s struggling. Yes, he isn’t even contributing on the board. But, even so, Leonard has the full confidence of Gregg Popovich, as he’s still averaging 21.8 minutes. His defense is still great. He is only 20 years old. Calm down, everyone (well, I may have been the only one to notice this so, if that’s the case, proceed as you normally would). I’m not going to overlook his excellent games — his entire March was excellent — just because of a measly five game slump.
Final verdict. Spurs by 10. Both teams are on a back-to-back so we don’t have to worry about our lack of rest. I’ve probably been a little to cautious with my predictions primarily as a defense mechanism that I developed after last year. I’m not going to guarantee a title but, man, am I incredibly excited for the playoffs.