Apr 20, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) reacts to a foul called on him during the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers at the AT

Spurs Link-And-Roll - 5.24.12

Tim C. of Pounding the Rock: “If Brooks decides to go small, with Durant at the 4, the Spurs will still have the advantage. The Spurs can field four offensive threats on the perimeter at all times, while Durant, Harden, and Westbrook are the only real three point threats the Thunder have. While those three are undeniably great offensive players, Derek Fisher and Thabo Sefolosha are… not. Fisher in particular can be exploited by faster (read: younger) players making quick, decisive cuts to the basket. Harden is also prone to defensive lapses. While the Thunder might be able to score quite a bit when they go small, the Spurs would have an even greater advantage as long as they keep up their usual great movement and spacing on offense. The more the Spurs move, the more OKC must try to recover, and the more out of postion the defense ends up.”

Edg5 of Pounding the Rock: “The team still looks like an offensive juggernaut even with Manu only contributing 11.3 points a game in an inefficient manner, but going forward the Spurs are going to need Ginobili to hit those 3s and ideally, get back to his regular season average of 75% of made shots at the rim while drawing more fouls. To do that, Manu will probably have to be more patient with his shot selection from beyond the arc (only around half of his makes have been assisted) and know when and who to attack off the dribble. Manu’s reputation as a contact exaggerator is actually hurting him with the refs, who seem to swallow their whistles in most doubtful situations involving Manu.”

Stephen Jackson: “How does the Defensive Player of the Year not make first team all-defensive team. Krazy”

Boris Diaw: “OKC also had a very good season and we passed by them at the last moment. They are the favorites. We must really respect all teams. We try to stay humble in victory. One suspects it has been easy because we won both series 4-0, but every game is different. We must approach this new series with the most seriousness as possible because the Thunder are made of sterner stuff. We’ll have to be careful at the first match, at home. That may be the most important game of the playoffs. We are all very motivated because we know we can go far if we play well.”

Austin Link of TeamRankings.com (Insider): “Overall, though, the numbers seem to confirm what the rings say. During the course of their entire careers, Duncan has been a slightly better basketball player than Garnett. It’s an incredibly tough call, though, which means there would be one incredibly exciting way to settle this debate: on the court, during the 2012 NBA Finals.”

Are the Spurs and Thunder rivals?

Paul Garcia of Project Spurs: “The best way to solve the problem of limiting Harden is to throw Green on him. From the footage I’ve seen, Green was very effective on him because he stays close to his defender throughout the game, rarely moving away from him. For Green to consistently guard Harden, Parker will have to keep pace with Russell Westbrook. If Parker can’t contain Westbrook, then the Spurs will have to resort to Green to play defense on him, which opens up the chance for Harden to score on whoever is guarding him.”

Ian Levy of Hickory High: “The Spurs are a perfect example. Looking at just their offensive outcomes which occurred at least 100 times this season, we are left with a total of 3558 possessions. 1952 of those possessions, or 54.8% were used by either cutters, spot up shooters or screeners in the pick and roll. Across the entire league just 45.9% of offensive outcomes came from those three possession types. The Spurs have found a way to significantly tilt that offensive balance in their favor. They also have managed to be more efficient than average with those less efficient opportunities. The Spurs had 7 different offensive outcomes that occurred at least 100 times that were on the bottom half of that efficiency list (Gary Neal – PnR Ball Handler,Tony Parker – PnR Ball Handler, Manu Ginobili – PnR Ball Handler, Tony Parker – Isolation, Tim Duncan – Post Up, Tiago Splitter – Post Up, DeJuan Blair – Post Up). Of those 7 different offensive outcomes, only three (Tim Duncan– Post Up, Tiago Splitter – Post Up, DeJuan Blair – Post Up) scored at a rate below the league average for that possession type.”

France will play the United States on July 29th.

Andrew Lynch of Hardwood Paroxysm: “As the abuse continued, that begrudging acknowledgement evolved into full-fledged devotion. I love these Spurs. I loved them when they were a defensive stalwart that slowly strangled their opponent, savoring every possession. I love them now that they’re the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a perfect offensive team, different from the Seven Seconds Or Less Suns, but — in a thought that approaches blasphemy — equally entertaining. Tim Duncan is my second favorite active player, and sometimes, he’s 1b to Steve Nash. (More heresy!) I love Manu Ginobili so much that I want to marry this advertisement in the airport in Buenos Aires.”

The Spurs defense is picking up.

Rob Mahoney of the New York Times: “No team closes out defensive possessions more effectively than the Spurs, and few are more capable of capitalizing on the offensive boards than the active and athletic Thunder. But the offensive rebound isn’t merely an end in itself. By extending possessions, the Thunder have the potential to derail San Antonio’s early offense, even if also has the potential for great risk, should the Spurs secure a defensive rebound quickly and cue the break. It’s a gambit that could go either way, making success all the more important.”

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: “Propelled by the most prolific scoring trio in the NBA, the Thunder are sure to provide stiffer resistance than the two teams the Spurs just finished shredding like so much used Christmas paper.”

Chris Mullin previews the Western Conference Finals.

Steve McPherson of Hardwood Paroxysm: “Little to nothing. The run is impressive and will remain so. Really, it’s a shame that we can’t as sports fans enjoy things for what they are without burdening them with excessive layers of meaning (says the guy who regularly conflates sports and Russian literature, jazz, ’70s AOR, *The Odyssey*, and *The Great Gatsby*). I’m confident that if San Antonio loses, it will not be because they fail to play their game, but because their game just won’t stand up to the onslaught of youth and talent that is the Thunder. And as we all know, whoever wins this year will have a footnote or an asterisk or maybe a pilcrow or winking-smiley emoticon because of the lunar eclipse.”

Chris Palmer of ESPN.com (Insider): “While still a bit raw (he’s just 20) Leonard is developing into a dangerous shooter from several spots on the floor, especially the corner 3-pointer on which he’s shooting an excellent 47 percent. He also has the potential to be an effective midrange shooter, which is essential for a small forward. Leonard would be well served to improve his ballhandling in the offseason so he can better use his shooting ability and get to the rim more frequently, which in turn will earn him more trips to the line. With Manu Ginobili’s advanced age, he’ll be called on to play a much bigger role next season.”

Tags: NBA Playoffs 2012 San Antonio Spurs

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