Spurs Link-And-Roll – 5.26.12


J.A. Adande of ESPN.com: “Then the television ratings will come out and reveal how little America really cares about the Spurs. They can retool their roster and revamp their style into the highest-scoring offense in these playoffs and the perception of them will never change. And let’s face it, as long as Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are around the Spurs will seem…redundant. The problem is, they’re a PBS documentary and we’re a nation that’s addicted to shows about the Kardashians.”

Jesse Blanchard of 48 Minutes of Hell: “But with a system built around ball movement, cutting, and shooters galore, with a roster featuring players capable of doing each of those tasks, the Spurs stand to be competitive ad infinitum so long as its stars retain functional athleticism.”

Tim Duncan is a better defender than Serge Ibaka.

Kyle Boenitz of Project Spurs: “I imagine Coach Pop will have a few different looks to throw at Durant. They’ll probably start off with Kawhi Leonard, and switch it up to Stephen Jackson and maybe some other defenders as well. You don’t want to start throwing out double teams because Durant is a smart enough player to find his open teammate. It’s going to be a huge task finding the balance between too much and too little attention.”

Jim Cavan of Knickerblogger: “It hurts to admit now, but San Antonio was built, and functioned, the way the Knicks should have. Lockout crust and pair of number one draft picks aside, the Spurs – marshaled by a budding genius of a second year coach – knew who they were, and bent all wills to its own accordingly. And as much as I knew we had no chance, I hated the Spurs for it; hated that they’d taken “our blueprint” and built something towering above us and left no view but that of their cloud-cloaked crown.”

Paul Garcia of Project Spurs: “Here’s the thing, I’m pretty sure Smith and Bayless haven’t been to more than 20 Parker interviews this season. For me, I’ve been in the locker room before and after games and I laughed at how much attention these comments are getting. That was just a case of Parker being Parker. He just states what’s on his mind in a non-derogatory manner. In print, those comments look so negative toward Westbrook, but if you really know how Parker’s interviews normally go, he was just being himself.”

A striking comparison between Bruce Bowen and Kawhi Leonard.

Dan Grunfield of SB Nation: “Once game time rolled around, I was primed and ready for a Beethoven-esque drool fest (the dog, not the composer), but as the contest moved along, slobber never became the issue that I’d hoped it would. Unfortunately, my glorious nap was thwarted by the brilliance of the San Antonio Spurs. I totally missed my sleep window because, even with my travel delirium, I could not turn away from the fluid efficiency unique to San Antonio’s game. Against the Clippers, they shared the ball, they communicated, they made shots, they defended, and they worked together in harmony. At some point during the third quarter, I’m pretty sure I went cross-eyed watching them operate, but I stayed awake, mesmerized, as the Spurs erased a 24-point first-half deficit with poise and precision on their way to beating Los Angeles for their 17th win in a row.”

Zach Lowe of The Point Forward: “But every bit of evidence suggests that the Spurs are going to win this series. They have been the best team in the league for most of the season, and it hasn’t really been close. They are 29-2 in their last 31 games, and one of those losses came when coach Gregg Popovich sat Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. They have outscored opponents by about 15 points per 100 possessions in the last 30 games. The 1995-96 Bulls, the winningest team in league history, outscored opponents by 13.6 points per 100 possessions, the largest recorded margin.”

3-on-3 game day preview for Thunder-Spurs.

Aaron McGuire of 48 Minutes of Hell: “A few items of note. As they did against many teams, the Spurs primarily hurt the Thunder this year by blasting them on the offensive end — the Spurs shot very well against the Thunder relative to the Thunder’s usual opponent averages, with a eFG% of 51%. It’s worth noting that this is well below the Spurs’ full season average, and far below what the Spurs have been shooting since Stephen Jackson’s return — the Thunder defense was effective in holding the Spurs slightly below their season average, but they certainly didn’t shut them down.”

Andrew McNeill of 48 Minutes of Hell: “Yesterday, Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News wrote about the Thunder’s Derek Fisher and the obvious bad memories that arise for Spurs fans when Fisher’s name is mentioned. I probably don’t need to remind you about one of the more famous shots in NBA Playoff history. It’s a shot that, to this day, I can’t watch without my soul dying a little, Charlie Murphy be damned.”

Judging the Thunder and Spurs with plus/minus per minute.

Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: “Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti landed his very first job in the NBA after an interview with Spurs basketball chief R.C. Buford that literally was conducted on the run.”

Nazr Mohammed: “Tim’s one of the best teammates ever. Just a good guy who wants to work hard and play basketball. He doesn’t want the limelight and all the stuff that comes with it. It’s almost unbelievable when you’ve got guys like Tim and (Durant), guys who just want to play basketball and work hard. I tried to learn what I could from Tim. When I’m done, I can say I played with one of the top three power forwards ever to play the game. I can’t complain.”

Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus: “This could be a big series for Harden, who averaged 19.3 points on 59.4 percent shooting against San Antonio during the regular season. Ginobili will be a better defensive option against Harden. Still, the Thunder’s sixth man is well positioned to take advantage of the Spurs’ poor pick-and-roll defense, something that has yet to be exploited in the playoffs. San Antonio was able to control Paul by trapping side pick-and-rolls, but Harden prefers to operate at the top of the key, especially when he’s playing with Oklahoma City’s second unit as a lead ballhandler. Because Harden can both penetrate and shoot off the dribble, the Spurs’ best option might be aggressively trapping him toward the half-court line, but that’s a dangerous strategy that can turn into open shots for the rest of the Thunder’s players.”

Would you be interested in a CPU vs. CPU breakdown of Thunder-Spurs by any chance?

Sebastian Pruiti of Grantland: “So far in the playoffs, neither the San Antonio Spurs nor the Oklahoma City Thunder have been truly tested. But when they face each other in the Western Conference Finals, I’m expecting that to change for both teams. They both score efficiently, but in polar opposite ways. As I’ve written about before, San Antonio relies on their perfect execution to get into the lane, make extra passes, and get the best shot possible. Oklahoma City, on the other hand, relies on their talented shooters. We can expect this to be a high-scoring series, and there are two key play types — one for each team — that could determine the direction of this series.”

Aaronstampler of Pounding the Rock: “We know Leonard is pretty good. Heck, the guy made the All-Rookie First-Team. Still, it’s hard for me to comprehend how he could possibly elevate his play in the playoffs as 20-year-old, yet somehow he’s done precisely that. Just when I thought that Pop would start limiting his minutes more and more at this stage, preferring to go with the more experienced Stephen Jackson, Leonard has forced the issue (to be fair, so has Jackson, in reverse), emphatically declaring that he’s one of the most vital, irreplaceable cogs in the machine. He’s not going anywhere.”

Bloggers have voices too.

SpursFanTN of Pounding the Rock: “We live in a day and age where pretty much everything that any basketball player says is overblown, overhyped, overanalyzed, and over scrutinized. Why? Because analysts are trying to get some insight. They want to know not just what has happened, and is happening. They want to know the future, what is going to happen? Everybody is all about predictions. Kind of stupid, in my opinion, as you have guys like Stephen A. Smith laughing Skip Bayless out of the building for saying “Tiago Splitter”, and then later having to slowly eat his words over a number of interviews until he outright apologizes to Skip Bayless, and predicts the Spurs to win it all. It’s ok to speak opinions as opinions with a degree of uncertainty – which is what many of these guys who unequivocally wrote off the Spurs are doing now. They were convinced before. They are not quite convinced, or don’t want to believe it now. That’s ok.”

SRJ34 of Pounding the Rock: “In reality, hindsight is a propaganda tool designed to trick people into believing that the events of history were inevitable, that no force on Heaven or Earth could sway Destiny from making her appointed rounds. Well, with “benefit” of hindsight, what do we see when we look back on 1999 from the year 2012? The Memorial Day Miracle was one of fifteen playoff victories that year by our Spurs, and four seasons later, four players from that squad and coach Popovich would return to win a second title. In between championships, the Spurs won 53, 58, and 58 games. The 2003 squad added rookie sensation Manu Ginobili to the core group of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Bruce Bowen – and that foursome would go on to win two more titles and contend year after year. Sure, the Memorial Day Miracle was special, but winning playoff games was just destiny for the coach-player tandem of Pop and Timmy. This particular playoff game was just rather unusual in its route to victory.”