Spurs Link-And-Roll – 5.30.12


J.A. Adande of ESPN.com: “If the Moneyball Oakland A’s were about wise investment strategies and the New England Patriots are regarded as a sound business model, we should think of the San Antonio Spurs as an effective government. The greatest testament to a successful political system is the peaceful transfer of power: regime change without strife or bloodshed. That’s the way it has been for the Spurs, from David Robinson to Tim Duncan, from Duncan to Manu Ginobili and now Tony Parker. If you want plotting, double-crossing and high-carnage battles, catch “Game of Thrones” on Sundays. San Antonio is a long way from Westeros. With the Spurs, regimes change with neither a fight nor instructions from above.”

Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com: “First and foremost, Popovich is a tactician, an exquisite strategist who has developed one of the most detail-oriented offenses and most principled defenses in basketball. Yet Popovich can become emotionally charged — selectively. (Witness him after a 6-0 run during which his perimeter defenders allow an uncontested pair of 3-pointers.) As a coach with no patience for the obvious, he’s not going to tell his guys, “Keep fighting!” in a huddle, but he also knows when to sound an emotional appeal to his players, when to challenge a player’s toughness and, as he did during a timeout at a crucial juncture of Game 1 of the West finals (“I want some nasty”), when to inspire.”

Arnovitz of ESPN.com: “All night, the Spurs had been running Westbrook ragged by pounding him with a wave of screens — at the top of the floor from the Spurs’ big men, off the ball as he tried to chase Parker around the Spurs’ land mines. Westbrook’s conditioning is among the best in the business, but there are physical and mental tolls to be paid by running into plaster walls, dodging shoulders, fighting through bodies for 50 reps of 20 seconds each. When it all came to a head and the Thunder trailed by eight inside of a minute, Parker milked some clock, crossed over Westbrook right to left, then stepped through and past Kevin Durant before bounding off his right leg for a 4-foot floater.”

Joe Bendiez graded the performances of the San Antonio Spurs in Game 2.

Jesse Blanchard of 48 Minutes of Hell: “Alone in the corner, shooting arm extended and displaying classic textbook form on his followthrough, Spurs guard Danny Green stood still and admired his three-pointer settling softly into the bottom of the net. In a third quarter run in which the San Antonio Spurs orchestrated a harmonious symphony of synchronized movement and passing, Green’s statuesque pose was perhaps the lone moment a member of his team could be caught at a standstill. And who could blame Green for stopping to smell the roses? The execution on the play leading to his three-pointer was the sort of perfection coaches dare not even dream about.”

ESPN Stats & Info: “The Spurs are the fourth team in NBA history to win at least 20 straight games in one season. Two of the three teams to reach that threshold in the past won the NBA title that season. During the streak, the Spurs are winning by nearly 15 points per game.”

Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News: “The Thunder franchise does not fully copy the Spurs’ model. Let’s get that straight. The Thunder operate traditionally. They have a strong general manager, and they have a nervous coach. That’s why Scott Brooks can’t survive many more nights such as Sunday. In the Thunder model, coaches lose leverage and maybe their jobs when they look foolish. Brooks can still beat the Spurs, and he would be rewarded for that. He’s the rare coach in a conference finals without a contract for next season; advance to the Finals, and he likely will get a rich one.”

Gregg Popovich chewed out Tony Parker because he can.

CapHill of Pounding the Rock: “To win a championship, a team needs two types of toughness: physical and mental. The Thunder exhibited both of these characteristics against the Lakers. But just because a team shows toughness, does that mean all parts of the team are tough? Not necessarily. For this reason,I think Russell Westbrook is the key to this series. The majority of OKC’s offense comes from their version of the “Big 3″. Kevin Durant is going to get his, no matter how great Jax and Kawhi’s defense is. He’s that elite of a scorer, but of course it helps to limit his touches. James Harden’s got game, but he’s the only creator on their 2nd unit, thereby limiting his effectiveness against a good bench (this is when OKC really misses Eric Maynor). However, the Spurs have no answer for Westbrook’s athleticism, speed and ability to finish at the rim. So why was he non-existent in the 4th quarter?”

Beckley Mason of ESPN.com: “The frenzy to acquire top talent in the NBA market is sometimes compared to an arms race: gather the best weapons or be destroyed by those who do. But the Spurs have sustained their excellence not by picking up shiny new toys, but by dusting off misused or underdeveloped players and applying them in a system that brings out their best. This effect is not exclusive to the Spurs. In his book, “Basketball on Paper,” ESPN Director of Production Analytics Dean Oliver notes that really good teams tend to stay really good even longer than the life of one superstar’s career.”

Aaron McGuire of 48 Minutes of Hell: “That indicates a problem with the Spurs/Thunder “smallball” conundrum — if the Thunder aren’t a better team when the speed it up, but the Spurs are, how are they to match up playing smallball with the Spurs? Ideally, they’d play small, rebound better, and keep the tempo slower than San Antonio’s optimum. But in practice this is incredibly hard to do, especially when the other team plays small-for-small and tries to force the tempo.”

Tim Duncan posterized Serge Ibaka.Sebastian Pruiti of Grantland: “The most telling stat from the Thunder’s pick-and-roll play? Of the 45 ballscreens tracked by Synergy Sports, only four of them resulted in the screener getting the pass, mainly because Collison and Perkins aren’t threats and aren’t viable options. The reason why pick and rolls are so hard to defend is that there are a number of options the defense needs to worry about. But when it becomes a one-option play like we saw with Collison and Perkins as screeners, it’s easy to defend. Choosing to leave Ibaka is not necessarily the most obvious move. Perkins stayed in as a way to prevent Duncan from scoring in the post, but Ibaka deserves more minutes. He’s what makes the Thunder’s pick-and-roll so dynamic.”

Shane Ryan of Grantland: “Tony Parker scored 34 points and dished out eight assists as the Spurs remained unbeaten in the postseason, beating the Thunder 120-111 and going up 2-0 in the Western Conference Finals. “I’m … I’m running out of time,” the Doctor told the Spurs star, in a quiet nook of the locker room. “The Bentonite has been too close to me for too long. Without the powder, I won’t last much longer.” Parker put his head in his hands. “But without you … my God, the whole sports landscape will explode! Only you can cure its ills!” The Doctor nodded wearily. He stood, slumped to the right, and walked away, weaker than Parker had ever seen him. “I can’t help you anymore,” he whispered, and was gone.”Jason Whitlock of Fox Sports: ““The Spurs aren’t remotely boring. They’re poorly marketed by a commissioner and a league that overdosed on Michael Jordan and the celebration of individual over team. They’re poorly defined by media that are gutless, politically correct and lazy.”

Matthew Tynan of Pounding the Rock: “The Spurs were cruising on Tuesday night. It wasn’t a matter of if they would beat the Thunder, but how badly the beatdown would look in the final box score as the team comfortably hit the road up 2-0 in the Western Conference Finals. But this is the NBA, and as they say, everybody in this league makes a run. San Antonio was able to hold on for the 120-111 win, but it appeared a dose of Gregg Popovich’s own medicine nearly broke his team’s surreal streak and made for a sleepless plane ride to Oklahoma City.”

Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker had their way with Oklahoma City.

Trevor Zickgraf of Project Spurs: “Thinking long term here that may be Jack’s biggest impact on his second go around for the Spurs, helping turn Kawhi’s defense from Bruce Banner in to the Hulk. The gifts and smarts are there, he just needs to learn how to be aggressive in that way Jack has kept guys like Dirk Nowitzki off their game for an entire series. Jackson said after Game One that he and Manu were the Danny Ferry and Steve Kerr of this year’s Spurs team. This is A: hilarious and B: important because it shows Jackson is willing to be a role player on this Spurs team. It also makes think of Jackson wearing Ferry’s clothes and vice versa. Or Ferry firing a gun in to the air outside a club. Or Jackson golfing. Or Ferry recording a mix-tape. You get the idea. Point is, Pop wants some nasty and Stephen Jackson is the perfect guy to bring some nasty to this series.”