San Antonio Spurs News

Spurs Show Versatility and Depth, Beat Clippers.

Feb 24, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) dunks the ball against the LA Clippers during the fourth quarter at Staples Center. The San Antonio Spurs won 105-97. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 24, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) dunks the ball against the LA Clippers during the fourth quarter at Staples Center. The San Antonio Spurs won 105-97. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
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Despite Chris Paul returning to the lineup, the San Antonio Spurs were still able to pick up a win against the Los Angeles Clippers, 105-97.

Spurs basketball is not only back, but better than ever.

The Spurs were welcoming Pau Gasol back to the lineup, who had missed 15 games with a fractured hand. On the other hand, the Clippers were welcoming back Chris Paul, who had also missed over a month of basketball. The stage was set:

A healthy Clippers versus a healthy Spurs. May the best team win.

Last night, the Spurs showed why they were the better “team.”

Kawhi Leonard picks up his fifth foul with 7:13 left in the 3Q, so the Spurs are officially in trouble.

— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) February 25, 2017

With 7:13 left in the third quarter, Kawhi Leonard had to sit after picking up his fifth foul. At this point, the Spurs were down nine points in Los Angeles, with the odds stacked against them.

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Since Gasol’s injury, the Spurs have struggled offensively, putting the majority of the scoring load on the shoulders of Leonard. Last night, the tables were turned, and a total team effort brought the Spurs back without the assistance of Leonard.

Leonard finished with 21 points on 7-of-16 shooting, and six assists.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 15 points and 11 rebounds. Tony Parker had 17 points.

Gasol had 17 points and 11 rebounds in his return. Patty Mills had 14 points of his own.

Manu Ginobli contributed six points, four assists, three rebounds, and three steals.

Dewayne Dedmon, who made the start over Gasol, finished with four points and 12 rebounds.

Spurs finished the quarter on an 18-5 run, with all their points scored by either Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili or Tony Parker.

— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) February 25, 2017

This is the game that every Spurs fan has been waiting for.

Despite Leonard picking up his fifth foul and limiting his playing time in the second half, in conjunction with Aldridge shooting 5 for 15 from the field, the Spurs still managed a victory against an elite team on the road.

Prior to this game, the Clippers were winning the regular season matchup, 2-0.

Thankfully, last night brought that series to a 2-1 Clippers lead with one more game left to play.

With a great win road win, here’s what we learned about the Spurs.

Depth

Head coach Gregg Popovich has a problem. A good problem, but a problem.

Despite Gasol’s return, he was relegated to the bench in favor of Dedmon.

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It’s unclear whether Gasol came off the bench to ease himself back into play, or Popovich preferred that Gasol play with the second unit.

It’s also worth noting that Dedmon played a total of 23 minutes, while Gasol played a total of 26 minutes. So, while Dedmon was granted the start, Gasol ended up playing a few more minutes.

With Dedmon’s emergence during the beginning stages of the Rodeo Road Trip, I had predicted that Gasol would earn his starting spot upon returning from injury.

Based on last night’s performance, it doesn’t seem that this prediction will hold any truth. However, it should be interesting to see what Popovich decides to do with his rotations Sunday against the Lakers.

Will he start Dedmon again, or give Gasol his starting job back?

While it’s unclear if Dedmon will continue to be the starter, his impact on the court is clear.

Starters with Pau: 113.5 OffRtg, 104.6 DefRtg, +8.9 net rating

Starters with Dedmon: 110.1 OffRtg, 92.1 DefRtg, +18.0 net rating

— Quixem Ramirez (@quixem) February 25, 2017

Either way you slice it, the Spurs have solid production in the front-court.

However, it’s clear that with Dedmon on the floor, the Spurs become arguably the best defensive team in the NBA. With Gasol on the floor, the Spurs become one of the most efficient offensive teams in the NBA.

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The starting unit with Dedmon is an elite half-court defense that rebounds at a high rate. Gasol playing alongside Mills, Ginobli, Jonathan Simmons, and David Lee is arguably the best offensive second unit in the NBA.

Popovich always had elite second units, and this year is shaping up to be much of the same.

It’s also possible that the Spurs may go after Andrew Bogut, who is expected be bought out by the Philadelphia 76ers following his trade from the Dallas Mavericks.

Versatility

The depth of the Spurs also makes them incredibly versatile.

During the weeks leading up to the All-Star game, it seemed like the Spurs couldn’t win if Leonard didn’t score 30+ points. Last night, the Spurs came back without him.

Spurs finish a 105-97 win over Clips at Staples, much of the heavy lifting coming with Kawhi on the bench. Pretty pretty good win.

— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) February 25, 2017

Parker has become more of a facilitator this season, but he is prone to getting his buckets when he wants to (or needs to). Parker had 17 points on 5-of-12 shooting, along with three assists, two rebounds, and two steals.

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  • Mills seemed to have found his shooting stroke as well. He poured in 14 points in 20 minutes on 50% shooting.

    In his return, Gasol scored 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including 3 for 3 beyond the arc, along with 11 rebounds and two assists in 26 minutes.

    Despite his great performance, the player of the game was arguably Ginobli. In just 22 minutes, he had six points, four rebounds, three assists, and three steals. He had a +/- of 23, 15 points higher than second-place Parker who had a +/- of 8.

    If Popovich can get production like that from his first and second unit, they are incredibly difficult to beat. They beat the Clippers at Staples Center with a poor shooting nights from Leonard, Aldridge and Danny Green.

    If three of your starters have poor shooting nights, chances are you lose the game. On the Spurs, poor shooting nights can be overcome because the “Next Man Up” mentality runs rampant in San Antonio.

    That is why the Spurs have five championships in the last 20 years.

    That is why the Spurs have the second best record in the NBA.

    There isn’t an over-reliance on any one player to carry this team. With this much versatility and depth on both ends of the floor, the Spurs put the rest of the NBA on notice last night.

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    The Spurs are 44-13, healthy, and ready to make a serious playoff push.

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