San Antonio Spurs News

Gregg Popovich Should Consider Making This Roster Change.

Mar 29, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Danny Green (14) celebrates with Tony Parker (9) after making a three point basket against the Golden State Warriors during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 29, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Danny Green (14) celebrates with Tony Parker (9) after making a three point basket against the Golden State Warriors during the first half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
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The San Antonio Spurs blew a 22-point lead at home and suffered a devastating loss to the Golden State Warriors.

Last night’s game was a bitter pill to swallow.

At one point in the first quarter, the Spurs were up 15-0. At another point during the first quarter, the Spurs had a commanding 22-point lead. At the end of the first quarter, the Spurs were leading the Warriors, 33-17.

Then, the Spurs collapsed.

They gave up 37 points in the second quarter, and headed into halftime with just a four point-lead (58-54). The Spurs gave up another 30 points in the third quarter, and were never able to regain the lead. The Warriors had taken the life out of the AT&T Center, without Kevin Durant.

Coach Pop on the Warriors: "Well they're a great defensive team. All their switching bothered us."

— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) March 30, 2017

After the first quarter eruption, the Spurs only scored 65 points the rest of the game.

The Spurs love to move the ball on offense and get a great shot, but when your playing the Warriors, switching on pick and rolls isn’t nearly as effective. The Warriors have athletic wing defenders that can defend multiple positions, so switching doesn’t bother them.

As soon as they got locked in, the Spurs struggled to get into a rhythm. The missed shots allowed the Warriors to play at their pace, which eventually dictated the outcome of this game.

Pau Gasol: "It was a little unrealistic to be up by 20 on this team in the beginning."

Manu had similar words on Spurs' early big lead.

— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) March 30, 2017

Ultimately, it came down to two factors.

The first factor was the ball movement, and how the Spurs got a taste of their own medicine. The Warriors had 31 assists, compared to the Spurs’ 20. It seemed like every time Steph Curry ran a pick and roll, he would get a drive to the lane or a dish for a David West bucket.

The second was the bench production and how the Spurs got a taste of their own medicine, again. The Spurs, who are known for their depth, got outscored by the Warriors second-unit, 45-42.

West: "This was a big game for us; a confidence booster. 2 tough teams, 2 playoff teams, & 2 teams we could possibly see later in the year."

— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) March 30, 2017

Granted, it is worth mentioning that the Spurs blew this game against the best team in the NBA. It’s not like the Spurs blew a 22-point lead and lost to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Warriors are a top-5 team both offensively and defensively, and there aren’t many teams, if any at all, that can say that.

However, the Spurs understand that to be the best, you have to beat the best. The Warriors came back from a 22-point deficit, after playing and winning the night before in Houston, without arguably their best player on the floor (Durant). That is not a great look for the Spurs.

Both Danny Green and Manu Ginobili said the Spurs can use tonight's loss to the Warriors as a "learning experience" going forward.

— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) March 30, 2017

Luckily, I believe there is a change the Spurs can make to improve offensively.

Start Patty Mills

I was hoping that it never came to this, but father time has never lost.

Tony Parker was held scoreless last night for the second time this season. He struggled from mid-range, driving to the basket, and defending Curry. Not only is Parker a liability defensively against elite guards, which is essentially the Western Conference, but he doesn’t help spread the floor.

Tony Parker on the Warriors: "They just played better than us. It's as simple as that."

— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) March 30, 2017

Here is the simple solution.

In the modern-NBA, you have to be able to spread the floor and shoot three pointers if you want to compete for an NBA Championship. Right now, as currently constructed, the Spurs don’t spread the ball as well when the starting lineup is in.

Parker is a bad three-point shooter, and Danny Green has struggled from beyond the arc, despite his hot start last night. This leaves Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Dewayne Dedmon.

Where is the shooting going to come from? It isn’t, and that’s the issue.

Leonard has admitted that teams are beginning to double team him. From the other team’s perspective, it makes perfect sense: Double Leonard in the post and on pick-and-rolls, and make someone else on the Spurs beat you.

Kawhi says for the last 2 weeks defenses have been doubling him more often and bringing more help on his P&Rs.

— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) March 30, 2017

With Parker on the floor, Leonard’s passing lanes off double teams are cluttered, creating immense confusion that many times will lead to turnovers or bad shots.

However, bring in Mills, and the dynamic changes. Now, your backcourt of Mills and Green can hit threes and help spread the floor, helping Leonard during his double teams. Not to mention, your backcourt becomes elite defensively, as opposed to Parker starting.

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At this point, Mills plays plenty of minutes with the starters as it is. Why not just make it full time?

Parker can help anchor the second unit with Manu Ginobli, two playmakers who can make sure Pau Gasol gets to his spots on the floor. Parker is much better suited at being a facilitator against an opposing team’s backup point guard, as opposed to their starting point guard.

I’m sure this is something Gregg Popovich wanted to avoid, as Parker has anchored that Spurs system for the past decade, bringing numerous championships to San Antonio.

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Unfortunately, those days are in the past, and the present Parker is hurting his team. Furthermore, Mills is set to become a free-agent, so why not use his services while he’s still here?

At the end of the day, the most important thing to Popovich is “team” success, and Parker no longer gives the Spurs the best chance at success, Mills does. Parker has to accept a lesser role like Ginobli did, for the betterment of his health, and the team’s overall success.

Hopefully Popovich makes a significant roster move sooner rather than later.

If the season ended today, the Spurs would play the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round. The Grizzlies are a top-5 defense in the NBA. If they are able to mimic the defensive schemes of the Warriors, the Spurs aren’t a lock to make it out of the first round the way their offense struggles against elite defenses.

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Start Mills, give Parker solid minutes with the second-unit, and watch this team flourish.

Their postseason success depends on it.

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