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27 March 2005

Home Sweet Home

Atlanta 95 @ SA 111
Houston 70 @ SA 83

Coming off their worst road trip of the year, the Spurs were definitely in the need for some home cooking. Luckily San Antonio started the weekend against the worst road team in the NBA, the lowly Atlanta Hawks. The game was never really close, with the Spurs jumping out to a 14 point lead in the first quarter. Here are some highlights and/or things worth noting:

-Spurs shot 57% from three, including 5-7 from Brent Barry. Barry also had a nice alley-oop from Parker.

-Both Barry and Ginobili had 23 points on 12 FGA.

-Linton Johnson III made his debut for the Spurs, playing 6 minutes and grabbing three boards. He looked very rusty. Either that or the guy cannot dribble. I probably should cut the guy some slack considering he hasn't played all year due to a legitimate injury.

-I was quite impressed with Hawk rookie Josh Childress out of Stanford. He grabbed some tough rebounds and finished strong under the bucket.

-Josh Smith can jump. Like crazy high. He finished an alley-oop that reminded me of Grant Hill's in the 1991 NCAA title game. They showed a replay looking down the length of the court; Smith caught the ball behind his head and about two feet out from the edge of the backboard and dunked it in one smooth motion. Their should be a reality show where middle-aged white business men try to recreate this on an eight foot rim. I volunteer to go first.

-About two possessions later Ginobili grabbed a rebound in traffic and proceded to drive the length of the court, passing two defenders along the way, and posterize Tyronne Lue. It wasn't the most powerful dunk of all time, but the whole package was amazing. Especially considering the game was already well in hand.

Some how, some way, the Spurs managed to beat the Rockets and make it look easy. The Spurs led for most of the game but fell down by 5 with about ten minutes to go. They promptly went on a ~20-2 run to put the game out of reach. Barry hit some big threes (going 3-5 from behind the arc) and The Sickness was uncontainable in the second half. T-Mac was obviously slowed by his hip injury, and the Rockets got a total of 26 points from players not named McGrady or Ming. Rasho had a good game, with 10 PTS, 7 REB, 2 STL and 3 BLK. He got his hands on a lot of passes and forced Yao to shoot below 50% from the field.

Ginobili played some ridiculous defense on McGrady, reinforcing my opinion that he's as good an on-the-ball defender as Bowen.

The Spurs have a huge game coming up Wednesday against the Sonics at the SBC Center. If the Spurs lose they'll only be two games up on Seattle in the loss column and will have lost the season series and therefore the tie-breaker. The second tie-breaker is conference record. The Spurs are 28-11 and the Sonics are 27-12. Big, big game.

26 March 2005

I Got Your Britney Right Here

In the latest NBA Carnival thingie, this time hosted by Celtics Blog, my Google rant and little Brent Barry blurb were mentioned. Apparently Jeff's scroll button isn't working, else he would have found actual interesting Spurs content.

And the guy had the nerve to besmirch me by calling me "Britney." My name is NOT Britney, it's Matthew. Britney is my drag queen moniker, get it straight.

But seriously, there's not enough time in the day to get involved in an internet pissing match. If people wanted to read that sort of crap they would go the ESPN message boards. NBA bloggers have a responsibility to uphold a higher standard of discourse. I'll be the bigger person here and not retaliate.

























25 March 2005

It's Go Time

Alright Brent Barry. Now's your time. Devin Brown is out for two weeks with back inflammation. You'll be getting 25 MPG minimum. You need to shoot, shoot and shoot some more. And guard somebody.

Here's something I've been meaning to mention. Why don't the Spurs run pick and rolls with Barry? He's a decent finisher and as good a passer as Parker (not to mention a better shooter). In fact, Barry can be the guy setting the pick instead of Rasho. Call me crazy, but I'd prefer Barry shooting the 18 footers. And then Rasho can be in the lane where he's actually useful on the offensive glass.

24 March 2005

San Antonio Spurs Blog

Dearest Google,

You are retarded. I write a San Antonio Spurs blog, but when someone searches for "San Antonio Spurs blog" (without the quotes) they will not find my San Antonio Spurs blog in the first twenty pages. That's dumb, especially when you consider that my San Antonio Spurs blog is the only San Antonio Spurs blog on the entire internet. You would think a company worth 49 billion dollars and change would be able to get this right.

Sincerely,

San Antonio Spurs blog author

23 March 2005

Look, You Stupid Bastard, You've Got No Arms Left

Alright, I'm going to try this again. *Save as Draft*

It has been a while since I last littered the internet with Spurs talk. I think I burnt myself out a little bit. Not to mention The Wife has totally been hogging the computer. And, of course, it's not much fun to talk about a team without its best player and playing so badly. But my need to say something has grown too ardent to ignore. Sort of like that time in graduate school when my right testicle hurt for multiple consecutive days. I didn't want to go to the doctor, but, as my mother always said, you've got to take care of your balls. Well, it's time for this blog to turn its head and cough.

As everyone by now knows, Timmeh The Cornerstone Duncan hurt his ankle very early in the Detroit game. I thought for sure that something was broken or torn. Maybe a frayed instep tendon or a fractured metatarsal -- hell, I was surprised his shoe even stayed together. One of the officials said something like "That was the worst ankle roll I've ever seen." Thankfully, it's "only" a grade 2 (out of 3) ankle sprain and he will "only" miss most or all of the remainder of the regular season.

Before I talk about the ramifications of his injury I must comment of the Spurs putrid play during the past three games. I fully realize that Duncan is their best player; I certainly was not expecting miracles. But the play of late has been remarkably hard to watch; a level even the Bobcats should be ashamed of.

The only player who managed not to suck ass as of late is Devin Brown, and he luckily avoided the chance to suck tonight (he had back spasms). It's not just the players; Popovich has been coaching so oddly that I am beginning to think that either:

A) He's betting on the other teams.
B) He's had a stroke and managed to hide it from the entire organization.
C) He is having trouble at home and is trying to assure losing home court advantage for the entire playoffs.
D) He's trying to be all "Phil Jackson" and let his team work through its problems.

The Knicks game featured quite possibly the worst 18 minutes of basketball in the history of the Spurs franchise. With the Spurs leading 59-53 the Knicks went on a 25-1 run. Twenty-five to one. During this time Popovich called zero timeouts. There were some mandatory stoppages of play, but he did little to try and stem the tide. He also did little to try and stop Marbury, who at one point scored 14 straight points. During that entire time Rasho was on the bench while Starbury went into the lane with impunity. It seemed like Pop was resigned to losing.

As bad as Pop has been, the players have been worse. Where do I begin?

Rasho rarely steps into the paint on the offensive end. Either this is by design and Pop really does want him shooting 18 footers, or maybe Rasho is like that guy in Awakenings who would only walk on checkered tile. Or maybe Rasho had a stroke, too.

Bowen now apparently thinks he's a shot maker. He's driving the lane, shooting leaners. He's touching the ball waaayyyy too much on the offensive end. Back to your corner Bruce. One dribble max.

Ginobili continues to practice his shot fake instead of shooting the open three. He's also working on his "take two long steps into a crowded lane and throw up a wild attempt without getting the foul call" move.

Brent Barry couldn't guard an iceberg. Every team has posted him up with whoever he's guarding. The Spurs should have him guard Boykins just to see what happens.

Nazr has contracted Fortson's sydrome: he's averaged a foul every 4.92 minutes during the last three games. And apparently he's the only player allowed to shoot early in the shot clock. He has no trouble hoisting up 15 foot fade aways with 18 seconds on the clock while Barry passes up wide open 3s.

Robert Horry has lost the ability to rebound: he has 10 the past three games.

Then there's Tony Parker. Unfortunately the league has finally figured out how to guard him. I'll spell it out for everyone. Here it is. You have your pens and papers ready?

Step 1. Put a long and/or muscular player on him.
Step 2. GO UNDER THE SCREEN AND ROLL.
Step 3. Reread Step 2.

It's that simple and I have no idea what has taken teams so long to figure this out. Here's the thing. Tony Parker is quite possibly the worst jump-shooting guard in the NBA. Tony Parker is quite possibly the worst jump-shooting guard in the NBA. Reread those last two sentences. Despite being maybe the best finishing PG in the game, the man cannot consistently hit the J. Want proof? His effective FG% on jump shots is 41.1%. That is AWFUL. The following is a list of the rest of the Spurs effective FG% on jump shots:

Udrih -- 48.5%
Ginobili -- 51.0%
Barry -- 46.8%
Brown -- 42.8%
Bowen -- 49.2%
Duncan -- 41.3%
Nesterovic -- 34.5%
Horry -- 46.1%

According to ESPN.com, Kirk Hinrich has the lowest (non-effective) shooting percentage of qualified guards. His effective FG% on jump shots is 44.8%.

I knew, before even looking at the numbers, that Parker was a horrible shooter. Yet NBA teams, complete with advance scouts, endless game tape and the same internet I use still go over the top of just about every screen, exposing some big man who has no hope of preventing Parker from penetrating into the lane where he kills opponents. This shit drives me crazy.

I mean, fuck, just look at the way he shoots. He's got the most awful follow through -- he's one of those damned wrist-flickers -- after his shot his arm isn't extended all the way. Think of the great free throw shooters -- Reggie Miller, Damon Stoudamire, Steve Kerr, Ray Allen -- they all end with there arms fully extended. The only decent shooting wrist-flicker I can think of is Brent Barry.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not mad at Tony Parker. I love the guy as a player; I was hoping the Spurs wouldn't sign Kidd because of The Wee Frechman. Blind stupidity in sports just really pisses me off. When it comes to baseball, every at bat Rey Ordonez gets, every "pitching and defense wins championships" comment goes right to my core like someone slapped my face. This is just a basketball equivalent of that.

On to the ramifications of Duncan's injury. Take a look at the playoff standings. Here's some more info regarding remaining games. Given Timmeh's injury and the remaining schedules for Miami and Phoenix I think it's pretty obvious the Spurs have lost home court advantage to those teams. Seattle is only 3 games back, but they have a real tough schedule including games at Sacramento, San Antonio, Memphis, Dallas, Houston, Denver and Minnesota. They also play Houston and Dallas again at home. Ray Allen and Danny Fortson are also nursing minor injuries. Taking all that into account, .500 ball from the Spurs should be enough to keep them in the two spot.

I think the most important seeding issue is where Houston winds up. Nobody wants to face the Rockets. They play defense, have outside shooters, a legitimate inside presence and that One Guy who can take over in McGrady. They scare the crap out of me. I hope they grab the five or four position. This would set them up for a second round matchup against the Suns. "$50 on the Houston money line please." Yeah, I don't see Phoenix even making it to the conference finals. I think Dallas or Houston will take 'em down. And Detroit could take out Miami (though I'd rather play the Heat).

Sooooo, the Spurs losing home court to PHX and MIA is not a huge issue unless it means facing HOU earlier than the WCF. The more time Duncan has to heal the better. The race is so tight that I doubt we'll know anything for sure until the final days of the regular season. Until then, pray for Duncan's ankle. (And world peace yada yada.)

Good Grief

I just spent an hour writing an entry. And it's gone. Just disappeared. I was highlighting something using the control button and *poof*.

So, there you go. I am an idiot. I will now be "saving as draft" every 45 seconds from now on.

22 March 2005

Woe is He

I've been meaning to update my blog, but lately I've been stricken with grief and empathy due to Barry Bonds' situation. I feel sorry for the poor guy. I mean, seriously, who would trade spots with him right now? The endless questions regarding matters he refuses to directly address, the heavy armor he has to wear every at bat, the chartered flights, the endorsement contracts, the millions of dollars, the numerous homes, the creams and the clears. How does he squeeze in Barry time?

14 March 2005

It's Merely a Flesh Wound

Denver 90 @ San Antonio 87

The Spurs again went without Duncan and The Sickness, but unlike the Phoenix game, Nazr was available. The Nuggets came in winners of 7 straight and trying to keep pace with the Lakers in their battle for the 8th and final playoff spot.

Everytime I see Kenyon Martin play I want to scream "3-23!!!!!" Yeah, I know he had the flu or whatever, but you would think he would stop shooting at 3-15. I don't know a whole lot about NBA Finals history, but Duncan had to have one of the best games ever that night. 21 PTS, 20 REB, 10 A and 8 blocks. 2 blocks away from a quadruple double in the clinching game of the NBA Finals. Quadruple doubles happen like twice a decade, right? I know The Admiral had one, and so did Alvin Robertson. Well, apparently there's been four in the history of the NBA. Hakeem and Nate Thurmond are the other two.

Anyway, back to Kenyon. I was watching a Denver game a couple of weeks ago, but I don't recall the opponent. Martin drove baseline and got called for an obvoius charge. Martin got into the face of the ref, pointing his finger about three inches from the refs nose. He then backed off a bit and the camera angle switched so you could see his face. He said "That's fucking twice!" After a few seconds, during which the ref presumably replied, Martin responded with "Don't you fucking lie to me!" And he didn't get a technical. I couldn't believe it; either I have no idea what NBA players get away with or Kenyon Martin gets treated differently. Not that I blame the ref; he's a scary sonbitch.

Can you imagine Luke Ridnour saying "Don't you fucking lie to me!" to a ref? He'd probably get slapped.

So during the Spurs game Martin bumps Barry on his way to the basket, drawing a foul. It was definitely a foul, though there was nothing malicious about the bump. Martin says to the ref "That wasn't a foul. If I foul him you'll know it." Alright. Appartenly Martin relishes his role as NBA's resident Punk Ass Bitch. Whatever makes you happy, Kenyon. You keep cashing those checks and putting up a lackluster 15 and 8 every night. Oh, and one last thing, in case you forgot. Here's your numbers from the 03 Finals:

34% FG%, 14.7 PPG, 10 RPG, 2.2 APG and 2.3 BPG

Nice job. Duncan only bested you by 9.5 PPG, 7 RPG, 3.2 APG and 3 BPG. And he shot 50%, too. But you were sick. We understand, PABbie.

Back to the game. It was brutal. The Spurs blew a 7 point lead in the final 3 minutes of the game, going scoreless. San Antonio seemed in control up until that point. Bowen was shutting down Carmelo, Barry was filling up the stat sheet (9, 6 and 6) like during his Seattle days and Nazr was playing great off the bench. He had 9 rebounds in 16 minutes and had three very nice passes in the lane. Parker destroyed Denver in the first half, at one point spinning past Martin (I think) for a highlight reel reverse layup. But he was clearly tired in the second half (and he also had a thigh contusion) and only contributed 6 points (of 25) after the break. The only guy not playing decently was Udrih, who had 4 TOs in 10 minutes.

The Spurs couldn't do anything right during the last three minutes. Their last six possessions resulted in two turnovers and four missed jumpers. Barry had the ball with 30 seconds to go and the Spurs down 1. He weakly drove into the lane and threw a pointless pass to Devin Brown; or to where Devin Brown used to be; he had began a cut towards the lane and the ball bounced out of bounds. Ugh.

The previous Denver possession culminated in two Najera free throws. Najera initially missed a shot but Denver grabbed three offensive rebounds before getting fouled. For reasons I cannot imagine both Rasho and Nazr were on the bench at the time. Both of them are much better rebounders than either Massenburg or Horry.

The Spurs had a final chance with 17 seconds to go and down by 3. Apparently the ball was supposed to go to Barry through Horry. That never happened. Parker ended up with the ball at the top of the key. The entire team basically stood there for 15 seconds. Parker then threw up a desperation, fall-away three with 2 seconds left; back rim, game over. Brutal to watch. The Wife could barely stand it. Pop ended up taking the blame for the final play; he only diagrammed one option and when that fell through Parker was waiting for a pick that never came.

The offense, the defense, the coaching; it all sucked for the last three minutes.

******

Some odds and ends... Matt over at Bulls Blog has started a periodic recap of what's going on in the NBA blog neighborhood. There are a lot of other bloggers that make me look like a hack; check them out when the boss isn't around.

Now for another update on my Atlanta wagering. I was +$9 previously.

@ BOS +12.5 lost by 4 +$19
@ TOR +9.5 won by 4 +$29
vs. GS +4.5 lost by 13 +$18
vs. DET +8 lost by 6 +$28
currently 7-3 ATS since "losing" Walker

I'm actually +$39 because I didn't bet on the GS game. I fully intended to, but the line opened at +3.5 and that seemed really low to me. I was going to wait a couple of hours to see if the line would go up (which it did) and ended up forgetting to get my money down.

09 March 2005

The Elephant in the Room

Part of me wants to make a clear, bold statement. Something to the effect of "The Suns have absolutely no chance of beating the Spurs in a seven game series." But then I remember that the previous game in Phoenix went into overtime; the series could easily be 2-1 Suns.

In case some of you are unaware, Phoenix beat San Antonio tonight 107-101. Phoenix jumped out to an early 14-16 point lead but the Spurs fought back and kept the margin around 6 for most of the second half. Tim Duncan didn't play due to his sore ankle. The Sickness didn't play due a host of injuries, including a tightness in the groinal regions. The Spurs were without their two best players. Also, Nazr was unavailable, leaving the Spurs with 9 players suited up. In the interest of full disclosure, the Suns only got 6 minutes out of Q, who suffered a mild concussion in the first quarter. He's their fourth most important player.

So, given the above, and knowing how important the game is to the Suns (which I talked about earlier in the day), one would think the Suns would blow the Spurs out of the water. (Yes, I understand teams have let downs; the Spurs have them all of the time. But the Spurs let downs are almost always against much lesser teams and with much less on the line. For example, the Spurs went into Seattle in the end of January having yet to beat them in two attempts. Everyone knew it was a huge game for the Spurs. Both Ray Allen and Nate McMillan were absent, and the Spurs still beat the crap out of the Sonics. Given the Suns situation, they had no excuse for a let down.)

To be honest, the only evidence of a "let down" for the Suns was the final score. They definitely brought energy all night. They ran when they could and crashed the boards. But here's the thing... Phoenix doesn't play defense. They win by running relentlessly and hitting a bunch of threes. They have 5 extremely athletic players who are really good at doing the above.

But that type of offense doesn't work very well against the Spurs. Because, well, the Spurs do play defense. They get back in transition and they don't allow many three attempts. Phoenix averages 23.9 3P attempts per game. Against the Spurs they average 16.0 (and remember one of those games went into overtime). You think that's a coincidence? Here's a clue. It's not. The Spurs allow 15% fewer three point attempts than the team second in that category. Now, take into account the Spurs have the largest margin of victory. That should lead to more three point attempts. But it doesn't. Why? Because the Spurs make it a point to prevent 3PA. You don't have to be inside the locker room to know this. Just watch how aggressively they run at shooters. Watch how they play the pick and roll. Look at the numbers.

Gregg Popovich is a defensive genius: he understands 3 > 2.

The Spurs were missing their two best players. Amare scored 44 on 22 FGA. PHX shot 52% from the field and 40% from 3. PHX outrebounded the Spurs by 16. The Spurs shot 13.3% from 3. And the Suns won by 6 points. At home. With two more days rest than the Spurs. I'm sorry, but, uhh...

The Suns have absolutely no chance of beating the Spurs in a seven game series.

(*&@)*(#&$

Atlanta is up 10 after one quarter. If I was more flexible I would kick myself in the nuts for not having the balls to bet the money line. Should a team ever be +750 against an opponent as mediocre as the Celtics? Of course, having said all this, Atlanta will be probably go scoreless the rest of the way and lose by 75.

Here's a nice little article about The Matrix and The Sickness.

Houston, You May Present a Problem

The Wife is finishing up pharmacy school soon and I couldn't be happier. Her completion signals my impending retirement and an end to the endless onslaught of "functions." I swear, every other week I was required to find a new excuse for not going to some social gathering.

So last night I went to the Houston vs. Seattle game with about 40 soon-to-be pharmacists. Luckily I was at the end of the last row and could actually watch the game. And a hell of a game it was. Ray Allen and Tracy McGrady both went off. T-Mac hit a bunch of tough shots down the stretch, which isn't much of a surprise. However, Yao Ming really stepped up in the fourth quarter. He was saddled with foul trouble for most of the first half and didn't get extended minutes until after the break.

The Rockets consistently went to Yao towards the end and he responded with 10 points on 4-5 shooting. These weren't 15 foot jumpers or 10 fall-aways; he took the ball to the rack repeatedly. Granted, he was facing the scrub Jerome James, but you still cannot discount his aggression. The Rockets will have a very formidable team if Yao develops into a late-game scoring threat. Hopefully the Spurs can avoid them in the playoffs. I'd rather play any other team in the Western Conference with the exception of Phoenix with home court advantage.

Speaking of, San Antonio has a huge game at Phoenix tonight. Phoenix is currently one game behind the Spurs and are 0-2 against them. The Suns will have a lot of pressure on them. Falling 2 games behind the Spurs and going 0-3 for the season would make grabbing home court very difficult. And until they beat SA, people are going to tag them with "But they still can't beat the Spurs." They're at home with two days rest and the Spurs are playing the second game of a back-to-back. Duncan is gimpy, Rasho is sick and Nazr may not play. The Suns have to win tonight; if they cannot beat the Spurs under these conditions how could they possibly have any hope of beating them 4 times in a 7 game series?

By the way, tonight marks the first time all season that the Spurs are underdogs; they are getting 4.5 points.

Speaking of, time for an update on my betting on ATL exploits.

@ UTA +10 lost by 22 -$11
vs. PHI +6 lost by 1 -$1
@ MIL +9 lost by 4 +$9
currently 4-2 ATS since "losing" Walker

Tonight they play at Boston and are getting 13 points. The money line is +750. Given my dislike for Antoine Walker, the money line is hard to resist.

06 March 2005

Nickname for Nobili

I have a nickname for Manu Ginobili. What you've all been waiting for, no doubt. I have to give some credit to the very nearly senile Dick Stockton. Half the time he says "mah-no" instead "ma-new," which led to this:

The Sickness.

How bad is that? And by "bad," I mean good. Or do I? The Wife thinks it's downright awful; even calling it geigh at one point. I explained to her that "sick" means good, but she wouldn't have any of that. Didn't matter.

But I like the way it sounds. And the way Manu plays is sort of a twisted, warped version of normal NBA basketball. Wrong-footed jumpers, long-striding through the lane attempting layups no one else even sees, behind-the-back-across-the-court passes. And, AND, it doubles as a sweet wrestling OR And-1 nickname. He's The Sickness.

It's my world.

Tyson Chumpler

San Antonio 102 vs. Chicago 99

The Bulls started the season 2-13. Since then they've been 27-14. During that time Ben Gordon missed a total of three shots in the fourth quarter. Or something like that. Apparently he's "clutch." He's one of those players the media love to talk about; he spent four years at UConn and won an NCAA title there. And he's not a damned furriner! Theytukerjerbs!

The Bulls were leading 20-13 with 3:30 to go in the first quarter when Bowen stole the ball and passed ahead to Parker. Tony had one man between him and the basket; he did some wigglin' and then went up for a layup which was blocked out of bounds from behind by Tyson Chumpler. No big deal. That play happens all the time. But for whatever reason Tyson felt the need to talk some crap in Parker's grill. Tony--

Wait a second. I was just trying to find a picture of the Tony Parker face when I found this. What the hell? Someone needs to blow this up poster size and put it in the Spurs locker room. He should never live that picture down. Does he even have pants on? Eesh.

--had this look on his face that I've seen many times. In this case the look meant "You realize I'm sleeping with Eva Longoria, right? And that I've already won a title and will make $66 million over the next six years? Who are you again?" At this point Tony had 4 points and 1 assist. He finished with 25 and 8. Tyson fouled out in 26 minutes with 8 points and 5 rebounds. He also got stuffed by Rasho. Get a tattoo of that, Chumpler.

Duncan looked like a totally different player tonight. He was offensively aggressive all night; facing up and taking guys off the dribble and working some post moves. Most importantly he attacked immediately. He finished with 31 points on 23 shot attempts. He needs to get up 18-20 shots every night.

The Bulls hung around the whole game. The Spurs had 16 TOs, but it felt more like 22. The Bulls also shot FIFTY-FOUR PERCENT from the field. Othella Harrington scored 20 points in 20 minutes. Ben Gordon also had 20 and made some ridiculous shots in the fourth. On two occasions he threw in layups off the top of the glass while drawing a foul. I have no idea why this guy only plays 23 minutes a game.

And how the hell does Chris Duhon start over Gordon? Don't give me that crap about "the spark off the bench." Chicago needs to put "the scrub on the bench." Shit, Duhon isn't even in the league if he didn't go to Duke. I'm not a Duke hater, but, c'mon, the guy shoots 34%. He cannot shoot the three and he cannot finish at the basket. Yeah, he can pass a bit, but if you can't shoot at least 40% (especially when you aren't the focal point of the offense) you don't belong in the league. He'll be in Turkey by 2007.

Rasho had 7 offensive boards. Nazr didn't play due to a strained groin he's been bothered by since before the trade. Manu struggled with his shot but still managed 19 points on 17 shot attempts. Parker and Duncan hit big jumpers late in the game and Duncan and Nobili hit their free throws down the stretch to seal the win. Spurs went 22-26 from the line and managed 102 points against a very good defensive team (Chicago is second in the league in field goal percentage allowed).

03 March 2005

Ginobili Getting Signature Shoe?

Update II: Well, nevermind. Apparently to "20" stands for the "Nike 20 Collection" which celebrates 20 years of Nike or something like that. Please pardon my rogue journalism. (Thanks to ALVAREZ6 of the spurstalk.com message boards for the info.)

Update: (Read below first so the following makes sense.) I don't know if Eastbay just added another colorway or if I'm a moron and missed it the first time. These colors pretty much seal the deal. Manu Ginobili has a signature shoe.

About a month ago there was a rumor going around that Jordan was interested in adding Nobili to the Jordan Brand. I don't think that's going to happen, but I did notice that Nobili recently switched from wearing the Huaraches to wearing Air Max Ballers, which aren't for sale according to Niketown.com.

But, today I found this. According to Nike.com, there are only four players that wear Ballers (Pierce, Jefferson and Nowitzki) and none of them have the number 20. If you didn't notice, there's a 20 on the tongue in the pic, which happens to be Manu's number.

They are for sale at Eastbay, but there's only one colorway and no information is given concerning Manu. If anyone has any more information leave a comment of send me an e-mail.

Paging Tim Duncan to the Offensive End of the Court

San Antonio 92 vs. Toronto 86

The Spurs played good defense most of the night, holding Toronto to 36.6% shooting and under 30% in the first half. However, they also allowed the Raptors to shoot 35 FT, which kept Toronto within striking distance to the very end.

But the Spurs always play defense. I'm not worried about their defense, I'm worried about the other half of the game. On the offensive end it seems like they are, well, uh, fucking around. It seems like half of their turnovers are due to trying to make a highlight reel type pass (like Brent Barry's across-the-court-over-the-head-bounce-pass-through-four-defenders last night). They also are too willing too pass up open shots. Nobili and Duncan are the main offenders here. Ginobili passes up about two open threes a game. He loves that exaggerated head fake where he kicks his right leg up in the air. And even then he passes the ball too much on the drive, like his behind the head pass to Horry last night as the shot clock was running out.

It's like the Spurs are Hickory High: they must execute five passes before shooting the ball. Timmeh seems to follow this strange rule where he must wait for either the double team or five seconds, which ever comes first. There was a possession in the second half where Duncan got the ball about 10 feet from the basket. For once he immediately drove the lane and went by Bosh (like his feet were in stone) for a layup. Don't give the time for the defender or defense to set up. Don't wait for the double team. You're supposed to be our first option on offense, so just go. There's less than 10 guys in the league that should have any hope of guarding you. Just go. Pretend you're Jordan.

It probably seems stupid to complain about a team that's 44-13, but their offense is what did them in last season. They played too timidly. Players weren't willing to take big shots and Duncan wasn't willing to force the issue.

In the 2003 series against the Lakers, where the Spurs prevailed 4-2, Duncan averaged 24.35 shot attempts per game.

In the 2004 series against the Lakers, where the Spurs lost 2-4, Duncan averaged 19.35 shot attempts.

You think that's fucking random chance; that there's no connection? Yes yes yes I know the Lakers had Karl Malone last year. Here's the thing:

I don't give a shit. You're Tim Duncan. You're Mr. MVP. You're the best player on the team. Force the damn issue. Take the ball to the rack. Shoot over Malone right away. Take over. Get some swagger. You're Michael Jordan. You're Larry Bird. You're Kobe Bryant. You're not Scottie Pippen. You're not Kevin McHale. You're not Shaquille O'Neal.

Am I blaming Duncan for the Lakers series? Well, uh, yes I am. But he's still the best player on the best team. He's still one of the four best players in the league. But, like his predecessor David Robinson, he's missing the offensive aggression that would make him unstoppable.

Got a little sidetracked there. So, yeah, the Spurs beat Toronto. Bowen played really well in the second half. Parker had a great behind the back fake that got him a layup (he even winked at somebody afterwards). Jalen Rose is as bad as I thought. For whatever reason, Nazr Mohammed only played 6 minutes after playing 16 the game before. He had a nice quick turnaround (with requisite head fake) for his only points. He also royally screwed up a pick and roll that allowed Alston a wide open three (which led to Tony Parker throwing the ball at the basket support in disgust).

02 March 2005

Putting My Money (or Foot) Where My Mouth Is

I am confident that the Hawks are a much better team without Antoine Walker. I am going to back up that claim with my hard earned cash. Starting tonight, I am placing eleven whole dollars on Atlanta to cover the spread. I will do this for every game until my fifty-five whole dollars run out or the season ends, whichever comes first.

ATL +10 @ UTA

Yes, I know Tyronne Lue is suspended. I am not easily deterred. By the way, ATL is 2-1 ATS since the Walker trade.

I will keep everyone updated whether you are interested or not.

HOT-LANTA REPRESENT!

You Are Our Only Hope

Bill Simmons has done gone and lost his mind. Some how he has convinced himself that getting Antoine Walker back is something to rejoice about. Considering it looks like they will sign Payton after he clears waivers, it only cost the Celtics a first round pick.

Before you think I'm crazy, yes, I admit Walker is better than Mark Blount. In that respect the Celtics got marginally better in the "lesser of two evils" manner.

The Sports Guy talks a lot about how Antoine always plays hard and never sits out a game and makes Paul Pierce a better player blah blah blah. This may all be true. Of course, he also says Walker has "3-point range." Which is true if by "3-point range" he means "can consistently hit the rim from behind the arc. He's a career 32.5% shooter from 3; this year he's shooting 31.4%. That's somewhere around 100th in the NBA amongst "qualified" players. Pretty much last.

I am not going to argue "intangibles," mainly because I couldn't care less about them, and if they actually had a significant impact on results they wouldn't be intangible. However, I do have a couple of questions regarding how exactly Antoine is going to help the Celtics. I think we all agree that if Antoine will be helpful then he had to be helpful in the past.

Question 1.

Last year, the Mavericks had Nash, Jamison and Walker. This year they were replaced by Terry, Stackhouse and Dampier. Last year the Mavericks had a 63.4% winning percentage and 4.4 PT average margin of victory. This year they have a 69.1% winning percentage and 5.4 PT margin of victory. The Mavericks are better this year. Why is that? Does it have anything to do with the fact that the Mavericks were 7.6 points better when Antoine was on the bench and now he's permanently benched?

Question 2.

Most people, Mr. Simmons certainly included, would argue that Walker was by the far the best player on the Hawks. If so, why were the Hawks 13.9 points better when Antoine was on the bench?

Oops. The Celtics, in 02-03, were 7.1 points better with Walker on the floor. I am now summarily confused.

Hmm. I will come back to this at the end of the year.

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