2-3 is tired

by

After playing high level basketball on the Rodeo Road Trip, the Spurs are now 2-3 after losing at home to the Clippers tonight.

Both teams seemingly scored at will—the Spurs’ 48.7% from the field would have been great, if not for the Clippers’ returning volley at 51.2%.

The game was lost in the final five minutes after San Antonio let a 103-103 tie sink to 109-103 by giving up consecutive Mo Williams three point shots. But, in truth, it wasn’t the shots the Clippers made so much as the opportunities the Spurs missed. From 103 all, Danny Green missed two layups and threw a turnover, Tiago missed a shot near the cup, Manu Ginobili missed a pair of jumpers, and Richard Jefferson shot a three off the side of the backboard. The Spurs went cold at the wrong time.

What are we to make of 2-3, and should Spurs fans worry?

In short, I wouldn’t sound the alarms.

Part of this is injury, or the funky chemistry that comes from return from injury. Tony Parker sat tonight with various bumps and bruises. Manu Ginobili is still working his timing and wind into game shape—Ginobili had moments of pure Ginobili tonight, but he was also decidedly out of rhythm on several possessions. “Getting healthy” is a process, not a moment in time. This is true at the team and player level.

But, from my subjective viewpoint, the Spurs simply look tired. Tiago Splitter is playing sluggishly and hasn’t regained the adroit around-the-basket touch that he boasted prior to his recent injury. Six weeks ago he was a peacock spreading its fan. In recent games he’s more like a cat in the rain.

Wayne Vore recently posted a fascinating statistic. Even though Tim Duncan is averaging a career low in minutes, he’s actually playing more this season than he did last season. I invite you to read the article, but the math works like this. Because of the condensed schedule, Duncan is playing more minutes per day than he did last season, despite the fact that he is averaging fewer minutes per game.

What’s my point? This season’s condensed schedule is grueling. The Spurs aren’t lacking for effort, but their legs may be aching for rest. San Antonio will only play one game in the next four days. Let’s see if the rest doesn’t sharpen their overall play.

  • Km114108

    I don’t know if it was because Manu’s still out of shape or what but I was really concerned about him in the 2nd quarter when he seemed to pull something driving the lane and started limping around trying to walk it off.  I noticed for the rest of the game he was really trying to do stretches during time outs.  I hope it’s just him trying to get back into shape and not his body failing on him again with an injury.

  • Km114108

    I don’t know if it was because Manu’s still out of shape or what but I was really concerned about him in the 2nd quarter when he seemed to pull something driving the lane and started limping around trying to walk it off.  I noticed for the rest of the game he was really trying to do stretches during time outs.  I hope it’s just him trying to get back into shape and not his body failing on him again with an injury.

  • Hobson13

    I know a loss to the Clippers isn’t the end of the world, but our lack of defense this year is beginning to concern me.  Here are some numbers I put together that simply look at the macro picture:

    Offensive efficiency last year: 2nd in the league
    Offensive efficiency this year: 5th in the league

    Defensive efficiency last year:   11th in the league
    Defensive efficiency this year:  14th in the league

    (OTS % is a stat that Pop has been known to follow to judge overall team defense)
    Opponents True Shooting % last year:  8th in the league 
    Opponents True Shooting % this year:  12th in the league

    Rebound rate (includes offensive and defensive) last year:  11th in the league
    Rebound rate (includes offensive and defensive) this year:  17th in the league (tied with NY)

    It doesn’t bother me too much that our offense is not quite as good as last year’s since Manu has been out for such a large stretch of time.  However, our defense, opponents shooting %, and total rebounding has also significantly slipped.  This has me concerned that we are in for a difficult time in the playoffs again this year.

  • DorieStreet

    Did not see the game- but I don’t buy the ‘tired’ explanation to rationalize  losses to 3 ABOVE .500 teams at home – when in between the sub- .500 teams where hammered by 30 pts and fell down 20 pts, respectively.

    Meanwhile, the Clippers start the post-allstar run with 7 games in 11 days, with the last 6 being a road trip that began on March 1st with 4 games in 5 nights with them losing to the Suns, Twolves, and Nets – plus slipping by the Rockets in OT by 2 points.
    Spurs started after 5 day allstar hiatus by starting a 6 game homestand playing every other day. with 2 days between games 3 and 4.
    And why not rest Tony against the Knicks Wednesday instead of last night vs. Clippers? Parker then would have had 4 consecutive non-playng days since the Nuggets game–he could have come back vs. the Clippers.
    Face the facts—the Spurs have stumbled down the stretch in the 4th quarter at home vs quality opponents.
    Call it like it is.

  • grego

    They were undefeated as The Chaps. That’s all that needs to be said..

  • TD BestEVER

     Plus the Spurs doen’t get stops anymore……. We are not gonna just out score opponents all the time.  POP needs to work on a defensive lineup and stick with it.   Yes i know we went cold at the wrong time.  but the fact remains we used to always go cold, we just would lean more on our D…….This team is going now where this year unless we are ON FIRE from the perimeter.

  • STIJL

    Reason for concern ARE legit as per postings by Hobson13 and DorieStreet.

    I get the “pairings” explanation.  Gotta try and find something that may excuse away this recent trend.  But, I also get…tonight Neal your a PG…tomorrow Neal…your a starter…Next game Neal…you come off the bench….Next game Neal…you play the 2G…next game Neal…???

    Or this…tonight Leonard…your a starter…next game Kawhi….you play 5 minutes…Next game Leonard…your first off the bench….next game Kawhi….insert you with the third string…next game Kawhi…???

    Pop has got to start playing a “ROTATION” that can give itself a chance to acclimate and develop cohesion as units.  Time to forget about Ford’s come back and into the rotation.  Time to get Splitter, Leonard, Blair, Neal and Green into a pattern of both minutes played as well as familiarity of position and expectation while on the court.

    Here’s a recent trend that’s rearing it’s ugly head once more after all star break…Bonner missing 3′s and when missing his 3′s…is of no value to the team what so ever.  AS Proven So Many Times in Years Past whether the team is healthy or not.  Forget about this “Spread The Floor Shit”.  The minutes allocated to Bonner can easily (and I would bet Pop’s job) be spread amongst Blair, Splitter, Leonard, Jefferson and produce better, more consistent offensive results all the while improving the team’s overall defensive value.

    Again…as pointed out by DorieStreet…If the reasons listed in this article be a legit excuse for the Spurs…then why the Clippers…with a more hectic, unfriendly schedule…able to perform better and have a higher winning percentage in this same time after the all star break?

    Again…not demeaning the article… admire the research, time taken to write and present, and links provided…but at the end of the day…tired may be a reason validated by schedule and minutes played…but the other teams are going through it as well.

    Perhaps the title should read…2-3 is “Old, Lacking Talent, and Unsure”?

  • Jayflm

    I’m not about to underestimate the benefit of rest, but I think the main difference between the successful Rodeo Road Trip and this homestand is the time off between games. On the road trip the guys had a rhythm going that could easily be maintained because the games came so fast and furious.

    Now, especially with a few two-day gaps between games, the emphasis on rest leads the team to take things easy on off days, and the result is that the hot shooting, etc. is not there when they take the floor. This stretch is more like a normal season, where some hard practices or at least shooting sessions are needed to break a sweat and fine-tune things.

    I would guess that things will start to turn around when the schedule picks up.

  • Mark Barrington

    He stepped on somebody’s foot when he was coming down from a shot, and tweaked his ankle.  He seemed to be able to walk it off, but it might be something that bothers him for a little while, or perhaps he’s just fine.  He looked ok in the second half, but he still seems rusty.  His shooting looks good, but his timing is off on passing and he missed a few steal attempts that I think a fresh and healthy Manu would have made.  But it was his best looking game since December, and if he keeps improving at this rate, we’ll have the old Manu back in a couple of weeks.  If he can stay healthy, he’ll be a force during the playoffs.

  • rj

    so glad you succomed to our pressure and wrote an article, tim ; )

    i have a feeling signing chris paul could hurt the clippers in the long run if they choose to sign him to a lengthy, expensive contract (is it this summer he is a free agent?). despite paul’s 36 point outburst, his loss of a quick first step has made him a defensive liability (parker was never dominant against paul prior to injury and gary neal blew past him on several occassions). sean elliot pointed out that paul could also stymie blake griffin’s development into a real basketball player and not just an NBa sideshow. Chris Paul will throw him lobs until his knees explode. Even though they are talent loaded, i doubt their ability to have success in the post season.

    Spurs need to find some cohesion with all of these new pieces. I don’t mind a rough patch at this point in the season that forces us to face some adverstiy and put the amber alert on us to get our act together. seems like we will struggle another week or two before we rattle off a nice win streak into the post season to lock up the 2 seed. hopefully ginobili’s ankle is ok.

    any chance we pick up a vet on the waiver wire? we can expect blair or bonner to fall out of favor in the playoffs and someone needs to pick up the slack. even 5 fouls will do. we still have mcdyess’ phone #?

  • Pingback: Truth About It » 3-on-3: Wizards at Spurs: 6,445,440 Minutes Since A Dub In San Antonio