Advanced Scouting: San Antonio Spurs at Portland Trail Blazers

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San Antonio Spurs at Portland Trail Blazers 9:00 CST March 25, 2011

The Spurs lost a tough game in Denver on Wednesday. It doesn’t get any easier in the upcoming weeks. Their remaining schedule includes Portland (twice), Memphis, Boston, Houston, Phoenix (twice), Atlanta, Sacramento, Utah and the LA Lakers. The Spurs will presumably play many of them without the services of Duncan.

As I have stated before, staying or getting healthy while remaining sharp is more crucial than clinching the top seed. However, if the Spurs don’t win enough games to clinch the top spot, chances are that something is wrong.
Although the Spurs could have easily beaten Denver last night (the Nuggets shot 57% from 3 point range and Al Harrington was absurd), the defensive performance was definitely concerning. The Spurs defensive rating was 122.3, third worst of the season. On the season, the Spurs have been about 6 points per game better defensively when Duncan is on the floor. The Trail Blazers seem to be an even tougher matchup for the Duncan-less Spurs.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 40 points on 23 field goal attempts in a 99-86 Portland win on February 1. Aldridge has powered the inside game for Portland. Against the Spurs, the Blazers have scored an average of 12.5 points in 12 post ups. They also averaged 11.5 points on 8 pick and roll plays to the roll man. Aldridge averages over 9 post ups per game and 3 possessions as a roll man, 3 possessions as a cutter and 2 putbacks. His scary brilliance includes a February of 28 PPG on 56% shooting and 7 free throws made per game despite committing fewer than 2 turnovers per game in Portland’s sluggish offense.

The Spurs primary advantage in the prior two meetings was in three point shooting, which is very unreliable from game to game. The Spurs shot a combined 17 of 35 from 3 point range. Portland merely managed 7 of 28 from beyond the arc. The Spurs better-than-expected 3 point shooting accounted for 4.5 points per game and Portland’s struggles from deep accounted for 4.2 fewer PPG. An argument could certainly be made that Portland had more maintainable success than San Antonio.

The Spurs actually played pretty well against Portland defensively in their loss, but were unable to get to the line and barely shot 50% when they got there, shooting 8 of 15. Portland made 21 of 24 free throw attempts. In a 95-78 Spurs win in San Antonio, the trend was reversed. The Spurs attempted 26 free throws compared to the Trail Blazers’ 11 attempts. Home cooking can be a trend from time to time, but this vast difference is unusual.

Given their struggles against big teams and the temporary lack of a hall of fame “power forward”, this could be a very tough road test. A few things could help:
1) Effectiveness using small ball lineups – Although Portland plays at very slow pace, teams are able to create fast breaks against them.
2) If Camby doesn’t play, there is no real shot blocker to keep Ginobili, Parker and Hill at bay. Even if he does play, Portland allows the 4th highest percentage of shots at the rim. Attack the rim!
3) More value from Splitter – He’s the player who seems to have the most ability to step up his offensive and defensive contributions (Jefferson was also considered, but he will face tough defenders at SF tonight). Splitter has finally been given some time to adapt and a great opportunity to succeed. Will it click for him at some point?
4) Favorable outside shooting – You can’t count on it, but the Spurs have more 3 point weapons than anyone. A big night almost guarantees victory.

Key Statistics

SRS ranks:

Portland: 1.77 (13th)
San Antonio: 6.25 (3rd)

Player summary statistics from basketball-reference.com and basketballvalue.com:

Portland Trail Blazers Player Ratings 3-24

PlayerGMPGUSG%OrtgDRtgWS/482 Yr APM
LaMarcus Aldridge7139.725.91141060.1717.63
Wesley Matthews7134.321.31131080.126-5.25
Gerald Wallace1332.9201091000.156.35
Andre Miller7032.820.71111080.1266.21
Nicolas Batum7031.717.41161080.128-4.08
Brandon Roy3730.123.31071090.0920.04
Marcus Camby5126.812.5104990.116-0.21
Rudy Fernandez6723.5191091070.11-0.23
Patrick Mills5612.624.4981100.026N/A



San Antonio Spurs Player Ratings 3-24

PlayerGMPGUSG%OrtgDRtgWS/482 Yr APM
Tony Parker6932.425.11141070.166-0.35
Manu Ginobili7130.826.41161040.2024.92
Richard Jefferson7030.615.51151080.115-0.93
Tim Duncan6928.322.91101000.1676.46
George Hill6528.117.61141070.13-1.87
DeJuan Blair7021.820.11061000.137-0.54
Matt Bonner5521.6131281070.1543.91
Gary Neal6920.720.61091080.103-2.08
Antonio McDyess6518.414.91051030.1072.99
Tiago Splitter5011.717.41111020.14N/A
James Anderson2110.815.61121100.093N/A
Steve Novak158.216.71531080.264N/A



Player trends, based on Efficiency per 48 minutes:

Portland Trail Blazers Player Trends 3-24

PlayerSeasonLast 10Increase
Nicolas Batum19.825.55.7
Wesley Matthews19.321.82.5
Gerald Wallace26.728.41.7
Brandon Roy18.218.20
LaMarcus Aldridge28.227.6-0.6
Rudy Fernandez18.317.7-0.6
Andre Miller24.119.4-4.7
Marcus Camby27.522.5-5
Patrick Mills15.96.9-9



San Antonio Spurs Player Trends 3-24

PlayerSeasonLast 10Increase
Steve Novak28.433.65.2
Tiago Splitter23.1284.9
James Anderson14.618.74.1
Gary Neal18.9223.1
Antonio McDyess23.424.41
Tony Parker27.327.90.6
Manu Ginobili28.628.90.3
Tim Duncan32.7330.3
DeJuan Blair28.128.10
Matt Bonner19.917.8-2.1
Richard Jefferson17.613.4-4.2
George Hill21.915.4-6.5


Lineup data
Most valuable/utilized lineups:

Trail Blazers:
Miller, Matthews, Batum, Aldridge, Camby +12 in 443 minutes (+1.7 per 100 possessions)
Miller, Matthews, Batum, Wallace, Aldridge +53 in 157 minutes (+19.3 per 100)
Miller, Roy, Matthews, Batum, Aldridge +37 in 36 minutes (+45.3 per 100)
Miller, Fernandez, Roy, Wallace, Aldridge +26 in 29 minutes (+43.9 per 100)
With Wallace on the floor, the Trail Blazers have outscored opponents by an average of 9.3 points per 100 possessions in the 428 minutes. Ironically, this is largely due to a significant offensive improvement.

Spurs:
Parker, Ginobili, Jefferson, Blair, Duncan +147 in 669 minutes (+10.4 per 100)
Parker, Ginobili, Jefferson, McDyess, Duncan +29 in 147 minutes (+10.2 per 100)
Hill, Neal, Ginobili, Bonner, McDyess +67 in 105 minutes (+35.3 per 100)
Parker, Hill, Ginobili, Bonner, Duncan +49 in 55 minutes (+39.0 per 100)

The Pick

Trail Blazers

I actually think the Spurs are a pretty good team, even without Duncan. However, they’ve faced a pretty tough stretch in the first 3 games after Duncan’s injury. Not only will they have to play on the road, but Portland is a team with a super talented big, who has played like a super star at times this season. In addition, Gerald Wallace has already made significant contributions. The Spurs have a tough schedule remaining, but few will be tougher than this one.

  • Rafael

    @Titletown99030507d

    I don’t know what is Pop fear to put Splitter in 4th, the guy was Spanish League and Finals MVP, won Championships with Brazilian team, the guy is ready to pressure

  • Titletown99030507d

    @TD,

    We are world’s apart there buddy. I’d rather let Tiago have a go at Aldridge down low instead of someone coming over to swat Neal’s ass to the ground on the roll.

  • hassan

    Once Duncan return our big’s rotation should have Duncan & McDyess as starters ( as expeirence counts in playoffs) then Splitter in for Duncan and Bonner in for McDyess with blair in only as 5th big or foul trouble…. Novak in in situational play only….

    What you’ll think…

  • hassan

    Spurs are 6-4 in last 10 games… that sounds weird this season….

  • TD = Best EVER

    @ Titletown99030507d

    Neal would be shooting a jumper like Michael Finley used to for us……… not sure if you watched us back then, but we would run Finley off of 2 screens kinda like Boston does for Ray Allen. That way we can run some clock and still get a better look at the rim than a Manu chuck it up from distance attempt.

    @ hassan

    I like everything except for Bonner in that scenario. I think he should be our 5th Big and only used if we need a boost offensively. If we are scoring easily then leave his poor defense playing self on the Pine. And as far as Splitter v Blair. I would ride the hot hand at that point. Who ever is playing the best will get the most minutes…… Keeps both players hungry for improvement

  • Titletown99030507d

    @TD,

    What did Blair do wrong tonight…… please explain…… and No I’m not a huge Blair or Splitter Fan….. I purposed trades before the deadline that would have traded both of them away……..Blair played well tonight and Splitter played better. But Tiago would have not changed this game. Or if you saw the game tell me what play did Blair miss that Tiago wouldn’t have missed. Because I didn’t see any plays where Blair’s height was an issue at all in the 4th.

    Wallace shot over his ass and scored late in the game. Precious points my man.

  • Rafael

    Haha!!!!!!Now i have a idea to make Spurs win!!Somebody needs broke Bonner legs!! So Pop will not play Bonner/Blair together!!!!!#winning

  • Titletown99030507d

    @Rafael,

    This is so true Rafael. Splitter is ready and up for the challenge and right now is better than Oberto already (love Oberto though) and I hope Pop doesn’t send him to the end of the bench when Timmy gets back just to see Blair and Bonner trot on to the court before Splitter. That would really suck.

  • Titletown99030507d

    We could do without the violence. Matty’s one of ours and a human being. You were kidding right?

  • Bruno

    I will watch Formula One. Good night all. Hope Pop stop giving up games

  • Titletown99030507d

    I wasn’t replying to your latest post but the post before about Tiago. Comon man ease up a bit.

  • TD = Best EVER

    @ Titletown99030507d

    “Wallace shot over his ass and scored late in the game. Precious points my man.”

    Nope sorry, that was Wallace driving against RJ and just banking one home over RJ. That’s not Blair. Keep looking for reasons to trash him though……….

    But I will agree that Tiago needs to play before Bonner. I can’t stand him….. he chokes every year and his defense is just BAD……. We have enough offense. Plus he can only shoot when he has a TON of free space. Which will be very hard to come by come playoff time.

  • betsyduncan

    I know you want the last word TD=BE. But this TEAM will take us to the Promised Land. And that will include one Matthew Bonner.

  • Mike

    All of the negativity from so called ‘fans’ is overwhelmingly disheartening. You would think from reading comments the Spurs were a sub-.500 team and Pops was on the brink of being fired. A loss sucks, but they lost to a very good Portland team while holding Aldridge to 14 points over 43 minutes. A far cry from his previous 40 game; and considering his minutes, I’m guessing it wasn’t only Splitter and Dice defending him.

    The Spurs shot over 50% (Bonner going perfect with a +10 on the game, Neal having an off night), with 19 assists. They were only out rebounded by 1. However, turnovers lose games, and that happened again tonight.

    But, hell, maybe RC should just fire Pop; then he can bring in an inexperienced journeyman to only play their rookies and give up the season. I mean they aren’t going to win anymore games… /sarcasm

  • TheRealKman

    I went to sleep at 3am eastern time and just woke still pissed off.

    I noticed in the last two games that Pop seems to have a fear of overtime.

    In the Denver lost instead of going for the tie with 29 sec left, Ginobili goes for the win with a 3 that he missed.

    Last night, after blowing a 4 point lead with 31 sec left and then turning the ball over with .09 sec on the clock, Pop calls for man 2 man defense against a team that executes alley-oops more than most teams in the league. Why not play a zone defense with you bigs protecting the front of the rim. There was no way for the Blazers to win on a catch and shoot. Force the game to overtime and try to undo the sorry mess that the Spurs created.

    When was the last time this team played an overtime game? What’s wrong with taking your chances in overtime?

    The Spurs better get their act together real soon or they will be second Texas team coming into the playoffs as a #1 seed that is ousted by a #8 seed.

  • gary

    I’m a first timer here, want to add my two cents. I became a huge Spurs fan while watching them play at the time, my fave team the Wash Wizards (I was a season tix holder here in Washington). I followed last nights game on internet, and couldnt believe what happened last night. The last 40 seconds hopefully was a once in a career( or at least season) collapse. In the pro game, you should almost NEVER turn the ball over against one defender, yet it happened twice, and by our savviest ballhandlers! If that didnt occur, 106 out of the 107 comments would have been how the Spurs stepped it up in TDs absence and beat a very good team in a very hostile place

  • andy

    TheRealKman
    March 26th, 2011 at 6:24 am

    wow, wrong on two counts. first, manu broke off that play; it wasn’t pop’s alleged “fear of overtime”. either way, you play to win it.

    second, we’re not going to blow an opening series as the 1 seed. i’d bet the house on that.

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  • http://www.bpifanconnect.com Alix Babaie

    I had to wait until Monday to comment on the Spurs games over the weekend.

    All that I can logically draw from this past week is that it’s the law of averages, nothing more.

    How often do you have Tony get his pocket picked before he crosses half court, Manu dribble off of his foot, an inbounds pass getting past Manu, a ref missing a 4 step travel call and a player scoring 4 points in less than a second?

    For those of you who are posting things like “Spurs suck” and “Fuck Pop” and shit like that, fuck you all…..the Spurs don’t need fickle, fair weather fans like you anyway.

    Wake up and smell the coffee, the Spurs won some games that they had no business winning earlier in the year…..the Bucks Manu last second shot and the Lakers McDyess tip-in immediately come to mind.

    This team is still an incredible team on an incredible pace, they are in a noticeable funk, no doubt but those of you waving the white flag and pointing fingers are just stupid.

    There is plenty of blame to go around for ALL of the Spurs and I am sure that they will work hard to fix what is ailing them, which to me is simply lack of execution.

    I, for one, have faith in Pop and the team…..they will come out of this funk and be a stronger team for it.