Boston 90, San Antonio 83

by

The Spurs beat the Celtics on the boards 55-32. A plus 23 rebounding edge is usually enough to secure a victory, but not last night, and not against the Celtics.

The Spurs may have won the rebounding battle, but they lost in every other phase of play. The Celtics controlled the game from the outset.

“It’s a 48 minute game and you have to play all 48 especially against a team like Boston. Tonight we played a quarter and that’s not good enough. We didn’t shoot well, but that’s really irrelevant. The turnovers and missed free throws those sorts of things really hurt us to start the first and the third quarters.” Or so said Popovich after the game.

Taking our talking points from Popovich, there is no doubt the Spurs played sloppy basketball against the Celtics. Consider that the Spurs committed 18 turnovers and shot a laughable 41% from the free throw line, and it’s easy to make Popovich’s case. But the most intriguing storyline of last night’s game is not about who was on the court and how they played, it’s about who wasn’t and why they didn’t.

Manu Ginobili played 18 minutes of mediocre basketball against the Celtics ; he didn’t play at all during the Spurs’ 4th quarter comeback attempt, unless you count the few possessions of desperation three point heaves in the final minute. He shot 4-12 in the game and was part of the third quarter defensive break down that led to Rasheed Wallace’s buzzer beating three.  From one perspective, it seemed like Gregg Popovich benched–gasp!–Manu Ginobili during the game’s most important stretch.

Upon closer examination, it’s difficult to make this case. After the game, Popovich indicated that Ginobili’s minutes were intentionally limited as the team works him back into shape after his most recent injury, a gimpy hamstring. Ginobili played 18 minutes against the Celtics, but he had only played 17 against the 76ers just 4 nights before.

It’s also worth noting that Popovich didn’t reintroduce Tim Duncan into the action until the 4 minute mark of the 4th quarter, which seemed odd considering how tight the game was in the minutes immediately preceding Duncan’s return from rest. Duncan only played 32 minutes, which is right at his season average. Unlike Ginobili, Duncan was having a fine game. There was no reason to sit him other than exercising a coach’s prerogative–and especially this coach’s prerogative–of managing his best (and most fragile) players’ minutes.

If one looks at Ginobili’s “benching” in that way, it creates a window through which to view Popovich’s mantra about health being the most vital aspect to winning a championship, but it also begs a couple questions about the Spurs’ confidence in Manu Ginobili’s body.

Put differently, the Spurs are trying hard to win in the regular season, and they’re not. They won’t lose sight of the finish line by becoming distracted by the race. But when does the necessity to manage minutes go from coaching wisdom to a crippling constraint? And, of course, how does one gather assurance that the body can withstand the rigors of heavy play? It’s a question I ask myself with increasing frequency.

But it’s not all bad. The Spurs played very poorly and still hung with the Celtics. Richard Jefferson hurt the team more than he helped it, the team missed the majority of its free throws, Pop limited the play of his two best players, and the team turned the ball over far too often. It’s a loss, but not a lost caused.

And the Spurs learned something about themselves, as well.

DeJuan Blair’s season has come and gone in waves. He’s currently riding a wave that deserves a heavy dose of minutes. Blair is an incredibly instinctive player and it’s curious to watch him intuit basketball. Ten games ago I wouldn’t have trusted his post defense to guard my niece.  But while there are still noticeable mistakes on that front, he’s starting to figure how to best use his body to defend bigger players. It sounds cliche, but he’s improving with each game.

Offensively, he has the best in-air balance of anyone on the team not named Tony Parker. Blair is a case study on how to properly transform hard contact into shooting space. And his understanding of space is remarkable for such a young player. Strangely enough, Blair reminds me of Fabricio Oberto in his uncanny ability to move into empty space around the hoop and dutifully present himself to the passer. This helps explain why Blair and Ginobili play so well together. DeJuan is practically Argentinean.

Blair’s rugged style of play gives him a brutish reputation, but he continues to show me that he’s more brain than brawn. He’s a smart basketball player. I’m confident that his natural feel for the game will diminish his most glaring shortcomings as a defender. The fact that he was an overwhelming net positive against the Celtics frontline is encouraging.

(HT: SpursRulez4Ever@SpursTalk)

  • http://www.poundingtherock.com Wayne

    Excellent as always, Tim.

    Just one quibble. I think it should have been: DEJUAN IS PRACTICALLY ARGENTINEAN.

  • http://www.myspace.com/muhflicker bryan j

    Blair is a beast, RJ will get there eventually, and Pop is a genius. Bonner doesn’t rebound, he spikes the ball like a volleyball player.

    The Spurs will be the 2nd best team in the West come March.

  • ruth bader ginobili

    Good points. I sorta love it when Pop does the whole “you beat us, but I didn’t really let my best players try to beat you” thing during the regular season. I like to think that no one sees our hand until the playoffs.

    Hadn’t thought of the Blair/Oberto comparison before, but it makes sense. I think Blair and Manu also share the same competitive instincts–alot of passion, but humble about their own abilities.

    Thought it was interesting that the Celtics Hub blog was happy that “only” one Celtic played 40 mins. Their other two 32-yr old starters played 35+ mins, and Doc only played 8 men. Different teams, different strategies, I guess.

  • Ivander

    Well..we might have lost the game but I don’t care too much about that considering that we only lost by 7.With all the missed freethrows and commited turnovers that’s not so bad after all. I am full of hope that next time things will be going differently..if the Spurs take care of the ball and hit those FT’s of course…Also, Jefferson really was a non-factor, I even think he was an anti-factor last night, I was stunned that Pop played him at the end anyway despite his poor performance!

    The bench really made all the difference, without’em the Spurs would have lost badly. Blair was a monster, George Hill made some pretty plays, even Matt Bonner fought for every single rebound! I can’t remember watching a game in which the Spurs rebounded that well…
    Yes, we might have lost but besides all the TO’s and missed FT’s I was happy to watch one of those defensive games by the Spurs again. They are on the right path.
    Like Kenny Smith said : Boring game to watch, great basketball!!!

  • http://www.maxmktg.com Tom in Bakersfield, CA

    10 turnovers and 1 of 7 free throw shooting from the starters. Jefferson shot 3 of 13 and 0 of 4 from distance, however, his defense on Paul Pierce was very, very good. He held Pierce to 2 of 9.

    We cut the turnovers in half and hit a couple more 3’s and we are discussing a win. But that is what great defensive teams like the Celtics do. They take away the shots you want and attack the passing lanes.

  • Zeus

    Overall, there is nothing to hate about this Spurs loss. The Celtics are always known to start off hot each season and play at a level that’s not befitting to the way the Spurs start each season, which is always set to a slow-cooker’s setting.

    To me, I wonder what RJ’s mentality is. Is he saying to himself, “Well, this is Tim, Tony, and Manu’s team, and I have to play around them”? Because of he’s using that school of thought, I think he’s thinking too hard, and he makes the most simple mistakes because he think the Big Three will bail him out. He needs to learn that that is not the case and must play like a player that doesn’t defer, and reassert himself like he did against he Mavs and Raptors.

    However, I’m still seeing positive improvement with the team, and it’s better to lose a game like this early in the season (when the Celtic’s consider every game a playoff game, even in December) but win in Boston later in March or April when the Spurs are peaking and at their best.

  • CGD

    In his defense, Pop did try to insert Duncan into the game before the 4 minute mark of the 4th. The issue was that Duncan was forced to sit at the scorers table longer than expected because there were no dead balls situations were he could check in up until that point. I believe the TNT announcers made reference to that point.

  • agutierrez

    There was another way that DeJuan acted Argentinian (or at least Manuish) and a side to him that I had never seen before and that bodes well for his and the Spurs’ future. He was taunted by Sheed after Blair didn’t come out to contest one of his made three pointers. Here’s a grizzled, half-crazy, nutcase to whom Blair is giving up 6 to 10 inches, punk-talking a rookie. Blair’s response? He upped his game, brought even more energy to every subsequent play, offense and defense, he channeled his anger into productive play. He was like Manu when he gets whacked. As the commentators invariably say: “Oh, oh, now you’ve pissed him off, look out.” Blair discovered or already knew that the best way to respond and to shut up an ass like Sheed is to play the game. And play he did.

  • chromao

    I watched all four San Antonio Spurs games transmitted via ESPN International and TNT to Brazil (@ Chicago, @Portland, @Dallas, vs Boston), all of them losses! The horizon seems quite bleak so far. Many teams also have revamped rosters, and are winning more games than San Antonio. Gregg Popovich must be reminded that he does nos have the luxury of having a guaranteed playoff berth. Oklahoma has a much improved team this year, and surely will fight for a spot. I would not like to see the Spurs miring at a 6th or 7th berth (or even fighting for the 8th spot!) just because Pop is resting his players TOO MUCH. Yesterday, Manu Ginobili, even playing badly as he was, would have given us a better chance of winning than Mason. Also, reinserting Duncan in the game two minutes earlier would not damage our chances either.

  • http://www.goodtimescomic.blogspot.com Jordan

    Thoughts on Pop benching RJ till he sorts himself out? Someone mentioned he did the same thing to Finley when he was brought over.

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  • JT

    Bench RJ, at least offensively until he can make a layup, he missed 4 almost layups last night. Bonner is making more shots in the paint than RJ is… Joke, we want our 14 million back…

  • ChrisJ

    Popovich needs to play Hill and Jefferson together. Hill is more of a passing point guard which is what Jefferson is used to playing alongside. With Parker he stands around (like most of the other Spurs on the floor when Parker has the ball) waiting for a play to happen instead of moving to open spots on the court.

    Sloppy game, but they were still in it at the end.

  • bigtee

    rj had 2 steals and held pierce to only two baskets Thank Sean elliot for that nugget, I’m pretty sure I would rather have rj shutting down a guy who averages 20 against us than bonner who gives up 20 a night. I like Rj’s defensive adjustments you can see he’s starting to learn our system.

  • SpurredOn

    Going back to last season, I don’t like that this team doesn’t seem enthused to play a big game. There are only so many in the 82 game season that really matter to the fans and seeding, last night being one. I’d like to see the players, even in limited minutes as Pop knows it’s not a playoff game, bring a certain “let’s show these guys” attitude. That mentality might clean up some of the self-inflicted errors like missing 10 of 17 FTs and the sloppy ball handling. It may not be playoff time but we’re two years removed from being a defending champion. As one of the hunters it’s time to prove how good this team can be.

    That said, the Spurs actually out-hustled the Celtics on the boards. That is something to be quite pleased about. A few FTs or missed layups go in, plus Fin doesn’t step out of bounds on the final 3, it’s a win or OT. Even better would’ve been not having that lapse on defense with Sheed’s 3 to end the 3rd. That pushed the score just beyond what could be made up at the end.

    Now, beat Denver on Saturday and perspective will be maintained. Can’t keep losing games to top teams.

  • SAS

    I totally disappointed the play played by spurs. Everybody is saying long way to go…we are already finished 15 games ..still sloppy. I am not understanding what’s in pop’s mind. Why he kept rj till end when he was struggling why he benched manu and timmy entire 4th qtr why ???????????

  • Kyle

    I’ll echo what everyone else seems to have seen. Though we lost, you can take from the eyeball test that we match up well with Boston. RJ didn’t have a great game, but defensively, he fit like a glove on Paul Pierce. What needs to be taken from these big games is who is going to show up on the big stage. Blair passed his first test, and Hill I thought did well too. But, as in last year’s playoffs, Bonner and Mason couldn’t handle the pressure, as the Red Rocket didn’t just miss wide open shots, but missed bad, a clear indication that he doesn’t have the steady nerves to make it when there’s seemingly something on the line.

  • doggydogworld

    If this game proves Bonner can’t shoot in big games then what does last year’s game in Boston when he scored 23 including 3 of 6 from three point land prove?

  • therealkman

    Pop, it’s almost twenty games in. It might be time to let your stallions (Manu, TD and TP) play their way into game shape or prepare to fight off the young Thunder or Grizzles for the eight seed. And what’s up with NOT giving Theo burn against veteran bigs like KG and Sheed? Surely his length would have been helpful contesting their jump shots.

  • AP

    Was anyone else surprised by Bonner’s energy last night? I’ve never seen him attack the boards like that. If he could pull in 8–10 rebounds every night, he would be a fantastic player for us.

  • BlaseE

    Do you think it would have been a smart move to save more of Manu’s limited minutes for the 4th quarter instead of the third? Why does Pop always insist on starting the starting lineup at half? Are there no halftime adjustments?

    We definitely look deeper than Boston even on a sloppy night like that though.

  • Sauce

    RJ neutralized Pierce. He was not completely disastrous as everyone seems to be saying. What killed us were TOs and FTs and Celtics bigs.

  • Sauce

    Oh and I am more worried about mason jr. When a shooter isn’t hitting they will keep shooting. I think that is more detrimental to the spurs.

  • rj

    this was an encouraging loss. i was impressed that we could win the rebounding battle against one of the best frontcourts in the nba. we definately shot ourselves in the foot with ft’s and to’s, but i am seeing a significant improvement in the teams intensity. if anyone saw tim legler’s predictions of western conference playoff teams, he left s.a. out beacuse of our lack of passion, and legs has always been pro-spur.

    dejuan’s intensity will be contagious, but he will probably not have this kind of stat production on a regular basis. the silver lining is that we won’t need him too. as long as he rebounds and creates energy, he will earn more minutes and likely finish games next to tim duncan.

    dejuan blair=second coming of ginobili.

    p.s. wouldn’t be surprised if we trade manu at mid season

  • junier23kae

    Good article.

    I was frustrated during the game but I accepted the fact that they were still in it. Even though they stunk it up.

    POP frustrated the hell out of me. He makes so many changes that at times it looks as though the Spurs can’t find a rthym. But Im no coach.
    AS for the part about benching Manu, I don’t think its because he wasn’t playing poorly. If that were the case then he should have benched RJ. He practically played the whole game even though he stunk it up (like missing that crucial tear drop shot that would’ve cut it to two in the final minutes)
    I don’t think Manu is hurting. I think he is finally getting a little frustrated that POP is limiting his minutes. Right when Manu is getting into a groove Pop sits him. ( I guess it will pay off in the end)
    That’s what’s frustrating. Even though Blair had a monster game, I bet POP only plays him like 9 minutes against the Nuggets. Or worse not even play him in the playoffs like he did with George Hill.

  • dingo

    Loved Blair.

    On a sad note, Hairston is back to the Toros.

    http://www.nba.com/spurs/news/malik_hairston_assigned_to_austin_091204.html

  • vikombe

    I’m not feeling Richard Jefferson especially because he is costing the spurs $14.2M. We’re 16 games into the season and he has been average in every category. His defense is average at best, his offense for the price is below par and his hustle stats are nonexistent. Don’t get me wrong, I want to like RJ, but his giving me nothing. I’m getting impatient and I don’t buy the excuse of still feeling my way through the offense!

    On a side note, I’ve noticed that ragging on Matt Bonner has toned down :). I’m sure that will change if he goes into a shooting slump. I personally have no problem with Matt Bonner because he does exactly, what he is supposed to do. And that is spread floor and hit threes. He is off to a good start this season and did that last season at a very efficient 44%. His 8.2 pts, 4.8 rebounds in 24 minutes was acceptable in my books especially cause he costs the spurs $3M. Now that he is coming off the bench I expect his stats, especially rebounds to improve. Some raged on Bonner’s defense but at the same time gave Oberto a pass. I think the two players have comparable defense. They are both are not athletic and therefore never leap to challenge shots. Their defense relies on beating your man to their preferred spots, bodying up to them and raising your hands to make shots difficult. This strategy does not work well with mobile bigs (Dirk, David West, Odom and the likes) because they can get to whatever spot they like on the court. The strategy is also not pretty and often appears not to be ineffective but it is surprisingly good enough.

  • Dr. Love

    (1) Why on earth let an ice cold Mason heave up brick after brick during crunch time? I’d rather have an ice cold Manu heaving up bricks. But Mason? He should be like Option #8 in that situation.

    (2) I’m starting to think that it would have been better to keep Drew Gooden instead of trading for Jefferson.

  • zack

    pop needs to correct any strange ideas rj has, and make some plays for the damn 14 mil$ player!!! i mean i just hope pop knows what hes doing, i didnt realize rj held paul to only two fg, but he needs to penetrate and finishat the rim. thats why we got him to take us to the line, here lies another problem, freethrows!. i think after games like this pop should punish them with crazy free throw exercises

  • bigtee

    I two fall into this trap. As a die hard spurs fan I appreciate a defense first mentality. However I want to see us score so when Rj only makes three baskets we see that as a bad night because he didn’t score alot but to hold pierce to only 2 baskets is no easy task he averages 23 points a night. On the other hand bonner can drop 20 and give up 40 and we don’t really notice how much was scored on him just that he hit 4 or 5 threes.
    also a big part of our loss could have to do with the fact that RMJR played 17 minutes and I had the same amout of points as him with one less turnover.

  • Dr. Theopolus

    I love the Argentine analogy. Very true, in an odd way.

    Begin long, ill-conceived ramble:

    I hate to admit it but it seems as if Pop, without perhaps consciously realizing it, feels a need to have young players broken down a bit before he accepts them. I suppose he can’t take any upstart attitudes to challenge his way of doing things, I don’t know.

    (If I had just a bit more information I’d be happy to explore a completely armchair Freudian psychanalytic interpretation of Pop. Would it be complete BS? Most likely. However, Pop does have some sort of weird father/son dynamic he recreates with players, with Finley as the adopted son.)

    I get a sense Blair feels this tension to some degree. He gets on a roll and starts to let his emotion out but then he contains it, as if fearing the wrath of the coach, or father. At 1:42 on that video I notice him look over quickly to the bench to see how Pop is responding, just after he made a big play and started to celebrate.

    I understand Pop’s rationale but hopefully he doesn’t overthink things with Blair. No need to de-swaginate him completely. We wanted an ass-kicking 4. We got one. No need now to mess with him if its going to affect his game. As Nicholas Ray said, “don’t fuck with a natural”. Coach him, yes. Have the veterans keep him in his place, yes.

    This season will be a test of most of the players, but what we haven’t focused on yet is the role of the coaches.

    Pop is already annoited HOF, but this could be his most difficult season. Just as RJ needs to step up his game, so does Pop. I do think a failure to integrate all this talent should reflect on Pop to some degree. We’re not there at all, but Pop needs to continue to make this season work.

    Just yesterday I read that Dice called this offense and defense the most difficult he’d ever seen, and this is after Pop tore out half the play book. I’m all for our effective defensive schemes but our offense got exposed last night a little bit. No one knows what to do so the result is people standing around and letting Tony and Tim do all the work – which is the last thing we want to happen if we’re expecting to integrate new talent and spare some mileage on our Big 3.

    Anyway, I’m rambling enough already…

  • Randall

    I see the positives, yes, but I’m tired of all these moral victories. We’re at a point in the season where *real* progress should be seen, and more solid, consistent lineups need to begin to get a regular rotation.

    I don’t understand why Ratliff doesn’t play more. His size and length have been inspirations in the few minutes he’s played. This reminds me of Pop’s limiting minutes of Elson a couple of years back, who would have been perfect, it seems, against Dallas. And all the while, Nick frickin’ Van Excel kept seeing backup minutes of futility and worthlessness. It’s like he sticks with favorites and veterans over what could very well be better men for the job.

    At the same time, it’s hard (and probably stupid) to question Pop so much. I’m not a coach at any level, let alone a professional squad, so he obviously is the smarter man here in regards to what we’re talking about. Maybe he was hoping giving Mason a chance (and having him succeed) would be the catalyst that could put him back on the right track. Of course, it’s always easy to praise a man’s genius when something works and tear him down when it fails, even though every scenario has varying chances to succeed.

  • SAinSLC

    Tim,

    Is it too soon to look into the option of trading for Raja Bell to relieve Jefferson of some of his defensive duties and allow him to focus on offense w/the 2nd team? Obviously need to wait and see if he recovers fully from the wrist surgery (initial reports say the surgery was a success).

    Would a RMjr + Ian or picks or cash be a possibility and what would your thoughts on that transaction be? RMjr + Ian works in teh trade machine, not sure how to figure out cash/picks into that…

  • BB

    You cannot go backwards – even if RJ isn’t working out, trading for Bell amounts to scrapping the Spurs entire offseason strategy just 16 games in, not even a fifth of the season. You want the Spurs to start an aging win valued primarily for his perimeter defense and 3 pt. shooting with major weaknesses in all other facets of his game? The 2007 Spurs have not won a championship since 2007. If you could recreate that team, you couldn’t. Do you dig?

    By the way, the ’03 Spurs, probably the last roster to look this different from the previous season, also started 9-7.

  • http://sabankshots.blogspot.com Jesse Blanchard

    Fire Pop! Bring back Bob Hill!

    I kid, I kid. But seriously, can you imagine if Spurs fans were still like tha–ooh, my bad.

    Remember that first season, we started what, 6-8 in a 50 game season? I was genuinely excited, like so many of you, about our offseason moves but you were expecting a bit much if you were thinking 60 wins.

    The Spurs have fielded and contended while fielding so many different types of teams over the course of the Duncan/Pop era that I have no fears about Pop’s ability to eventually integrate new talents into the team.

    So just to address a few of your suggestions: Why not bench RJ for the sake of a few wins now? Because ultimately the only way you’re going to win the entire thing is to have RJ up and running full speed and on the same page with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. If it means a few lumps right now then so be it.

    Go with your best players/Why wasn’t Manu in at the end of the game? The Spurs are being overly cautious with Manu at this point because in the big picture a second or third seed isn’t going to matter if he’s out.

    Remember he spent a whole summer doing nothing. And then the past week or two doing nothing. He’s not in basketball shape. Watch the guy, it’s obvious. Right now I’d guess they’re trying to limit him to 20 minutes and slowly work up. What’s another five minutes? I’ve already stated he’s not in shape. Pushing muscles, especially those coming off an injury, past fatigue leaves a player more prone to injuries. Push Manu too soon now and he gets hurt again. Then you have to wait another few games for him to get healthy, then start the basketball conditioning work from scratch, further pushing back team chemistry.

  • http://sabankshots.blogspot.com Jesse Blanchard

    And if you guys want tangible results: Look at the things coaches and players can control. Defense, rebounding and effort.

    They’ve all gotten considerably better in the past two weeks and it appears there is still some room for growth. I mean, the Celtics scored just 90 points. And that score, and their field goal percentage, were inflated by all the turnovers and fast break points.

    We had about as bad as an offensive game as we could have. Compounded our worst shooting night of the year with bad decisions. AND we were still one hell of a Rondo defensive play (the strip on Parker–btw, he’s a hell of a defensive player so no losing sleep there) and one heel out of bounds from having a shot at the end.

    Regarding Jefferson: on the one hand, he needs to be aggressive and force his way into this offense. On the other, he’s not terribly creative off his dribble. He needs obvious driving lanes. And with our early season shooting struggles they just haven’t been there.

    Optimistically I can see his defense (and the rest of the team) pick up, which will hopefully fuel our fast break game (especially when Manu gets back to being healthy), which RJ has always used to boost the rest of his game. Right now he’s averaging a pedestrian 13, 14 ppg. Add another two baskets off transition points and you have his normal production.

  • H Baskerville

    Watch Blair try to set a screen throughout the game. That’s a basic skill for a big man right? and he can’t do it. Needs to work on that but looked impressive otherwise.

  • Ronald

    As much as DeJuan played well, he seriously needs a lot of work. He’s extremely turnover prone and his pick and roll defense is “Shaqtastic”. He seriously needs to watch more tape on when to hedge and the timing of his hedge. Currently, when he tries to hedge he ends up picking off his team due to his timing and angle of his hedge.

  • Sean C

    Spurs have a 6-2 record when Dejuan Blair plays 15+ minutes.

    WAKE UP POP!

  • SpursfanSteve

    I’m going to agree with Sean on the Dejuan Blair thing. We closed the gap with him in the game. It seemed everytime he was on the floor good things happen. I doubt he could play more than 20 minutes, but give him 20. please.

  • LonghornMike

    Great highlights. I haven’t been able to keep up with the Spurs much this year, and getting a taste of Blair in action was awesome. It looked like he singlehandedly kept us in the game offensively. I am impressed how well he held his own against a tandem like KG and Sheed.

    If there’s one thing the Spurs have taught us over the years is regular season patience. I have to remind myself to not get too anxious early in the season and ultimately have faith in the system. We have much to see from the Spurs and their new acquisitions. Go Spurs Go!

  • doggydogworld

    Amen, Jesse. Preach it!

  • SAinSLC

    BB,

    I don’t think my post was clearly stated. I do not see offing Mason for Bell as scrapping the entire offseason, how do you figure that? At no point in my post did I say bring Bell in to start. That would be ridiculous – we agree there.

    My point is this: Bell gives us the same thing Mason does (though possibly a less reliable 3-ball when RMjr is on) plus adds defensive tenacity, another energy guy ala Manu/Blair/Horry. My point for bringing Bell in is for Jefferson to be the main offensive weapon with the 2nd team where Bell can pick up the defensive responsibility while Jefferson remains the defensive ace with the first team.

  • Ian

    I agree with the most part of the article. The Spurs played a sloppy basketball, especially the starters and Manu. The turnovers and missed free-throws killed them, really, but against the defensive Celtics team, you’d semi-expect there’ll be some turnovers especially when the Spurs are struggling to find a rhythm with all their new additions.
    I personally don’t think Jefferson played that bad in this game. His defense against Pierce was decent at least, and I liked how he constantly slashed to the basket (although mostly unsuccessful). With Manu increasingly settling in for the jump shots, Spurs do need a slasher after all.

  • Kaveh

    I could not agree with you more regarding Blair. He is a favorite player of mine. In fact, i would say that he is one of my favorite players in the league and i don’t even like the Spurs. I was 1 spot on my fantasy roster for Blair just in case he gets more than his typical 15 minutes per night, lol.

    I just don’t understand Popavich with Blair. Why not give Blair HEAVY minutes, especially over the over the hill likes of Mcdyess/Ratliff. Blair is an incredibly efficient player who hustles and rebounds. This makes him a perfect role player. I have been his fan since the start of the season but am perplexed by pops reluctance to give the guy minutes.

    It almost feels as though i’m watching soccer in which the coach barely plays the new young star in order to introduce him to the game/fans kindly. Obviously this makes no sense for Blair so what the hell is going on?

  • Sean C

    Spurs record when Dejuan Blair plays less than 15 min is 3-6.

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