El Conclusión: San Antonio Spurs 102, Phoenix Suns 91

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Phoenix Suns 91 Final
Recap | Box Score
102 San Antonio Spurs
Tim Duncan, C 31 MIN | 10-14 FG | 4-6 FT | 11 REB | 4 AST | 24 PTS | +5

The Phoenix Suns really are the fountain of youth. Vintage Duncan night, his first 20 and 10 game of the season.

Richard Jefferson, SF 31 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 8 PTS | +16

He’ll never be the fourth star some envisioned when he got here, but Richard Jefferson is quietly a very reliable player. Had a key steal and dribble pull-up in the fourth.

DeJuan Blair, F 32 MIN | 7-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | +2

Won’t always have the advantage of being matched up with Channing Frye every night, but exploited mismatches, created shots from the post, and was active. Would have quite a few more points if Parker looked for him running the floor and sealing defenders off for a quick lob pass.

Tony Parker, PG 35 MIN | 8-20 FG | 1-3 FT | 4 REB | 9 AST | 17 PTS | +11

Tonight Parker showed why his footwork is just as important as his speed, befuddling Suns’ defenders with a variety of spins and ball fakes.

Kawhi Leonard, SF 33 MIN | 4-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | +9

Quickly becoming a reliable double digit scorer and nightly double-double threat. The two three-pointers were nice, but his jumper was still too flat to be consistent from range.

Matt Bonner, PF 17 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 8 PTS | +9

Hit a pair of three-pointers, hit the boards, and hit some open teammates with smart passes. Overall a much better display from Matt Bonner.

Daniel Green, G 24 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | -1

Still putting in quality minutes, but was a bit of a generic night from Green.

Gary Neal, PG 9 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS | -2

Appendicitis, gashed head, and now a thigh contusion to continue what Pop called a mess of an early season for Gary Neal.

Tiago Splitter, C 17 MIN | 3-4 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | +6

Was the Spurs one-man 6-0 run to start the second. Had a few nifty fakes and, more importantly, hit his free throws–a development to watch as the season goes on.

Cory Joseph, G 13 MIN | 0-1 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 PTS | 0

The primary backup point guard to start the game. Didn’t mess up, didn’t contribute in the box score. But there is hidden value we’ll discuss later.

Five Things We Saw

  1. Tim Duncan his finding a rhythm with the team relying on him just a little more. Averaging roughly 16 points, nine rebounds, and four assists over the last five games.
  2. Tiago Splitter has nifty footwork, some great fakes, but a terrible hook shot. Early in his NBA career his greatest offensive strength is an ability to generate free throws. He is now making them, making him a valuable offensive weapon to go with the quality defense he provides.
  3. Kawhi Leonard is not an explosive athlete, but his strength and balance are underrated athletic attributes that allow him to create contact and still finish. Sort of like a taller, longer, more perimeter oriented version of DeJuan Blair.
  4. Even before Neal went down, Cory Joseph entered the game early as the primary backup point guard. While individually he has little impact on the game, his presence keeps players like Green and Neal off the ball and working off screens–roles they are far more comfortable with.
  5. Shooting guard is the most abundant, generic position in the NBA. How the Phoenix Suns do not have a single viable one on their roster is beyond me.
  • Bob

    Pretty much all of Tony’s passes come from knowing where people are supposed to be and set plays. He lacks the creativity and court vision to be able to find people on the fly.

  • Bry

    I agree with the idea that you can’t just hunt for magical super-defending 7-footers and act like that is only option for the Spurs. I also agree that the Spurs needn’t blow up their front-court and go hunting for pots of gold when they should sit tight until this summer. I also agree that shifting to Dice late last season turned out to be a bad move, however that was hardly predictable. Dice’s D just wasn’t up to snuff last year; hence the retirement. But, suddenly labeling Tim Duncan as an ‘average defender’ is absolutely ridiculous. And you don’t just a rim-protector only by how many points the opposing team’s front-court gets. You judge it by his overall affect on defense. ALL of the statistics out there showed that the Spurs defense was markedly improved the second Tim Duncan stepped on the court, and he remains one of the best overall defenders in the NBA. Timmy is 6’11″ and so is Splitter. That’s big enough to go to a ‘two tower’ defense whenever it may be necessary (and despite what so many people say on this blog, it is RARELY necessary). The Spurs will field a bargain fifth big this season (and if they had wanted one that was offensive-minded they would have kept Novak) and make due until this summer. People can piss and moan all they want about it, but due to their salary cap situation and their coming strong position this summer, it’s the right move.

  • Bry

    I agree with the idea that you can’t just hunt for magical super-defending 7-footers and act like that is only option for the Spurs. I also agree that the Spurs needn’t blow up their front-court and go hunting for pots of gold when they should sit tight until this summer. I also agree that shifting to Dice late last season turned out to be a bad move, however that was hardly predictable. Dice’s D just wasn’t up to snuff last year; hence the retirement. But, suddenly labeling Tim Duncan as an ‘average defender’ is absolutely ridiculous. And you don’t just a rim-protector only by how many points the opposing team’s front-court gets. You judge it by his overall affect on defense. ALL of the statistics out there showed that the Spurs defense was markedly improved the second Tim Duncan stepped on the court, and he remains one of the best overall defenders in the NBA. Timmy is 6’11″ and so is Splitter. That’s big enough to go to a ‘two tower’ defense whenever it may be necessary (and despite what so many people say on this blog, it is RARELY necessary). The Spurs will field a bargain fifth big this season (and if they had wanted one that was offensive-minded they would have kept Novak) and make due until this summer. People can piss and moan all they want about it, but due to their salary cap situation and their coming strong position this summer, it’s the right move.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t recall anybody saying the team NEEDS to change anything in it’s approach to the game.  What’s been mentioned in this piece by others and myself is needing A defensive big who could be put in games to help offset/stop another team who is dominating in the paint for that game.

    He wouldn’t replace anybody’s minutes unless it were needed and/or that player having a “bad” game and not producing offense at a reasonable level to equal what an opponent is putting up on the Spurs. 

    For instance Bonner.  If he is having an off day shooting….do you really believe the Spurs are going to stop a team from scoring in the paint with Bonner in the rotation?

    And this statement regurgitates pure non-sense…
    “IF you get a DEFENDER who cant score (a la McDyess)…”

    …well…You do realize that if it wasn’t for McDyess’ defense the games against the Grizzlies in last year’s playoffs wouldn’t have even been close.  And that it was the old man’s D AND OFFENSE that actually helped the Spurs get to where they were last year prior to playoffs?

    Again…I don’t recall ANYBODY saying the Spurs need to change.  All I’ve seen, and suggested myself, is they need to get better at interior D prior to playoffs arriving because there is ONE FACT that is irrefutable…you can’t win a championship on offense alone and if a team can have there way with another in the post…that team wins.

    The Spurs will have to do better than this to have a legit shot at a championship…
    http://www.teamrankings.com/nba/stat/opponent-points-in-paint-per-game
    http://www.teamrankings.com/nba/stat/opponent-fastbreak-efficiency
    and securing the post with better interior defense is the only way to improve along those lines. 

  • Anonymous

    Couldn’t agree more than this.  And I pretty much resonated your statement in replying prior to reading what you said.

  • Anonymous

    Couldn’t agree more than this.  And I pretty much resonated your statement in replying prior to reading what you said.

  • Anonymous

    Agree with TP and Duncan in his prime.  It’s how the Spurs did things and very successful when doing it.

    But I think you are failing to see that Parker IS working on expanding his dime ratio.  But he’s having to do it with new and young players on this team.  It’ll take some time when playing in a different manor than accustomed to over the past 9 years to perfect a different approach to the game.

    But Tony’s assists are up by as much as 2 per game.  He’ll get better at locating as the season wears on.  He looks to assist more during a game and then (if needed) propels into being the main scorer at the end of games.  It’s been happening all season.

    He IS a top PG in this league.  It’s just the league now has a bevy of “top” pg’s and isn’t as depleted in that position as it once was when Tony first came into the league.

  • Anonymous

    Not crying.  Just stating what would like to happen in order for the team to “be better”  “play bettter”.

    Agreed…who would have thought the team would be doing this well with Ginobili out?

    But this statement…”Duncan plays good post defense as well as splitter…”
    Duncan is not the defender he once was in the paint.  He’s getting outdone because he simply can’t play as good interior defense as he once played.  You are correct…he is playing “as good” as Splitter.  At this moment…that’s not a compliment.  The Spurs are getting scored on at will by opposing teams in the paint.

    And you’re also correct….We will have to wait and see if it improves with who they currently have.

  • Bob

    I applaud TP for his improvement but he’s still not a natural passer. He throws the obvious passes. When’s the last time you saw TP make a pass where you didn’t see it coming. All the top PG’s can do that.

  • Bob

    I think playing Splitter against Randolph would have helped. It was Pop’s fault for not having him in the rotation. Dice played him hard but ultimately I don’t think he had enough length to bother his shot. Hopefully Pop isn’t repeating the same mistake this year because right now if I am facing the Spurs in the playoffs I’m attacking the lack of interior defense. Just makes too much sense not to.

  • Tyler

    I think everyone is being a little harsh on TP. Despite his shot not quite falling to start the year, he’s 10th in the league in assists, 6th in assists per 48 min, and 4th in assist/to ratio. He’s also directing the 3rd highest scoring offense in the league, despite no Manu, an aging TD, and  a bunch of solid, yet unspectacular role players. 
    I’m pretty sure every NBA team would take those numbers this year. The best part? Our team#’s are only going to get better with Manu coming back, TP’s shooting %’s reverting to the mean, a more comfortable Leonard, Green, Splitter, etc. I think some of us are focusing too much on what he doesn’t do great, while overlooking the things at which he’s elite. I think we’ve watched him for so long that we’ve started to take for granted just how good he is.

  • Bushka

    Tim & Manu are listed there as average defenders.  Argument invalid.


    The other aspect you “analysts” have to understand is our best PER player is BLAIR”

    Where do you get this from?  Manu is currently outrageously high at 34 in PER due to a small sample size and Green is also above Blair… 

    The stats are right there just go look.
    I understand fandom & Logic.  Not sure you have a firm grasp on either.

  • Bushka

    Last time i checked Vision wasn’t on the stat sheet any more than “Great Motor’, Hustle, high basketball IQ…

    No idea what reality you exist in where Tonys relevance is directly tied into Tim Duncan.  Duncan was out for huge stretchs during Tonys career, he always picked up his scoring numbers (i.e 2 50 point games 2 years ago when Tim went down).Tony is what he is a lead guard who scores the ball well handles it great, has a reasonably high assist % and a very good PER.  Knows the offence, funnels his man to the help on Defence and handles pressure comfortably.I don’t care if he is making the obvious passes or not, or if he has eyeballs that can swivel into the back of his head.  He fits intimately into the spurs scheme and system.Thats what they run you know…a System..players play within the programme, to predefined spots on the floor, they run plays…you know where everyone goes to a place on the floor and interacts with another tall gentleman to get some guy in silver and black a good shot..Its not all accidental out there, it’s not all 4 guys out and 1 on iso..Just such a naive point of view.  THERE IS NO VISION HERE MOVE ALONG lol…
    If you want rag tag random basketball go watch Phoenix.  None of the contenders this year will be playing that style of ball mate.Dallas beat Miami with defence and team work.  Thats what wins ball games not some wierd reliance on a Steve Nash Clone.

  • Bushka

    Pretty much this.

  • Thomasholdren

    My strategy…. again, you resort to not wanting to DEVIATE from what won us championships. Your strategy is what? Wait for 20 years until we can tank and get a top 20 all time big to anchor a stellar defense. Your attempted argument proves my point. 

    “I have a real hard time believing Blair can succeed….” why? He’s played zero playoff minutes because we followed your strategy and played Mega-Defender Anti-Scorer Antonio McDyess…. You can say what you will but I GUARANTEE that we fare better in the playoffs this year than last if we continue to play to our strength = RUN AND SCORE rather than try to slow it down and play field position in the post. 

  • Thomasholdren

    Bry, I am trying to be objective as possible here. Tim is an average defender by my standards because sometimes he is really really really good, and other nights it is evident he has lost a step. 

    I do not have faith that he could dominate on either end for a playoff series. What say you? 

    I also agree that having Tim gives us a mental edge. 

  • Thomasholdren

    well…You do realize that if it wasn’t for McDyess’ defense the games against the Grizzlies in last year’s playoffs wouldn’t have even been close.  And that it was the old man’s D AND OFFENSE that actually helped the Spurs get to where they were last year prior to playoffs?
    ARE YOU INSANE…???? 

    Lets take it step by step.

    Regular season we were 52-14 before MCDYESS STARTED THE LAST 16 games. We ended up 61-21. We went 9-7 with McDyess “anchoring the D”  His reg season stats were 5 and 5…. Really??? 
    He helped us get to a 6 game losing streak…. 

    PLAYOFFS
    Their bigs KILLED us. Our lack of scoring killed us. Remember we were at the top of the list in terms of offense the reg season and in the middle of the pack on D. During the series we FAILED to score 100 in ALL OF OUR LOSSES. EVEN THOUGH OUR DEFENSE REMAINED CONSTANT…… 

    We needed scoring in last years playoffs. 

    Again, its easy to understand why you feel like we HAVE TO HAVE a team based around Defense. Its easy to fall in that trap.

  • Thomasholdren

    Playing anyone else against randolph would have been a wise move. Antonio was too slow. Any move randolph made created separation. We needed someone to come in and fould the hell out of their bigs. We made no adjustments we lost. 

  • Thomasholdren

    I could go in and score a basket in 1 minute and my PER would be through the roof. You have to understand how to “analyze” the stats, not just plug them in at your convenience. 

    Please look at Blair’s PER and EFF in comparison to those who play his same minutes (TD/SPLITTER). I will continue to bring up Blair’s good play because a vast majority on here last and this year continue to say that he needs a reduction in minutes, and try to justify him getting played behind Bonner and McDyess last year. 

    Argument invalid? Why? Take the best G or the best C and let me know if you would bet on Manu or Tim making a stop or the G or C score? I think its easy to say that some games these two are really on or off due to age. 

  • JT

    So Pop waits until the Heat pretty much kill to take a time out, I mean at least take a timeout for the guys to take a rest. His coaching really upsets me sometimes.

  • Bushka

    You didnt compare him to anyone.  You said he had the highest PER on the team.

    The arugment is invalid because you called Tim & Manu average defenders which is wrong. 

    You basically threw out two facts at the start of the post that were incorrect and then built a fragile castle around them.

    Tims a good Defensive big.  Manus a good defensive guard.  There a ton of literature out there on it, both with adjusted plus minus PER and defensive metrics.  

    Then you tote the Memphis arugment.
    We got beat not just by the bigs in Memphis we got beat by Length across the court.  On the wings at the two slot   everywhere.  Dejuan didnt play because he got eaten alive, likewise RJ.  McDyess was on the court because he was the only thing going close to stopping the bleeding from Zach Randolph on the offensive end.

    Offence will win  you regular season games because you can feast on crap defensive teams and pad a record.  When you face a long athletic team committed to a team concept, who execute a defensive strategy well as memphis did you get belted.

    Defence is a constant.  Look at Dallas, look at the Celtics, look at the Lakers, look at the bulls dynasty and the pistons teams they beat to get there.

    All those teams could score, but more importantly they could defend.  

    We have offence.  We have reasonable contracts and cap space next year.  We need team defence and that starts with controlling the paint and funneling people into positions you want them to go to.

    The suns are the most glaring example of how amazing offence gets pounded to bits in the playoffs.  You can run up all the numbers you like in the regular season, but when a team takes away your most efficient scoring options and makes you grind out your points you die.

  • Anonymous

    Name ANY Spur player that provided “superior” interior defense against the Grizzlies.

    THAT’S the point you don’t seem to grasp.  My mention of McDyess wasn’t of a player who made a significant difference.  It was the fact that he was the “OLDEST” player out their making more of an impact than any post player not named Duncan.

    Look…if you want to “believe” what you want to believe…that’s your personal choice.  We disagree on what we think would be the best path to this team winning a championship.

    My point is clear and I think proven…teams don’t win championships if they can’t play top tier defense.  Teams may make playoffs or even the finals with good to great offense…but THEY DON’T WIN if their defense is less than top 10.

    http://espn.go.com/nba/statistics/team/_/stat/team-comparison-per-game/sort/avgPointsOpponent/year/2011/seasontype/3

  • Deeds130

    “What won us championships”… No. What wins championships in the NBA, period. Again not saying it’s the whole story, but look at the success of franchises like the /akers… What guys do they ALWAYS target? Contrast that with the Knicks over the years, and today. I said it the minute they signed Mr. Offense Amare, “Wrong move, they will not contend.” How many titles do the C’s have with Russel, McHale-Parrish, KG? What teams won for Detroit? Today’s Bulls live&die with D-Rose, but who’s the ONE OTHER guy they made UNTOUCHABLE since drafting him? Noah. I could go on. You want offense, you want Blair? Okay, just don’t expect too much. Don’t expect more than you would from a Don Nelson team, or a D’Antoni team. Or any of Dirk’s teams that didn’t have Chandler. Oregon Ducks, or SEC, your choice (but remember who gets titles).

  • Thomasholdren

    Thunder…. HEAT…. 

    Chicago Bulls of Jordan …. 

    KOBEs titles….. 

    Dallas wasnt a defensive team…. 

    Get over it

  • Thomasholdren

    Name the 3 players that played against the Grizzlies in the post. 

    My point is clear. We scored over 100 in the reg season and failed to score 100 in each of our playoff losses because we went with YOUR theory. 

  • Anonymous

    It’s a theory if not proven to be true or false.  It’s a fact when it happens.

    In reading your posts to several people…you’re all over the place.  Spouting that offense is the way to win then backing up the defense debate with quotes like these…

    “Name the 3 players that played against the Grizzlies in the post.”   You know who they were and didn’t play very good defense.

    “We needed someone to come in and fould the hell out of their bigs.”  Meaning…the Spurs played poor defense against the Grizzlies.

    “Tim is an average defender by my standards because sometimes he is
    really really really good, and other nights it is evident he has lost a
    step.”  Again…admitting the Spurs are weak in interior defense.

    And this takes the cake….
    “Dallas wasnt a defensive team…. 

    Get over it.”

    Perhaps you didn’t realize that Dallas was the 5th best rated defensive team in the playoffs last year.

  • Thomasholdren

    1. No, it seems like you need to do a little research on FACT/OPINION. Fact = WE LOST EVERY PLAYOFF GAME WE SCORED UNDER 100. 

    Fact = WE WON EVERY P.O.GAME WE SCORED 100+

    FACT = WE WERE BETTER OFFENSIVELY WITH BLAIR

    FACT = WE GAVE UP ALMOST  EXACTLY THE SAME NUMBER OF PTS USING BLAIR OR MCDYESS….. 

    2. My point was there were 3 defenders on Randolph; BONNER, MCDYESS, DUNCAN, BLAIR DIDNT PLAY. So again, playing ANYONE but those three (after getting abused game after game) would have been an improvement. Gregg has issues with making adjustments. He continued to try and get different results from doing the same thing.
    3. No meaning we needed someone to foul Randolph really hard so that he would not OWN the PAINT. Headfake or Pivot and McDyess was out of the picture. AGain, the point is, McDyess was not effective in defending Randolph, yet he defended him the WHOLE series. 

    4. Yes, I do admit we are mediocre in the interior. But placing a “defender” inside will do 2 things. First, it wont improve us to a great defensive team because our perimeter is not very good. SECONDLY> LOOK WHAT HAPPENED IN THE PLAYOFFS. If this team doesnt score in volume we dont win. PERIOD. Scoring has to be our priority if we want to win this year. 

    5. To the “analysts” on here it would seem odd that I said DALLAS wasnt a defensive team. Heres why; they were an offensive team. Their offense was better than their defense. 

    First round of P.O. They played Portland who was the 24th ranked OFFENSE in the League. Portland was actually a defensive team (top 10). Then they played your Defensive Juggernaut the Lakers SWEEP averaging 100ppg… Then OKC which was CLEARLY an offensive battle where each team averaged over 100 in their series… THEN Miami. 

    Although Chandler was the piece that “brought them a ring” It is interesting to know that, in terms of PER, Chandler’s PER was the only position that had a NET NEGATIVE…. So take it for what its worth. 

    Statistically Dallas was a better offensive team compared to defensive; which is also a FACT. MY point is, OFFENSE is what carried them. Even though, and you are correct, their defense was a top 5 in the playoffs their offense was a TOP 3. 

  • Thomasholdren

    I think the SUNS are a perfect example of how one guy, who is one of the best offensive players EVER, can take 4 scrubs and turn them into a playoff team. 

    Similarly, LEBRON did the same thing with CLEVELAND MULTIPLE YEARS…. 

    Look, Tim USED to be a great defender, He made All defensive team 2 years ago. hes not a TOP defender anymore. 

    I would put Manu in front of Tim in terms of defense, but he has never been awarded for his defense 1st or 2nd teams, or ever been in the top 10 for steals in a season. Good on the ball, GREAT INSTINCTS and REACTION…. 

    You get “balled” by Memphis? 

    - Look, we went to BS try to play field position. We had G Hill play a majority of the minutes for us and he is one of the worst shooting G’s in the league. I will check that, he is a decent shooter, but he literally CANNOT create a shot. And since we have no PG to set him up he was TERRIBLE for us. 

    - To further that point we all know Manu wasnt ready to go. AGAIN, the scoring issues…. We shot 31% from 3 in the playoffs… Not due to their or our interior D. 

  • Anonymous

    I’ve never said offense Was Not important.  My facts clearly show that without a solid defensive unit….no matter how good the offense may be…a team doesn’t have much of a statistical chance to winning a championship.

    Your arguments have been such that the team doesn’t need good defense if they could upgrade their offense production.

    To that…I just don’t agree.

  • Thomasholdren

    We had a mediocre defense last year. 
    2 things killed us in the playoffs. 

    1. Antonio McDyess V Randolph

    2. INABILITY TO SCORE

    Even with a MEDIOCRE defense, if we had scored at the clip we scored at during the reg season we would have WON THE SERIES. 

    Losing to the Grizz had NOTHING TO DO WITH OUR D, as we held them to our REGULAR SEASON AVERAGE. 

    WHAT KILLED US WAS OUR INABILITY TO SCORE AS MANY AS WE DID IN THE REGULAR SEASON… 

    WHY? BECAUSE WE TRADED DEFENSE FOR OFFENSE… 

  • Anonymous

    The Spurs didn’t trade any aspect of their game in that series.

    The Grizzlies played better defense against our offense than we played defense against their offense.

    That’s what won the series for the Grizzlies.

  • Thomasholdren

    Interesting you say that “Dallas beat Miami with defense” Considering the fact that lack of defense is Tony’s weakest link….. The SYSTEM that tony played in was this: 

    You run pick and roll with the best player in the NBA and you finish a layup. 

    The “Huge stretches” that Duncan was out… .Where did we go then? Thats right NO WHERE. Tony is a layup drill. PERIOD. 

    He is not a top tier PG because he only does one thing well. Score in the paint. A great talent to have WHEN YOU HAVE ALL THE PIECES AROUND HIM. 

    Everyone notices how much more FLUID and consistent our OFFENSE is when our SG takes over for our PG. I think that fact alone should categorize tony as an “above average” PG. 

    Again, make a list of whom you would NOT have over tony. And yes, steve nash, one of the best PGs EVER in terms of PASSING AND SHOOTING. 

    Weird reliance on a Steve Nash Clone? There are probably 2 people in the WORLD that would take TP over Nash; You and TP. 

  • Thomasholdren

    If you have Martin as a top G in the league then you sir have some issues…. Worst defender, rebounder, passer in that position