El Conclusion: Spurs look better in Game 3 loss


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San Antonio Spurs 108 Final

Recap | Box Score

109 Dallas Mavericks
Tim Duncan, PF 36 MIN | 8-14 FG | 6-6 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 0 TO | 22 PTS | -16
Really solid all-around game, especially considering Samuel Dalembert brought his A game too. If Tony Parker’s going to continue to disappear after the first quarter, Spurs might need to run things through Duncan.

Kawhi Leonard, SF 38 MIN | 7-8 FG | 1-3 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 5 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 17 PTS | -7
Turnovers aside, this was a great bounce back game for Kawhi. Hit some huge shots with a hand in his face. We’re used to the steals and the defense, but the fearless shooting was key. Spurs will definitely need that Kawhi to come back in this series.

Tiago Splitter, C 29 MIN | 6-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 13 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | +1
He was awesome. Continues to guard Dirk well, but his offense was spot. Finished around the rim, was aggressive moving on the pick and roll.

Tony Parker, PG 33 MIN | 9-18 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 19 PTS | -5
This is as deceiving a stat line as you’ll ever see. He was 3-10 after the first quarter and seemed to lack any aggression whatsoever, especially in the fourth where he drove to the basket and instead of throwing up a floater or taking a 10-15 foot jump shot he was taking and nailing in the first quarter. Second game in a row he’s done this.

Danny Green, SG 13 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -3
Can’t get his shot off and really isn’t doing that good a job defending either.

Matt Bonner, PF 4 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +4

Boris Diaw, PF 23 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +1
Still want to see him being more aggressive, but he looked way better today than he had in Games 1 & 2.

Patty Mills, PG 15 MIN | 2-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | +7
Did a really good job pushing the ball when he was in, but the shots still aren’t falling. But he’s staying aggressive, which is important.

Manu Ginobili, SG 33 MIN | 4-14 FG | 4-4 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 4 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | +10
Got the Spurs back in the game in the second half and looked like he won the game for the Spurs before Vince Carter’s silly game winner. His outside shot wasn’t falling, but he took over the offense when Parker couldn’t or wouldn’t in the second half.

Marco Belinelli, SG 15 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +6
Way, way better this game than Games 1 & 2. Didn’t play a ton of minutes and he’s having trouble staying in front of guys, but his shots were falling and he was looking for his own shot.

Gregg Popovich
Thought he made all the right adjustments in the second half and he’s tightened up the rotation. Defense just needs to be better.

Two Things We Saw

  1. He had another huge game, but I think this time the Spurs played Monta Ellis the right way for the most part, especially in the half court. During Game 2, he got in the paint a ton. This game, Kawhi sagged off him and gave him the outside shot. That’s the right move, he just hit some of those shots tonight.
  2. The offense looked way more like what we’re used to seeing. 26 assists, five players in double figures and two more scored seven points. The three-pointers haven’t started falling, but the offense looked way better than it did in the first two games.
  • Dusty

    I think Tony Parkers’s second half struggles after a big first half or quarter have been a career long thing for him. Not saying it happens every game but he seems to maybe wear himself out when he focuses on having a great start to the game and maybe this issue is slowly becoming more prominent as he gets up there in age. I think the summer spent playing for France is a huge factor in Parker’s inability to stay healthy this year as well as his decreased production. Look at Ginobili, who took the summer off and is having a bounce-back year.

  • Spurholic Mumbai

    For the cognoscenti, this series is getting “interesting”. For us lesser mortals, Spurholics, please win the next three games boringly, convincingly and get to the second round.

  • Jimbo

    Totally agree, I wish Parker had taken the summer off. Who knows how that factors in? And you’re right about Ginobili. I think the rest would really help TP. He’s almost 32 and has had so many long playoff runs in his past. He is so important for the Spurs when the opponent’s D tightens up. BTW, much respect to RC for coaching. If there is an heir apparent to Popovich, RC has to be on the short list. I’m still trying to figure out how the Mavs won the title a few years back..

  • John T.

    I agree and part of that is the Spurs haven’t had a healthy Tony Parker in the playoffs since Game 3 of the 2013 Finals. Near the end of the third quarter it was obvious Parker was laboring. To me Leonard is the only player the Spurs absolutely can’t afford to lose so if Parker can’t physically get it done the Spurs need to sit him and allow Mills to go out there and put up those shots.

    And for Parker to dribble out of a fast break layup because he mistook a trailing Dirk for Lebron James had a terrible consequence for the Spurs. He had two possessions where he dribbled out of excellent scoring chances in the paint and the result was zero points for the Spurs. Again, I am not convinced the current version of Parker is a better option over Mills at this point.

    I have two questions if anyone can answer it.

    1) In the regular season did the Spurs use Leonard on Ellis? I only ask because it just looks like Leonard can’t stay in front of him and it seems like it only succeeds in taking our best player on the boards out of rebounding position. At least if we took Leonard and put him on Carter it would force Ellis, who is guarding Leonard, to switch his man from offense to defense which could result in confusion on a possession or two.

    2) Why did Pop sub Diaw for Joseph on that final play? I believe Diaw was on Dirk the entire final stretch and Leonard was on Carter. I can’t prove a negative but in a game of inches if Leonard, and not Manu, had been covering Carter it might have made an improbable shot into an impossible shot.

    Spurs are now 1-4 in their last five playoff games and the lone win was 90% frustrating to watch. I hope the law of averages can swing the other way for the Spurs on Monday.

  • Ali

    You’re super generous with the grades. Duncan was not an anchor defensively. 2 of his blocks were on Dalembert, but he didnt really made Ellis fear anything. Set the pick way too early on the last position. He set it with 8 seconds should had waited till 6.

    Kwahi had way too many turnovers. We cant have that many turnovers. most of them unforced.

    Manu took the shot with time left. either win the game or send it to over time. NEVER NEVER NEVER give the other team the chance to win. Especially since old -aging player can beat the buzzer with a corner three against the Spurs in every series.

    Pop deserves a C at best. Why is Tiago playing only 29 minutes? he aint old. He was our best player tonight. Why did Parker only play 33 minutes? he needs 40+ especially if Patty cant shoot 3s or stay in front of his guys. Why didnt Parker check-back in before the 4th minute mark?

    Why didnt Pop force Calderon to drive. Yes Monte is a better finisher and worse shooter so i like making him to shoot. But Calderon is a better shooter than finisher so force him to drive and finish over duncan.

    Why dont we either post-up kwahi on Ellis or make Parker and Kwahi do a Pick-n-roll early so Ellis will be guarding parker again. Parker should be living in the paint. They got no defense there.

  • NickyP

    +1, ESPECIALLY on posting up Kawhi when Ellis is on him. Carlisle is hiding Ellis’ defensive liability and we’re not punishing them for it. It’s allowing Ellis to reserve his energy to scorch us on the other end. If Kawhi would get a few more post up opportunities, aside from abusing Ellis, they would likely send someone to double, which means an open shooter somewhere. (They’ll probably get chased off the 3-pt line b/c the Mavs have been great about that, but at least it gets them scrambling.)

    Generally speaking, I just don’t see an intensity or desire from any of the Spurs (except maybe Manu, surprise surprise). They look like they’re going through the motions and hoping it will all work out in the end. The dichotomy was most evident on the play when Dalembert dove for a loose ball on the ground while Duncan tried to scoop it up and all the others Spurs watched.

    Also, thoughts on going small when Dalembert is out there? If he had to guard Bonner or Diaw it would take him away from the basket and away from blocking/altering shots and grabbing boards. Maybe creates better driving opportunities and eventually drive-and-kick when defenders have to start helping. Just musing.

  • Ali

    Why wasnt Tiago on Calderon during the inbound play. We always have a big to distract the in-bounder, didnt make sense to me.

  • John T.

    I believe they had Duncan defending the inbound pass and Splitter was on the bench.

  • ali

    for a second I liked that Idea. But there is two sides to the ball. If we go stop there is no way we can stop Ellis/Harris penetration.

    Yes Mavs were the more Hungary team. Is it me or did Duncan just looked bored the whole time. I didnt like his body language. again I might be too tough on him given we lost by a shot.

  • ali

    Thats my point put Splitter on Calderon and CoJo on the bench. Make life like hell for Calderon to pass it in, and Im sure Tiago can match Calderon’s speed for 1.5 seconds.

  • ali

    *I meant “If we go small”

    Duncan got out-rebounded by Dirk no escuse for that

  • John T.

    Sorry you were right, it was Joseph guarding the inbound pass and Duncan was on Wright initially. For some reason I thought Duncan was guarding the inbound but that could have been the set-up prior to the Spurs calling a timeout.

  • aztekk

    Manu certainly enjoyed a very good game despite his shooting percentage (he was tops in +/-) but you neglected to mention his atrocious defense on Carter for the final play.

  • stfudg

    Well on that play, Leonard was guarding Dirk. Green was on Monta. Duncan was on Wright. Before the inbound pass. Monta broke off of Green going to the top of the arc. Wright at the same time set a pick on Green which had Monta free for a while until Duncan covered him. While that was happening Calderon fake pass to Monta with Dirk rolling into that direction pulling Leonard away from VC area.

    For your question, Joseph was guarding the inbound pass.

  • stfudg

    Name one person who wouldn’t go for the pumpfake when there’s 1.7 seconds left on the clock. None. but he actually defended pretty well. If you watch the replay he still attempted to block the shot on the way down by stretching his hand again which caused VC just to wait a little bit longer before taking that shot.

  • stfudg

    You grade on the individual performance. Not the outcome of the game. Yeah Kwahi had 5 TOs but he was a beast on defense which offsets his mistakes not to mention is efficient offense performance.. If you look at the overall performance, the Spurs TO less than the Mavs and outrebounded them as well granted it was only by 1. And any block is good no matter who the player is especially if it was going to be a sure bucket.

    Perhaps the reason why Duncan wasn’t in the paint the whole time was because of something called the 3-second violation. Also, because he was on Dirk for some reason down the stretch which opens up the paint a lot.

    oh and the only reason Dirk outrebounded Duncan was because all of Dirk’s rebounds were defensive boards, and Duncan plays with a guy named Splitter who has vacuums in his hands. So unless you want him to be a rebound whore and duke it out against Splitter for rebounds your complaint is just as it is.

    The game was pretty good. Mavs were up, Spurs came back. Mavs striked back. Spurs returned to the Jedi, but at the end of the game the Mavs were a Phantom Menace. Both coaches did very well with their counters. Mavs just had lady luck behind VC’s corner 3. I think it’s about time that everyone stopped thinking that the Spurs are still going to sweep the Mavs with a +20 point difference in every game. Then maybe, just maybe everyone wouldn’t go mad over a 1 point loss away from home.

  • LukeDawg

    I guess I am mostly just a little confused. When Duncan, Kawhi, Tiago and Manu all bring their A games, Parker adds in 19 and 6, they outshoot, outrebound, out assist, and out steal their opponent, the team is supposed to win right? Factor in pinpoint offensive execution down the stretch, less turnovers than the opposition and and more points in the paint, and they are supposed to win by double digits. And yet it is still a loss. This means that a lot of these grades are somehow way off and those players did not perform up to their expectations, or this team’s ceiling is just not as high as we all seemed to think. Maybe it’s a little bit of both but the scariest thing to me is that I thought the (statistically) best team in the western conference played a good game against the worst possible Western conference playoff option and somehow still got outclassed…

  • Chromao

    Dallas is not your typical 8th seed. Dallas lost several close games during the regular season (a number of those in overtime), and could be now the 4th or 5th seed with a couple of friendly bounces and less controversial calls. In other words: this is a very tough oponent! Needless to say, we MUST win game 4, lest be in serious jeopardy of being bouced off the playoffs really early.
    I wholeheartedly agree with other posts here that the Spurs are not playing with the sense of urgency that Dallas is playing. Even worse, some of our players are trying to prove that they are not in a slump (markedly Mills and Green, sometImes Leonard) and straying off the team play in the process, with obvious bad results (mostly forced shots)
    I may getting ahead of myself now, but I don’t see Tony Parker in a Spurs uniform next season, regardless of the results this season. He does not seem injured or tired as much as he seems disinterested, and he definitely is not enjoying the the repeated benching in crunch time in the playoffs since last season.

  • John T.

    “And any block is good no matter who the player is especially if it was going to be a sure bucket.”

    There is statistical evidence to suggest that a lot of blocked shots ultimately are the result of failed team defense. Also, a good percentage of blocked shots result in offensive rebounds and second chance scoring opportunities because the team defense is in many cases out of position. This is because the majority of blocked shots are the result of dribble penetration and not jump shots outside the paint. So maybe a block shot shows individual effort, but it isn’t necessarily positive from a team standpoint which I think is more important.

    I came away with a different impression of Leonard’s performance on offense and defense. Two of his five steals were immediately negated by him turning the ball over on the fast break (He does get points for the effort).

    And watching him sag off the screens set for Ellis down the stretch, like he did guarding Lebron James last year, which conceded wide open jump shots to a jump shooter played right into Dallas’ hands. He along with the rest of the Spurs were unable to keep Dallas out of the paint which resulted in a lot of drive and kick-outs for uncontested three point shots.

    Yes, Leonard was efficient on offense but perhaps he should have been taking more than eight shots and getting to the line more than three times considering the match up advantage he had. Maybe that’s a team failing as much as his own.

    I don’t want to pile all the blame on Leonard because he is not being put in a favorable situation, or his comfort zone by having to be an on-ball defender against a much quicker player. I think he needs to be on Marion (not a scorer) so he can play to his strength as a free safety who disrupts the passing lanes and can get into rebounding position in order to create fast transition opportunities.

  • Michael Finger

    I think it came down to two plays – at 1:09, Ellis gets a blocking call “and 1” on Diaw by punching Diaw in the chest before shooting. At 0:01, Ginobli scores the go ahead bucket with contact (by Dalembert?) and no call. Can anyone explain the difference in these two calls?