On cannibalism and composure


At the outset of the series, I called our attention to a positively unSpursian trend of San Antonio’s recent play. Namely, the Spurs are not showing an ability to close games. San Antonio’s laughably sophomoric late game execution is a storyline no one saw coming.

This inability to execute was nowhere more obvious than the end of Game 3. Tim Duncan may have been calling for timeout as the clock expired, but the fact remains the Spurs rebounded the ball with 6.6 seconds remaining. Gregg Popovich had an opportunity to call a timeout and draw up a play. He didn’t. Neither did the Spurs. Tim Duncan’s attempted timeout was too little, too late.

This is the sort of short circuit one expects from other teams. No one expects it from the Spurs. This is something that simply doesn’t happen to the Popovich/Duncan Spurs. Except it did.

The Spurs’ reaction to their meltdown, however, is everything you’d expect from San Antonio.  Down 2-1, San Antonio’s greatest strength doesn’t lie in their talent. Nor does it flow from their ability to draw cleaner Xs and rounder Os. The Spurs keep their cool. Like Omar Little, San Antonio doesn’t scare. And while they’ve not executed well of late, the Spurs won’t lose their composure. The Spurs won’t begin to cannibalize one another over their collective mistakes.

After the game, Gregg Popovich, George Hill, and Manu Ginobili were asked about the timeout no one bothered to call. Here’s what they said:

Gregg Popovich:

That was my fault. I wasn’t quick enough to get it (the timeout). He (Manu Ginobli) got out of there so quick. I should’ve been all over the referee to get the timeout, but I didn’t do it. That was my fault, not George’s.

George Hill:

It is not just one person. It is all of us. We win them together and we have got to lose them together. We will figure out what we are going to do next time.

Manu Ginobili:

I thought I had little more time (on the clock), but they played good defense. I saw Marc (Gasol) stretching out with his long arms. When I tried to go right, (Mike) Conley jumped on me too. I lost the ball a little bit. I couldn’t get the shot off, but at the same time, it was my bad in the sense that I had a couple of more seconds. When I saw that I couldn’t get it off, I threw it to someone at the top of the key. There wasn’t enough time. It’s now easier to say we should’ve called a timeout, but we didn’t. I guess we didn’t make the right read.

There is a little to write about in these words. And that’s the point. Over the last decade the Spurs have dug themselves out of many holes. A healthy locker room makes a great shovel.

  • Fkj74

    Unspurs like late game play, but a Spurs like attitude. Like it. Go Spurs

  • Mark B

    I don’t know why Ginobili even advanced the ball. There is no reason with less than 10 seconds left to not take the free advance that comes with a timeout. Unless you get a free couple of seconds like Memphis did 2 games ago at the end of the first quarter. This one was on Manu, he shoudl have been screaming for the TO as soon as he rebounded the ball.

  • rrw

    This is just an observation from a Grizzlies fan, but it appears that the Spurs are trying too hard to match up with the Grizzlies’ strengths instead of exploiting their own strengths. Trying to match up to Golden State is what cost the Mavericks their first-round loss a few years ago. The Spurs have a better, faster, and more experienced front-court than any combination that Memphis can suit up. Conley is matching up decently to Parker only because the lane is clogged with all of the front-court players on both the Spurs and Grizzlies. Clear those guys out and use them for high screens or picks, and Parker/Hill/Ginobili/Neal will be shooting uncontested lay-ups. Gasol and Randolf don’t have the foot-speed to get back into position (Arthur does, though), so make those guys guard from the outside. On both offense and defense the Spurs should key in on Conley and try to wear him out or get in foul trouble because the Grizzlies lose their identity on offense when he is sitting.

    I’m looking forward to seeing the adjustments from both teams tonight. Even without a vested interest in Memphis, I’d still be enjoying this good, grind-it-out basketball.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joseph-Dooley/9203055 Joseph Dooley

    This is why, win or lose, I will always like the Spurs.

  • Len

    Nice analysis. I do respect Conley. His play on the court and demeanor off the court are very impressive. In all honesty, it probably comes from his good family upbringing.

    I do agree that the Spurs will try to isolate Conley in tonight’s game more than in previous games. Have Manu, Tony or Hill get him on the curl or with one side of the court cleared out and take it right at him.

  • Colin Rigney

    Good synopsis, and everything I would expect to hear from this team. I’m hoping for 48 min of the defense we saw in the 2nd half of game 3. Even if their offense is horrendous as it has been, defense like THAT will win the game if it is played for 48 min.

  • Pingback: Tony Parker still hasn't shown up for the postseason()

  • Mark B

    Ah, seeing the replay, it was actually Hill that grabbed the rebound. He probably shoudl have called for a TO, but I’m gonna say after tonight, it hardly matters.