Practice shots: On depth, conditioning, and preparation
Tim Duncan needs help: San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has been known to rest Tim Duncan from time to time during the grind of a regular 82-game season.
If newly reappointed starting center DeJuan Blair had his way, the Spurs would be even more cautious during the chaotic 66-games-in-122-days season that begins Monday at home against the Memphis Grizzlies.
“I’d rather Tim [Duncan] sit out until the playoffs. That’s my big brother I don’t want him to get hurt, so I’m saving him,” Blair joked. “That’s me, I would sit him out. But he’s good. He’ll want to play every game if his body lets him.
“But it’s Pop’s decision. I’ve got his back.”
The problem with that strategy is, as Blair readily admitted, that the San Antonio Spurs still rely desperately on their former MVP and the playoffs without him hardly seems like an option.
There are no answers to preparing for the grind of a lockout shortened season. Whatever the San Antonio Spurs learned as an organization from the 1999 NBA Lockout has long been implemented in their program.
The 2011-2012 NBA season could very well be a battle of attrition. Unfortunately for the Spurs the only answer to survive may be to throw as many bodies at the problem and hope a few of them stick.
Currently the Spurs have a four-man front court rotation featuring starters Duncan and Blair, and reserves Matt Bonner and Tiago Splitter. Beyond that the only big man proven to be a viable rotation player is new intern coach Sean Marks
“We’re going to find out if guys can play, if guys are ready to go and contribute,” Duncan said. “Because we’re going to have to use a lot of guys. Whether you want to or not, you’re going to have to put people out there and let them sink of swim.”
Goodbye practice facility, we hardly knew ye: Through the summer and most of the fall the San Antonio Spurs practice facility sat empty. When the Spurs break training camp on Saturday Blair feels fears it may sit silent for months to come.
“[We] might not see this gym for the whole season,” Blair said. “It’s going to be in and out, a lot of traveling.”
While it hasn’t exactly been camp cupcake, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has treaded cautiously in pushing his players too hard or trying to implement too much.
“[We’re trying to] squeeze a lot into a short time,” Popovich said. “We try to squeeze a lot of things in but also not try and go too fast.
“We all have to try to gauge what we think we can get in well, instead of getting things in sloppily. It’ll take time.”
In a shortened season with an aging team time would seem to be the one thing lacking. But Spurs center Tim Duncan believes his team is up to the task.
“I think the team is ready to go. Obviously we have some things to work out and it will take some games to get there,” Duncan said. “But all in all we feel pretty good about starting.”
DeJuan Blair is your starting center: When the San Antonio Spurs take the court Monday night against the Memphis Grizzlies, it will be like DeJuan Blair is seeing them for the first time again.
“I didn’t play. At all. The whole series,” Blair said referring to his nearly nonexistent minutes in last year’s first round playoff loss and multiple DNP-CD’s. “I thought about it the whole lockout, but as soon as I stepped in here in training camp last year was over.”