Preseason: San Antonio Spurs 90, Miami Heat 73
AT&T Center–Behind second year phenom DeJuan Blair, the San Antonio Spurs announced their presence among the very NBA elite in a one-sided victory over the heavily favored Miami Heat and LeBron James.
James, the centerpiece to the summer’s ballyhooed free agent class, was held to 12 points on 3-of-8 shooting with three rebounds and three assists.
That this was a preseason game in which the Miami Heat were playing on the wrong end of the rare exhibition back-to-back, and LeBron James only played in the first quarter, probably had something to do with it. Context is everything after all.
So while it might be a little early to proclaim DeJuan Blair the San Antonio Spur’s latest Most Improved Player candidate, it is worth noting that in his second consecutive start he posted another strong outing against a quality opponent (previously against the Yao Ming/Luis Scola combination, tonight against Chris Bosh).
Blair posted a game high 13 points to go with seven rebounds, totaling nine and five in a first quarter that saw him matched with Bosh for all 12 minutes. More importantly, DeJuan Blair seems to be settling in alongside Tim Duncan.
“Tim and I have good chemistry, it’s all about building a lot of trust and a lot of bond,” Blair said. “Once we get that clicking and the two man game going we’ll start rolling.”
Like George Hill heading into last season, DeJuan Blair’s role in his rookie season was somewhat limited due to his inability to play alongside a franchise cornerstone. For Hill, it was a matter of developing a jump shot that enabled him to slide over to play in the same backcourt.
DeJuan Blair has yet to prove he has developed a jump shot (he missed badly on an early attempt), he is showing more touch on close range flip shots, settling into a role in which he plays off of Tim Duncan in much the same way that Fabricio Oberto once did, only with more talent.
Beyond Blair, James Anderson did someÂ noticeableÂ things in limited opportunities, and knocking down a corner three is always a good way to start in San Antonio.
Tony Parker is fast, Antonio McDyess can hit midrange jumpers, and Matt Bonner can knock down wide open three-pointers.
Richard Jefferson showed that there are two very different kinds of 11 point, Â 3-for-7, games: the kind that he put up last year, and the aggressive manner in which he went about putting up that stat line tonight. The difference? Jefferson’s aggressiveness earned him six free throws, hitting five.
Still, as I mentioned in a previous post, none of tonight’s effort will answer any questions for the regular season, especially when it comes to the new look Miami Heat, a team Manu Ginobili looks forward to seeing when it counts.
“In a lot of teams, there are two All-Stars or really good players, so I want to see them with Dwyane too,” Ginobili said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how they adjust to each other, but both are great players and can really create and draw double teams.”
So on a night in which the fans poured down calls of “overrated” while their San Antonio Spurs toppled a present and future dynasty, the hype was summed up best by the team whose summer was all about hype:
“Yeah it was a good match-up,” Chris Bosh said. “But we have to base it off imagination right now.”