San Antonio Spurs 104, Toronto Raptors 95: The Raptors were in the zone, and then they weren’t

by

AT&T CENTER — Excluding a blistering 10-0 start, the San Antonio Spurs started the second half of their season with one of the worst halves of basketball this year before reality, and a dose of Manu Ginobili and DeJuan Blair, kicked in to set things straight.

At the heart of the Spurs troubles in the opening half were a combination of sloppy execution and an active Toronto Raptors zone defense. I struggle to recall a team so blatantly playing a straight zone defense for such a long stretch, as the Raptors did through pretty much the entire second quarter. But such is the life of an NBA team forced to play defensive turnstiles Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani together for 35-plus minutes.

The lone effective practitioner of the zone as a base defense, the Dallas Mavericks, get away with it by disguising it with different looks in man-to-man defensive principles. The Raptors game plan was to stay exclusively in a zone, and for a half it worked to perfection.

“We missed a lot of open shots and were a little passive,” San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. “We didn’t attack aggressively against that kind of zone, so we kind of helped them.”

Against the zone defense, the Spurs attempted all of six 3-pointers in the first half — something Ginobili has been able to knock out by himself on many occasions this season. Tentative shooters wasted any initial penetration, with George Hill and Gary Neal guilty of passing up shots in favor of fruitless drives back into the heart of the Raptors defense. Over-passing and generally poor decisions led to 12 first-half turnovers (the Spurs had 17 overall) and 15 of Toronto’s 22 fast break points.

In the second half, the Spurs attacked the zone by swinging the ball around and going straight into pick-and-rolls, with Blair finding seams in the gaps for a season-high 22 points. They also adjusted by moving a 1-of-5 George Hill out of the corners and involving him in dribble handoffs and other two man games with Antonio McDyess, getting the third year guard out of spot up situations and a few cuts to the basket. Hill scored 10 points in the second half on 3-of-4 shooting.

Once the Spurs managed to break through the zone a few times, the turnovers — and the Raptors easy baskets — came to a screeching halt, as did any chance of an upset. A few more thoughts in bullet form on game no. 42:

  • It’s gotta be the shoes: Dunks have been a rare commodity along the Spurs frontline this season. So rare have the opportunities come that when they actually present themselves, the finished product has been a little awkward (see Splitter, Tiago). So when McDyess soared for two vintage dunks in the game (in a pair of Air Jordans no less), his teammates took notice.
    “Timmy asked if I was retiring tonight because I had two dunks,” McDyess joked. “I’m going to feel it in the morning.”In his retirement tour, McDyess is quietly experiencing the customary San Antonio second year surge, putting up an efficient 8 points and 6 rebounds tonight on 4-0f-7 shooting. What probably won’t be forgotten come film session is that McDyess could’ve had a hat trick, blowing an easy dunk opportunity at the end of the first half.
  • In search of perfection: Many of DeJuan Blair’s troubles this season, if you ask Head Coach Gregg Popovich, stemmed from the second year forward abandoning his greatest strength, his instincts, in search of a perfect game. “DeJuan, he’s too worried about being perfect, about where to be on the court instead of just competing and playing,” Popovich said. “I thought in the third quarter he just went out and had fun and played basketball, he did a great job for us.” Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Blair thrived against a zone, a defense for which there are no real set plays and players instead rely on sound principles and good instincts. Having Ginobili zipping you pinpoint passes (seven assists) never hurts either. Also, Blair hit a midrange jumper, which is noteworthy in itself.
  • andy

    pop makes good in-game adjustments. no surprise there.

    now i want to see us dismantle the knicks offense.

  • Ruel

    Great win tonight!!! Next, New York Knicks on Friday. A must win and we need to finish them ’til the end of the game. No easy buckets and we need to take care of the ball as well. Win or Lose Keep Pounding the Rock San Antonio and give the New York Knicks 48 minutes of Hell Team Defense!!!

    Defense…Defense…Defense…

  • Tim in Surrey

    Nice article, Jesse.

    About the zone, you’re right that Dallas’ zone is completely different. The zone they’re using is John Chaney’s matchup zone that he used at Temple. Dean Demopoulos (who now coaches for the Clippers–which is scary!) was Chaney’s assistant for ages and ages. After Temple he coached with the Sonics under George Karl, alongside current Mavs assistant Dwayne Casey. Casey really mastered the Temple matchup and has combined it with his own defensive expertise (he was a long-time assistant to Eddie Sutton) so that he’s really one of the better defensive assistants in the league, especially using the matchup zone.

    For those who don’t know, the Mavs’ zone is a very effective hybrid between a zone and man-to-man called a “matchup zone”. (You can think of it as a zone “with man principles” or a man with heavy switching and “zone responsibilities”. Same difference, really.) The Temple matchup zone is a 2-3 that is particularly effective with lots of quick medium-sized players and a single, very long center in the middle. Tyson Chandler plays that role now, where guys like Tony Battie played it at Temple. Louisville used a similar defense under Denny Krum–if you’ll remember the 1986 NCAA championship team, Pervis Ellison was the man in the middle who made it work. Dallas already had guys like Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion, who are ideal for the perimeter positions. But the additions of Dwayne Casey and Tyson Chandler are why the Mavs been so effective on defense recently.

    The real difference between the Dallas and Toronto zones is that Dallas’ matchup zone doesn’t leave so many openings for three-point shooters or slashing drivers, mainly because you’re essentially playing man-to-man within an area and then passing your man off to someone else when he moves. Think of it as similar to the way most big shot-blockers play man-to-man (where they’re guarding one player but switch to anyone who comes near the bucket) and spread it to all five guys. You also tend to focus as much on passing lanes as on driving lanes. That’s why the matchup works in the NBA, where the shooters are so devastating and there are so many guys who can “create their own shot” that a normal zone is ineffective. (I learned that all too well, when Temple knocked my alma mater, Vanderbilt, out of the NCAAs. They were built like a pro team, with lots of shooters and a motion-style offense. That’s when I thought that, if the rules changed to permit zones, a matchup could work in the NBA.) Toronto’s zone, by contrast, is really nothing more than an attempt to hide poor defensive players. With guys like Kleiza, Barbosa, and as Jesse mentioned Calderon and Bargnani, Toronto really has four poor defenders in their lineup most of the time. They HAVE to play zone. They don’t have the quickness or length to make a zone really effective, but they can keep the opponents’ offense under control (unless a couple of three-point shooters get really hot) and keep their guys from fouling constantly, as they would in a man-to-man. Dallas, by contrast, plays a zone by CHOICE, and their team is partly built to play it.

    Think about what I said above, though: The idea of Dean Demopoulos working as the defensive specialist for the Clippers is scary! Give him a couple of years and players like Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Eric Bledsoe on the wings and Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan inside… Well, he might be able to build a defense so effective that even the Clippers can win a championship with it.

  • rob

    I’m not sure that it was the Raptors defense in the first half more so than a simple matter of missed open shots. Perhaps a combination of both, but the last time I saw the Spurs go that cold in shooting was against the Knicks. Who doesn’t have a top notch defense either. Hmm?

    I did notice that the Raptors made a consorted effort in not allowing Neal to have open looks in the first half as well as Parker and Ginobili having trouble penetrating without turning the ball over in what otherwise should have been somewhat easy for them against a zone. Then the second half came along; Adjustments were made; And the team buckeled down to Spurs basketball after subpar execution in the first half.

    Can enough good things be said about McDyess?!!! If he doesn’t inspire others on the team to perform at their best…who could? Way to go Blair. Just play your game…every game…all game long. And though it was scrub minutes…Splitter with an awesome block with exhibition of speed, power and authority. Maybe that fall knocked some of the lead bricks out of his system. :)

  • r.l.manuel

    A.D. is a baaaad man
    Blair saved our asses in 2nd half
    was there really any doubt ? ok maybe just a tidbit
    but even down 10 i knew we would prevail
    GO SPURS GO
    GO SPURS GO
    GO SPURS GO

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  • DC Spurs

    I read that James Anderson was in uniform last night. Is he still going to play a few games in D-League?

    Go Spurs Go! Bring on the Knicks!

  • SG

    this game was boring…I’d rather talk about the Mavs-Lakers…they will be our two prime contenders in the West…and they had a fun game last night.

    Someone here mentioned Pavlovic as a good back-up to RJ…he’s seems to be doing a great job for Dallas now…sucks that we didn’t try him out and instead gave Udoka another shot. Pavlovic had 4-7 shooting….i don’t recall Udoka hitting 4 shots over his entire span with the Spurs this year.

    This year Mavs look so much stronger (when healthy). Chandler is really anchoring their defense. Dirk is his usual awesome self. Even J-Kidd shows he can still play ball. Their bench is a concern to me…Terry and Marion can each put up 20 pts a game. Haywood is a good back-up center. Barrea is a pain in the axx. Who knows if Butler comes back…they’re still a great team. I hope they finish 3rd and Lakers 2nd, so we won’t have to play them both…just the winner in the WCF.

  • Shawn

    Yea but without Caron Butler I’m not to worried about Dallas. Many of their scorers disappear when they need them most except Dirk. If one or two guys are off the Spurs have enough guys scoring consistently to still win games.

  • Curtis

    Bill and Sean last night said that they were leaving Anderson here for the next roadtrip and that he would probably be playing with the Toros while the rest of the team is away.

    Once Bonner wasn’t ready to go, they had 12 spots but only 11 healthy guys, so they threw him in uniform and let him warm up and participate. But he was never going to play last night and it seems like the medium-term plan is still the same.

  • Hunter

    I was reading a post on espn on the spurs homepage. i learned charles barkley said we werent even the best team in texas. We played a great game we are off to one of the best starts in NBA history we have 9 guys on the roster who are capable of getting 20 points two dominant big guys and a great defense.

    But we get NO RESPECT

    not from the league not from the commontaters and not from the fans its not fair all they talk about is the lakers and the mavericks oh and the heat. we have a better record than all of them

  • DC Spurs

    Thank you for the explanation Curtis.

  • jwalt

    A lot of times Tony Parker gets the headlines when I feel it was other players who did the real damage.

    Last night was just the opposite. Not a word about Parker’s play, and yet I thought he was the key player when the team mounted their comeback.

    At the very least TP gave the team their confidence back. Haven’t studied the stats yet but I thought Parker played a great 3rd quarter.

  • Bentley

    Hunter

    That’s the kind of thing that all us Spurs fans are used to. But I would rather have no attention and a championship, rather than be severely overhyped(Miami Heat) and not win a championship

  • The Beat Counselor

    Tim Duncan leading the fastbreak…HARD!!!

    Visions of an earlier time…

    I felt like that really got us going since his shot wasn’t falling.

    @Tim in Surrey
    Interesting read. So what is the appropriate counter to the match-up zone?

  • Nick

    For as much guff as people give Pop for not playing Splitter, the guy knows what he’s doing. He’s probably the best as far as making in game adjustments and drawing up plays after time outs. The guy is a genius.

  • agutierrez

    We should change our name to the San Antonio Dangerfields.

  • Jacob

    @ the beat counselor,

    Tim in surrey is really only concerned with one issue: our trading Blair to New York for Anthony Randolph…

    (sorry Tim, I couldn’t resist) : )

  • Judd

    Nice breakdown of the match up zone Tim (though I can’t agree with your last statement). Another great win, but you’ve got to wonder about Tiago. With Bonner out and the team playing its worst first half of the season, Pop goes to Owens, yet Tiago remains sidelined. Even in blowouts, Tiago rides the pine most of the time. I wonder if he’s just not showing effort in practice, not understand the basic principles of the Spurs defense or what. Regardless, it’s obvious that Pop is not a fan. We really need to crush the Knicks after that last “showing”. And great pregame breakdown. You definately called that Blair could have a big game. Go Spurs Go!

  • Dr. Who

    @agutierrez
    “We should change our name to the San Antonio Dangerfields”

    Soooooo cheesy…. AND I LOVE IT! Too bad we can’t post pix, I’ve got an image of Rodney with those bug eyes a strange look on his face wearing a Spurs jersey. :)

  • BayAreaSpursFan

    @ The Beat Counselor:
    It was awesome to watch Timmy run the break. I jumped out of my chair when he finished the break with a sweet pass to Blair for the lay-up. All the rest he is getting is opening up his game to his younger years. Go Spurs Go!

  • ThatBigGuy

    @ Tim in Surrey

    I played the same type of zone in college. The call was “blob” because to the other team, our defense had no defined parameters. We basically started in an extremely lazy looking 3-2, or even a non-committal box-and-1. The beauty of it was that with a normal “real” zone, you run plays that attack the weakness of the particular zone (i.e. 1-3-1, 2-3, 2-1-2, 3-2, etc.). With a match-up zone, there is no real defined shape, so you can’t run plays to attack it. You just have to play. Luckily we had a PG (think a hybrid of Parker/Nash) who was an offensive genius and a bunch of other guys who knew how to just play.

    Unfamiliar zones have a tendency to make the offense hesitant and think too much, at least until the O figures out the D. Obviously, last night, the coaching staff figured out how to attack Toronto’s zone, and the players executed whatever game plan the coaches devised.

    The better team makes the right adjustments at halftime. Last night, the Spurs were just simply better.

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  • Kintaro

    I know we’ve beaten this horse without prejudice, but on the topic of the Tiago Project: I will consider this year a success for him if Pop, The Big Three, Dice, etc. manage to culturally indoctrinate him over the course of the season in “the Spurs way”. We all know the Spurs are a rare breed of a basketball organization, but for some reason, this year has been particularly acute for me in terms of how “strange” the Spurs handle business. I suppose the juxtaposition of Spurs basketball with such events as The Decision and the Carmelo Sweepstakes has only further strengthened the contrast between us and other organizations in my eyes. Anyway, if we can “infect” Tiago with all things Spurs, then I won’t hesitate to call this year a success. I think this indoctrination, this buying in, is the hardest part of becoming a Spur (especially since Tiago possesses the prerequisite BBIQ to understand the mechanics of Spurs basketball). Going off on a tangent now, this is also why when alot of you guys call for in-season trades, yea they mostly make sense and you provide solid analytical support for your hypothetical trade, but I just cannot believe that arbitrary players can walk in and be great Spurs players in time for the playoffs, unless they are legitimate All Star talents or possess a BBIQ in the uppper echelon of the league. I don’t want to sound “dramatic”, but for 90% of the league becoming a Spur not only means drastic changes to their approach to the game, but literally a drastic change in how they live their life. That “high character” stuff Pop always mentions when talking about bringing guys in is not just good PR smoke, it’s the blunt truth.

    Sooo, this year is an audition for Splitter. The numbers hardly matter at this point, what matters is his compatibility with the Spurs philosophy. It sounds “elitist”, but I believe that finding a player that qualifies as having Spurs potential is like finding a damned unicorn. If we manage to deduce that Splitter is infact one of those unicorns, then I’m willing to call that a massive victory.

  • rob

    @Kintaro.

    I agree, BBIQ is great, but it also takes a certain amount of “sustainable” talent. My guess is you think he will also develop that “sustainable” talent to eventually become a reliable starter?

    I guess the question should be…How long do the Spurs accept Splitter as a project or being just serviceable? High IQ or not. Remember Mahinmi, Gooden, Nazr, etc. who also were supposedly going to give the Spurs that much needed “partner” (much less starter) to Duncan in the post?

    An article prior to Splitter coming to SA. And I only post it because when I first read it back then I said to myself…”No Way”! The Spurs don’t make those kind of mistakes evaluating drafted players. Manu and Parker found more minutes their first year. Tiago surely being the euroleague mvp would garnish the same. So far the article rings true.

    http://nba.fanhouse.com/2010/08/31/the-works-tiago-splitter-the-ho-hum-superstar-import/

    Let’s hope it doesn’t stay this way. For now I’ll go with your assesment if only for the sake of hope.

  • Rafael

    I don’t believe we go scrub more one player, like Hedo Turkoglu, Leandro Barbosa, Luis Scola and others, if Splitter don’t play he never will develop and help the team, Pop put Larry Owens in game and Splitter in bench. In future Spurs trade Splitter and he explodes in other team, the same thing with others…

  • Daniel T

    While the Spurs are currently at home, the Toros are on the road. On the 22nd, they’ll both be on the road. I would think that rather than have Anderson join the Toros out in Utah, they’ll wait till the Toros return home. From the 26th until Feb. 12th the Toros will play 7 home games sandwiched around 1 away game in Fort Wayne on Feb. 3rd.

    My guess is the 7 home games in Austin would be sufficient, and that Anderson would stay in San Antonio rather than travel to Fort Wayne. In fact if he skipped the 7th game, he could join the Spurs on the RRT as they head into a back-to-back vs. Philadelphia and Washington.

  • AS

    A guy that write “Scola” and “Javtokas” in the same sentence while writing about basketball doesn’t worth the reading.

    And Rob keeps doubting Tiago’s talent, putting NBA basketball well ahead of the international game. Did you see the Olympics?

  • Titletown99030507

    @Judd, did you see the same game? Tiago came with energy in just 1.5 min. he had in the game? You didn’t see the nasty block on Bayless and the hold on him that sent him to the floor. They can’t defend this guy so they have to resort to foul play. Pop was livid when they yanked Tiago to the floor and no foul. This guy is big and is not a wus, even Sean says Tiago is tougher than most people think. He’s a lot better than what people tend to think about him. He just needs some playing time. My feeling is from here on out he’s going to take advantage of any opportunity he gets wether it be 2 min or 20 min. This guy could still help us this season.

  • Titletown99030507

    @Rob, Splitter is already better than the 3 you just mentioned. There’s 4 other bigs that have been playing too well for splitter to get his deserved burn. And Dyess , Bonner, and Blair are better than those other three you mentioned so none of those would even be playing if they were on the team now. Even Pop said the other bigs are playing so well right now that its hard for Splitter to get any big min. I trust Pop wasn’t lying. When Gooden, Nazr, and Ian played for the Spurs who and how many bigs did we have then and how many years had any of those 3 been in the association? Longer than Splitter my guess. Give the guy some slack, at least when he goes on the court he tries to make the best of it. He doesn’t lack the heart.

  • Titletown99030507

    @Kintaro, well said. My bet he does possess the stuff needing to be a Spur but your right its not going to happen overnight. Look what happened to RJ and he was a stud in this league. Although I still believe he will take advantage of whatever time they throw at him to get better by the time the playoffs roll around. Not saying he’s going to play 30 in playoff games but will be thrown in there to from time to time in spurts to throw off the opposing team. Don’t be surprised Pop lets him loose in one of these playoff games. Just my thought.

  • Judd

    Titletown99030507,
    I did see the game, and loved the block, but what I’m saying is he did only play 1.5 min. I’m not questioning Tiago’s talent. From the clips of his Spanish League dominance, I’m excited. But IF this current Spurs team has a weakness, it’s depth at the 4 and 5. My point is (and I know I’m not the first to make it or to exhaust this conversation) that he isn’t getting playing time. We need size, especially against teams like LA. Minnesota was able to give us three tough games (well 2.5 tough games) because of their two talented big men. Griffen was able to beat us. Why isn’t Tiago getting a shot at helping us here. I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve it. I’m just saying that Pop knows more about basketball than anyone in the world, and there has to be a reason Tiago isn’t getting pt. Once again, great points from our hosts and great comments from the fans. What an exciting season we got here!

  • rob

    “@Rob, Splitter is already better than the 3 you just mentioned.”

    If that were the case, wouldn’t he “already” be getting more minutes despite Blair and definately not forcing Pop to play McDyess more than he’s had to.

    Don’t know if this is by plan but McDyess has got to come in to games to help win games and not as a luxury to maintain games. HUGE difference come playoff time.

  • Titletown99030507

    My guess is if your coming from another pro league as an MVP be it the Spanish liga which is the best in Europe into the NBA your first year with a heavy dose of min. every game I bet that baller would be better than most people think now. Got to play to get better.

  • Titletown99030507

    @rob, good to see some people acknowledge his potential. I keep hearing from posters that maybe Splitter’s not having good practices. Actually even Pop said there’s not enough time and/or practices to evaluate someone. Why he said this I don’t know. But he said it. Being the best coach in the world he’s not going to BS anyone. Here’s my take: Evaluating someone in practice does not compare to evaluating someone in a real games that count. The opposing team is not going to treat it like practice where as your own teammates in practice tend to go only half speed or 3/4 speed or whatever you want to call it. You see this team go half speed in real games sometimes. Do you think they go half speed in practice during the season? My bet is probably. Having said that real games are the legitimate measuring stick for sizing up players. So the vicious cycle continues. When do you evaluate players if everyone is playing good already. I would think now especially with a big lead like they have now. Oh well.

  • lvmainman

    @ Tim in Surrey,

    Clippers win a championship? Ha! Now, if Lebron had joined that team, I’d say maybe. But, the Spurs might meet the Clippers in the 1st round of the playoffs this year. Clippers or Suns, I predict as a 1st round matchup.

  • Titletown99030507

    @rob, last post was to @Judd, sorry my bad.

    but to respond to your last post: Like I said the other 3 bigs we have after Duncan are playing well right now, to give any min. to Splitter. Kinda what pop said. And yes Splitter is better than Gooden, Nazr, and Ian right now,but hey Blair, Bonner, and Dyess got out the gate sooner than Splitter and Pop stayed with it for fear of changing chemistry resulting in loosing games something they aren’t doing right now. Bad luck for Tiago early on but if he wasnt hurt I’m thinking he’d be playing more right now. He’s not a slacker he’s shows heart, he’s got something to prove be it 2 min or 20 min. He’ll be fine if they give a few more min every other game or so.

  • Judd

    “Actually even Pop said there’s not enough time and/or practices to evaluate someone. Why he said this I don’t know. But he said it. Being the best coach in the world he’s not going to BS anyone.”

    He said this because it’s true. There isn’t much practice time in an 82 game season. I keep wondering how much Tiago’s preseason injury continues to effect his pt. Good points.

  • rob

    @Titletown99030507

    “Evaluating someone in practice does not compare to evaluating someone in a real games that count.”

    Yeah. I would agree to that because it’s been said many times by not only Pop but other coaches as well.

    “Having said that real games are the legitimate measuring stick for sizing up players.”

    Yeah. I agree with that too.

    “When do you evaluate players if everyone is playing good already. I would think now especially with a big lead like they have now.”

    And that too I would agree.

    However, Tiago was getting chances earlier in the season. Definately more than he’s getting now. It wasn’t until McDyess being given major time that the Spurs have been improving in their D.

    If anybody were to tell me that Pop is purposely saving Tiago just to prematurely wear down McDyess prior to the playoffs so Tiago can have a good playoff run…I’d say BS. Plain and simple…Tiago can not be trusted (for whatever reason) to perform even better than the 3 players I mentioned before.

    That’s concerning since the lack of enough “quality” bigs (especially the role Splitter would be expected to play) was the Spurs main downfall last playoffs. Granted they’re doing great as of now. But this jiberish of Tiago being saved because of (insert reason here) doesn’t fly if you’re a team that is trying to (which they have admitted) monitor minutes played by their aged vets in order to preserve the best they can get from those vets come playoffs.

    Now maybe you’re on to something in that we might start seeing Tiago 2.0 in the second half of this season with regards to time on the court. Hopefully it will be better sustained production than Tiago 1.0 when getting more time earlier in the season.

  • TD = Best EVER

    @ rob

    You are 100% correct when saying that Tiago was getting more minutes early on than he is now…….

    The main reason is what it always has been – Tiago doesn’t have ONE key talent that you can count on day in and day out.

    Blair – rebounding
    Bonner – 3 Point Shooting
    Dice – Great all around D

    Splitter has none of these – he doesn’t even have TD shooting range, is not a monster on the board, and isn’t STRONG enough to be a good post defender in the NBA…….

    So as it is right now – I don’t see where Splitter will EVER get minutes on this team. You have to assume Blair gets more minutes next year, Bonner/TD get about the same. Maybe 5 fewer total. Dice may or may not retire, and the SPURS are surely going to go after some NBA ready Bigs this off season and maybe later on this year.

    He really needs to play steady minutes with our starting line up in order to succeed and I just don’t see that happening this year, or anytime soon…….

  • Tim in Surrey

    @ the beat counselor – I’ll suspend my scheming to get the Spurs to trade for Stromile Swift–er, I mean Anthony Randolph–just long enough to answer you:

    Offensive rebounding! Matchups tend to leave open lanes for players to crash the boards hard, unless the defenders are very disciplined and aggressive rebounders.

    @ thatbigguy – “Blob” – I like it…

  • grego

    @jwalt
    “A lot of times Tony Parker gets the headlines when I feel it was other players who did the real damage.”

    Disagree here a lot. Parker many times doesn’t get enough appreciation from his own fans. Manu tends to get more of the credit (he gets the MVP of the team credit mostly this season so far), even though the Spurs have arguably the best backcourt in the league.

    Even though RJ’s numbers have dropped (from the amazing FG percentages he once had), he’s been a big part of this year as well.

  • Judd

    So with all this talk of zone and the mavs, do yall think peja will contribute to the dallas team? are they scarier with him?

  • Hobson13

    Judd
    January 20th, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    I don’t think he makes them much more dangerous than they already are. Peja can’t come close to replacing the loss of Caron Butler. He doesn’t have the athleticism, durability, scoring ability, or defensive ability to make a huge difference on that team. IMO, look for Cuban to make another trade for a SF with Butler’s expiring contract and Peja to come in off the bench.

  • andy

    my confusion in the splitter playing time situation stems from this:

    if it’s really the system that he has trouble with, then why not send him down to austin? let him practice and get live game experience in our system, and then bring him back up in a month. if we send him down, not as a demotion, but with the full understanding that more time in the system = more playing time with the big boys later, then he should buy in and everyone wins. he’s not doing anyone any good sitting on the bench.

    re: peja. i echo Hobson; it doesn’t help dallas much, and it doesn’t make me think they’re gonna take us down unless they swing a trade. i know cuban is going to try everything he can think of, but i feel bad for dirk because cuban is still no match for our front office.

  • Kintaro

    I somewhat disagree with TD = Best Ever. I believe Splitter has legitimate skills, but attempts to integrate him into the tightly regimented ship that is the Spurs rotation have made him look god awful. Splitter is not a long range bomber, defensive ace, or other relatively simple puzzle piece. If you look at his Eurogame (in before “but that doesnt mean it will translate into the NBA hurrr”), he is a strange amalgamation of strengths and weaknesses. He can play in the post, but never rebounded too well. He shouldered the offensive responsibility of his team, but couldnt hit free throws, displayed an aptitude for PnR offense but no midrange. He’s a uniquely equipped basketball player and I anxiously await for Pop to [hopefully] find a way to put him to good use.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Len

    I think DJB deserves a shout out.

    I ragged on him for quite a while about not being able to finish around the rim. Well..tah dah..he was figured out how to use the rim to protect the ball from the bigger defenders.

    Long gone are the plays where DJB got the ball in a perfect setup and blew the finish. Kudos to DeJuan…and Pop!

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