San Antonio Spurs 111, Detroit Pistons 104: The Spurs midseason acquisition

by

AT&T Center–Antonio McDyess is not only the second best big man on the San Antonio Spurs, on this team he’s Punxsutawney Phil.

Tonight McDyess stepped on the court with the rest of the starters for his 1,000th game and saw his shadow, which can only mean the playoffs are right around the corner (the Spurs clinched tonight). Unlike Phil, McDyess’s presence was far more than ceremonial.

A year ago San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich inserted McDyess into the starting lineup to shore up the team’s defense heading into the playoffs. After biding his time for much of the year, it appears Pop might be ready to do the same.

“Starting had noting to do with Detroit or his one thousandth game or anything like that,” Popovich said. “We’re just trying to look forward to what the match-ups are going to be and what we need to do rotation-wise, so we took a look at it.”

While McDyess put up a modest eight points and five rebounds in a little over 22 minutes, the starting five got out to a blistering start, hitting their first 14 shots as part of a 40-point first quarter en route to a Spurs 111-104 victory.

And though the Pistons eventually recovered from their large early deficit, the San Antonio Spurs had more than enough firepower down the stretch with Tony Parker (23 points, seven assists), Manu Ginobili (17 points, five assists) and Gary Neal (15 points on 4-5 shooting) combining for 17 points in the fourth quarter.

Parker in particular was key, weaving his way in and out of the lane, finding teammates and layups, keeping the Pistons at bay.

“There were a couple times in the game where he took over. I remember on one play Pop told me to go sub in, but he was play so well he told me to wait two more minutes and see what happens,” Ginobili said. “He finished the third quarter and in the fourth quarter he just finished the game, so he was huge.”

In March, against a team still trying to put things together like the Pistons are, the story of tonight’s game was not necessarily who finished it, but who started. Tonight it was not mainstay DeJuan Blair.

And though Popovich would not reveal if the move was a permanent one, it could represent the team’s final boost, looking to peak for the stretch run.

Most playoff contending teams tend to improve in the latter half of the season simply by shortening their rotation, removing any minutes restraints they may have been placing on their best players.

In the case of Antonio McDyess, who has taken nights off throughout the regular season, the inclusion of him into the everyday rotation would be similar to a midseason acquisition, one better than most teams could hope for after the trade deadline.

Starting McDyess with Tim Duncan puts the Spurs best defensive front court in the starting lineup, and gives Duncan more room to operate than he does while sharing the court with Blair. Doing so this late in the season means McDyess has more left in the tank.

“Whatever it’s going to take to get us where we need to be in the playoffs I’m ready to do it. There’s only 18 or 19 games left in the season, so I’m ready to go,” McDyess said. “[Pop] has done a heck of a job with me the whole season, I can’t even complain. He took care of me so I’m able to have fresh legs down the stretch.”

And if McDyess is starting, the stretch run must be here.

 

 

 

  • ruth bader ginobili

    Good move by Pop–that starting five looked very sharp to start the game.

    Hope this bad rebounding trend stops soon.

    Speaking of, don’t think I’ve seen a stat-line like Monroe’s before: 1 def. rebounds, 9 off. rebounds.

  • Jacques

    Spectatular 1st half offense. The Spurs shot 80% on the field. If the defense was a little better, Tiago and Neo could have got some burn, but what a game by Parker and Timmy nonetheless. The three-pointer by Tony at the end was huge.

    Surprised to hear that Dallas lost 7 point lead with 1:13 left in 4th. I think it is safe to say that the Spurs will be the #1 seed. Even if Dallas wins the rest of the games the Spurs only need to go 12-6. We just need to stay healthy, and Pop is doing a great job with that as you can see w/ how he handled McDyess.

  • TD = Best EVER

    I missed the start of the game and didn’t know that Dice started…… this is definitely a good sign. Hopefully these defensive lapses will be a thing of the past……. or at the most, just a bad quarter here or there………

    Also I looked it up….. we are tied for 9th and defensive FG% and 11th and points allowed……. Every champion the last 10-15 years has been in the top 6 in total defense. So we don’t have far to go…. Let’s make it Happen……

  • andy

    interesting. i assumed dice starting was a tribute.

    while my eyes have told me that dice is a better defensive player, the stats seem to suggest that blair is a slightly better defensive player. i wonder how pop reconciles the two, gut vs. stats, especially after buford’s comments at sloan? or perhaps they have their own stats that say dice is better?

  • RawJa

    Pop was asked post-game if McDyess was in the starting lineup because they were playing Detroit. With a straight face Pop said “No it had nothing to do with playing Detroit or it being his 1,000th game.” *crickets* Nobody got the joke (or rather dared to laugh at it) and it seemed like he got some deep satisfaction from making an entire room of reporters forget where they placed their sense of humor.

  • Hobson13

    This is a repost from the previous blog:
    _________________________

    After Sunday’s debacle, I thought the Spurs would have had a great game against a team with 7 total road wins. Here are the results:

    Detroit’s shooting % (on the road):
    Season average: 34.5% or 27th in the league
    Tonight: 45%

    Offensive rebounds (on the road):
    Season average: 11.1 or 15th in the league
    Tonight: 20

    Assists per game (on the road):
    Season average: 18.6 or 30th in the league
    Tonight: 22

    3pt shooting % (on the road):
    Season average: 35.5% or 15th in the league
    Tonight: 46%

    Points per game (on the road)
    Season average: 90.9 or 29th in the league
    Tonight: 104

    We shot 64% at home and won by 7. There’s our defense for you. Come to your own conclusions

  • Nima K.

    Wonder where Jeffers was. Did we reach 10 days so fast?

    Wonder what the deal with Richard Ryan was today. Is a contract with him in the making?

    Hope Splitter gets more than garbage time in the next game. I have a feeling his services will come in handy come playoff time.

    Nice to see both Dallas and Boston lose. Wasn’t expecting it though.

  • rj

    i like the move. duncan and dyess are a better starting frontcourt tandem that achieves the needs of spacing and frontcourt defense. blair may be a better rebounder at times, but dyess plays better position defense and is a more competent shot blocker. blair and bonner will be our bigs off the bench, but i see splitter and blair being interchangeable against teams with more length if blair struggles.

  • Bruno
  • Bruno

    Good game, but rebounds still with troubles, hope Splitter and Macdyess get more minutes

  • andy

    from dean oliver on truehoop:

    “The “good teams” in this case are San Antonio, Boston, Chicago, and Dallas, the teams with the best records in the NBA. Three of these four teams are particularly good on the defensive side of the ball, Chicago ranking first, Boston second, and San Antonio seventh in defensive efficiency. In the half court, these teams are first, second, and fourth in defense.”

    take it easy, Hobson13. let’s let pop drill these guys into playoff shape over this last stretch run. i don’t think we’re that far off.

  • andy

    sorry, that was written on the heat’s performance against top defenses.

    when the playoffs come, i’m ok with taking a relative night off against detroit, and still having a top 5 halfcourt defense when everything slows/grinds down.

  • rj

    i’m sorry for beating a dead horse, but more splitter talk. i admit i’m more intruiged with player development then our record. hell, i wad yawn’s biggest fan last year. i pose a question to the community and the 48moh boys: do you all think splitter will see any meaningful minutes at all in the playoffs? i’ve seen enough of pop’s coaching to know that he won’t take any risks in the playoffs, even if it means impending elimination. there was some debate that mahinmi could have stalled phx] pick and roll for strecthes, but that didn’t happen. what do you all think o8nthe splitter-playoff debate?

  • Hobson13

    andy
    March 9th, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    “take it easy, Hobson13. let’s let pop drill these guys into playoff shape over this last stretch run. i don’t think we’re that far off.”

    It’s not that I think our defense doesn’t have the ability to step up (even though I still think we need more frontline size). It just needs to start happening RIGHT NOW since we only have 18 games left in the regular season. All those numbers mean (IMO) is that Detroit is a bad road team and we really didn’t play that well tonight. That’s disappointing if you consider what happened on Sunday. According to Hollingers defensive effeciency rankings, the Spurs are 7th. Not bad, but it still seems like we could be much better…

  • junierizzle

    Mcdeezy as a mid-season acquisition, I love it. I think with all our talk about needing size we forgot how great Mcdeezy was in the playoffs last year.

    We all know that the D needs to amp up. We also know that this team is capable of amping it up, which I believe they will do in the playoffs. They have to.

    @RJ
    I think that’s it for TIAGO this season. I was hoping he would play more minutes after the All-Star break but he didn’t. So I don’t see him playing at all in the playoffs. Unless the SPURS are up or down by 20.
    Remember George Hill’s first playoff year??

  • andy

    fair enough. i agree that i’d rather have seen a 105-78 blowout, and it’s disappointing to perform the way we did against detroit, but perhaps the urgency is what we disagree about. perhaps the one thing in the world i agree with kobe about is that you can’t “turn it on” for the playoffs, but in our case, i think we’ll just be racheting it up from pretty good to great through the first round of the playoffs. at least we agree that the spurs can get better at d.

    the important number to me, seems to be that halfcourt defense ranking. in the playoffs, things will slow down, we’ll see more halfcourt sets, and having a top 5 halfcourt defense, and by that time possibly better, will give us as good a shot at the title as anyone, especially with boston trading away perk.

    i’m one of the few here that thinks we aren’t seriously outgunned on the frontline (surprise! i’m a positivist). blair may be shorter than most bigs, and yes, i saw him get dominated by bynum, but remember that this is his 2nd year, his standing reach is still as high as blake griffin’s, and combine that with duncan and dice not being as old and crappy as the media would like us to believe and you see why i’m not sold on us being dominated down low. yes, our rebounding hasn’t been a strong suit so far. i’m hoping this adjustment with dice in the frontline, moving blair to the 2nd unit to feast on backups can help this (though tonight wasn’t a good omen).

    either way, we all have our opinions on what needs to happen.

  • Bob

    @rj
    I agree Pop tends to be conservative till facing impending doom. Like not playing George Hill in playoffs two seasons ago and not starting Tony Parker till game 3 of Phx series. Actually I think in the Phoenix series having Jefferson play Nash would have helped. Eventually in game 4 he put Ginobili on him but it was too much for Ginobili to carry the offense and play defense on Nash.

    I hope Splitter can get some minutes. But my gut tells me he probably won’t play as much till foul trouble or injury.

  • SpurredOn

    Dyce is pulling an Horry. I expect he’ll hit some clutch jumpers and grab key rebounds in these final games and throughout the playoffs.

  • Tim in Surrey

    A couple of things:

    First, on defense versus offense, see my post in the immediately preceding thread. In a nutshell, though: Defense doesn’t win championships, neither does offense. You have to have both but you don’t have to be great at both. Many champions have been great on offense and merely good on defense. Look it up. (Oh, and when you do, try to use pace-free statistics. Points per game are meaningless and even FG% is deceptive. Look at offensive and defensive efficiency instead.)

    About Antonio McDyess, remember that for several years now, Rip Van Winkle has had by far the greatest disparity in the league between his early-season and late-season numbers. Assuming he is healthy and playing well, I’m sure Pop’s plan all along has been to limit his minutes until after the All-Star break and then dramatically increase his role in the playoffs. And as you see Antonio take on that larger role (and Blair take on a smaller one), you’ll see our defensive effectiveness increase sharply. Book it.

  • tradetp…not right now

    Huge Mistake.

    Please people dont allow the fandom to get in the way of logic.

    Look at the rebounding and shooting percentages. McDyess is not our “2nd best big”

    get over it

  • rob

    @ Tim in Surrey

    I couldn’t agree more.

    ______________________

    Regarding Tiago. Yeah, I think he’s just not ready to produce effectively enough to be considered a viable option in the rotation.

    Again last night he showed many weaknesses in 1v1 d. He rotates way to slow and genuinely looks lost and ineffective. And that’s against other team’s bench players.

    Anderson also looked to struggle mightily in this game.

    Perhaps for both it could have just been a bad game for each…and perhaps they will get more playing time to try and get them better adapted just in case there might be an “emergency” need for them come playoffs. But don’t look for them to be an integeral part of this team’s lineup. They just aren’t ready.

  • http://www.bpifanconnect.com Alix Babaie

    tradetp…not right now
    March 10th, 2011 at 4:28 am

    Huge Mistake.

    Please people dont allow the fandom to get in the way of logic.

    Look at the rebounding and shooting percentages. McDyess is not our “2nd best big”

    get over it

    Forgive us if we do not all stop what we are doing and bow down to your wisdom, you of the changing your blogger name 3 times with regard to what to do with the best point guard our team has ever seen.

    Next thing you know, you will change your name to Trade McDyess.

    Get over yourself.

  • tradetp…not right now

    called more correct than wrong. And I whole heartedly admit that TP is having a lot better year than I expected.

    But this has to do with UPTEMPO game which I have been advocating for 3 years.

    mcdyess = not a good pickup or answer.

  • NYC

    Well, that tears it.

    Clippers just took down Boston. They’ve beaten all of the big 4 teams once and exactly once this season: Miami, LA, SA, and now Boston. They are undefeated in March.

    It’s clear what we have to do: stop preparing for the Celtics and start preparing for the Clippers.

  • NYC

    What’s that? Clippers aren’t even in playoff contention? Quiet, you.

    Guys, do you see how ridiculous it is to blow one game out of proportion? Yes, there is much to be learned from one game, but let’s keep it within context.

    Yeah, we got thoroughly trounced by LA. We’ve also beat them twice, and if I recall correctly, one of those games we thoroughly trounced them.

    Can LA beat us? Sure they can. Does their size present a “big” problem. Of course, just as it presents a problem to every other team in the league.

    Can SA beat LA? Yes. Are we guaranteed to lose to LA in the playoffs because they embarrassed us this last game? No.

    We embarrassed the Heat in the game before that, are we now guaranteed victory against them in the playoffs? No.

    Would getting a big shot blocker and rebounder increase our chances of success? You bet. Does it guarantee us victory? No.

    Everything within context. That’s why the Spurs organization’s philosophy is Pounding the Rock, not go for one magical blow. It’s always been this way. It’s why I and many of you root for this organization in the first place. Have you forgotten that?

    If we were the type of fans to root for a team that stacks itself with 4 future Hall of Famers on its starting roster, trying to buy its way to a ring in one magical swoop of the cheque-signing pen, we would be Lakers fans. And you remember what happened to the 2003-2004 Lakers? They lost in 5 games to a Detroit Pistons team with zero household names at the time.

    If our organization was the type to use money as its means to achieving success and frequent, reactionary trades and acquisitions as its underlying strategy, we would be the Mavericks. Is that what really want? Do you want to root for the San Antonio Mavericks?

    The philosopher Fred Nietzsche–perhaps you’ve heard of him?–famously spake:
    EINMAL IST KEINMAL.

    Look that up if you don’t speak German.

    Panaceas don’t exist. Deus ex machinas don’t exist. Basketball gods do not exist. There is only you and the rock.

    Stop looking for one magical bullet and just pound the damn rock.

  • jwalt

    Don’t know if its been the play of Blair (inconsistent at best) or if it has been Pop’s plan all along, but a big HOORAY for putting McDyess in the starting lineup.

    Blair can contribute still, but no longer do we have to put up with his defensive mistakes, stupid fouls, and lousy fundamentals (it’s a 2 handed sport Dejuan). Play Blair when he’s hot, but McDyess is in every way a more solid player. We actually now have a shot of defending Aldridge, West, Dirk (okay, nobody can guard him), Randolph, etc., in the playoffs.

    We became a better team last night.

  • DorieStreet

    @ rob
    —-re: the rookies

    I couldn’t see the game but checked the box score & play-by-play—-

    “Regarding Tiago. …Again last night he showed many weaknesses…”

    “Anderson also looked to struggle mightily in this game.”

    “Perhaps for both it could have just been a bad game for each…”

    Ok, I can see your comment about Anderson–he came in @ 7:13 in the 2nd qtr and finished it out.
    Splitter–it shows he hit the floor in the last minute–or perhaps your analysis on his play is from the Laker game?

    Big picture–Spurs get a win, and got a double bonus-Celtics & Mavs lose. More HCA good fortune may be in store–DAL catches LAL Sat. nite then go to POR before they come to the AT&T Center a week from tomorrow. But BOS–starting Friday, they play 7 games in 11 days; they start and end next week with BTBs.
    Spurs officially clinch a playoff spot, but there is still work to do to improve defensively.

  • betsyduncan

    Ja, NYC, das stimmt! Nice analysis!

  • MSB

    @rj

    You remember I said Yawn needed his initials embroidered on a chair on the end of the bench? Not so with Splitter, I think he could be used strategically & situationally in the playoffs. I personally think he could be used more now but what do I know? (certainly less than G-P.O.P)

    Unfortunately, I think we all know the answer to that question. If he’s not even getting burn in a good number of the regular season games, there’e no way he’ll be trotted out in the playoffs.

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

    Yesterdays’s game was a disappointment in a few ways. The Spurs really relaxed after a big 1st quarter lead. The offense began to stagnate after the ball movement began to disappear. If it wasn’t for Tony, it could have been an embarrassing end to the game.

    The defensive and rebounding problems are continuing. It is worrisome, to me anyway. Blair hasn’t looked so grizzly on the glass for a while now. I dunno; the team will have to step it up big time in the playoffs. We’ll see.

  • http://www.bpifanconnect.com Alix Babaie

    @Dorie Street, the Spurs play the Mavs in Dallas.

    Matters not, I still feel we will win that hotly contested game.

  • Nima K.

    On ESPN’s Spurs page, they have Kirk Penney listed on our roster. What’s up with that? Do we hold his NBA rights or something? Weird.

  • Judd

    @ tradetp,
    if you honestly believe that blair or tiago are better than mcdyess you simply don’t understand basketball in any way, shape or form. Mcdyess has a more consistent jumper, plays MUCH better defense, is a better rebounder and a much tougher player than either. I like blair’s heart, but anyone else in the world who watches the spurs would agree the San Antonio Mcdyess is a better option (esp. come playoff time), and most of us saw this coming. Obviously we weren’t going to start Mcdyess all year and give him a ton of minutes. But come playoff time he will be our man, and IF we play the Lakers he will get the bulk load of minutes. Ridiculous take.

  • Kevin

    @NYC

    +100

  • Titletown99030507d

    @Hobson13,

    I hear you. This team in order to be floating down the the river walk with a trophy come summer time is going to have to put up crazy shooting % like they have during most of the season to reach their goal. Simple as that. That is their defense. well said.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Pop on Splitter:

    “He’s Tiago Splitter,” Popovich said, “and he does what he does. He needs more time to make significant impact on our team. If there’s an opportunity to do that, I’ll certainly do that because he’s someone who we want to have available and ready to play for us as we move on.”

    Well what the hell are you waiting for?

  • Titletown99030507d

    @rj,

    Its important that Splitter plays significant minutes maybe 10 minutes when he’s in a game. If we get in consecutive 7 game series Dyess and Timmy will wear out. I don’t think Bonner and Blair can do anything for us if they are in there spelling Timmy and Dyess. You need either Splitter and Bonner or Splitter and Blair on the court if those two need to sit at the same time. I’m just not convinced Bonner and Blair can do the job while Timmy and Dyess sit for a rest. I’d prefer Splitter and Bonner. Both can crash the boards, one can block shots while the other gives you a 3 point threat. I would do this in 5 min stretches so that Timmy and Dyess can come back energized and maybe even throw Blair in there after Timmy rests. Dyess will need more time to rest. Pop has been known to do about faces in the playoffs so really we can’t tell what’s up his sleeve. It’s all about the moment and how he’s going to react. Won’t know till it gets here.

  • Mr. International

    What is with this Tiago Splitter obsession?!? I…I…I just don’t understand it. What has he shown in the time he’s played (albeit limited) that so many of you think he’s the cure-all (as if the team with the best record in the NBA needed a cure-all) for this team?? Do you really think he’s the next Kareem Abdul-Jabaar and that somehow Pop is just too stupid to realize it? He seems like he could be a solid player eventually, but jeez, get over it!!

  • Mr. International

    Oh yeah, and…This is the same organization that saw what Manu, Tony, DeJuan, and Neal could bring to the team when most other organizations had no idea they existed. I’m pretty sure they know what they have in Splitter and are working him in and out of the rotation accordingly.

  • Titletown99030507d

    @rob,

    Are you talking about Splitter’s weaknesses last night? That was 33 frikin trash seconds. He barely had enough time to pick his ass let alone get into the game. The frikin game was out reach and it was 33 seconds when Pop told him him to wake up and get in there. Paleeessse! You think he’s going switch coverage and contort himself risking a pulled groin to defend a mindless stupid dunk in trash time with 30 seconds left in the game. Oh man he’s smarter than that. Give him real minutes and you’ll see real effort. I wouldn’t risk injury for 33 mindless seconds. What a joke. That’s not true representation.

  • Nima K.

    Reagrding my last post, I meant SI.com, not ESPN. Sorry.

    Also, this Splitter vs Blair discussion is moot IMO. Splitter will be used in the Playoffs. You’ll see. His function is to be TD’s breathing buffer, even if for 5 minutes. We need him. Plus, I dont think we’ll escape OKC and Memphis in the 1st and 2nd rounds without injury (assuming that’s who we’ll face with the current projection). Those guys play too physical. We need all the help we can get.

  • Titletown99030507d

    @Mr. International,

    No you get over it. You don’t know squat about talent and potential that needs to be utilized. I guess you missed the 6 games were Splitter played more than 20 min. and showed everybody he know’s the system, can play with the starters, can be effective against bigs such as Demarcus Cousins, Bynum who we’ll see in the playoffs, and others. Out of those 6 games 3 were break out games that should have had him in the starting lineup with Timmy there after. But thank god the Blair wish project is over come playoffs. You’ll see.
    Get a real take.

  • Titletown99030507d

    @Mr. International,

    And by the way Pop can be stupid. He’s human.

  • TD = Best EVER

    @ Tim in Surrey

    “Many champions have been great on offense and merely good on defense.”

    Ughhhhh Who…………. Maybe the Showtime Lakers, or MJ’s Bulls…….. but since we won it in 99 who exactly are you referring to……

    Because I did look it up and didn’t find what you were talking about……. I will spend some more time today looking it up, but last I saw, all teams were in the top 6 in TOTAL Defense…… Not defensive efficiency……Where we were # 9 last year…… so ya we haven’t improved much…..

  • SAJKinBigD

    NYC
    March 10th, 2011 at 7:29 am Well, that tears it.
    &
    NYC
    March 10th, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Kevin beat me to it, but here: +100 more!
    That was an arr-some response to the near-rampant negativity that seems to be infusing this board at times. Keep Pounding the Rock, indeed!

  • ITGuy

    @DorieStreet
    I always enjoy reading your comments; always spot on.
    Thanks.

    Go Spurs Go!!

  • idahospur

    I think I heard the Spurs planning on bringing Ryan Richards over next year and he’s just shooting around and getting to know the team this year. I also heard that signing him depends on Dice’s plan for next year.

    I keep thinking Splitter just may be in a practice-only zone where he may be getting set up for certain playoff situations. I would like him involved more in games but Pop has his mad scientist ways. If he is not in form by this year, I expect him to get the summer treatment program like RJ did this last year, but only if he is willing and does not have strong commitments to his national team.

  • rj

    @ mr international.

    it isn’t a splitter obsession so much as it is an obsession for height, athleticism, and depth at the frontcourt position. last year, it was a mahinmi obsession, this year it’s splitter. we have not been able to solve our problem of an aging, slower, shorter frontcourt over the last several seasons. i don’t see tiago as the next kareem, but his inches and quick feet are sorely needed on this squad.

  • Flavor

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/commentary/news/story?id=6202101

    ^^^^^Read this very good article on Popovich^^^^^

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