San Antonio Spurs 114, Utah Jazz 104

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No El Conclusion or Margin from me today. Just some plain old bullet points on last night’s 114-104 over the Jazz. I didn’t make it back to Austin from Easter weekend until tip-off, so there was no way I was going to be able to get down to San Antonio yesterday. Instead of typical game coverage, you’ll have to settle for some notes.

  • Coach Pop is doing some interesting things with resting players during this brutal April schedule. While he’s trying to keep players’ minutes down as much as possible during games, he’s also selectively sitting guys out completely. Last night DeJuan Blair and Stephen Jackson both avoided checking in at the scorer’s table. For DeJuan, it was the first game he’s missed all season. One of the benefits of choosing to rest guys this way, where they don’t play in entire games, is it makes the schedule this month seem a little more like a normal one.
  • Tony Parker went to the free throw line late in last night’s game showered in M-V-P chants. Am I wrong, or are those the first of the season for TP? He won’t be the MVP, it seems it’s already been decided that the trophy is headed to either Kevin Durant or LeBron James, but it’s not a stretch of a travishamockery of the award to give Parker some MVP love.
  • Wayne Vore at The Big Fundamental has been pounding on this issue lately, but the Spurs are quietly becoming one of the best defensive rebounding teams in the league. Last night the Spurs outrebounded the Jazz 45-39 (38-28 on defensive boards), and the Jazz have a good four big man rotation going. This is a good trend, especially when other parts of the Spurs defense are somewhat mediocre. If San Antonio can limit teams to one shot per possession, it makes them tremendously stronger. And with Tim Duncan grabbing a lot of those boards (13 defensive rebounds last night), the Spurs can get out on the break and get some easy scores offensively, thanks to Duncan’s superb outlet passing.
  • Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili combined to hit 24-25 free throws last night. Just thought you should know.
  • Danny Green shot 2-3 from 3-point range last night. After a miserable shooting month in February, Green is shooting 43% from 3-point range in March and April.
  • Boris Diaw got the start for DeJuan Blair, and while it might make sense to throw Matt Bonner or Tiago Splitter in the starting lineup instead of Diaw, there’s an argument to be made for keep everyone in their spots in the rotation as much as possible. At this point, the rotation is pretty set. Guys know usually when they’re going to be going in and exiting the games. By starting one of Tiago or Bonner for Blair, it screws that whole rotation up for the big men. By elevating Diaw to starter and keeping Bonner and Splitter in place, the rotations stay pretty much the same. These are the luxuries you’re afforded when you have good depth and there’s not a lot of drop off between your second-best big man and your fifth-best.
  • The Spurs still scored 114 points despite shooting 27% from 3-point line. Despite their similarities, I don’t remember last year’s offense being able to produce under the same circumstances.
  • More on this as we get closer, but I really want the Spurs to win 50 games this season. A lot.
  • 11 on the trot. Jazz again tonight, this time in the SLC.
  • Tyler

    To your point on the defensive rebounding and TD:

    For me, as much as I appreciate the play of TP, this season is about the greatness of TD. With his explosiveness and athleticism tailing off, it’s made his impeccable timing even more apparent. It is absolutely uncanny. Combined with his length (is there anyone longer than him? If so, not by much). There were several times last night he outmaneuvered Derrick Favors (one of the best athletes at the 4/5 in the league) for 50/50 rebounds. It just drove the point home for me just how good this guy is (I know that sounds stupid being that he’s widely regarded as the best PF of all time).

  • http://www.nba.com/spurs/?tmd=1 TheRealDirtyP1

    Ah this final stretch is turning out to be delicious. The Spurs are #1 seed right now, Dallas is at #7. Fingers crossed for that matchup. I don’t think Memphis will be tanking this year to take on the Spurs.
    On that note, 10 games left, and we see the Lakers 3 times(2 home 1 away). Only one of them is set for a national audience.Gotta love the schedule makers @thenba.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/WBPW327T6XAZCCFQY25HBG6RE4 Cristian

    Not the first time TP heard the MVP chants. He heard them earlier in the season, in that stretch were he had like 3 consecutive 30+ point games and was taking over games whenever he felt the team need him to do so. Somewhere around that. He also had his highest ranking in most MVP lists, at No.5 behind the usual suspects. Soon after that, Manu was getting close to this old self and Parker didn’t need to do so much. But this game again he switched in another gear late in the 4th as the game almost got too close for comfort and he decided he wasn’t having any of that. 
    PS: Loved Manu attacking, seeking contact and living at the line. It’s a good sign and looks like he’ll peak right as the playoffs start. I was a bit worried Parker might be low on gas a little bit, but looks like he was just on bit of a cruise control mode.

  • theghostofjh

    Except in the case of some blowouts, Pop appears to be primarily going with a ten-man rotation, even though we have 13 players that are capable of making meaningful/significant contributions in any one game.

    Thus, Pop is basically sitting 3 players each game. He essentially seems to be sitting one big, and two guard/wings. The three generally come from the following group, which is usually comprised of one big, and two guard/wings:

    Bigs: Diaw, Splitter, Bonner, Blair

    Guards/Wings: Anderson, Mills, Jackson, Neal

    The reasons three from this group sit may be varied, ranging from minor “injury”, rest, near last in the rotation, match-ups, etc.

    The main idea appears to be to keep all rotation players fresh and playing well together heading into the playoffs, but in a way that still fields a team that can win games at a high rate, giving us a chance at the number one seed.

    P.S.  Parker, Duncan, & Ginobli are also getting periodic nights off to keep them as fresh and healthy as possible.

    I’m not sure if Pop has established a fairly firm playoff rotation as of yet. This should become more apparent over the next two weeks.
     

  • Len

    Why the desire for 50 wins this year?  If SA doesn’t win 50 it shouldn’t break the streak that they’ve got going.  

    Honestly they should take the winning % of a 50 win season in a normal schedule (50/82) and apply it to a 66 game season.  

    41 victories should be the benchmark that teams need to keep the 50 win season streak alive.  But that’s probably far too much math for anyone in the NBA.

  • Perfectiondecks

    But I know that the league doesn’t think like that.  The Spurs 50 game streak should actually start from the 1997-98 season and be current, which would actually be 14 seasons running.   

    Math is just a lost art, I’m tellin ya.  But anyway.. If the Spurs win 50 this season it would put them past the Showtime Lakers for the longest streak of 50 win seasons.    

  • Bonjourboloss

    Nice blog as usual, and as a french fan I have to tell you I love the acquistion of Boris Diaw. I’ve never seen him so happy and lean in a long time. He’s better than Bonner and DBlair, I just hope i’ll be in a even better basketball condition come playoff time. Great IQ, great passer, and a nice scorer when is well coached and foremost a great teamate (in the french selection is nickname is The President)

    A line-up of Tp – Manu – Jack – Babac – TD will be tough to beat in money time…

    If Diaw is not a phenomenal individual defender he is, as in the offense, essential for team work, will and communication.

    One little dark sign. In the P-O teams like Memphis last year played only 8 to 9 players and that’s enough in the first rounds. Pop will need to play no more than 10 or 11 players for a strech before the playoff to get a feel for the real squad down the line. I hope guys who’ll stick to the bench keep their spirits high for the benefits of the teams.

    Go Spurs !

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  • MSteele_in_Eire

    Boris Diaw is a fantastic one on one post defender. His pick ‘n’ roll def might not be great and he isn’t a great help defender but by God, he can make it tough in the post for opposing players.
    I know it’s been said many times before, but I see no reason why the rotation should be shortened. Obviously you can’t play 13 guys every night, but we shouldn’t rule out playing guys just because that’s what is usually done. I’m confident in every guy in our rotation.
    I’d like the 50 wins too!!!!!

  • Bonjourboloss

    13 is great for a whole season but 10 is enough for the play-off. So i don’t know all the salary cap issues for next year but if the spurs could sign Diaw and then trade 2 or 3 guys (Thiago, DB, Bonner, SnT Green or Neal…) for an All-star or future AS would be tremendous. 

    TD
    Gino
    TP
    Jack
    Kawhi
    Boris
    DB/Thiago/Bonner
    Neal/Green
    All-Star X (Batum, Gallinari, Scola…If TD doesn’t asks to much)
    And some spurs magic

    Do you think it would be possible ? and better ?

  • Deeds130

    The big 3 delivered the win last night… will they all play tonight?  Timmy led in minutes, and his rebounding was a difference maker. With DJB getting rest last night, does he start for TD tonight, next to Boris? Tim obviously knows how to play against true bigmen, so giving everyone else scrimmage time vs UTA could really help them in the playoffs where we could face HOU and/or MEM.  I wouldn’t bet on us beating UTA without TD, but with another b2b coming on Wed, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tim sit.  

    And as far as depth and PO rotations go, I think we’ll continue to see 10 or 11 guys get minutes in the playoffs. However, I do expect to see DNPs similarly to what we are growing accustomed to seeing this regular season.

    Btw, is anybody else impressed with D Favors? A special talent to my eyes.

  • Deeds130

    Correction: make that 11 playoff guys most likely, with Mills(12) and Anderson(13) as the least likely candidates to get any tick.