San Antonio Spurs 94, Boston Celtics 73

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Given the caliber of the opponent, the margin of victory and where the game was held, I think it’s fair to describe the San Antonio Spurs 94-73 win over the Boston Celtics this evening as the Spurs most dominant win of the season. Tonight’s contest was the last in a grueling five game stretch during which the Spurs managed to go 3-2 against five of the toughest teams in the league. Let’s be honest– that ain’t bad.

The star of tonight’s game was Manu Ginobili. His stat line, although impressive, in no way does justice to the performance he put on this evening. His 28 points were only slightly above par compared to how he has been playing as of late (Yes, he has been averaging nearly that many points-per-game recently). He shot 9-19 from the field and 2-8 from beyond the arc; neither are remarkable. The statistic that accurately captures how unstoppable he was this evening was his plus/minus: +36.

There are so many little things Manu did over the course of the game– tip long rebounds to teammates; force unexpected turnovers; make clever, accurate passes –that, given my affinity for the granular, I’m tempted to focus on this or that forgettable but telling moment. But given how earth-shatteringly awesome two specific plays were (you know the one’s I am referring to), I am going to give into temptation and embrace the spectacle that is el contusion.

Having thoroughly searched both the play-by-play and the box score, I believe the first of these two moments may never have been officially recorded. I’m referring to the fact that Ginobili finished the night with 0 blocks when, in actuality, he blocked Kevin Garnett so viciously that, for a moment, it looked like he may have booked the Big Ticket a one-way trip to the locker room.

I don’t believe Ginobili was assessed a foul on the play; the Celtics retained possession because he was unable to gain control of the ball after the block and it was lost out-of-bounds (also the play-by-play has no record of a shooting foul on Garnett by Ginobili). I assume the scorekeeper neglected to note that Ginobili blocked Garnett with so much force that he threw a man who outweighs him by 50 pounds straight into the ground. That wasn’t just a block; it was a statement.

My other favorite moment (or, more accurately, series of moments) came at the end of the third quarter. After a pair of Paul Pierce free throws, the Spurs were left with 36 seconds to manage. The ball was pushed up the floor quickly, but not sloppily, and Ginobili found George Hill in the corner. Hill sank the three, pushing the lead back up to 14 and ensuring that the Spurs would go into the fourth ahead by double digits. There were 28 seconds left on the clock– just enough time to get a stop and hurry up the floor for a last second shot attempt.

After a stout defensive possession, DeJuan Blair rebounded a missed mid-range jumper by Paul Pierce. Blair fed the ball to a sprinting Ginobili, who passed the half-court line and rose into the air. He hung there for a moment as the milliseconds ticked by, extended his left arm, and banked in a long three-pointer as the buzzer sounded. There were 12 minutes left to be played, but Ginobili had made himself clear: San Antonio was leaving town with this one.

Eleven other Spurs saw the floor during tonight’s game but, in all honesty, I hardly remember how any of them played. (OK, so maybe I remember but a) it’s getting late and b) it’s a rhetorical tool.) All I can remember is the unstoppable whirlwind that was Manu Ginobili.

  • Big Whit

    I agree with Eric, both on Bonner and the rotation when TP gets back.

    I too would start Parker, Hill, Bogans, Duncan and Dice. Bring Manu, Jefferson, Blair, Bonner off bench and mix them in with starters.

  • Bushka

    We are what we are, and the personell we have is what we have to run with.

    Hence you are going to have Bonner/Bogans getting 10 – 20 minutes a night, come what may.

    Ian Mahinmi is the guy who gets run when all you have left is a punchers chance. After beating Boston the Cavs and OKC and pushing the lakers & Atlanta to the brink, we are not a team that has nothing but a punchers chance. We are a team that no one wants to face in the first round.

    The lack of comprehension with regard to Bonners role on this team simply astounds me.

    There are still people who are unhappy with his production. What makes you unhappy about a bench player used for spacing the floor not filling it up?

    He is there for a specific purpose, to make life easier for his team mates, particularly Tim. Not to be a high volume scorer.

    He has never been there to put up 20 and 10 a game. Please could someone point out which franchise has a guy that averages the 10th highest minute on their team doing that?

    I know this has been repeated ad nauseam, but some are refusing to hear it.

    When you have a lot of guys that have to have the ball in their hands to be successful on offence, i.e people like Dejaun, RJ, Manu, TP, having someone out there who can be effective without needing high volume usage is a blessing.

    I’d love to have a better defensive oriented player than Bogans, but thats our lot and we’re stuck with it. RJ is meant to be providing that but he doesn’t so I guess we just have to hope Bogans keeps playing the way he has the last week or so.

    Yes I’d enjoy seeing more Malik Hairston burn. I really like his game and have been a huge proponent of increased playing time for him right from the get go this season, but in Pop I trust.

    Speaking of which we need to tip our hats to Greg Popovich. The master of disaster. It’s nearly playoff time again and guess what?

    Players have started hitting the right intensity level.

    The team is finding rhythm and dictating it’s terms against the best of the best. We’re limiting the minutes of our extremely vulnerable and fragile aged care front line.

    Would you believe that coming into the stretch run home, we’re playing our best basketball of the season by far?

    It’s almost like Pop has this season long plan where he gets into guys heads, tinkers with the rotations, treats regular season games like science experiments, and molds a disparate collection of messy parts into a killing machine.

    Wait a minute. That might be …exactly what he does….

    For all the guys who have been upset with the way pop runs the team and rotations, you need to get some perspective and understand that he does this every single year. He has a season long plan, not a game by game fluctuation.

    It’s one of the downfalls of being a passionate fan, that often you are looking down the microscope and miss looking up to see the big picture.

    Just look at his pounding the rock quote. It’s not the thousandth blow of the hammer & chisel that lays the stone open, it is the 999 blows before it.

    He truly see’s the game and this team as a broad spectrum upon which there are a myriad of influences. A world of nuance.

    Yet how often do we the fanbase refuse to see anything but Points, rebounds, assists, and the boxscore in front of us. The reactionary mechanisms of the basketball junkie.

    We scream about the lack of playing time, we yell that our chosen guy is not getting minutes, we demand sackings and trades.

    Step back and take the long view. Always.

  • Renato

    @Bushka

    It shocks me when I hear ppl defend bonners role on this team. I understand what he does on offense, but now look on defense. He is a liabillity. The fact that he is a guy who cant put 20 up a night is exactly wat annoys me about him. If your goin to play a guy for wat he does on offense, then he needs to be a guy who puts 15-20 a night. On a team that preaches defense, it makes more sense to put mahimi out there for his defense.

    As for congratulating Pop and all that, I think the jury is out on his job this season. Are fans goin to say that the spurs beating Celtics and Cavs erase all the struggles they have had all season. Pop is a great coach in some ways. In others, such as player development and infusion of new players. I have my doubts. Harriston, Mahimi are great examples. At both their positions, I would argue the players ahead of them have been shaky. SF, bogans has not be fantastic player all season, i think everyone agrees, so put harriston out there for some games see wat he can do. Mcdysee/bonner/blair have had their ups and downs, again play mahimi and see what he can do. In fact, look at the spurs current roster, the only spurs developed players are parker, duncan, and hill. All others played for other teams or in ginoblis case developed in europe for a while before he came to spurs, excluding blair bc obviously have to see where he goes as a player

    Lastly, find the last 6-7 seeded team to go win the NBA title. “You are what your record says you are”. The spurs while improved, still show in their overall all year record, that they are a team that beats bad teams and struggles against good teams.

  • LonghornMike

    @ballhog and OneWing:
    We all definitely have the right to question the front office, but Anthony Tolliver is putting up numbers on a bad Warriors team. In this case I think you have to take his stats with a grain of salt.

    I think the FO should reward Manu with a conservatively over-market value deal, considering he resigned with the Spurs at a bargain rate last contract. It would only be fitting he end his career with Duncan and the crew.

    Jefferson is definitely looking comfortable. I didn’t get to see much of the season to make this kind of forecast, but will he keep up the production when TP runs the show?

  • Colin

    Bushka

    “Lastly, find the last 6-7 seeded team to go win the NBA title.”

    —The Rockets did as a 6 seed on their 2nd of back-to-backs

  • Phoebus

    @Renato,
    “Lastly, find the last 6-7 seeded team to go win the NBA title. ”

    No one around here, nor Popovich I’d guess, thinks the Spurs are still anything but a very, very long shot to win it all. I just meant to say that the 6/7 seed, as far as a yellow brick road to playoff success, has a lot of advantages.

    If you’re just disgusted that the Spurs aren’t way out there on the list of favorites, you’re being crabby.

  • Colin

    ….with a 47-35 record

  • Renato

    Thats one example, not a rule. I could see this team get hot and play well. But to say o, wat a job Pop has done this season, I dont see it. Pops best moment was 2005 Championship season. This, i think argueably could be his worst.

  • Colin

    …….my last post was meant for Renato, not Bushka…….I’m not saying we are clones of those Rocket teams, but damn they had doubters all the way through and they beat the best…….all on the road.

  • Bushka

    Renato.

    I cannot overstate how much it blows me away that people 1. think Bonner needs to have more in teh boxscore and 2. that he is a horrible defender.

    Bonners defense is much maligned, but not actually fundamentally unsound. He is not a shot blocker, and he does not intimidate, he does however make great effort box out, perform correct rotations within the system and channel his man to help very well.

    The idea that he is just a sieve is wrong. He works very well within the spurs system, a system which has always emphasized team D, and intelligent use of space.

    Pops done a great job this year in terms of his own Plus/Minus. Have you ever seen a spurs team look so disjointed and inept as the first third of this season?

    He is a master at creating challenges and forcing his team to overcome them. No one is saying we are championship material, but in my opinion getting the best out of what is in front of you is what the NBA is all about.

    Bonners TENTH on the team in average minutes. You are getting a role player who helps the team and is not giving away the farm at the Defensive end, exactly what are you expecting from the end of the bench?

  • Bushka

    One final thing.

    Mahinmi is not a defensive stopper.

    Getting blocks is one thing. If you have ever watched him in international play, or when he is playing against the big boys in the league, his rotations, time and time again are horrific.

    The reason that so many coachs love older players is because they understand how important D is and they pay more attention to it, have an intuitive ability to play it well and can minimize the bleeding even when they are overmatched.

    Ian is so so raw, he is a natural athlete, he is not a natural defender.

  • Renato

    Bushka,

    I guess we agree to disagree. See i dont mind him not scoring many points, if he were a decent defender. The laker game last week was one best examples. When bonner was in, the lakers left him open to double down on ginobli and hill. Then when they were on offense, they went at bonner. He is a 3 stuck in a 4s body and a liabillity on defense.

    I guess my overall point is I dont see how he helps the team. When you pair him with blair the shot blocking disappears, and blair is a better rebounder than him. If its for spacing hes out there, a guy like mcdysee would suffice to space because also can sit at top of key. Yet he again is not a liabillity on defense. Bonner is slow, and any big man who puts him on the block usually had a great chance to score.

    As for stats:
    Bonner: 55 game played: 6.8 ppg and 3.1 rbspg
    Mahimi: 18 games played: 3.8 ppg and 2.0 rbspg

    Pople always point out, how he spaces the court and the threes, its because few teams ever actually worry about gaurding him. He sits on three point line, maybe he hits the three and then they go back down throw it to their big man who posts him up and boom 2 pts.

  • Renato

    And to answer ur other point, I have seen him play and he is about as adequate of a defender as bonner, plus he brings the shot blocking.

  • Bushka

    McDyess does bring that to the table. Of course you are comparing a starter to a guy who average 17 minutes per.

    Obviously we’d prefer two McDyess’ and another big who is a great defender and shot blocker and can shoot a jump shot.

    What I am essentially saying, is that when you have more than one guy on offense who can’t throw a rock in the ocean, you hamstring your spacing and you let the D collapse and kill Timmy.

    Matt Bonner gives you 17 minutes per night where that is not an issue.

    He is nothing more than an effective tool in the right hands. I really take issue with the amount of times people whine about him when the truth of the matter is there are umpteen less effective 17 minute per players out there, and we should actually be happy that we have a bench player that can fit into our scheme happily and effeciently.

    Don’t get me wrong i’d love to have a number 10 that was an all star, it’s just not the case.

  • Bushka

    The whole big man scoring on him thing is not really his problem.

    The guys he has issues with are slashing foot speed bigs. If he is in the game with Timmy he is great because he nearly always moves his guy toward the shot blocker/help.

    If you pair him with blair I don’t like it defensively.

    But again that’s what you get from the end of the bench and it’s why these guys get into rotations that people seem to get in knots over.

    Coachs want a team to run a certain way, and just throwing players out on the floor doesn’t work. You can’t play blair and Ian against a quality line up because there is no one who can shoot on your front line.

    You can’t play Bonner & Ian because Ian’s not as brilliant as Tim & plays far inferior help D, and that’s not something that is really his fault, he just hasn’t gotten there yet.

    The bench is purely for combos and resting the big guys.

  • Renato

    My suggestion would have been to pair blair with Mcdysee and Ian with Duncan. Im not asking for an all star. Im asking for a guy who can hold his own on d.

    As you correctly stated,the bench is for resting big guys while trying to sustain the lead. I feel as though first reason his numbers are so down are because Pop knows he cant leave him out there too long bc the team will come down. I prefer a rasho nesterovich, Francisco Elson, or so type player who will provide solid D and good rebounding. I dont see either out of bonner

  • Bushka

    Rasho would be lovely

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