San Antonio Spurs 95, Portland Trail Blazers 78: At long last, 48 minutes of hell

by

AT&T CENTER–Now 23 games into the regular season, and off to a franchise-best 20-3 start, it’s hard to find fault so far. But today showed the first glimpse of a happy post game Gregg Popovich as the San Antonio Spurs finally looked a little like the San Antonio Spurs.

Earlier in the season our own Timothy Varner stated that the Spurs defense has become less and less about 48 minutes of hell, and increasingly 48 minutes of what the hell.

For all the talk about steals and pace and new approaches, Popovich claims he still holds true to his simplistic analysis of a game, glancing only at field goal percentage and rebounds. In their 95-78 win over Portland, the Spurs finally produced a box score their head coach can be proud of.

“We’re working on it and we have to get better,” Popovich said. “They know we have to get better at it as a group.  We’re trying to do that and today was a good performance defensively.

That’s something to enjoy, but we have a ways to go. Right now there are about 10 to 15 teams that are doing a better job defensively than we are, so we have to pay attention to it.”

After allowing Portland to hit their first three shots (jumping out to a 7-2 lead), and a quick timeout, the Spurs managed to hold the Blazers to 37.9% from the field (33.3% from three-point territory). It was a throwback performance of sorts, not only in creating turnovers but in creating bad shots, all keyed by the defensive presence of Tim Duncan (2 blocks, 13 rebounds in 28 minutes).

“Defensively, I noticed that they were funneling a lot of things to Tim with my penetration,” said Brandon Roy. “There are some things we think we can counter that with, but they did a good job of just trying to funnel me to Tim and staying on my hip.”

While that may have been the strategy, in terms of actual execution Roy rarely got close enough into the paint to have to be funneled into anyone, or even use the word penetration. Credit goes to Richard Jefferson, who helped hound him into nine points on 4-16 shooting, but there was a visible lack of explosiveness and purpose in every step.

Roy has been one of many sad stories circling around Portland these days, and while I wanted to avoid piling on, the difference in the player who helped sweep the season series last year was too drastic not to mention.

There will be nights when the Blazers star will look like himself, but like the Ginobili who suffered through his own leg troubles, those nights will be largely dependent on an outside shot being locked in more than usual.

That Richard Jefferson found himself on Roy for almost their entire time on the court together probably speaks to how far Roy has fallen. In times with Jefferson and designated defensive ace George Hill sharing the court, Hill split most of his time between Andre Miller, Nicolas Batum, and Wesley Matthews while the Spurs were content to leave Jefferson on an island with Roy.

Without Roy, the Blazers have precious few options in creating offense. Any concerns about defending the Blazers long front line, especially regarding DeJuan Blair, were put to rest today. While Aldridge shot a respectable 8-14 on his way to 16 points, he only ever used his considerable height advantage for 20-foot jumpers. More stat filler than impact maker.

The Spurs big men did a great job of stepping in front of easy passing lanes, preventing looks at the rim. McDyess in particular was active in his 23 minutes, nabbing three steals and hitting a few open jumpers.

In all, the quartet of Blair, Matt Bonner, Duncan, and McDyess helped negate the lone advantage holding the Blazers once-efficient offense afloat (offensive rebounding), matching the Blazers rebound for rebound at 47 apiece.

With Milwaukee coming into town on Wednesday, the San Antonio Spurs should have another opportunity to pad their field goal percentage defense. Chances are it still won’t be enough to appease their head coach.

“Absolutely not. What did they score? Like 70-something points,” said Duncan. “That’s 70-something reasons for him to complain.”

  • TD = Best Ever

    Great Post – 1 exception though.

    “Any concerns about defending the Blazers long front line, especially regarding DeJuan Blair, were put to rest today.”

    I wouldn’t go that far – 1 decent game and like 5 bad ones don’t level the playing field.

    Aldridge is good – But has never been a BEAST in the paint or on the BOARDS. He has always shot 20ft jumpers, very much like David West.

    But I would agree that this was the 1ST game where the SPURS D really looked scary again. I credit DICE getting the 2nd Most minutes behind Timmy with that. If Dice can stay rested – he can still contain most post scorers in the NBA.

    So this one is for you DICE

  • Hobson13

    This was a good defensive oriented win for the Spurs. To echo the sentiments of the blog, Brandon Roy just isn’t the same. His 2010 FG%, assists, and rebounds are easily the lowest of his career. He just doesn’t have the athleticism. With this in mind, the Blazers may be a relatively decent regular season team (somewhere around .500) but their post season hopes appear to be shot with Roy’s nagging injury and Oden out for the season.

    Geez. Who would have thought we would start the season 20-3. I remember us arguing months ago that a 7-3 start would be great. Right now the Spurs are just rolling. Their last 4 games have been 25, 17, 16, and 17 point wins and 3 of those wins have come against teams .500 or better. Spurs host the Deer on Wednesday then the schedule begins to heat up. Great win today!

  • TD = Best Ever

    O ya and just to add – WHERE WAS SPLITTER…….
    ALDRIDGE is about as POWER a PF as David West. He rarely posts up anybody.

    There has to be something POP isn’t telling us or we don’t know about this situation.

  • Flavor

    I think POP is not playing Spiltter so that teams can’t scout for him come playoff time… Nah, not really. Go SPURSSSS

  • td4life

    portland is screwed, all that hope for naught, but they sure are glad that utah didn’t match the offer on matthews!

    sa, dal, bos are a combined 58-11, when was the last time the league was so top heavy to start the season??? With bynum due back this week, it’s really a four team league, six if you want to include mia and orl… everybody else is jockeying to be apart of the next era, and can’t even pretend to have sites on the trophy this season.

    another step forward for the spurs, big thanks to hill and dice.

    send splitter to austin… i mean, why not?

  • SpursfanSteve

    Why send Splitter to Austin? He doesnt need reps to learn the system- out of every game i’ve watched this season that hes played, hes rarely, if ever, missed a rotation on defense. Even on offense, running the pick and roll he’s been near spotless. Splitter needs more reps with current Spurs players to establish chemistry. But mostly , hes already played a full season of basketball this year, between euroleague and FIBA, so he NEEDS REST. It would be stupid for Pop to give him many minutes now- he’d end up hurt, like Manu and Tony in the years after they played international ball.

    I know. I want to see him play too. And its frustrating. But can we all please stop complaining about him not playing? Thats like 90% of all the comments on Spurs blogs. It’s great that its all we really have to complain about, but i’m tired of seeing it everywhere. I’m off my soapbox now- I almost always enjoy the posts from the bloggers and the vast majority of the commenters here. Been reading/posting for I think about 2 years now and I check everyday :)

  • rob

    “Absolutely not. What did they score? Like 70-something points,” said Duncan. “That’s 70-something reasons for him to complain.”

    Gotta love it because it’s probably true to thought of how Pop feels. Great D today. The best this year so far. It was like watching the ’05 Spurs out there. Defending, stopping, denying. Wow…what can you say. And historically…Spur’s defense gets better as the season goes on.

    And then there’s Splitter and Anderson who just don’t need to be used at this point. It’s like having a backup Porche in the garage while driving your other quality vehicles. Tweek and tween those Porches and if any of the other cars break down…out the garage you go as if nothing happened.

    And there’s not enough that can be said about Gary Neal. What a find! What a great compliment to this team! What a luxury that this team hasn’t had in quite some time. Neal is proving to not only be a legit 3 point specialist…but a crafty player that can create for himself and others while playing good D.

    And Bonner. It’s obvious he has practiced and spent due deligence improving in areas practically none of us thought he would/could ever improve.

    This organization is proving with Hill, Bonner, etc. that if ANY player wants to be serious about their time in this league…San Antonio is the place to go to learn, adapt, improve and WIN.

  • Flavor

    Strive for five. One for the Thumb. Drive for five… Just a few of the “slogans” that errk me.. I don’t know why. haha. Can’t wait to get home and watch the DVR of this game. that is right after I watch the DVR of the Dexter season finally. P.S. – I came across the below link on the comments section for an article about the Spurs on bleacer report. Pretty insightful…

    http://hardwoodhype.blogspot.com/2010/12/spurs-are-now-elite-offensively-have.html

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  • rj

    ive got jeff mcdonald backing me up on this: splitter’s role as of now and maybe for the year is to give duncan rest against lesser teams. dyess gets the go against the upper echelon teams.

    glad we took care of business tonight. brandon roy…..what a bummer. the western conference is really benefitting from the blazers downward spiral. no oden, roy, aldridge threat.

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

    Man, everything about today made me proud to be a Spurs fan. Let’s keep it up!

  • Dr. Who

    Great win today in a very “loseable” game after the Hawks victory. The Blazers were full of promise and I certainly thought they’d be better this year, losing Oden and Roy being off is huge. But the Spirs keep winning. RJ is a totally different player this year. Hill has finally returned to last year’s for and Blair is starting to find himself. Again Tiago is lost in the shuffle but will probably get some burn this week. For the poster that says he’s rarely out of position, I think we’re watching very different games. Much of the concern about Tiago here is that when he does play he appears lost on certain plays, lacks box out position for rebounds and doesn’t look very sharp. I’m hoping he needs reps and falls into place and become the huge signing we all thought we were getting in the offseason. As it stands our huge signing in the offseason was getting Jefferson back at a more manageable contract (and getting the real RJ this time) and trading for a healthy TP and Manu. Gary Neal is another jewel and Anderson is a gift we haven’t reaped the rewards of as of yet due to injury. Best start in franchise history, a favorable schedule and we are talking about our #5 big on a consistent basis. What an unbelievable start. If will be good to see how we do agains the elite. Good thing is we have plenty of time in the season to get Tiago going if he can get going. Hopefully Blair’s production continues and we can rest McDyess most of the season.

  • Phife

    Awesome win today!!

    I’m just going to leave this here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuoAXgupZ34

    Can’t wait to play them on New Year’s

  • Ritchie

    Pop ain’t playing Splitter yet because it’s too early in the season and they are riding on the roll they’re having now. I am expecting sometime after the all-star break or during the rodeo trip that Tiago would see more playing time.

    GO SPURS GO!!!

  • David

    “Absolutely not. What did they score? Like 70-something points,” said Duncan. “That’s 70-something reasons for him to complain.”

    Hilarious but true, very nice read.

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

    Regarding Tiago,

    I think Coach Newman said it best in a post game interview. He talked about how Fab was lost during his first season with the Spurs. Newman said that he was an olympic gold medalist and still couldn’t get comfortable with the Spurs system right away.

    I took away from that interview that the staff recognizes that Tiago isn’t doing that well yet. He gets lost out on the court and hasn’t found his role yet. But, I am not worried, at all. New Spurs players are usually kinda confused their first year. Us fans should all know that, it happens all the time.

    He is a smart, strong, talented basketball player who is adapting to a very complicated system with a new set of rules.

    Relax.

  • mac

    It’s interesting what Popovich is doing in developing Blair. The fact that the team is so good, and that they need to pace the guys for the playoffs means that they can put a weak link in the starting lineup. It could just as easily be Anderson, Splitter, or Neal. It could be Hill, though he is not a weak link.

    If Anderson were healthy he would make a great project starter as a rookie, but his role must be RJ’s backup on this roster. It could just as easily be Neal, but Neal is just fine as a backup guard. (It would be fun to see him get a chance at big minutes with elite teammates, though.)

    Bonner shouldn’t be a starter, because you don’t need to maximize his development as his ceiling is never gonna be much higher, but also because the Spurs MUST play him with Hill on the floor at the same time. I have researched it, and the Spurs have a negative differential when Bonner is out there without Hill, and either McDyess or Duncan. Regardless of the other 2 guys. But Hill makes a bigger impact than anyone on the Spurs’ defense with Bonner on the floor. How about that?

    The truth is Hill REALLY helps the scoring differential in EVERY 5-man unit he’s a part of. He and Ginobili are more effective than he and Parker in that regard. Hill is a bonafide starting 2 guard, or 6MOY candidate. His scoring and defense are legit. Parker provides scoring and passing, and is one of only two playmakers, so he is essential. But George could easily start and the team would excell. Give him 30 minutes per game, unless it effects his motor negatively.

    Instead of Blair, could you just as easily develop Anderson or Neal as a starter? Yes, but George, Manu, and Tony really own the backcourt, and RJ is appropriately establsihing himself as a rock at SF.

    If Tiago hadn’t been injured, or had the summer off, he might get the nod. But Blair has one year’s worth of corporate knowledge. My point is that Blair is a weak link if you look at all the statistics. He simply gives up more than he makes, and so do the Spurs as a team during his minutes versus the opposing starters. The numbers show that Blair owns the opposition in garbage time, and he is well above average in second unit situations. But with the winning that the Spurs are doing, they can afford to carry him, and bring him along, groom him for the best possible future.

    The question is what the Spurs must do against elite front lines. Blair is a hidden liability against the relatively weaker big men that he has faced so far this season, are they gonna develop a different strategy versus the elite? Splitter appears to have more potential versus such teams, but he has not been tested. The truth is it probably isn’t Tiago’s year for getting heavy development. Splitter gets all of his minutes with other defensive liabities Bonner, Neal, Blair and the end-of-the-bench guys. He does get time with Ginobili, Hill, and sometimes McDyess, but is primarily paired with Bonner in the front court, and usually 3 guards mostly including Neal.

    One thing I can tell you. The team will get fewer wins next year without McDyess. McDyess is an asset to rival Hill, according to the statistics. One thing that is interesting, is that this season McDyess and Duncan do not play very well together. I suppose that will have to come together down the stretch, in the meantime McDyess’s role is to stabalize the various bench rotations. And he is doing that extremely well.

    I said above that this is not likely to be Splitter’s year (barring injury), because in the second half or final third of the season, McDyess and Tim will have to start gelling together, which so far they are not.

    There is a some shame in that Tiago doesn’t get more of a chance (leaving McDyess, and some small ball units as the best matchups to face the playoff elite’s top units) because this year has TONS of potential for Timmy and Co. Blair is being groomed for seasons to come, and is doing a nice job helping to spell Tim. But there are plenty of #1 seeds who don’t hoist trophies. Dallas, San Antonio, and Cleveland of seasons past come quickly to mind.

  • junierizzle

    Great win!!

    ABout TIAGO “not being ready” or “looking lost on the court” I don’t buy it.

    He doesn’t look lost to me. He is open a lot but they rarely pass him the ball, he is willing to take a charge, he is quick on defense,etc.

    HIs time will come. I think POP is still easing hime in.

  • Duff Beer

    Lucky for David Stern the Bucks Spurs game isn’t on national TV because the sponsors will have heart attacks if its old school Spurs D against Bucks underrated D….They’d be happy if both teams crack 90 a piece.

  • r.l.manuel

    geez folks yall should get off ofBlair’s back
    he is a beast the last few games vs. GS,Atl,Portland he out hustles everyone on the boards and gives up his body vs the floor chasing down loose balls
    he reminds me of a young Barkley
    20-3 is freakin awesome…
    go SPURS go

  • r.l.manuel

    the “D” is coming around
    timmy/manu getting plenty of rest
    Pop …well… hell he …the boss man knoweth what he doesth,and he doesth,quite well indeed.
    matt is playing damn decent D overall just watch him. i dvr every game and watch it live when i watch the replay its very interesting to watch the players off the ball, especially on defense
    hill is a STUD
    anderson ,so far very impressive shooting
    The Spurs 3 amigos are better than miami.
    yeah i said it…better than miami there i said it again.

  • Czernobog

    Miami is a second-tier team, at best. The only yardsticks you should be looking at are the Lakers and Celts, and maybe the Mavericks.

    Anyway, wanted to give props to the writers here. I’m not even a Spurs fan (though I’m really hoping TD gets his 5th this year) and this is my second favourite basketball-related read after Basketbawful. Just top-notch work, most of the writers in the mainstream media couldn’t produce anything half as good on their best day.

  • Ruel

    Great Win today and excellent jobs both on our Coaching Staffs and Players for being on the same page on Team Defense!!! Don’t Stop Preaching Our Team Defense and Keep Pounding The Rock on every and each Team we face night in and night out!!!

    Great Jobs to our Coaching Staffs and Front Office and to the Players as well for having this kind of Success early in the Season. Whatever your doing? Keep it coming and rolling guys!!! This early season I noticed alot of different on our Team? Any other nights? Many different players step up and wins the game for us which is good and for a good reason like taking turns? So many disguise and it does really confuse for the team we play on each game? Great Job for our Coaching Staffs and to our Players as well for their sacrifice, understanding, and willingness to find to win a game and bringing this Team together? Good to see D. Blair is getting back to his game which always a good plus to our team until he feels more comfortable and might be a good useful later of the season for changes need? Most of scouts teams little knew about our players and what they can capable of doing but haven’t seen enough of San Antonio Spurs yet? We still have 2 lethal weapons that haven’t use and test much because their names are overshadow and hardly see in actions? I can’t wait when their names calls and turn up? I’m guessing between or after All-Star break? This 2 will blend to our roster team and that will give enough reason for any other opposing team we face to figure out and make an adjustments until those 2 players hear their names loud and clear. I wouldn’t be surprise once D. Blair gets comfortable and go back to our bench? He will be a perfect power forward we need can gave us energy and points on the bench. Then Splitter and Dice on the Center? Giving us the fire power defensive presence we need to the front line and healthy too. Opposing team will have a reason for them to figure out and make a necessary adjustments and never really see or thought that this is coming? Anderson and Splitter might not seen on many action yet early this season but Don’t Count them both out yet? When there turn is up and call there names? Teams will be caught in surprises until they will know more than a little about their names loud and clear!!! Right now? Still a Guessing Game!!! Win or Lost Keep Pounding the Rock San Antonio Spurs!!!

  • Ruel

    Mr. D. Blair already surprised alot of teams last years and having him back on the bench before or after All-Star break? Other Teams will have a Nightmare if they see D. Blair what the Beast can do on the bench and keep the opposing team guessing? For Coach Pop’s he knows what to do? Unleash the Beast and see what the Beast can do? He might be struggling early this season so far and it was a good plus for him and the team because Blair and the Team knows and understand? He’s the Beast coming off the Bench!!! Just like Hill and Parker Story? They push and gave Hill alot of playing time and experienced early on his career to grow and understand more about the game to become a legit scorer coming off the bench in the near future which we seen now to the present. Having Blair put into the line of fire early this season it’s a good benefit to our team to help him to grow and understand the game? Then once he get’s back into the bench? He won’t be lost once they call his name the same thing they did with George Hill early to his career? All his hard work and dedicated pays and become a player to be fear? George Hill and Dejuan Blair on the bench possible combining 20+ or 30+ points plus energy and rebounds as well a game? Any coach in any teams will take that in any given days to have that kind of talents and depth to their team coming off the bench? 8 or 10+ points for Blair as a starter can be easily fill up by Dice and Splitter on the Center Spot Rotation without damaging or affecting the points produce by Center Spot instead we add more points from Blair coming off the bench? I know many of us won’t be like to hear this thing and I apologize if I have offend anybody and I hope I was wrong for the way of thinking? For good Cost and Reason? I wouldn’t be Surprise if this would have to our Coaching Staffs and Front Office in minds of plans and doing before the season started!!!

  • Ruel

    Why Dejuan Blair Struggling Early in the Season?

    I like Dejuan Blair and his work hard and dedication and I humbly respect his skills and ability and I have nothing against him? He can do and make a big difference of the game and we all seen that from last year? This year struggles put him more loads to carry on his shoulder which looks like doesn’t benefit him? Putting him as a starting center is a one sided struggles? Yes, he’s under size, out reach, out muscles, and out rebound by bigger and taller guys then we forgot about fresh legs too? Even thou the opposing bigs are not athletic but having tall and long arms? It’s hard to compete with those bigs with fresh legs that’s why it’s Blair struggles and why he’s good coming off the bench but it was a good experimental element for the Coaching Staffs to put Blair into the line of fire early this season for good reason and good benefit for the Team once they make an adjustments? Putting Dejuan Blair as a Starting Center the opposing team has taller, long arms, and athletic players or Centers with fresh legs? Is a one sided coin more likely to the opposing teams and a battle more likely too he can’t win but having him coming off the bench? It’s a huge plus to our team and a battle has a chance to win which he has proven to us last year and the reason why he’s very successful last year because the high level of energy he shown and bring us last year coming off the bench? It’s hard for the opposing teams bigs to keep up and match up his high level of energy because their legs already running back and forth to the floor and ofcourse will start weak and tiring and their long arms cannot be no longer stand stretch and tall no more. Having Blair coming off the bench? It will be a garbage time for him to grab those rebounds and dominating those points? For sure he would love it for most and he will be the first person can say that and who knows? It wouldn’t hurt and can’t be that bad to become the 6 man of the year honor? Still plenty of time and more surprises to come as the season goes!!!

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

    Man, Ruel….you gotta stop using Babblefish to translate your statements because it makes you sound crazy. :)

    I think we as Spurs fans can all thank Santa Pop for putting out this “Class of the NBA” team together and getting them to mess as seamlessly as they are….who in the NBA other than the Mavs and Celts looks even close to as good as our Spurs?

  • titletown99030507

    @TD = Best Ever, I’m just as confused to as why Splitter isn’t getting any real min. Trash time isn’t going to cut it for him. Looks like Pop has decided he’s going with Blair to defend the basket against the opposing bigs for the rest of the season. Don’t see the rational there. Blair gets scored on too easy but can come back a get a score if he’s under the rim. So I really don’t think thats an efficient trade off. You can’t expect to throw in someone with 1 or 3 min left in a game and every other several games to get quality experience. It’s just not going to get him ready for playoff time or the Boston Celtics, Lakers or Heat. 3 years then 3 million and no min. I don’t get it. This guy has heart like Ginobilli when hes on the court anbd with playing time can get to his playing form. He’s been out of serious playing form for some time now and Pop isn’t helping the cause. Either way I can’t wait for the Laker game cause Blair is going to eat it and I want to see Pop at the post game when that happens. And that bas*%#d better not throw Splitter to the lions when that game arrives if he’s not getting significant consistent min. right now. All the bigs with the exception of Splitter are getting those quality min. so they are well prepared to go on the court and battle. I don’t know if it’s a case of making Splitter humble coming from MVP status in an other league or it’s just plain personal. Either way its frustrating for Splitter because he knows he hasn’t shown his best yet and knows he can be the player Pop thinks he can. Blair at center is going to catch up to them sooner or later. I wish it was the sooner than later so Splitter can get his play.

  • Colin

    Yes, the Spurs look like a machine right now. It reminds me of how they looked during their title years.

    However, I’m reading some posts that are already discounting other teams in regards to success this season. Let’s stop with the comparisons (Celts or Mavs or Lakers are better?) at this time of year.
    News flash=it doesn’t matter right now! One game at a time.

    Let us remember that we have an 82 game season followed by the playoffs……..where this team will ultimately be judged.

    The players understand where they want to be at season’s end and they are all business. Take care of each game one at a time and get after it!

  • titletown99030507

    @Alix Babaie, Babblefish my ass its going to catch up with this team! These teams they are playing suck! And when the real competition land on the court with them they are going wish they developed Splitter and gave him play like Blair has been given. BLAIR IS NOT A CENTER! HOW MANY TIMES DO YOU NEED TO SEE HIM GET WAXED BY THE OPPOSING BIG? Its a sexy story 6’7″ and no knees. So what! That shit is going to catch up to them if they don’t have something in their back pocket ready to defend that frikin basket come playoff time against the Lakers or Boston. Right don’t fixed whats not broken, bullshit it will be broken when the real teams coming rolling in. I hate waiting to see if Splitter plays just to see him riding the pine. What a waste!

  • titletown99030507

    @flavor, what the hell is that supposed to mean?

  • titletown99030507

    @td4life, Stupid comment.

  • titletown99030507

    @td4life, Moronic, stupid statement- Splitter to Austin. Your boy Blair sucks against any decent Power forward or center in this league. It’s your run and gun offense that’s saving their asses. Open your frikin eyes. Oh wait till Boston and La or even Miami. Dumbass statement.

  • spursfanbayarea

    Great overall game for the spurs. Only negative aspect was how easy it was for Aldridge to score on either bonner or blair. But when mcdyess was in we were able to slow him down. Other than that. Loved the perimeter defense, the team defense and george hills aggressiveness.

  • titletown99030507

    @rj, Old man McDyess will not help you against the Lakers or Boston especially if Bynum is coming back.

  • Colin

    Splitter IS being developed. We just don’t see it every time we watch a game on television. Once again, the arm chair QB’s are on here talking about how Pop is stupid for not playing a rookie as much as they’d like.

    Duncan and McDyess are the best post defenders on this team and have been for the past 2 seasons. In the playoffs can you really see Blair or Splitter guarding players like Garnett/Gasol/Bynum/Boozer/Howard anyway??

    In short, Splitter is no savior in our post defense scheme.

    True, there are some 4’s and 5’s that Blair simply can’t defend. My bet is that Pop won’t be assigning Blair to those players and adjust accordingly. But guess what, Splitter isn’t exactly a dominating post defender either……..at least until he learns how to be more physical and fight for inside space. His time will come, just be patient. He is in no position or shape to be drawing post assignments for extended minutes yet.

  • titletown99030507

    @Dr. Who, wouldnt you look lost too if they threw you on the court for 2 min every 4 games or so?

  • titletown99030507

    @mac, “My point is that Blair is a weak link if you look at all the statistics. He simply gives up more than he makes, and so do the Spurs as a team during his minutes versus the opposing starters. The numbers show that Blair owns the opposition in garbage time, and he is well above average in second unit situations. But with the winning that the Spurs are doing, they can afford to carry him, and bring him along,” — Finally someone who sees the big picture. Good comment. Now lets see what happens against Bynum, Odem, and Gasol with Blair. He better show MVP stats because he’s getting all kinds of crazy min and also starting as well- And still don’t understand why.

  • idahospur

    I think Pop watched Boston closely last year. Sheed was basically worthless during the regular season but showed up in the playoffs, playing a major role and helped the Celtics get to the Finals. If the current trend continues (which it will), Duncan will continue to be limited and will be here for a defensive presence. Duncan can then show up come playoffs.
    All I know is this team is winning but still has 3/4 of a season to go.

  • Araz

    titletown99030507,

    We’re 20-3, the best record in the NBA… chill.

  • jwalt

    I think the Splitter playing time is a lot less confusing than most of the bloggers are saying. Yes, Pop wants to develop him, but sees him right now as the 5th big. And against good teams, it’s tough to play 5 post players. Against weaker teams Pop plays him because they can win anyway. Now should Splitter be the 5th big? Or should he be ahead of Blair? Tough question, but my answer is yes. As others have said, the road to the finals will go thru LA, and we need someone with length (Splitter) to compete against the Lakers. Blair will give it his best but is no match against Gasol, Bynum and Odom.

  • ThatBigGuy

    @ idahospur

    Sheed was out of shape the entire regular season and finally played himself into game shape by the playoffs. He needed every min he could get in order to be effective come playoff time. Tim is the exact opposite. He came into this season is amazing shape, but is limited so that he’s rested for the playoffs. Besides, Pop’s been watching Manu and Tim’s regular season minutes for the last 3 seasons. It’s nothing new.

  • jwalt

    titletown — I agree with you regarding Blair. But to Blair’s credit, at least he has knocked off the dumb fouls that were hurting the team. Now if he would only learn to rebound with two hands I could really root for him.

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

    Holy shit, is it me or is titletown99030507 the bizarro version of Jim Henderson except lacking any kind of tact whatsoever? Dude, get off of Splitter’s nuts already!

    If you had any sense of what is going on in the hoops world, you would see the perils of having players who have spent the whole year competing, as is the case with Bryant and especially Gasol. Those guys look gassed and they are breaking down physically.

    Splitter has played all season in Europe (albeit, they have less games to play than here stateside) and the summer games as well, now he is about to embark upon an 82 game season after getting hurt in the pre-season! I am sure Pop knows a hell of a lot more than you do when it comes to “his” team!

    titletown99030507 you are like Tweak from South Park except that you root for the Spurs and not the teams in Colorado…chill the hell out!

    The Spurs are 20-3 and are absolutely running teams off the court with the frenetic pace they are playing at so far, be happy for that being the case instead of pissing and whining about how Splitter should this and Splitter should that…..Pop and the fellas in Silver n Black have done way better than ANYONE of us could have dreamed, so enjoy it.

  • td4life

    titletown–

    Dude. My statement was an expression of frustration. I have been clearly pro-Splitter on this blog.

    See my comments from
    December 11th, 2010 at 8:47 pm
    as but one recent example, which is a review of the play we have seen from Splitter so far, comments I made after defending him against trade scenarios.

    Read more: http://www.48minutesofhell.com/san-antonio-spurs-108-atlanta-hawks-92because-the-spurs-have-tony-parker-and-the-hawks-dont#ixzz180mXaWf5

    Guys spend a few games in the NBDL, it happens. Rules state that rookies can be sent down for two separate stints in the season. #2 overall pick Hasheem Thabeet spent a few games there last year. Terrance Williams just played two games there and averaged a triple double.

    Pop is not playing Tiago. Some speculate that he is being benched like Stephen Jackson was in his first year, and all the guys who struggled in year one. There are several examples of guys who performed well their first season for us. Derek Anderson and Roger Mason among them. Sure, Tiago is new to the NBA, but a few games in Austin would give him conditioning and familiarity with the NBA rules and Spurs systems. His time could overlap there with Quinn and Anderson, but this is not neccessary. Better yet, play him. Except that Pop is clearly not inclined to do that.

    Mac–

    Interesting post!

    All I have been asking for is 10mpg for Splitter alongside the kinds of units Blair gets to play with, to go with his other (garbage) minutes.

    If we struggle when Blair is in there among the starters in the first half of games, Tiago could just as easily be the “weak link” among our best players. Come playoff time, Blair will play his 3rd and 4th quarter minutes against reserve bigmen. Tiago is less likely to get post-allstar break development, because McD and TD will have to start playing together. As you pointed out, mac.

    Dallas and Boston have had much tougher schedules than SA, and have virtually the same record. We play LA and Dallas soon, and Tiago is not being readied for the assignment.

    (I also agree that Hill and McD are decidedly among our best 6 players and indispensable. Especially Hill. Too bad he can’t run the offense at all.)

    junierizzle
    +1

  • td4life

    jwalt–

    “Now should Splitter be the 5th big? Or should he be ahead of Blair? Tough question, but my answer is yes.”
    +1

    the situations in which Splitter is played as the “5th big” are EXACTLY the situations in which Blair would EXCELL.

    As for the reverse role, Tiago plays better D, and is a more efficient scorer. The team is not likely to do worse +/- versus their opponents’ best front units with Tiago getting more of those minutes (or any minutes) in the first half of games.

  • Flavor

    I just don’t like those sayings…. They’re cheesy… Drive for five? One for the thumb? Strive for 5? They all sound like nacho cheese… That’s all

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  • JustinFL

    Titletown it’s obvious to everyone here you are an undercover Spur hating Laker fan who is jealous and afraid for your team. And you should be. Every team should be afraid of these Spurs right now. Every game that comes up there are certain Spurs fans that say, “Oh this will be the test, or that will be the test.” It’s like we’re expecting them to fail. Put some faith in your team guys.
    We may not be playing perfect basketball, but we make adjusments during the game and win. That’s what great teams do.

    Thank you for your post SpursfanSteve. I like you am sick of complaining about Tiago. Everything with him will be fine.

    Fact: 1) When the Spurs signed Tiago, Pop said, “he hasn’t got his NBA body yet.”
    My opinion: Pop wasn’t blowing smoke he wants him to get bigger because he is going to bang around inside.

    Fact: 2) Splitter got hurt during presason.
    My opinion: Pop thinks his body is a little worn out from overextended play this year. On top of that, he doesn’t have his NBA body and that might have helped contribute to the injury as well. “(Maybe I need to ease him along slowly. Afterall, even with his great accomplishments, he is still a rookie in my intricate offense.)”
    Fact: 3) Tiago takes alot of charges.
    My opinion: Pop’s thinking, “(This guy plays like a maniac. I love it but if he keeps this up there will be another injury for sure.)”
    Fact: 4) Tiago is part of the future of the franchise.
    My opinion: We are winning without him playing many minutes. We don’t need him to do too much anyway right now. All he has to do is defend, rebound, and stay within the offense. He’s doing fine. He will have his role to play in May. I believe this has been good for his development. If the team had been struggling and not gotten off to such a great start, we may have been forced to rely too much on him, and that could have been detrimental.

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