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.”

  • SpursfanSteve

    great post JustinFL.

  • Bentley

    I’m not even going to begin to complain. Every team is gonna have their problems. But the Spurs are playing great, basketball.

    I dont think I’ve ever enjoyed Spurs basketball as much as I do now, the playoffs can wait until April and May, but I’m just really enjoying how well this team is playing

  • Dr. Who

    In regards to Tiago… I won’t list comments to reply to every single poster except I will call out JustinFL (because you had a great post!). But here is my main rant for Tiago.

    -First and foremost, it’s something to talk about. Aside from Tiago or Blair there is nothing else to talk about with this team since they are playing well and finding different ways to win. 50 plus posts of Go Spurs Go would be pretty darn boring. For the record I am a Tiago supporter.

    -Some agree that Tiago looks lost out there at times others do not. It’s isn’t the easiest thing to fit into a new system and make the transition to the NBA. Scola averaged about 10 and 7 his first year and that’s what I would expect for Splitter (keeping in mind they have very different skill sets). I wouldn’t be expecting numbers much more than that if he was given extended minutes. He’s a guy that bring intangibles outside the box score (at least that’s what it seems he is thusfar); easy put-backs, running the floor, changing shots in the paint, guarding face-up bigs (he’s got the lateral quickness for this not TD) and drawing charges.

    -I’m not sold on the whole difficulty of the system etc. He’s a cerebral player and has a very high basketball IQ. Fabs had one as well and I don’t recall him looking as lost ( granted he did have a familiar partner in crime with Manu on the floor for a 2 man game). Horry and Nazr picked it up rather well, plenty of others (DA, Mase, Fin, Kerr, Jax, Willis and Purdue) all looked great in year one. As an aside, Mase’ legendary meltdown was legendary only rivaled by the Terminator JJ and they both vanished into NBA obscurity. Can’t help but reminisce… :) As for Tiago, I’m thinking that his sporadic playing time is hampering progress more than this uber complex system. You can’t really get the hang of the system playing sporadic minutes with the second unit. Don’t pile on me yet, I’m not killing the Spurs brass over this…

    -I think a lot of the sporadic minutes have to do with the injury at the beginning of the season. The Spurs are winning so there is no need to re-injury a 7 footer in a very long season; especially since one of those bigs is the height of a SF, one of them is a situational stretch 4 with no post up game and the other 2 are great players but a bit long in the tooth thus the legs are being saved for the playoffs.. Plus the coaches see what the guy has in practice every day.

    -I think with Tiago the expectations were pretty high not only from fans but from Tiago as well. The lost part of his game is really in his post up and box out. The most glaring is in his post up game. Personally I think playing with second teamers and wanting to succeed is making him press and that is what’s really affecting his game. Not getting minutes will do that to you.

    -I’m not circling the wagons because Tiago isn’t getting minutes, I’m eager to see what he has and can bring to the table. Where is the ceiling for what we can expect of him. I am fully aware that we are off to the best start in franchise history and to upset the apple cart wouldn’t be all that wise at the moment. I’m thinking Tiago can and will be an integral piece to the puzzle; but he’s being held out for some reason. Mahimi was held out of games last year and had us scratching our heads at times, but he was held out of many more games and the terms “lost” and “out of control” personified Mahimi’s game much much more than Tiago’s. Mahimi wasn’t part of the Spurs future. It’s not the same situation with Tiago. While he looks a bit lost he isn’t out of control, he’s got a basketball IQ whereas Mahimi had nothing but raw physical ability.

    -I think Tiago settling down and running with the first teamers will help him find his game and not press so much. He wasn’t an offensive juggernaut in Europe but he did score with a decent post game that has yet to translate to the NBA. He’s trying too hard at this point, but the skills are there. I also think the injury has put him on the end of the sub list. Think about the injuries our other Euro stars have had and how it’s hampered their games. I doubt when Anderson comes back he’s getting 30 min a game as well. Tiago will be a slow work in progress throughout the season. He won’t be a shot blocking defensive stalwart in the middle which most people have wanted the Spurs to sign for years now. What he does have is quick enough feet and a smart enough brain to draw charges. In his short time here he’s shown an uncanny ability for that. He did the same in Europe. Only difference is that he’s getting the rookie treatment and some obvious charges are being called against him as blocking. NBA reffing stinks in that respect. We’re all getting tired of the Tiago/Blair talk. But then what else is there to talk about? Go Spurs Go… how boring is that. Now someone get on the trade mahcine and come up with some ridiculous trade proposal so we can all pile on!!!! What can we get for TP since George Hill is a great back-up PG :) :) :)

  • SpursfanSteve

    Dr Who

    Great post. I understand that logic, for the most part, but i see Blair being as big in the Spurs future as Splitter, so long as his knees hold up (and while I dont think he’ll be the next Duncan (or Barkley) in terms of production or longevity, I do think he’s going to be a lock for a double double average very soon.) For me, it is just as, if not more, important to get Blair used to playing against the best bigs in the league. Splitter is pretty well developed. He needs more size but at 26 hes not going to improve much in any way other than familiarity with the system. Blair is still young and brimming with potential.

    While they definitely arent the potent Pau/Bynum duo, Blair put up a 20/20 last year against what was one of the top defensive tandems in the league- Haywood/Dampier. And he didnt just put up a 20/20- he was absolutely unstoppable that game.

    So, while I agree that Splitter needs more minutes, I cant agree that it should be at the expense of Blair. Give him some of Tim’s or some of Mcdyess’s. But 2 or 3 years from now we need Blair to be at his peak. We need him to know how to work around being 6’7 against 7 footers. He’s got the potential, but, like Splitter, he needs time. Splitter’s biggest contributions are likely to come on the defensive end- I view Blair as his opposite.

  • SpursfanSteve

    and i would write more but its finals week and i havent started studying yet :-p

  • td4life

    Dr Who–

    +50

    Spursfansteve–

    We can all agree that Blair’s ceiling is something worth aiming for. The thing is, do you want to develop him at the expense of bettering the Spurs chances for #5 THIS SEASON? We all know that TD and McD will get the most important workload in that respect, but consider what mac pointed out in his comments…

    (1) TD and McD will get heavy minutes in the last 1/3 to 1/4 of the season. As mac pointed out, they haven’t played much together this season, and haven’t performed that great together when they have this year.

    (2) Blair is getting heavy minutes with the A-team in order to develop him during at least the first 1/4 of the season… will this continue for the first 1/2, first 2/3, or first 3/4 of the season? Blair is outstanding when playing with and against the second units.

    (3) SO… if Tiago is gonna get a shot at maximizing his value for this season’s playoff run, it will be in the middle 1/3 of the season. Or better the middle 2/4 of the season? Or worse, the twenty games between the all-star break and the stretch run (which is not likely as that will be a more difficult and competitive period to try to get him up to speed.)

    IF POP IS GONNA DEVELOP HIM FOR THIS SEASON’S RUN, THE WINDOW IS IN THESE NEXT 40 GAMES, OR WHAT YOU’VE SEEN IS BY-AND-LARGE WHAT YOU’LL GET.

  • http://www.sanantoniospurs.com SPURS FAN SINCE 89

    Title Town I totally agree with you. Very good points. All should be considered. When push comes to shove and we’re playing Boston, L.A. and even Dallas we would have wished we developed Splitter who we’ve been waiting for since 07. Our real tests come on December 28- L.A. December 30th-Dallas and January 5th- Boston. I don’t know if Pop is planning on going small all season, but Dyees’s knees aren’t any better than Timmy’s. So if you develop Splitter know then you could technically have a legitimate 3rd big.
    Yes Blair isn’t a center, and the Spurs haven’t had a real center since the Admiral retired. Also I don’t know if Pop has a plan for Splitter, but the way he makes it seem is that he won’t put Splitter in unless it’s a blowout game. I’m not sure if R.C. is planning on doing something by trade deadline but our bigs without Splitter don’t match up with L.A. or Boston. And yes that’s when we’ll need him most, in the playoffs. Period.
    BEAT L.A.

  • http://www.sanantoniospurs.com SPURS FAN SINCE 89

    We all saw how starting Bonner at center in the playoffs worked for us last year.

  • Ruel

    @td4life

    I kind of like and agree with you trying to send Splitter to NBDL but one thing that puzzled me? If Tiago Splitter really struggling early in the season and sending him to the NBDL would be a good benefit for him and to our Team but why our Coaching Staffs and Front Office hasn’t him yet unless there’s a reason and purpose through all this? He shown alot of good sign early this season for limited minutes and less actions and we all sees it? Sending him to the NBDL is a high risk even thou for good benefit for him and to our team and our Coaching Staffs and Front Office are aware of that for what if there’s something happen? He’s absolutely a different player compare to Ian and I have nothing against him. We all see and watch Tiago Splitter what he can do and capable of doing already and our Coaching Staffs and Front Office knows it but for right now? It’s all behind close door. Our Team so far are winning and doing an extra ordinary job to keep us rolling? Great Job for bring Tiago Splitter slowly but surely which will help him more time wise to recover and fully 100% healthy for the Quest to that 5th Championship Ring? Rushing him will not gonna help and do any good for our Team? Let Dejuan Blair gives more playing time early in the season with our first squad which he did very well of the jobs and helps him to grown and understand more the game so when he go back coming off the bench? We gonna have a new look Dejuan Blair coming off the bench and more different from last year and our coaching staffs won’t have to guess anymore what he can bring to the table? He will be more 10+ points consistent and possible double double that we can rely on a player coming off the bench once his name call. For Tiago Splitter before or after the All-Star break is perfect for him to insert to add an IQ player to our Team on the front line for the late push and might give and save some more minutes for Tim when we have and can give it to him? It’s always good to have that on our Team luxury to have Tim fresh on the play off games and see him again doing what he’s been doing best? Besides, inserting Tiago Splitter before or after the All-Star break doesn’t hurt at all? Having fresh and healthy Tiago Splitter? I can’t wait what more he can do? He might get alot of Rookie treatments once they opposing teams sees him starting in the front line with the first unit but they will get the Rookie treatments before end of the game that’s why I believe he stayed with the Team not sending him to the NBD_League and more of us believed that He holds the key even thou he’s not the type of player that we want him to be but it’s all better than nothing? Credits to our Coaching Staffs, Front Office, and Players for understanding, supports, and patients they have shown to him and I hope he will do the same? Over all it’s gonna be come into a one United San Antonio Spurs Team and We Are Not Trading Anybody!!! Win or Lose Keep Pounding The Rock San Antonio Spurs!!! Stay Humble and Believe!!!

  • ITGuy

    Go Spurs Go!!

  • titletown99030507

    @Araz, I hope your chilled when the important teams come rolling in. By then I wont give a shit.

  • titletown99030507

    @jwalt, AMEN to that!

  • TD = Best Ever

    @ titletown99030507

    McDyess will help vs Lakers or Boston

    He will gaurd the Pao or KG – While Tim gaurds Bynum and Perkins

    The 4 and 5 are basically interchangeable on Defense or Offense if you haven’t noticed, or watched any basketball for the last 10 years

  • titletown99030507

    @r.l.manuel, He’s no Barkley and no Center!

  • http://www.sanantoniospurs.com SPURS FAN SINCE 89

    On a positive note though, I do have to admit, Blair is only a couple of points and rebounds away from being a double-double machine; which is what we need him to be. I am happy to see how Hill (Indy G) and RJ and even Neal have stepped their games up. Also 2 thumbs up to Chip Engelland for getting everyone to shoot better freethrows, and right now he is working with Splitter. Our defense and rebounding is coming around. Our 3-point shooting is great. We have alot of weapons and we still don’t even have Anderson back yet, and don’t have the full potential from Splitter yet either. Imagine having those 2 also in the “mix”.
    I’m not sure exactly how we can get the best use out of Udoka, but I know the Spurs picked him up for his defense. If he could get that corner 3 down he could really be a great asset to us off the bench especially in the playoffs when it really counts. And with Splitter I think Pop knows what he’s doing with him. (I hope)
    BEAT L.A.

  • Hobson13

    Why the constant bitching about whether or not Tiago plays x number of minutes? We are 20-3 with our biggest offseason acquisition not yet performing. Those who wish to see more of Splitter will see him over the next 59 regular season games. God knows we have plenty of games left to see what Splitter is all about. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

  • http://www.sanantoniospurs.com SPURS FAN SINCE 89

    Spurs 2010-2011 REFUSE TO LOSE!!!

  • titletown99030507

    @AlixBabie, Dude you don’t know shit! Bet I’ve been around Basketball and the Spurs longerthan you have.

  • titletown99030507

    @alexbabie, They’re running shitty teams off the court dude. And by the way you sound watching South Park you’ve said it all. No need to talk to you anymore.

  • TD = Best Ever

    Let me SAY it AGAIN – I am a TIM DUCAN needs his 5th ring to finally be mentioned among the BEST EVER FAN……… PERIOD………

    So I don’t Care if it Splitter, Blair, Randolph or who ever the 3rd BIG is to get us over the hump……….. I JUST WANT TO GET OVER THE HUMP…………

    Splitter has been a little disappointing this year (Not because they don’t pass him the ball) mainly because he doesn’t rebound as well as I would like for him to. Blair never got the ball last year but got points off of hustle and throwing he weight around. Tiago needs to take a lesson from Blair and just go CRAZY on someone.

    He will learn the offense and defense in time – but no one should have to tell him how to hustle and make things happen

  • rob

    Hobson13

    Great post. Agreed on the sitting back and enjoying. It’s obvious the team is doing great and it really doesn’t matter which side of the fence one is on regarding Tiago. The team is winning people.

    It’s a good thing that… at this time… the team doesn’t need Tiago or Anderson. Heck man…let that hunger build up inside like a caged animal waiting to pounce once the gates are open.

  • Dr. Leonard McCoy

    Damnit Jim! I’m a basket ball Spurs fan, not some damn psycologist who can diagnose what’s wrong with Blair & Spitter! OK. All jokes asside. JustinFL & Dr. Who (the psycologist) have hit the Blair & Spitter issue on the nailhead! Now, I was able to review the Spurs/Hornets game from last week… yes! Last week, & I was hearing coments from “Ninja” that the second unit which also had Blair playing with them, were not “clicking & communicating” as if they had not played together. Watching the game, one could pick that up. I belive you had Quinn, Neal, Udoka, Blair & Spitter on the floor for garbage minutes in most of the 4th quarter. One could see that the “chemistry” just wasn’t quite there with this squad. Do they not play or practice together? Hmmm! What about in various practice situations? One would think that they would mix it up, but perhaps these guys work on plays for the next game(s)? Who knows, but any who, I just thought that comment & observation was VERY intresting. Granted most of these guys are 1st & 2nd year players on this team, & there REALLY wasn’t , in my opinion, a true veteran or leader out there who could take charge of the game. But remember Spurs fans, we are a quarter into the season & we have grafted some key players into key positions, ala Blair, Spitter, Neal & Quinn, yet, we have our vets who are really doing well, & the team is doing great, beyond what was expected at the start of the season. Granted, we have miles to go before we sleep, especially playing proven teams such as the Lakers, Mavs (again), the “C’s,” the back-to-back games this week with the “Deer” & the Nuggets (oh my!), & lest we forget the great “Rodeo Trip looming ahead!” These things will test & gage the Spurs & help this team to build their chemistry, defense & over all confidence. I also believe that if we can maintain Timmy’s , Manu’s & “Dyess’”minutes to at least 20 to 25 minutes a game, that may go a LONG way. I believe this is Pop’s stratagy plan. So Spurs fans, we have the best record in the league right now due to good coaching, defense(finally!) & the offense isn’t that bad either. This is a veteran team whose core HAS won championships. So, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! They just need to learn from their mistakes & make adjustments & keep learning, growing & stay hungry & focused. I believe both Blair & Splitter WILL come around, & Spitter WILL get his minutes as time goes on. I hate to say this, but we have to trust the “brain-trust” in knowing what they are doing, besides, that’s why they pay them the BIG BUCKS. Ooooh Scary! faith, Faith, FAITH!!!Let’s get that ONE FOR THA THUMB! GO SPURS GO!!!

  • titletown99030507

    @TD = Best Ever, Uh yeah Ive been here for the Tim Duncan era and I know they call him the best
    PF of all time but they have him playing Center at times switch in an out with those positions depending on the situation. I’ve watched a lot games too. Are you good with Blair starting and playing center against the Lakers. Not me. I’d like to see him coming off the bench using that energy and long arms for rebounds but not to defend the basket. It’s all I’m saying.

  • titletown99030507

    @Hobson13, I’m good with that.

  • TD = Best Ever

    I really think Pop has soured on Splitter or something…… Because as we all have said ” If POP can play Blair and let the other 4 guys carry him – then why not Splitter”

  • td4life

    Hobson13–

    “Those who wish to see more of Splitter will see him over the next 59 regular season games. God knows we have plenty of games left to see what Splitter is all about.”

    Not when he’s not getting consistent minutes, even against weaker teams. The Spurs are struggling in the first half of games, thanks in some part to Blair. Points differential also takes a hit when Tiago is in the game with guys who don’t utilize him, and guys who are weak defensively such as Bonner and Neal. Blair would do just as good or better in those stints next to Bonner. Worse D perhaps, but better rebounding. Admittedly, tiago needs to work on his fouls, regardless.

    Tiago should be playing with McD, TD, and in with the best small ball units, in order to maximize his development and team chemistry for playing against elite players. We are talking about a regular 10mpg to get these guys acclimated to each other. Splitter can be a part of an effective offense, and a disruptive defense versus anybody.

    I was in favor of starting Blair to start the season, but it’s nearing time to start tinkering with the rotations a little bit.

    IF POP IS GONNA DEVELOP TIAGO FOR THIS SEASON’S PLAYOFF RUN, THE WINDOW IS IN THESE NEXT 40 GAMES, or what you’ve seen from the bench so far is by-and-large what you can expect from him down the stretch.

  • titletown99030507

    @TD = Best Ever, Good point and and as td4life has pointed out the coming games (hopefully the next 30-40 games) if we don’t see any development out of Tiago than its adios for him this year. But for what its worth in a few games I saw Tiago and Bonner in at the same time they looked pretty good. Both going at it for rebounds and hustling down the court and defending the basket. To me I see a more aggressive Bonner this season. Could it have been the signing of Splitter? Either way its helped him.

  • rob

    Oh Lord. Peace everybody. It’s all all right. Don’t take the miniscule things and try to make it a big deal.

    So what. Tiago isn’t getting the minutes some are thinking he needs to develop. A little article that was written at the time the Spurs finally came to terms this summer with Splitter.

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

    And if you do some investigative research on your own…you’ll find some recent things about Thabeet…drafted much higher than Tiago.

    Point is…even if Tiago were not to become an integeral or (to some… saviour sans Duncan) part of this team of the future…it wouldn’t be the first (or last) time a highly anticipated draft choice some how just couldn’t perform up to fan based expectation.

    Which I highly doubt will happen unless Splitter is truly just a one demensional player.

    And guilty as charged from my own responses of the past. But I’ve decided that it is out of my hands and left it up to those that should know best how to handle the situation.

    I looked forward to Splitter becoming a force for the Spurs. But have relegated myself to accepting he just might not be anything other than a standard serviceable big in this league.

  • al

    in my opinion the spurs should make a deadly move by the deadline…I.e. the same type of move the lakers did to acquire gasol…but a deadly move that suits the spurs…
    I think we could use even more scoring punch…even though the spurs are scoring at a good clip but u can never have enough fire power ever…
    ive noticed through the years spurs and pistons made successful trades…why not try and pry away either tayshaun prince or rip hamilton away from the struggling and rebuilding pistons or even both…….
    think about it.. dyess would reunite with his old mates and who knows bring out more in him…im just saying I think hamilton could very much excell now in the system as would prince…and bring manu back off the bench with rj and blair and hill…..
    maybe a pipe dream or a 5th ring……all im saying we need to acquire those guys somehow and worry about the luxury tax later….
    tim duncan has provided 4 rings as the man…we need to bring in the championship help needed to solidify his 5th to show him how huge he has been all these years and most of all CONSISTENT!! go spurs muthaeffin go lol!

  • Hobson13

    td4life
    December 13th, 2010 at 6:26 pm
    “Not when he’s not getting consistent minutes, even against weaker teams.”

    I agree that he hasn’t played the number of minutes I would have liked. However, there’s plenty of season left. Splitter will need some time to adjust to the NBA, but he’s played professional ball in many different leagues under many different rules. It will take a bit of time, but he should be able to adjust just fine. Your statement is assuming that Pop will keep the same rotation for the entire season. This IMO is assuming much since we still have almost 3/4 of the season left. Pop will get Splitter in there, but there’s no reason to force the issue this early. Besides, I’m sure Pop understands the situation better than any of us. So far, his roster moves have worked out pretty well so far this year.

    “IF POP IS GONNA DEVELOP TIAGO FOR THIS SEASON’S PLAYOFF RUN, THE WINDOW IS IN THESE NEXT 40 GAMES”

    We have 59 regular season games left. Why are you so convinced the maturation of Splitter MUST take place over the next 40 games? There’s no reason Tiago can’t be learning/adjusting to the team up until the very last game of the regular season. This arbitrary 40 game limit doesn’t make any sense to me.

  • LPspursFan

    i’m joining this discussion so late, but after reading all the posts and watching every game from this season at least twice (yes, I watch ‘em live, dvr and then rewatch) i’ve reachedd this conclusion concerning Tiago: Pop has seen enough to know what he has in Tiago and just does not want him to get any kind of stress injury that would put him out for the year. Tiago played the euro season as well as the world championships. He has played stretches this season and Pop has seen him score 18 points and play position d. Tiago’s potential may be unknown to most, but I believe Pop’s trained eye has seen enough to know what he has and to understand how Tiago will help this team in the playoffs. So, Tiago will continue to play sporadically, stay rested and free from any major, stress-related=type injury and, as the playoffs draw closer, he will get more playing time. You can’t tell me that someone who has played professionally (in europe or wherever) for as many years as Tiago has can’t get in rhythm in the last 15-20 games of the season in order to be an asset come playoff time. That’s my gum and i’m sticking to it.

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

    Like I said, Titletown, you blather incoherently and rant, rave and rag on people who are entitled to their opinions on this blog, much like Jim used to do, everyone who is not like minded to your thoughts (dual oxymoron right there) is a fool in your eyes.

    The Spurs are 20-3 and last I checked they beat Orlando, OKC, Portland and Utah. Yeah, bunch of also rans.

    If the way you are looking at the season so far, Blair as a Spur, etc. makes you a so called “expert”, then yes you are a true sage of hoops.

    Dumbass.

  • LPspursFan

    Alix,

    LOLOL! Thanks, I needed a good laugh this morning!

  • td4life

    Hobson & LP–

    Alright, fine. I’ll concede the issue momentarily. My “arbitrary” 40 game window is the next two quarters of the season, a time period that (based in part by mac’s post above) Tiago should get a bigger role in the rotation in order to help him learn the systems and the NBA game. And in order to help him build familiarity with the key playoff rotational players. All seem to agree that these are three key areas. All seem to understand how important chemistry is to the Spurs’ success (and any team, ftm). So inserting him into the lineup at the last minute is not the greatest formula for success.

    Does that really seem arbitrary and nonsensical to you, Hobson13?

    Pop talked about how missing training camp was a setback… this current homestretch is no substitute, but it might be the next best thing when it comes to practice time, with time in Austin a distant and unlikely alternate option.

    Sure, my posts are based somewhat on his promise coming in, with his size and success. But are based largely on what he has shown since being here, along with the 3 reasons I just mentioned in the first paragraph, including the understanding that playing time with Quinn and Ime is not the best way to prepare him for a playoff role. I’ll take those minutes, but would like some steady minutes with the key personnel.

    I would still like to see some of this come steadily along, as I think a 3rd of the way into the season (28 games, and 8 weeks) is plenty of rest for the big guy (and the first half, 41 games and almost 12 weeks, is more than enough). And so I will be looking for the PT and the rotations. Plenty of regular season #1 seeds lose in the playoffs, so I like the current success but am not complacent, especially concerning the frontcourt.

    But, I’ll concede the issue to that fellow known round here as “Pop.” How big of me, right?

  • spurs germany

    @titletown99030507

    you are suppose to write down in the Lakers forum
    about your team the Lakers!!!

    God Bless You all

  • spursfanbayarea

    Here is a trade proposal that wouldn’t require us giving up any of our players and bringing in a big man who can defend in short term. We could trade the exceptions from ratliff and jerrells for Kurt Thomas. Thomas knows the system. Doesn’t need a lot of playing time and can play good solid defense on players bigger than him. What does everyone think?

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

    I find it interesting that us Spurs fans are so concerned with finding more size for the postseason. For sure, LA/Bos/Dal has far too much size for us to handle. Well, do they have the speed and perimeter defense to handle us? Shouldn’t all of those teams be desperate to find some perimeter D to handle all of our penetration and 3 pt shooting? The Spurs do lead the league in 3 pt shooting and have the best record in the league.

    Just food for thought.

  • spursfanbayarea

    @Len
    The top ten three point shooting teams of all time only one of those teams won a title. The chicago bulls and they had a guy by the name of jordan. All other members of the top 3 point teams did not win the championship. And outside of the bulls, none made it to the finals. If you live by the three you also die by the three. Im very excited about this team. I agree that we have an amazing team. I think we are going to win the title. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t consider adding another piece to help out. Another thing to remember is that playoff basketball is much different than regular season. You are playing against a team at least 4 times. Teams find ways to take things away. Also the playoffs are a more physical game. Thats why rebounding translates very well into the post season. You do not have to look to far back to when the suns were the run and gun and we were the team with size that slowed them down and beat them in the playoffs. Just saying that it can’t hurt to have available big men. The main teams to worry about all have multiple big men.

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

    I hear what you’re saying man, loud and clear. But, it’s not like we don’t have a solid defense. It’s not like we don’t have the GPFOAT. We go 5 deep with bigs. It’s a solid front court. It’s just not our strength.

    I would much rather play to our strengths rather than go find Thomas. Isn’t this the guy that we lost with already? Isn’t that the guy that we abused when he was with the Suns? I’m not saying he isn’t a servicable big. I am saying that I like our bigs better and he certainly isn’t a difference maker.

    Look, this Spurs team wasn’t supposed to be this good. By any stretch, by anybody outside of the most diehard fans. Why mess with what’s working? Look, if LA and Bos and Denver and Dallas push us around the next month, than by all means look around. But, changing up a team that is overachieving by leaps and bounds, that has the best record in the league, without any visible evidence is crazy in my book.

  • http://espn.com texas j

    i do believe the mavs have the perimeter “d” to slow us down and i do believe believe the mavs have a better lot of bigs atm imho. right now i dont think the lakers are the team to beat. i think its the mavs.

  • ThatBigGuy

    @ len

    You can’t combine trade exceptions. So the Thomas trade you suggest can’t happen.

    @ spursfanbayarea

    Don’t forget that our league leading 3 point shooting is also balanced by being 6th in the league in free throws made, which means our guards are driving to the basket. It would be one thing if we were the ’08-’09 Magic who just launched 3′s, but we’re not. Parker, Ginobili, and Hill all get into the paint at will.

  • DieHardSpur

    @Len

    “But, changing up a team that is overachieving by leaps and bounds,”

    I completely disagree with this statement. The only personon this team that is over achieving is Matt Bonner. Everyone else is either at their career average or slightly better, but not “overachieving.” Manu is having a better ppg year, but his shooting averages are all the same, he is just taking more shots.

    Blair and Hill have been underachieving all year, although they have turned it on the last few games. RJ is playing the way he should (the way we hoped he would play last year). Timmy, Manu, Tony, McDyess = all career lows in minutes played. Splitter has yet to be integrated, and Anderson is hurt… and we are “overachieving by leaps and bounds???”

    You and I are watching two different teams apparently…

    P.S. – In retrospect, I do agree with most of t he rest of your post.

  • ThatBigGuy

    Sorry len, I meant all that to be @ SFBA.

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

    Diehardspur,

    You think I am talking about individual scoring/rebounding/assist averages? Not at all man.

    I am talking about TEAM WINS. And this team is overachieving by leaps and bounds. Nobody predicted the team would be 20-3 at this point, nobody.

  • TD = Best Ever

    @ Len

    We are not overachieving………. NOT AT ALL…………
    WE have a top 5 talented team and 1 of the best to EVER lace em up still playing tough D inside.

    ALL this team lacks is that extra BIG to get us over the hump and grind of the regular season………… In the playoffs – We can lean more heavily on DUNCAN and DICE………. and play the type of SPURS D that we are used to seeing…….

    SO ya I agree we can never be too satisfied with regular season success – Its either championship or bust. And with at least 4 others teams out there as talented as us…….any advantage we can get – WE NEED!

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

    As far as the Spurs being a 3 pt shooting team now…

    Someone please tell me the last time a Popovich coached team WASN’T a 3pt shooting team? Pop always tries to control the 3pt line. Even in Tim’s heyday, the Spurs were a 3pt shooting team.

    Last season it might have looked like we weren’t a 3pt shooting team but that was because Mason, Bogans and RJ didn’t perform.

    Pop ALWAYS tries to control the 3 ball.

    I understand that the “top” 3 pt shooting team rarely wins the championship. But, that is somewhat of a statistical anomaly. That’s because there’s almost always a team that relies on the 3ball and not much else, i.e. Suns, Warriors, etc..

    Don’t misunderstand that we are “suddenly” a 3 pt shooting team. The Spurs have been a 3pt shooting team for most of the last 15 years. The Spurs just do it in conjunction with defense.

  • Ruel

    @Len

    I’m sorry I have to agree with “Spursfanbayarea” and “DiehardSpur”. I don’t have nothing against you and I’m not saying that I am right and you are wrong but good scouting thou. You have a good point about our Team 3pt shooting for those years and we still have 3pt shooting this year which translated to our team early success. Given us joy and reason to believe to hunt for that 5th Championship Ring. It’s possible and I believe on our San Antonio Spurs Team. Our Team also have known for Big Front Line Defense through all those years and bear us 4 Championship Rings and lots of great moments and memories. Defense is the “ROCK” on our team which is hard to find now a days. Many teams have been playing a high up tempo run and gun game through all those days and yes most of them are successful early in the Season but none of them gone far in the Finals? One good example the Suns and we beat them many times and force them to shoot outside but last year they run us over because we don’t have the defensive front line presence. I’m not worry about the teams on our division? Boston is the Team that we need to be alert and keep an eye on them? They are almost similar to our team San Antonio Spurs. Yes, Boston are old but playing an old school basketball? They are playing Defense and Half Court Offense? They are old and veteran team and they’re not gonna let other teams try to run them over by up tempo run and gun games? It’s not gonna be easy to fool them by that theory? They know their strength and always rely on their front line defense? They don’t need to be a shot blocking Team but good enough to intimidate the opposing teams to changed their shot or force to kick the ball outside? The same Tiago Splitter? He don’t need to be a shot blocker but his IQ, size, and exceptional defense he shown early this season is a good reason to intimidate the opposing teams to change their shot or kick the ball outside and let other people to make plays? Besides, Tiago Splitter has a post game and up front to the basket that needs to develop by time means to be comfortable with the system and without getting himself hurt on the floor. If we ever meet this Boston Celtic Team this season for NBA Championship Finals? We needs to play a one United San Antonio Team the whole 48 minutes and contain their bigs/front line out of the basket and beat them on the boards!!! Win or Lose Keep Pounding The Rock San Antonio Spurs!!! Stay Positive, Humble, and Believe!!!

  • Ruel

    Defense our Team San Antonio Spurs Foundation!!! Defense always bring us back to those Glorious Days and bear us 4 Championship Ring!!! Great Job to our Coaching Staffs and Front Office don’t stop and keep preaching that Defense wether we’re up or down by 50 and our players understand and doing an extra ordinary job and handling it well and getting the job done. Keep up the Good Work and Stay Healthy!!!

  • LPspursFan

    Defense isn’t just shot blocking. It’s ball pressure, positioning, knowing the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses (like the rest of the NBA still doesn’t know Manu is left-handed and goes left more often than not) and it’s more than anything else – at least in Pop’s system – knowing rotations and covering for your teammate.
    Sure, it’s great that we’ve been hitting 3s and running the ball and scoring in the 100s and beating teams by 15 points. But this is a team still coached by Pop, right? We’re seeing better defense played by the guys, like holding Portland to <40% shooting. Granted, Portland had an injured Roy, but make no mistake, the defense is coming back around. And it's team defense. And our offense is not a live-by-the-3 concept, but an offense that has the 3-ball as a viable option, but also has guards that can play the mid-range game and get to the basket.
    I think the biggest difference in Dallas over the last 2-3 years is their commitment to defense, and I agree with texasj, I think the Mavs are the team to beat. But I think we can beat them as we are currently put together.
    I mean, who are Dallas' bigs? Chandler, Haywood, Mahinmi, (centers) and Brian Cardinal and Dirk (power forwards). I mean, the biggest threat to us in last year's playoffs was Rodrigue Beaubois and his penetration.
    I think I'm rambling now, but I'm trying to say that I think our record is no fluke and that Pop and RC have put together a solid team, that has yet to fully integrate Tiago and still has the offense and defense of 6-foot, 6-inch rookie James Anderson coming back in the 2nd half of the season.
    I look forward to the regular season challenges of playing Boston, LA, Miami and the next 3 with the Mavs. I don't think we'll sweep them; I don't think they'll sweep us. I think we'll know more where we are at after those games, but, like I said, I'm pretty happy with where we are right now.

  • al

    see my post the other day proves me right the spurs need to acquire rip hamilton and tayshuan prince…..maybe for draft picks or rights but no assets…
    did u see the way those two guys played last night?..they are playing as if they are trying to lure another team into taking them…and that should be the SPURS!!!!!!
    seriously, when does rip go for almost 30 in a half when they have nothing to play for…there will be no playoff life for the pistons this year and we all know it….
    IM NOT CLAIMING TO BE A PROPHET! but back in 05 after the spurs beat the pistons in the finals that same day after the game I told a few buddies of mine who were hating that we won might I add…that in order for us to stay a championship team we need to get two specific guys for the up and coming season…
    mind u that I called out robert horry the season prior in 04 but that’s another story…
    but I told my buddies that we needed to get michael finley from dallas and nick van exel from portland…they laughed in my face hysterically…and said we will give u van exel but finley from dallas??? I said yes….they said why in the hell would dallas give the spurs of all teams mike finley??? and I said cause I know wat im talking about…i know wat teams want and I know wat this spurs team needs….
    this spurs team need just an ounce more of scoring punch and defense at multiple positions, I.e. scoring punch = rip hamilton..multiple position defense =tayshuan prince…….
    I just hope someone from the front office could get THIS trade threw cause it could put doom in a lot of teams hearts…..
    INCLUDING THE LAKERS…….