San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks revisited: A blueprint in black and silver

by

The greatest seventh seed in NBA history? Not exactly a compliment in the eyes of Tim Duncan. Certainly the San Antonio Spurs are the first seventh seed to eliminate a second seed since the NBA Playoffs switched formats to a first round best-of-seven series. But Duncan and the rest of the world will have to be forgiven if the moment hardly seems historical, or surprising.

This season’s incarnation of the San Antonio Spurs garnered its fair share of doubts, and at times deservedly so, but no matter the seed they were labeled with, the Spurs advanced to the second round against the Phoenix Suns because their identity remains largely the same: the principles and system of head coach Gregg Popovich executed at the highest levels first and foremost by the trio of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

For all the talk generated about the Dallas Mavericks’ new identity, it was the San Antonio Spurs that reclaimed theirs. For all the words dedicated to the Mavericks’ superior depth–and the Spurs getting lost in the NBA’s arms race–it was Gregg Popovich’s players that were simply the more talented team.

Proliferation Pontificated: Duncan, Ginobili and Parker as the first “Superpower”

It has been two seasons since the San Antonio Spurs last won an NBA championship, not coincidentally, it also marked the last time Manu Ginobili and the Big Three were healthy. Since that time the NBA has seen a proliferation of arms and with all the big names that changed addresses, starting with Pau Gasol, it’s easy to forget that it was the rest of the NBA that was trying to catch up to the Spurs.

Dirk Nowitzki is a franchise player and was absolutely brilliant in this series. Unfortunately, and perhaps unfairly, he will receive his fair share of criticism for failing to advance despite being surrounded by what was perhaps his best supporting cast yet. But what is the Mavericks depth? Dirk Nowitzki is a franchise player but after him there is a precipitous drop in talent, which plateaus at a wealth of  above average talent spread throughout the roster. And even a wealth of above average talent is merely above average talent.

Who are the Maverick’s best three players? Who flanks Dirk Nowitzki? Jason Kidd is a future Hall of Fame player. Despite remaining a nightly triple-double threat, in an odd contradiction with what triple-doubles represent, Kidd is currently a one-dimensional player: brilliant in the open court, merely adequate or average at everything else.

After that, do you go with Jason Terry or Caron Butler? Players who made great sixth men and peaked as borderline All-Star players? Each currently excel at hitting contested, difficult pull-up jumpers and on good nights even a little more. Nice pieces to be sure, and the following point is made not to belittle their accomplishments, but…

Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are out of their league. Parker has established himself as one of the top five point guards in the NBA and peaked recently as an All-NBA player. Even in a reduced role, returning from his diminished state, Parker has shown he can still be capable of All-Star quality play.

In terms of impact and importance, Manu Ginobili is every bit the equivalent of Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki. Currently there are maybe three to five players who are elite closers in this league, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant being the obvious first two choices. But since March, it’s been hard to make a case for anyone over Manu Ginobili.

Schemes certainly play a role, but generally when a team has the best three players on the court it wins a seven game series. But if the Spurs are that talented, how do they consistently fly under the radar?

Gregg Popovich: Pounding the Rock and peaking at the right time

The San Antonio Spurs raising their game in the playoffs is a misnomer. The only magical switch at Gregg Popovich’s disposal is unleashing his final playoff rotation, removing all minute restraints and ensuring only his best players find time on the court.

Tim Duncan’s all-around brilliance is not necessarily heightened for the playoffs, it’s merely extended for longer minutes. Because Popovich, more than any other coach, caps the minutes of his best players, once the playoffs hit, there is no team that has a larger potential leap in performance than the Spurs.

Duncan and emerging star George Hill have seen the greatest increase in minutes, with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili holding serve. While the extra three to six additional minutes each player accumulates might not seem significant, it’s enough to keep the Spurs lesser players and harmful lineups off the court.

In comparison, the Dallas Mavericks play both Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd over 35 minutes a game in the regular season. So by the time the Playoffs come around, the Mavericks have not only already peaked long ago, but given Kidd’s age (and the lack of minutes for Rodrigue Beaubois) the extended regular season minutes may also mean diminishing returns.

To be fair, there are only three coaches in the NBA that enjoy enough job security to get away with something like that–Phil Jackson, Jerry Sloan and Gregg Popovich. Faced with the slowest start of the Tim Duncan era, Popovich received his fair share of criticism across message boards. But he’d also be the first person to tell you, should he ever bother to even read such things, that he doesn’t care.

Everything done through the regular season is done in preparation for a championship run, record be damned. As nice as it would have been to give Ian Mahinmi and Malik Hairston more developmental minutes, it was far more important to get Antonio McDyess and Richard Jefferson acclimated with the system because neither of the younger players were going to help you win a championship this year.

Antonio McDyess and Jefferson, with McDyess in particular, were quietly huge in the Spurs victory–something that doesn’t happen if they are still thinking their way through the San Antonio Spurs schemes. And those 20 minutes games Keith Bogans and Roger Mason logged over Hairston? Bogans might not be Bruce Bowen, but those 20 minute outings were great preparation for the brief cameos he made in the series, offering slightly better defense than Hairston without the inexperienced mistakes.

If the regular season is Gregg Popovich’s laboratory, a place to experiment and tinker with all his options, the NBA playoffs are his science fair and the Larry O’Brien Trophy his Nobel Prize.

George Hill as Element X: The versatility and flexibility of the San Antonio Spurs

While it is true the Dallas Mavericks have a lot of depth, much of it is redundant. In Eric Dampier and Brendan Haywood, the Mavericks go from a defensive center whose offense the Spurs don’t really have to respect to….a defensive center whose offensive game they did not really respect. For the series Butler and Terry created a plethora of pull-up jump shots but did not always get to the rim, which is sort of Dirk Nowitzki’s gig. Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion? Keep them out of transition and off the three-point line and they were essentially useless on offense.

Meanwhile, George Hill is becoming the San Antonio Spurs swiss army knife. As a defensive player, Hill is Gregg Popovich’s utility player. On offense, his ability to knock down shots on the move or in the corner fits as an additional puzzle piece as opposed to offering more of the same.

Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess fill out the starting lineup as solid glue guys, and Matt Bonner and DeJuan Blair offering vastly different skill sets of the bench.

But more than anything, it’s the diversity of Duncan, Ginobili and Parker together that delivered the death blow to the Mavericks. There is no one specific thing you can take away from any of the players, nor style you can force that will render each completely ineffective.

Even in the San Antonio Spurs Game 4 victory over the Mavericks, in which the big three had subpar games, it was the attention each drew that paved the way for George Hill to find his open three-pointers and their defense that made it possible.

The San Antonio Spurs concede that even the best defenses cannot take everything away, they simply limit options–often preferring to give up contested pull-up jump shots. In 2006, the overall Mavericks team might now have been as good overall, but it had multiple ways to attack: speed (Devin Harris), versatile scoring (Terry, Jerry Stackhouse), defense (Dampier, Diop), and, of course, Dirk Nowitzki.

Respect and retooling for the Dallas Mavericks

Despite the Spurs advantages and victory, there is a reason Gregg Popovich would prefer not to play this team again. Dirk Nowitzki is not merely a matchup problem for the San Antonio Spurs, he’s a nightmare for the entire NBA.

And while the sweet-shooting German could use more help–and thanks to some valuable non-gauranteed contracts and assets, it’s on its way–the surrounding Mavericks are good enough to keep the team in the game long enough for his greatness to win games. Which is how a team with their relatively disappointing point differential was able to obtain a second seed in the first place.

Given a summer to reflect and spend Mark Cuban’s money, the Dallas Mavericks playoffs might have ended, but the rivalry is far from over.


  • NL

    Nice piece. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if Dallas somehow landed Bosh. One of more common critiques I keep reading and hearing is the team’s lack of an inside presence.

  • BALLHOG

    Unbelieveable…

    @ Jim Henderson

    Jim, did you write this piece? The below listed section of this hillarious pice is what gave you away Jim…

    “And those 20 minutes games Keith Bogans and Roger Mason logged over Hairston? Bogans might not be Bruce Bowen, but those 20 minute outings were great preparation for the brief cameos he made in the series, offering slightly better defense than Hairston without the inexperienced mistakes”.

    This article was better than watching the Best of Sienfeld. Hillarious piece…..

    Pop must have paid this guys rent for May 2010…

  • Adam

    For fun, check out Hollinger’s current PER ratings. Dead last? Mason & Bogans.

    http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/hollinger/statistics/_/page/3/seasontype/3

  • Beat Counselor

    Not only was this the first time a 7th seed beat a 2 seed, but its the first time in 40 1st round series-es that the lower seed, who ALSO lost the season series (Spurs were 1-3 against Mavs-with Spurs resting their starters the last matchup of the season) beat the higher seed.

    Nice.

    Pop did a great balancing act to get this team where they are now (despite BALLHOG’s pessimistic, repetative, tired rants). It will be of utmost importance that the Spurs do not let any series go to 7 games; not only because we would not have home-court, but because even if we were to win a game 7, this is a team that HAS to have the rest afforded to them from finishing their series-es early.

    Go Spurs Go!

  • Renato

    I disagree with this articles statements. How is it ok for us to take our 3rd leading scorer from a season ago and just not play him. Mason Jr was our best three point shooter and on a team where that was lacking for a larger portion of the year where that was lacking, that is not good coaching.

  • agutierrez

    Taking nothing away from Pop (his record speaks for itself), we should understand that the “magic” coming together that occurred close to the end of the season was as much about luck than anything else. TP’s broken hand dictated a radical change in rotations. Manu’s leadership on and off the court solidified the Spurs’ rotations and identity. His leadership in holding everyone accountable was palpable. I’ve watched almost every game during his time with the Spurs. I’ve never seen him take over, shout at his team mates, get pissed with them, tell them what to do and demand better.

    For those of us who called for more playing time during the season for Ian, Hairston and others, there is no contradiction with that and also seeing what Bogans, Mason and others brought to the table. There was plenty of time for both to happen and I remain convinced that such would have paid dividends. Example: I was flabbergasted that Pop did not come out in the third quarter of Game 6 with a plan to go right at Dirk. He had four fouls and such a strategy made sense in that he could not afford to play much defense or he would pick up his fifth and it would be game over. We didn’t do that. Part of that was because Dyce is really not a low-post offensive player, neither is Bonner. The “solution” would have been to play Ian (and also perhaps Blair). He’s shown a pretty damn good and aggressive low-post game. The Mavs would either have had to switch Dirk on TD, where Timmy would have abused him, or suffer the consequences of Ian going to the rim every time down the floor. On defense, we could have switched Ian on either Dampier or Haywood, neither an offensive threat, and put TD on Dirk, as Timmy had no foul problems. I assume Pop did neither because he hadn’t seen enough of Ian in game situations. It could have cost us, but for the play of our Big Four Plus One.
    On Jason Kidd. To me he’s an enigma. Virtually every commentator, guys who have forgotten more about basketball than I’ll ever know, tag him as a future HOFer and one of the best point guards of all time. But for me I have always thought of him as simply “not a winner.” Unlike someone like Manu, he simply seems incapable of recognizing when the moment (maybe a better word is necessity) for greatness appears and seizing it. Kidd seems to shrink during such moments. The Spurs have three guys, TD, Manu and Tony (and George is getting there fast), who recognize when the team is in danger and step up. As much as anything else, I think for them it is a lack of fear … of failing. When the game is on the line and you step in and try and right the ship, there’s also the chance that you’ll screw up, not make the shot or the play. At various times in the Mavs series, each of the Big Three stepped in and saved our bacon, as did Hill. I never saw Kidd do that for the Mavs. In fact, I’ve never seem him do that with any team he’s ever played for. So as great as he may be statistics-wise, I’ll take our four over him at any time.

  • pastrypride

    Renato,
    I think Mason Jr. forced Pop’s hand. Mason’s main contribution is 3-point shooting. He hasn’t been able to hit those at a high enough rate to earn serious minutes. And based on my own observations, this isn’t because he hasn’t had opportunities. There were numerous games throughout the season where Manu would drive, drawing Mason’s defender, then kick it out to Mason for three. Brick. The guy became a head-case this year. I have no idea why. It’s too bad, because he would be a useful piece if he could play like he did last year. Three point shooting and free throw shooting are this team’s biggest offensive weaknesses.

  • Gart

    Bosh to Dallas would be sad…

    Since Hill is so nice
    im really hoping for a blair +tony for bosh trade

    dont get me wrong im the biggest spurs fan out there but Toronto is my local team so that would be the best of this wolrd :D

    that said, if we get Tiago and Parker get healthy who cares what other teams get, we gonna win 2 or 3 in a row before Duncan Retire… check our roster, CMON!

  • lvmainman

    @ agutierrez,
    Great point on the 3rd qtr when Nowitzki was in foul trouble and giving minutes to Mahinmi/Hairston.

    Spurs should thank Carlisle for his atrocious coaching.
    1) Not realizing Haywood was a better starter than Dampier until Game 5
    2) Benching Butler for an entire 2nd half, that’s like benching Ginobili for an entire 2nd half
    3) Benching Beubois with 16 pts in favor of a 0 for 6 Jason Terry in a game, play the hot hand
    4) Not posting up Kidd when Parker/Hill was guarding him and running the offense thru Kidd that way

    Carlisle deserves some thanks for helping the Spurs.

  • rj

    anyone else thing ballhog is a snot-nosed teenager?

    great post about our teams development. really put thinks in a subjective perspective for all of us over-reactionary fans. agreed about and and malik not being the ones to contribute to a championship, but i wouldn’t be surprised seeing these two (maybe not malik considering garret temple is occupying his roster spot) make some appearances again in these playoffs.

    @ aguitierrez

    i also agree that ian could have been a nice weapon to get some guys in foul trouble, especially dirk, but his inexperience and foul trouble is indeed a risk. if we ever get into the hack-a-so-and-so situation, i think it would be interesting to see ian out there. lets say he covers dwight howard for a stretch. the worst thing he could do defensively against dwight is foul him and send him to the line. also, ian could get him in foul trouble at the other end. very interesting.

    i don’t know why dallas has gone with dampier for so long. given his size and strength, he should have achored the lane much better. they should dump damp for haywood.

    great piece guys

    keep up the good work

    GO SPURS GO!!

  • Greyberger

    I don’t want to sound like a jerk, either to Renato OR Roger Mason, but…

    In the regular season games where Tony was out with the hand Roger made a very good case for why he should only get spot minutes in the playoffs.

    He’s an okay defender who can only defend slower ones and smaller wings. Unfortunately Manu and Hill are both better at this role in defense. He can stay in front of his man and contests shots but is not assertive.

    This is reflected in his weak rebounding for a guard and lack of defensive stats like steals, blocks or charges drawn. Among the guards only Tony produces fewer defensive stats than Mason does (per 48min).

    The real problem though is the effect on the offense when he comes in, and I’m not even talking about the shooting. Towards the end of the season and certainly in the playoffs the Spurs are a guard-oriented team. We use the high screen and dribble penetration to stress the defense rather than trying to exploit any one particular strength of our own or weakness of our opponent’s.

    It’s very much up to the guards to create the offense and quarterback it. Mason’s strength is shooting and finishing other people’s plays, but if he’s coming in for a playmaker that’s not what we need.

    It’s hard to say exactly why he was such a great fit last year and most fans are hoping he cheers from the bench for the rest of this year. I can guarantee you it’s not just the shooting. The best way I can put it is that we created a new and very efficient offense this year and it relies on Tony Manu or George to run it.

  • TheRed&Black

    Let’s play the match-up game. How do we matchup vs. Suns? What match-ups might we see? How are we going to expose these guys, and what problems might we run into?Should we expect to see the same rotation out there as in the Dallas series? Who’s minutes go up, and who’s go down?

  • Kevin

    I think Pop was definitely playing for the championship this year. Does that hurt us in years to come… maybe. But I wouldn’t be suprised if he and Duncan both retire at the end of TD’s current contract. That, and why worry about the future when you have an opportunity to win now, that you may never get again.

    About Roger Mason Jr.: the guy FELL APART in the playoffs last year, and has never recovered. I don’t think Pop can be blamed for this. The guy had his chances, but just couldn’t get it done. Sad really… cause he was so great last year during the season.

  • NFGIII

    Renato
    I disagree with this articles statements. How is it ok for us to take our 3rd leading scorer from a season ago and just not play him. Mason Jr was our best three point shooter and on a team where that was lacking for a larger portion of the year where that was lacking, that is not good coaching.
    ——————————————–
    I agree with -pastrypride- about Mason. In a contract year he had probably the most atrocious year I have ever seen from a player. This guy was playing for a new contract and just went into the tank. If he can’t hit the 3 he is worthless out there. Mase couldn’t defend a fire hydrant much less a quality NBA player with adequate offensive skills. Mase is gone and the less we saw of him against the Mavs the better.

    Now I think Pop will give him some minutes against the Suns and see what happens. If Mase can’t be the least bit productive early on expect to see him buried at the end of the bench and deservedly so. But if he can somehow regain some of his confidence and hit some shots then the Spurs will have a much deeper bench going forward. But I don’t expect that to happen. For some unknown reason Mase’s confidence is shot and I don’t expect it to return. He just can’t flip that switch and become the player we saw the regular season last year. And I mean”regular season” since he was horrible in the post season.
    ———————————————-
    agutierrez
    Taking nothing away from Pop (his record speaks for itself), we should understand that the “magic” coming together that occurred close to the end of the season was as much about luck than anything else. TP’s broken hand dictated a radical change in rotations. Manu’s leadership on and off the court solidified the Spurs’ rotations and identity. His leadership in holding everyone accountable was palpable. I’ve watched almost every game during his time with the Spurs. I’ve never seen him take over, shout at his team mates, get pissed with them, tell them what to do and demand better.
    ———————————————-

    That’s one way to look at it. And I believe that you are right about TP’s injury made Pop change his rotations but if you go back and review the situatiom just prior to TP’s hand injury the Spurs were putting it together. They were on a five game winning streak and finally living up to expextations.IMHO Pop had just recently pulled RJ from the starting lineup and put him on the 2d unit. That 2nd unit had Manu, RJ and Blair teamed together and were producing quality numbers. In fact Bonner on that unit made it one of the best second units in the league at the time – top 2 or 3 IIRC. Pop was forced to change it up and put Manu at pg when TP went down. The backcourt of TP and Hill were really coming together and were on a course to become one of the best if not the best starting back court tandem in the league by season’s end IMHO.

  • rj

    i think phoenix rotations may be an issue. they are a deeper team and may continuously throw fresh legs our way to wear us down.

    i would predict tony, george, and keith splitting time against nash, but i would like to see george compete against dragic. he has shown some offensive capabilities that we must prevent.

    manu, jefferson and hill will see varied assignments on the likes of jason richardson and grant hill.

    duncan and dyess will take turns covering amare. not sure if blair has the quickness to play with amare, but i would love to see blair get him into foul trouble. phoenix is relatively soft in the low post so i would expect to see blair eat up offensive boards and putbacks. if phoenix gets out running on the other end, blair may not be able to keep pace.

    i would also imagine seeing bonner, or jefferson covering channing frye.

    bogans and mason will see some minutes this series. it would be amaizng to see roger rediscover is christmas day magic.

    hopefully, our mainstays will outlast the waves of young role players in phoenix. pop’s rotations were interesting last series. he would pull people out for short breathers so as to not let any one major player see too much floortime without rest

  • http://dcblanchard2_60@hotmail.com notasgoodasioncewas

    What a rediculous statement about how the Spurs were lucky to end up with the rotation the team is playing with. Look you have a very long season, players get hurt. Every team that makes it to the playoffs healthy enough to win a championship is lucky. So yes we have had some luck. As a coach you still have to make decisions on who is playing where, and for how long. Lets also be real about it Pop is the best at limiting minutes and trying to have his team healthy come playoffs. Does it always work. No we have been unlucky in years past come playoff time. Every coach out there and every coach that has ever been has dealt with being lucky, and also unlucky. You play with what you where dealt. Its more about what you do with your situation then anything. Give Pop credit for giving his guys an oppertunity to be healthy and not worn down.

  • Hollywood

    I don’t see how Pop can be a mad scientist experimenting with lineups while at the same time playing mediocre veterans over promising young players. I don’t see how the two can coexist. Yet this sentiment keeps getting repeated.

    Also I don’t think Pop kept Tim’s minutes down as much as even Pop would have liked.

    Pop is steady and simple and effective. I think this article puffs him up more than is needed. Pop scrambled all season and Manu’s resurgence finally gave us a winning lineup which Pop wisely stuck to.

  • idahospur

    Since the playoffs started, I started spending some more time looking at the ESPN blogs of our rivals (Dallas, Phoenix). Without a doubt, the fans on this site are way more dedicated than the other two teams combined. Awesome.
    It’s great to know that even though the Spurs may have lost regular season series against other team, they know how to dominate when it matters.
    At Valley of the Suns blog, the author talks of this year’s Suns-Spurs match-ups. When reading that post, you would think Phoenix easily has the upper hand, until you notice one significant player is missing from that article. His name: Manu Ginobili. How could anyone seriously think they can defeat the Spurs without the full wrath of Manu playing against you?
    Smart rotations (like last round), limit the turnovers, and shut down key players like Jason Richardson, Grant Hill, and Steve Nash and this one is in the bag.

  • Jim Henderson

    BALLHOG
    May 2nd, 2010 at 5:29 am

    “Unbelieveable…

    @ Jim Henderson

    Jim, did you write this piece? The below listed section of this hillarious piece is what gave you away Jim…

    “And those 20 minutes games Keith Bogans and Roger Mason logged over Hairston? Bogans might not be Bruce Bowen, but those 20 minute outings were great preparation for the brief cameos he made in the series, offering slightly better defense than Hairston without the inexperienced mistakes”.

    Lets get real, BALLHOG, I would have NEVER written this passage. Do you so easily forget that I have been one of the most detailed and impassioned critics of Pop playing Bogans over Hairston since the all-star break?. For one thing, I don’t believe Bogans is a better defender than Hairston, and second, there’s no question that Hairston is more productive in all other areas except, as yet, 3-point shooting (which Bogans isn’t that good at anyways). And of course, I’ve been hammering the idea of giving Mason minutes for a long time. Any shooter that shoots that poorly for that length of time, is a “head case” whose solution is certainly beyond my pay grade, and perhaps anyone’s. Plus, the rest of his game just doesn’t bring much to the table. No, I don’t give Pop a free ride on these personnel decisions at all. That said, there’s often a valid reason for Pops seeming madness, and so I always approach my critique of him with an appropriate dose of patience & humility. This is not to suggest that Pops decisions are always right, I’m just not convinced that I’m qualified to KNOW FOR SURE when his decisions are right or wrong at the time he makes them. I guess I just don’t have your confidence, BALLHOG!

    Renato
    May 2nd, 2010 at 8:33 am

    Pastrypride is correct about Mason. Mason was not our best three point shooter last year. Bonner was. And Mason was not our 3rd leading scorer last year. He was our fourth. Also, Mason shot terrible THIS YEAR, and still managed to avg. 19 minutes per game over the entire season. This was about 8-10 minutes per game too many, in my opinion, and even more than that towards the end of the year.

    agutierrez
    May 2nd, 2010 at 8:36 am

    “At various times in the Mavs series, each of the Big Three stepped in and saved our bacon, as did Hill. I never saw Kidd do that for the Mavs. In fact, I’ve never seem him do that with any team he’s ever played for.”

    Go back and watch his playoff runs when the Nets (not a super-talented team) when they made the finals twice.

    notasgoodasioncewas
    May 2nd, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Nice points.

    Hollywood
    May 2nd, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    “Pop is steady and simple and effective. I think this article puffs him up more than is needed. Pop scrambled all season and Manu’s resurgence finally gave us a winning lineup which Pop wisely stuck to.”

    Solid points.

  • Beat Counselor

    Although it was seemingly serendipidous that TP got injured near the end of the year which allowed Pop and us to see that Hill and Manu were a better fit for this year’s starting backcourt, it was indeed shrewd to take this opportunity to have TP come off the bench as our 6th man. Not sure if TP would have been as gracious about things if he wasn’t coming off injury.

  • Ian

    I don’t know why everyone’s so low on Bogans (yeah I know his offence sucks to say the least) – the guy’s a tough defender and it’s only sensible to use him over Hairston in spot minutes for defensive assignments. Let’s face it – as much as everyone loves Malik, he’s still as good as a rookie and god knows how he’ll perform in big games like these. Jesse’s got a point about Bogans using up Hairston’s minutes. Maybe next year for these young guys, but these playoff games just aren’t for them. Yet.

  • Bill

    No one seems to remeber that Mason had a hand injury on his shooting hand. His shooting was coming around when it happend. Since then it has been terrible.

  • Bill

    I wish people would stop misusing the word “misnomer”. It means a wrong or inappropriate name. Calling a Juniper tree a Cedar is a misnomer. If you want to use a one word description for a wrong notion, better words are misperception or misapprehension.

    Sorry to be so finicky, but I am seeing that misuse a lot lately. Every time that I see it, it confuses me for a moment until I figure out what is really meant.

  • Bushka

    In conclusion.

    Pop did exactly what everyone who had watched the team for the last ten years thought he would.

    Anyone who was after the instant gratification of regular season hysteria was always missing the point.

  • rice

    Great article. I for one, tend to agree with you 100% (FWIW). Nice insight on playing the players that would probably make an impact in the playoffs. Hey, we can’t really know what Pop was thinking, but that’s a nice way of looking at it. As much as I’m very high on Malik Hairston, we’re pretty much stacked on positions 1 – 3 in the tightened playoff rotation. Bogans makes more sense as he is a defensive specialist – we get enough offense from our main rotation players.

    Also, I really REALLY don’t get the passionate love for Ian in this site (and the other Spurs blogs). He flat out sucks. Very athletic, but almost no basketball skills to speak of. He simply looks lost out there on the court. Our old bigs – Oberto/Kurt Thomas/Rasho/Nazr/even Elson were much much better, but much less “loved” by the blogging masses. If we had him guarding Amare, he’ll foul out in less than 5 minutes.

  • Bushka

    Rice, I think you will find that in this NBA athletic potential & Size make fans absolutely loose their gear.

    Every team has some love affair with some young potential laden stud that absolutely no one else in the league even knows about.

  • http://espn.com Jacob

    I almost luaghed out loud when someone wrote that the Suns were a deep team.

    Am I in twilight zone?!?

    dudley, dracic and admundson will all have a very hard reality check, thats not depth fellas, orlando is a deep team… big difference.

  • Jim Henderson

    Ian
    May 2nd, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    I don’t agree, although Hairston’s injury doesn’t help his case for playing time in the playoffs now. If he was healthy though, I still wouldn’t shy away from using him for spot minutes. In any case, he or Bogans aren’t going to get much playing time anyway.

  • Bushka

    Exactly, I like the fact though that we have Malik coming in for training camp along with Temple.

    Mason & Bogans go, and there is the tonic.

    Tim/splitter/S.A.M/Blair/Bonner as your big rotation

    Jefferson/Hairston with a little Temple swining between the 3 and the guard rotation depending on injuries.

    Manu/Hill/Parker with a little temple on the side if needed.

    Add a draft pick and we have a very nicely fleshed out roster. If Ian can be had or is needed to be had we grab him for near minimum.

    The biggest off season acquisition outside of Tiago would be Dejaun finding a jumpshot.

  • Manolo Pedralvez

    Informative, incisive, and yes, entertaining, piece, which is why I keep returning to this blog for impassioned analysis and commentary on the San Antonio Spurs. Kudos to everyone.

  • SpurredOn

    Great piece of writing Jessie. I agree, the rivalry is far from over which is a good thing.

    @idahospur – I agree fully with you. Like last series, if you ask who the best five players are from either team the Spurs have three (Manu, Duncan, Parker) joined by Amare and Nash. Those three, plus Hill and RJ push the Spurs beyond the Suns more than Phoenix fans seems to realize. But they will.

  • Easy B

    On paper Suns have plenty of arsenal, but when you go through even the starting five matchups, Spurs have answers for all of Phoenix’s questions. Dice and Duncan will frustrate Amare and draw him away from the hoop enough to find plenty of space for TP and Hill to penetrate. Ginobili always gets his, and we can throw, Hill, RJ, Bogans and Ginoblili at any Suns guard/wing that gets hot and get better exchanges than any defensive pressures they throw at us.
    Obviously the Suns can get hot, and the Spurs can underperform…but do we think that these scales are going to tip this way consistently enough over 7 games for the suns to win in 7 like Hollinger and co predict? I think people get too stat-happy…the suns are the quintessential stat team of the NBA….really can’t see them throwing enough daggers at the spurs…figure J Rich to do the Caron Butler cameo, but as we’ve seen, the spurs easily absorbed that dent in a 6 game series. Apart from Nash and maybe one or two role players like Grant Hill….who else on that team is willing to do what-it-takes to win?

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  • Cheyenne Harty

    To disregard the Suns is to do so at your peril. This team can actually play defense. I’m not saying the Suns are defensive stalwarts, but their improved D and significant firepower make this year’s version of Nash and Co. the toughest to date.

  • Badger

    This article contains the best analysis I have seen to date on why Dallas could not win the series against the Spurs. Cuban’s money, coupled with a careful study of this one article would enable Dallas to reload quite nicely and remain a top seed in the west for as long as Dirk is still hitting fall away jumpers with guys in his face.

  • Jim Henderson

    Cheyenne Harty
    May 3rd, 2010 at 9:41 am

    “To disregard the Suns is to do so at your peril. This team can actually play defense. I’m not saying the Suns are defensive stalwarts, but their improved D and significant firepower make this year’s version of Nash and Co. the toughest to date.”

    I agree. I think it’s the toughest Suns team since 2004-2005, Nash’s first year, and we were better then.

  • jay thatch

    wow if you switch the names pretty well describes the suns. eewww i feel so dirty even thinking about cheering for a spurs like team. at least one key difference though, the suns don’t rely on the refs to “keep the game close”. ( and if the refs did that for the suns i would be just as disgusted.)

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