Tim Duncan’s six points and why that might be a good thing

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There aren’t too many nights Tim Duncan will be the lowest scoring big man on the team. Yet, that’s what he was in the Spurs’ 105-83 win over the Atlanta Hawks. Duncan scored just six points on 3-7 shooting in the victory, behind 17 points each from Matt Bonner and DeJuan Blair, and 16 from Tiago Splitter.

Your first instinct may be to think, “crap, that’s not good.” Mine was. Truth is, though, Duncan being the only big not in double figures (I’m not counting Malcolm Thomas here) might be a better indicator of the offense is running well.

Duncan himself can can be force fed in the post and reasonably expected to score. He doesn’t necessarily need a play run for him. The other three get their buckets in the constructs of the offense. Only occasionally do they score by their own devices. I think it’s practically impossible that all three end up above 15 points and it not be a function of the offense running smooth.

And looking at the numbers, the Spurs shot over 50% from the floor. Their offensive efficiency was 108.2, according to Hoopdata. The major glaring imperfection was the 20 turnovers, six of those belonging to Blair. If I may defend Mr. DeJuan for a moment, several of those came early in the game when I thought he was being overly aggressive and his decision making was skewed. He toned it down as the game wore on, but it shouldn’t become a habit. He doesn’t possess the ball long enough to justify multiple turnovers.

The Spurs had a lot of success running the side pick-and-roll on the left side of the floor against the Hawks. Early in the game Tony Parker came off the side screen and whipped a couple of bounce passes down low to open bigs. The first Duncan converted for a layup and the second Blair turned it over forcing a pass to Duncan. When the Hawks adjusted, the Spurs had open shots on the perimeter.

“They have good play sets and pick-and-roll play. They had us confused on pick-and-rolls,” Hawks forward Josh Smith said after the game. “Any kind of step in, they were finding [Bonner] with his quick release.”

Bonner shot 5-7 from 3-point range.

Tiago Splitter also impressed with his back to the basket game, as Tim Varner mentioned in the postgame recap. I can’t tell for sure, but it looks like Splitter has altered his release point on his hook shot some. It’s not higher like one might hope. Instead, I think he’s releasing the ball farther away from the basket, instead of out in front of his body. While not a great improvement, I think it’s keeping the ball and his release farther from the defender and, thus, giving it a better chance of actually going in. Which it did on Wednesday night.

No one will confuse him with Tim Duncan in the post, however. He still had two turnovers out of the post in four possessions, according to Synergy Sports. But with Splitter’s plethora of effective up-fakes, an improved hook shot should send Tiago to the free throw line more, where he’s hitting almost 73% on the season. We shall see.

  • Tyler

    I remember reading Pop was unimpressed with TP the first time he saw him workout. But after RC convinced Pop to bring him in again (RC had Sam Presti put together a video if I remember correctly), half way during the workout, Pop pulled the staff aside and said something like, “this kid is going to start for us next year”.

  • Tyler

    I doubt Green’s going anywhere.

  • spursfanbayarea

    Good job on digging up info on that topic. good job on backing it up with a resource. Also kudos for giving proper credit to someone who did the actual research.

  • Lvmainman

    Glad to see the Spurs are trying to get a big, in going after Kenyon Martin. But his choices of the Heat, Hawks, Clippers, and Knicks. The Spurs would have to rank 3rd behind the Clippers, then Heat. Spurs could use a Thugget type player.

  • Anonymous

    He won’t come here.

  • Bob

    He doesn’t need to play during garbage time. But he should be playing against the other teams starters.

  • DorieStreet

    Why are you being a negative nelly===INJURIES!!!!===If any Spur goes down with an injury it’s bad. If any player on any NBA team goes down with an injury, it is bad for that team==DUH!!!
    Just comment on the play=====stop being a chicken little.

  • DorieStreet

    @ Titletown99030507d   ==  +10

    Pops delayed his development in th 60 games he got in last season with too many cameos, garbage time play and DNP-CDs.
    We’ve waited for him since the 2007 draft. Give him the minutes to bring him up to speed as a starter or with significant minutes coming off the bench.

  • DorieStreet

    +100
    ]
    People– we need to DEVELOP these players who are suited up in the Spurs uniform.
    21, 20 & 9 cannot play forever.

  • DorieStreet

    Maybe time for Pop to step aside.
    Happens all the time in professional sports—the method/message/mo gets stale.

  • DorieStreet

    You can’t be serious about letting Green go.
    Dude comes back gangbusters after the little playing time he received last season.
    Don’t know what’s wrong with Anderson; but just because he is a high draft pick does not mean you don’t put the clock on him–if he doesn’t step up this season==let him go.

  • DorieStreet

    Too long in the tooth. Guys–we are trying to start something new. Going after players 10+ seasons in the league just delays the Spurs getting back to elite status.

  • Anonymous

    lol.  “Splinter?”

    No…what I mean is that if it’s a blowout there’s no sense in taking a chance of injury just to… “get him minutes”.