48MoH and the Land O’ Lakers
Because Spurs-Lakers is an unofficial San Antonio holiday, we continue our preview of tonight’s matchup with a collaborative effort between myself and the fellas at the ESPN Land O’ Lakers blog, Andy and Brian Kamenetzky. We did a little Gchat yesterday and turned it into content. Yay Internet!
The Kamenetzky Bros host a great podcast that, even if you’re not a Lakers fan (and who is who reads this blog on the reg?), I highly recommend. Here’s a little snippet of some of our convo yesterday:
Andy Kamenetzky: For Lakers fans who haven’t seen much of San Antonio this season, why have they been so successful?
Andrew McNeill: The offense is elite. The Spurs are still a great 3-point shooting team, but they can score points in a variety of ways. Against the Jazz Sunday night, the Spurs shot 27% from 3, but still scored 114 points. And the defensive rebounding is bettee. They’re still not a great defensive team, but limiting teams to just one shot makes them a little better.
AK: Why hasn’t San Antonio been better defensively?
AM: The Spurs still struggle defending the pick-and-roll/pop. While the Spurs are a smart defensive team and rotate better than most, the lack of foot speed from the big man leaves them open to teams with bigs that can knock down 18-footers. However, the post defense has been improved for three reasons: (1) more minutes forTiago Splitter, (2) the addition of Boris Diaw and (3) Matt Bonner… somehow.
There’s also some stuff that was left on the cutting room floor. Thanks to the magic of Gmail, I can bring you some more from our conversation previewing the Spurs and Lakers.
Andrew McNeill: Kobe was leading the league in minutes early in the season. Is that still the case?
Brian Kamenetzky: Until the injury, Kobe was right up there in minutes played, for sure. And if there’s a stat for minutes/years in the league, Bryant is winning by a mile.
BK: Andrew, I’d like to know how it is that seemingly anyone who can dribble is able to put on a Spurs uniform and be awesome. People like Danny Green who the casual fan would never have heard of. Gary Neal, and so on. Typically, teams shorten rotations come playoff time, but SA has so many players who have been effective. How do you think Pop will handle it?
AM: I’m curious how Pop will handle it myself. We haven’t really seen a team win a title by going more than 10 deep in the playoffs since I’ve been following the league closely. Pop usually relies on guys he’s comfortable with, so Patty Mills and Boris Diaw may fall out of the regular rotation other than situational matchups, but he’s got a lot of ammo to choose from. As far as why they are so successful with anybody they find, I think there are two angles. The first is that the front office finds guys who fit what the Spurs are looking for. Sounds simple, but I think a lot of teams screw this up. The Spurs simply find guys who have skills that fill needs for the Spurs. The second part of that is when they get to San Antonio, I get the impression that the coaching staff gives them specific feedback as to what they should and shouldn’t be doing. So when they’re out there on the floor, they know exactly what is expected of them, and what will get them pulled. If they deviate from that, well, there’s another 10-day contract waiting for its shot.