Advanced Scouting: San Antonio Spurs at Philadelphia 76ers


San Antonio Spurs at Philadelphia 76ers 6:30 CST February 11, 2011

SRS ranks:

Philadelphia: 0.59 (12th)
San Antonio: 7.10 (1st)

Key Player Statistics (courtesy of (effective January 19, 2011) and (effective February 6, 2011):

PlayerFraction of teams minutesPER minus Counterpart PEROn court +/-per 48 minutesOff court +/-per 48 minutes2 Year Adjusted +/-

Most valuable/utilized lineups:

Holiday, Meeks, Iguodala, Brand, Hawes +53 in 370 minutes (+6.9 per 48 MP)
Holiday, Meeks, Iguodala, Young, Brand +68 in 96 minutes (+34 per 48 MP)

Preferred method to create shots: Post up Elton Brand

The Sixers have shown vast improvements from last season. After starting 3-13, they are 21-15 in their last 36. It may surprise some to see them ahead of teams like Atlanta, New York, Utah and Phoenix in SRS rankings.

Several players have contributed to the Sixers improvements this season. 20 year old Jrue Holiday has developed nearly all facets of his offensive game. Jodie Meeks has been an excellent addition to the 3 point game and Thaddeus Young and Elton Brand have shown dramatic improvements just when others were giving up hope.

Although he is being used slightly less frequently than last year, Brand’s offensive efficiency is right at his career high. He had a rating of 114 in his last full season with the Clippers (2006-07) followed in successive seasons by ratings of 104 (8 GP), 97 (29 GP) and 104 (76 GP). This season has seen his efficiency skyrocket to 116. Brand averages an impressive 0.99 points per possession (PPP) in the post on 4.1 possessions.

Much of Brand’s improvement in efficiency is simply due to increases in his shooting percentages from beyond 10 feet. His shooting percentage has increased from 42% to 51% from that 10-15 feet and 41% to 47% from 16-23 feet. No one in the NBA makes more shots from 10-15 feet (97). Brand has also greatly reduced his turnover rate.

The Spurs should be cautious playing the passing lanes. Philly has good passers at several positions and they are often able to work the ball down low without turning the ball over. They have the 4th best turnover rate in the NBA.

The Sixers are also very dangerous on the break. Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday will push the ball after a steal. Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young are also significant components to the transition game. When the Sixers play Young at the 4 and Brand at the 5 they become an even faster team.

Lou Williams is very good at getting to the line. He averages 0.9 PPP in 3 isolations per game despite playing less than half the game. Holiday and Williams are both efficient when running the pick and roll and isolations.

Appropriate Spurs counter: Keep Duncan inside as much as possible

The Sixers are an unusual team that seems to have more success with their bigs hitting jumpers (other than threes) and their perimeter players finishing at the rim. It’s tough to tell how to defend this combination. If the Spurs shotblockers (read: Tim Duncan) contest jumpers, the lane will be exposed for easy scores from the likes of Young, Iguodala, Williams and Holiday.

Duncan’s reduced offensive role has in some ways masked his improved defensive play. Not only is his blocks rate up 40%, but metrics such as Wayne Winston’s adjusted plus-minus rate him as arguably the best defender in the NBA this season. 15 points might be pretty extreme, but Ducan’s defensive contributions are obvious.

Despite Duncan’s defensive abilities, he is far from a top notch perimeter defender, so the Spurs will want to keep him as close to the basket as possible, as often as they are able. Spencer Hawes is a decent outside shooter, but probably the worst among Sixers players whom Duncan can defend. Matching against him should allow Duncan to be more valuable defending the 76ers slashers. When Hawes is not in the game, Duncan will probably have to match up against Brand or Speights, but the Spurs might need to be more creative. They should consider running more zone than normal. Even if the Spurs make mistakes, it is much better to surrender the open 2 point jump shot than an open layup.

Spurs offensive game plan: Run the pick and roll against Lou Williams

The Sixers struggle to defend the pick and roll, allowing 0.87 PPP (23rd in the NBA). Both Lou Williams and Jrue Holiday are good to target against this play. Each has allowed 0.99 PPP over the last two seasons. Holiday has a solid defensive reputation for his age, gives effort and does look good at times, but he also allows 1.01 PPP when matched up against isolations. Additionally, although he defends the passing lanes well (1.5 steals/36 MP), his on court/off court defensive numbers have been subpar in his first two seasons. I’m not certain Holiday’s a bad defender, but these statistics indicate his defensive ability is worth investigating. Philadelphia also ranks 20th against isolation plays (0.86 PPP).

The Spurs may also wish to work the post in order to make the Sixers pay for creating favorable matchups on the other end. Most of the 76ers big men have done very well defending the post. Hawes has allowed far fewer PPP defensively this season, but over the last two years he is still allowing 0.92 PPP. Perhaps more importantly, Young may be the a natural small forward playing at power forward because he has the required length combined with the athleticism and coordination to create mismatches. However, his lack of strength leaves himself susceptible to mismatches. Over the past two seasons, he has allowed 0.91 PPP when defending the post. Ilm sure he will not be used often against Duncan, but Blair or even McDyess should test him. (Splitter is listed as day-to-day.)

The Pick


I question if Duncan will be able to make his normal contributions in tonight’s game. (Duncan had 7 points, 6 rebounds and 0 blocks, playing only 24 minutes despite committing only 3 fouls in their prior meeting in November. TD was also held to 10 points and 0 blocks over 33 minutes in the previous meeting against the Sixers.) I also wonder if the older Spurs might start to feel the effects of the Rodeo Road Trip. (I know they’ve historically had success on this trip). However, this isn’t the first time these players have encountered an extended road trip and Coach Pop has masterfully managed older teams for over a decade. Despite the negatives the Spurs have against them, they still have to be favorites.

  • Alix Babaie

    I am looking forward to the Spurs playing this game tonight, as the 76ers have a ton of youthful talent and Collins has done a great job of coaching them up.

    Would be great to get to 45-8 and get the Wiz in the 2nd of the BTB games tomorrow, so we can push that gaudy record to 46-8 while facing the closing stretch next week.

  • Hobson13

    Duncan only played in 26 minutes against the Raptors and Manu only played in 29. They should be somewhat rested tonight against the 76ers. I know Accuscore gives the Spurs a 68% chance of winning, but I think this game is our last true test besides the Bulls. Philly actually has a good, winning record at home (16-9) which should make it tough for the Spurs.

    I sense another big game for Dejuan. He’s been a beast lately. Go Spurs!

  • soulidefy

    i think we should get this game. i am curious why this wasnt an even better team with dalembert. seems like his skills would have been a good fit with this team. they have been playing well, and its at their house, but this is a game the spurs should win. plus we have home court advantage with malik.

  • Bruno

    Hard game but we can!!45-8!! Splitter will not play

  • Sauce

    Sixers have been playing incredible ball lately. They might have been getting the W’s but they have stayed in very close games and have shown that they can score the ball now.

    As it pains me to say it, I think an upset is going to happen tonight. Hope I am wrong, though.

  • TainoRalph

    I think our shooters such as Bonner, Neal and Jefferson are going to have a big game. Manu and Parker will drive and the young 76ers are going to be too aggressive, hence, the ball getting kicked out. I see the same fast start to this game as the Sacremento game.

  • Francesco

    Not that active here lately, so I apologise if someone came up with this already.

    Free throws attempts per minutes played

    Duncan: 0.115
    Manu: 0.176
    Parker: 0.113

    Gasol: 0.141
    Shaq: 0.176

    Wade: 0.247
    Kobe: 0.221
    Lebron: 0.237

    Why this stats you ask?
    Because Splitter averages an incredible 0.205

    Someone please set Chip Engelland on his ass!

  • SAJKinBigD

    @Sauce: Agreed, it kinda screams TRAP, especially after watching the Mavs against the Nuggets last night. I knew they’d lose that one. Hope our guys are focused and ready for this one – actually, I know they will be, but here’s hoping the ball goes in its home more often for us than for them!

    @Francesco: Nice stat. I’m sure Chip is Tiago’s shadow whenever possible. :)

  • rob

    Spurs by 3 – 108 to 105

  • Ed

    Spurs should go all out tonight, after all they can beat the Wizards with all bench players!

  • SpurredOn

    @soulidefy – Scott can answer your question better than I, but I suspect that one reason the Sixers were not better with Dalembert is that he is not a good passer (something I learned here while reading the Spurs-Kings preview). Seems like they now have five players on the court who are willing and good passers.

    I think the Spurs have lost 8 of the past 10 seasons in Philly, despite always being the better team. Even the best squads have one city where they play poorly over a stretch of years. With the Sixers being a young and quick team, playing well and at home, against a Spurs team on their third game in four days, I can see this being a loss or at best a very competitive win. Hoping for the best and continued efficient play from Blair back in his home state. Go Spurs, Go!

  • Judd

    The 76ers also weren’t that great with Dalembert because he’s Dalembert. The guy will crush a team with 6 blocks one night and then simply not show up for the next 3. he is wildly inconsistent when he is healthy and he’s not consistently healthy. he’s one of those players who can trick you into thinking he is good if you only catch a few of his games. Really tough game tonight. i’m scared but optimistic. the 76ers are a good team. another great scouting report. it’s games like this when i wish we still had pj. he is the only guy who can convince pop to play zone for long stretches.

  • DBAGuy

    Why are we all scared? I’m not, yes it may end up being a competitive game, but I’m sure we will end up winning. The only game I see us potentially losing is against the Bulls. The teams wants to do good this RRT and tonight is in the bank…

  • lvmainman

    Tough team for the Spurs to match up with athletically. Other than Brand and Hawes, the rest can run the fast break off turnovers and missed shots(Iguodala, Young, Williams, Holiday, etc.). If Parker has another 6 TO game, Spurs won’t be fortunate to get the 4th qtr crunch time, execution time, experience with each other, win.

    And don’t let Lou Williams get hot, he almost single-handly beat the Celtics. But they switched a Rondo/Garnett pick roll for a game winning lob, like dumb teams do (instead of making Rondo shoot a jumper).

    A tough game for the Spurs. Go Spurs Go.

  • Scott Sereday


    Just like the Spurs improvent, there are many causes (and a few hindrances). Certainly, the Sixers bigs are better passers without Dalembert. Over the last 2 seasons he has nearly as many passing turnovers as assists. He’s fairly poor offensively, all around, but provided enough value as a shot blocker to be useful. Spencer Hawes should be better for the Sixers future, but I don’t think of him as an upgrade over Dalembert at this point.

    Stat to be aware of:
    Sixers with Brand at Center:
    +8.4 per 48 MP in 39% of minutes in 2011
    +4.5 per 48 MP in 22% of minutes in 2010

    Sixers with Brand at PF:
    -3.4 per 48 MP in 61% of minutes in 2011
    -3.2 per 48 MP in 78% of minutes in 2010

    Be wary of this, he is also utilized more in the transition game than you think.

  • The Beat Counselor

    I always thought that the Sixers underperformed with Dalembert. I was definitely a fan of his game, but the thing with this team is that their perimeter players could never penetrate AND hit the 3, so their spacing was always horrible and they relied on specialists for their outside shooting (which becomes obvious when Kapono or DMarshall came in…I wonder what they’re gunna do?).

    It’s tied at half-time right now and the Spurs are having issues with the Sixers tempo and their suprisingly swarming defense. It does look as though the Spurs superior depth, passing and decision making should be enough to win this game though.

    Let’s do this guys.

  • Bruno

    OMG what happened???????Ginobili 1-6, RJ 1-8, Blair 3-10, Hill 0-3.
    And is Spurs 51 vs Philadelphia 48

  • Bruno

    We miss 12 layups

  • Sauce

    Worst fears came true.

    Jrue Holiday is a solid defender, kept TP outside of the paint for the most part, and the team is full of long, quick players – AI2, Young and Turner – the type of defenders that bother the Spurs.

    Jefferson was just lost, but if Ginobli was able to do what he did near the end of the game, we very well might have come away with the win.

  • The Beat Counselor

    Ugly, ugly, ugly.

    Loved the Sixers scrappiness and intensity though. They wouldn’t give us anything.

    I think it all starts with Holiday keeping Tony out of the paint.

    Hill missed two WIDE open 3s. Manu is still struggling from outside.

    But man the Sixer’s on-ball defense was just tenacious and unrelenting.

    We may have lost, but if we can take a page out of the Sixer’s defensive book it will have been worth it.

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  • Jacob

    I predicted a loss to Philly before the road trip began, but never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that we would have lost like this. We looked absolutely exhausted out there. This was by far the ugliest spurs game in 2 seasons. I still think we’ll go 7-2, so hopefully we can get some rest tonight and put the whoop on the wizards tomorrow.

  • TD = Best EVER

    Thus is what happens to a jump shooting team when the J’s don’t go down. How on Earth did this happen when Philly’s best 3 scorers(Brand, AI, and Lou Williams) were a combined 9-39 for 21 points.

    I don’t want to over react but we really need a trade or some new blood when someone gets bought out. Our wins don’t look as good as they used to and our loses are just plain bad basketball. Something that we usually don’t do. We used to be the team that out executed our opponents down the stretch and get big stops, I don’t know if we can get back there with this group of players.

  • Tim in Surrey

    I didn’t see the game (thankfully, as it sounds pretty ugly), but I’m not surprised at the loss. As I said before, Philadelphia has been playing much better lately, especially on defense, and they match up quite well with the Spurs. Holiday is still pretty inconsistent, partly because I believe he’s still the youngest player in the league, but on good nights he’s one of the better point guards in the league–and he’s having more good nights than bad lately. They’ve got lots of young talent all around their roster, but really I think it comes down to two things: Collins has them playing good defense and Brand & Iguodala are playing well again.

    Unfortunately, tomorrow’s game could be a tough one as well.

    @SpurredOn – See Judd’s comment. Dalembert has been a gifted tease going all the way back to his days at Seton Hall. That’s why I’m not all that interested in him as a Spur, despite the obvious talent. The 76ers do have a talented big man who might be available and would very much interest me: Mareese Speights. I’ve never been entirely sure why he hasn’t turned out well in Philly but at times he can be very effective. But it doesn’t seem as if he can play alongside Brand, so I think he could be much better on a different team.

  • Tim in Surrey

    One more thing: Let’s hear it for former Spur Tyrone Corbin, who finally has his first game as an NBA head coach tonight! I wish it was under different circumstances, because I hated to see Jerry Sloan retire and Ty will have a difficult job trying to fill those shoes. But I always loved him as a player and am rooting for him as a coach (well, against 28 of 29 teams!).

  • Roy

    Is anyone else worried about Ginobili? I can’t remember the last time he had a good shooting night, and it’s showing in his steadily declining FG%.

  • SAJKinBigD

    Can I interject one or two tiny positive items? First – they won the rebounding battle! So, yeah, it’s probably due to their AWFUL shooting night, but still! They did have nearly a dozen more rebounds while E.Brand had 17 himself!

    Second – IndyG couldn’t hit a shot from the floor, but he had 5 Assists to only 1 TO! I like what that says on most nights!

    That is all. Not surprised – it happens – but not pleased, of course. Especially with the minutes being 30+ for the Big 3. Let’s hope the Wizards have their Road Woes @ Home tomorrow night!
    Go Spurs GO!

  • Tyler

    Sometimes you just don’t make shots. And on those nights, you almost always lose. Credit our defense for keeping us in the game.

    If Manu or Hill hit one of those shots late, we probably win.

    It’s one game. Move on to the next.

  • betsyduncan

    It’s the kind of humbling loss that should help our guys focus. And I agree, our guys looked SLOW out there. It looked like we had just come off a B2B, rather than playing on a day’s rest. JEEEEEZZZ! We need to take it out on the Wiz tomorrow night, that’s for sure!

  • Flavor

    As Pop would say… You don’t get too high when you’re winning and too low when you lose. Keep pounding the rock. Good defensive job, but better one by the 76ers. It seems like the trade word occurs after every loss… Its impossible to go 82-0.

  • rob

    This game was difficult to watch. One missed easy shot after another. Granted Philadelphia played great defense, but a lot of the missed shots were due to lack of focus or rushing off an easy layup or drop in. Same thing happened with the Sixers on offense.

    This was one of those games where it seemed both teams wanted to give it away with San Antonio being the team giving away the most.

    Too bad too, McDyess had a phenomenal game. Hated to see his efforts go to waste.

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