Advanced Scouting: Portland Trail Blazers at San Antonio Spurs – Feeling old

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Portland Trail Blazers at San Antonio Spurs 7:30 CST March 28, 2011

Just one week ago, the Spurs were excellently positioned for the playoffs. Not only were the Spurs likely to finish with the NBA’s best record, but they also had all the pieces in place and healthy. The biggest issue at the time was working McDyess into the starting lineup.

When Duncan went down with an injury, a little doubt began to creep in. Sure, he should be fine for the playoffs, but will he and the Spurs be 100% before the first round? The Spurs proceeded to lose three close and difficult matchups, including last night against Memphis. Manu Ginobili barely played in that contest and left early with a quad contusion. Although it could be argued that the Spurs played well in each of these games, opportunity to rest is both diminishing and becoming more necessary.

Don’t get me wrong, there is still plenty of reason for optimism. Had I known Manu would only score 2 points in 18 minutes, I would have strongly favored the Grizzlies last night; so there was a lot of good that came out of that game (which I will touch on later). Additionally, a contusion is typically heals quickly, so it would be irrational to expect Ginobili to be limited come playoff time. The Spurs may even be able to sharpen their supporting cast. However, it seems that more and more chances for disaster are developing.

The Spurs lead in the race for the best record in the NBA is shrinking fast. The Bulls are within 3.5 games while the Lakers sit 4 back and Dallas has climbed to within 5. These three teams appear to have the pieces in place at the right time and have won 4, 7 and 4 straight games. Although home court isn’t worth the price of injury, it is another factor the Spurs need to value and the longer it goes unsettled, injuries become greater possibilities. I suspect that, as benign as contusions can be, Manu can become at much higher risk for a more serious injury. Of course, I’m no doctor, but if nothing else, there is a tendency to overcompensate when fighting through pain.

Tonight might not be pretty

I believe that the two most important pieces for the Spurs this season are Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan. With both, they are excellent. With neither, the results have been less than impressive.

Plus Minus per 100 possessions:
Duncan in: +9.6 in 1,956 minutes
Duncan out: +3.5 in 1,467 minutes
Duncan and Manu out: -9.1 in 689 minutes

Considering that Ginobili only played 18 minutes with 3 shots and 2 points, the Spurs actually played pretty well against Memphis.

Portland is coming off a loss to the Thunder last night. Wallace and Aldridge played 45 and 44 minutes (scoring 40 and 20 of the teams 90). The Trail Blazers are in the thick of a playoff hunt, so expect their best effort. Check out my advanced scouting report and my preview of Friday’s matchup in Portland.

More role players are stepping up

Before last night’s game, I was considering including a table of the Spurs recent shot distributions. Specifically, I was surprised that George Hill and Richard Jefferson were so far down the Spurs pecking order despite their ability to create compared to other players. The following table represents the shots attempted per 48 minutes for each Spurs over the last 10 games.

Spurs Recent Shot Distributions

PlayerFGAFTATSA
Tony Parker22.44.424.3
Manu Ginobili20.76.923.7
Gary Neal19.33.720.9
Tim Duncan16.57.219.7
Steve Novak171.417.6
DeJuan Blair14.95.717.4
George Hill14.24.316.1
Tiago Splitter12.34.714.4
Antonio McDyess12.73.614.3
Matt Bonner13.1113.5
James Anderson9.94.912.1
Richard Jefferson10.63.512.1

Ironically, Jefferson attempted 10 field goals last night, the first time he reach double digits since February 3. George Hill scored a career high 30 points. A quote from ESPN.com’s game recap confirmed that the increase in production was planned before the game, at least in Hill’s case:

“Hill said Ginobili’s absence didn’t necessarily change his approach to the game. He said coach Gregg Popovich has put a little more emphasis on Hill looking for his shot.”
Key Statistics

SRS ranks:

Portland: 1.88 (13th)
San Antonio: 6.21 (3rd)

Player summary statistics from basketball-reference.com and basketballvalue.com:

Portland Trail Blazers Player Ratings 3-26

PlayerGMPGUSG%OrtgDRtgWS/482 Yr APM
LaMarcus Aldridge7239.725.81141060.1697.7
Wesley Matthews7234.321.31131080.125-5.3
Gerald Wallace1433.3201071000.1406.2
Andre Miller7132.920.81111070.1296.3
Nicolas Batum7131.717.51161080.130-4.2
Brandon Roy3829.823.31061090.0870.1
Marcus Camby5226.612.4103990.115-0.2
Rudy Fernandez6823.5191091070.109-0.3
Patrick Mills5612.624.4981100.027N/A

San Antonio Spurs Player Ratings 3-26

PlayerGMPGUSG%OrtgDRtgWS/482 Yr APM
Tony Parker7032.525.21131070.16-0.1
Manu Ginobili7230.926.41161040.2015.2
Richard Jefferson7130.615.41151080.116-0.8
Tim Duncan6928.322.91101000.1676.2
George Hill6628.117.61141070.128-2
DeJuan Blair7121.820.11061000.136-0.9
Matt Bonner5621.612.91291070.1583.7
Gary Neal7020.720.61091080.102-2.1
Antonio McDyess6618.514.91051030.1073.1
Tiago Splitter511217.21121020.149N/A
James Anderson2110.815.61121100.093N/A
Steve Novak167.816.81491080.249N/A

Player trends, based on Efficiency per 48 minutes:

Portland Trail Blazers Player Trends 3-26

PlayerSeasonLast 10Increase
Nicolas Batum19.927.27.3
Gerald Wallace26.428.62.2
Wesley Matthews19.120.91.8
Brandon Roy1817.6-0.4
Rudy Fernandez18.116.3-1.8
LaMarcus Aldridge27.925.4-2.5
Andre Miller24.321.4-2.9
Marcus Camby27.421.2-6.2
Patrick Mills15.95.2-10.7

San Antonio Spurs Player Trends 3-26

PlayerSeasonLast 10Increase
Tiago Splitter23.730.66.9
Steve Novak27.733.45.7
James Anderson14.618.74.1
Gary Neal18.819.91.1
Antonio McDyess23.323.80.5
Tim Duncan32.7330.3
DeJuan Blair27.927.1-0.8
Manu Ginobili28.527.6-0.9
Tony Parker2725.4-1.6
George Hill21.918.7-3.2
Richard Jefferson17.714.3-3.4
Matt Bonner20.216.2-4

Lineup data
Most valuable/utilized lineups:

Trail Blazers:
Miller, Matthews, Batum, Aldridge, Camby +12 in 443 minutes (+1.7 per 100 possessions)
Miller, Matthews, Batum, Wallace, Aldridge +53 in 157 minutes (+19.3 per 100)
Johnson, Fernandez, Matthews, Aldridge, Cunningham +39 in 53 minutes (+42.9 per 100)
Miller, Roy, Matthews, Batum, Aldridge +37 in 36 minutes (+45.3 per 100)
Miller, Fernandez, Roy, Wallace, Aldridge +26 in 29 minutes (+43.9 per 100)

Spurs:
Parker, Ginobili, Jefferson, Blair, Duncan +147 in 669 minutes (+10.4 per 100)
Parker, Ginobili, Jefferson, McDyess, Duncan +29 in 147 minutes (+10.2 per 100)
Hill, Neal, Ginobili, Bonner, McDyess +67 in 105 minutes (+35.3 per 100)
Parker, Hill, Ginobili, Bonner, Duncan +49 in 55 minutes (+39.0 per 100)

The Pick

Trail Blazers

I would definitely pick the Spurs if Manu and Parker start, but I suspect that Manu is very unlikely to play. I am interested to see if other Spurs can successfully expand their roles. Perhaps this will make the Spurs more dangerous in the playoffs.

  • Rafael

    Hope Pop stop being stubborn and play the “best” lineup in 4th

  • jacobd

    Hopefully what doesnt kill us makes us stronger come playoffs – other players getting more minutes.

    I’m keeping my head up though .. I have to admit though, I’m beginning to get superstitious.. is it too early for that? lol!

    GO SPURS GO!!

  • spursgermany

    The Bulls are within 3.5 games while the Lakers sit 4 back and Dallas has climbed to within 3

    LAKERS PLAY NEXT MAVS(homer), JAZZ(away) , NUGGETS(homer).

    DALLAS PLAY NEXT CLIPPERS(away),LAKERS(away),GSW(away).

    BULLS PLAY NEXT SIXERS(homer),TIMBERWOLVES(away),PISTONS(away).

    SPURS PLAY BLAZERS(home),CELTICS(home),ROCKETS(away)

    Around Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd we might still hold HCA

  • Tim in Surrey

    (Scott – I think the Mavs are 5 back, actually.)

    I know some of you guys are worried about HCA, so let’s look at it: Since the teams in question win most of their games, I’ll just focus on the Loss column. Spurs have 16, Chicago has 19, LA has 20, Dallas and Boston have 21, and Miami has 22. Chicago has one more game than the rest. Boston and Miami have 10 games remaining, while all the rest have 9 to play.

    The Spurs have 5 home games remaining (Portland, Boston, Phoenix, Sacramento, and Utah) and 4 road games (Houston, Atlanta, LA, and Phoenix). Boston and Atlanta are playing terribly right now, while Sacramento and Utah are just terrible. But Phoenix isn’t the best matchup and if LA is within striking distance in the penultimate game they’ll be sure to load both barrels. So the range between 4-5 and 6-3 probably depends on how we play against Portland tonight and at Houston. Based on how we’ve played in the last three games, I think 5-4 is a pretty modest expectation.

    If we do go 5-4, we’ll finish the season at 62-20, so Dallas, Boston, and Miami couldn’t catch us. If Chicago could tie us by going 9-1 and, depending on the losses, might or might not win the tiebreaker (currently we have the edge). If LA goes 9-0 they would tie us and win the tiebreaker. However if we go 6-3 LA is eliminated as well and Chicago could only tie us if they go 10-0 and our three losses are all to Western Conference teams. Even if we go 4-6, it would be almost impossible for Boston, Chicago, and Dallas to catch us and would be very difficult for Miami and LA. (They’re both playing well, but remember that Chicago still has to play Boston and at Orlando and LA still has to play Portland and Denver–as well as us, of course.)

    So, in other words, we’re going to have HCA for the playoffs.

  • Tim in Surrey

    Sorry – Boston and Chicago have 10 left, while SA, Dallas, LA, and Miami have 9.

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

    Tim in Surrey, I am also confident that we will have HCA but the concern that most are going to have is that the Spurs need to be playing their best basketball going into the postseason.

    To me, this team needs to be hitting on all cylinders from April 3rd until……well, the end of June. :)

    What I would hope to see from Pop, is having the starting lineup be comprised of TP, Manu, RJ, TD and Tiago.

    Bring in the combo of Blair and McD, Hill, Neal and Novak. Switch up Bonner for Novak, Anderson for Hill or Neal and Green come in only if we are clobbering people.

    Although Matty is still leading the NBA in 3 point shooting, the dude’s confidence is clearly shaken…..I think this is where Pop needs to tell him crap or get off the can.

    This team is too talented not to go to the Finals and quite honestly, as long as Novak won’t be used to inbound the ball, I would rather have him shooting 3s for us.

  • waterbuffalo

    @Tim in Surrey
    There’s also the question of how well the teams left on the schedule are playing.

    Over the last ten games, only three of the Spurs remaining opponents are playing over .500 (LAL .900, POR .600, HOU .700), the rest are at or below .500 (BOS .500, ATL .500, SAC .500, PHX .300 (2x), UTA .300).

    The Lakers have five games left against teams playing over .500 (DAL .600, DEN .700, POR .600, OKC .900, SAS .600) while four are below .500 (UTA .300 (2x), GSW .400, SAC .500).

    Except for the fact they’re playing three sets of three games in four days, each finishing with a travel back to back, it appears the Bulls have the least difficult schedule left. They only have one game left against a team playing over .500 over the last ten games (ORL .700), the rest are .500 and below (BOS .500, PHI .400, MIN .200, TOR .300, DET .400, PHX .300, CLE .200, NYK .100, NJN .400 (hmmm….the Nets owner sure looks good now for pulling out of the Carmelo sweepstakes, while James Dolan’s player personnel interventions have been consistently poor).

  • junierizzle

    I think they pull it out tonight. They have played well without TD and they played good enough without TD and MANU.

    If they play the same way then the home crowd should push it over the edge. They should win on home energy alone.

  • chromao

    chromao
    March 18th, 2011 at 9:22 am – The (not so) funny thing is that (almost) everybody here takes for granted that we already have HCA in the west. With 15 games to be played and the LA Lakers with the softest schedule (10 home games, 4 away games) this HCA is not yet a sure thing at all!

    @jwalt
    March 18th, 2011 at 12:13 pm – chromao and Hobson, get a grip. We will be the first seed. If not, then we are so bad that it doesn’t matter. If we go 8-7 then either the Lakers or Mavs would have to go undeated to tie us. Please, relax.

    —————————————————————-
    So, shoud we submit a Poll? How are Spurs fans feeling right now

    Option (a) Relax, we are good
    Option (b) we are so bad that it doesn’t matter.

    now I go even further and wonder if we are going to reach sixty wins! Besides the poor execution down the strech on all games this road trip, the thing that ticked me off the most was the absence of Splitter in the 4th quarter of these games. We were killed rebound-wise yesterday! Tony trick-or-treat Allen was making layups! I really would like to know the reasoning for this decision. Does Pop consider him inexperienced? Is he fatigued? the oponent had a strong inside presence, which demanded a big man, and I do not believe Splitter would make mistakes (besides the turnovers we were already commiting) that would put the game in more jeopardy. So why did he not play more?

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Scott Sereday

    @Tim in Surrey

    Thanks for catching the typo, I changed the post to reflect that Dallas is 5 back.

  • http://www.nbamatchup.com Chris in Phoenix

    How many Did Not Play- Coach’s Decision’s has James Anderson gotten lately?

    What gives? I heard when he came back from injury that he had some conditioning issues but he should be back in game shape by now right?

  • Bruno

    Spurs BIGS last 5 games :
    ———Min—-FG—-Reb—-Blk—Stl—Pts

    Matt–>24,0—30%—3,4—–0,4—1,4—7,8

    Blair–>20,6—52%—5,2—–1,4 —1,0—6,2

    Dice –>22,6—40%—7,4—–0,8—0,4—6,6

    Tiago–>22,2—62%—7,8—–0,8—1,2— 8,0

    The problem: Bonner playing much, “stealing” Blair/Splitter/Macdyess minutes and playing ZERO defense and horrible Ofense

  • DBAGuy

    I don’t understand the media regarding the Spurs. RC said we would know more about Timmy in the 48-72 hours. It has been way more than that and we have heard nothing, is no one asking questions? Can someone ask why hasn’t Splitter played in the 4rth quarter in any of the last 3 games? Is Timmy out for much longer? Is Manu playing today? So much is up in the air and no one seems to be able to ask the questions. I can’t believe the franchise player is hurt and we have had no feedback at all for the last 4-5 days.

  • manufan

    Tim and Manu are out tonight. Thanks god for RJ and Matt Bonner, you know they are gonna step up and Pop will play them bunch of minutes. Yeah , I can see the light.

  • Hobson13

    Spurs can still win this game tonight even without Manu and Tim. The Blazers are a typical 6th seed. They play great ball at home, but are under .500 on the road. In other words, they are two different teams. We need several things to happen.

    1. Tony has to play well. No more 8 TO nights.
    2. Hill and/or Neal need a big night (25+pts)
    3. Splitter needs to play for at least 30 minutes
    4. If Bonner is stroking the 3, leave him in. If he can’t hit his shot, he will only get lit up on the defensive end.
    5. Defense needs to hold Blazers to under 50% shooting. Perferably 45% or less.

    If we can do at least 3 of these 5 things, then we’ll have a decent shot at winning this.

  • Pingback: Spurs Nation » Blog brother finds slim positive in the Spurs’ lost road trip

  • ITGuy

    Go Spurs Go!!

  • Jacques

    I don’t care about the score tonight. If Tony and McD are not injured, I’ll be happy. Go Spurs

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

    manufan
    March 28th, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Manu is out? I hadn’t heard anything official but I am expecting it. Spurs don’t have another game until the Celts roll into town on Thursday. Manu should be back then, not sure about Timmy.

    Bonner has played marginally better defense but he is still a major liability. The Grizz went right at him in crunch time and it worked for them. If Bonner is getting exploited in the playoffs, especially late in games, I will really be upset.

    The Spurs really just need to break this slide and find a way to win. I don’t care if it’s the ugliest game this season, just win this ball game.

  • rob

    Great points Tim in Surrey.

    I too believe the Spurs have a greater chance at maintaining HCA more so than losing it.

    However, my concerns have not been HCA more so than what has transpired these last 3 games. Granted they were road games against some of the top teams in the league. Tough to win those games if you’re out your best post player. And the Spurs played them tough and close. Great signs I agree.

    What hopefully is only a small glitch is the lack of focus and odd player rotations at the end of these games.

    Perhaps you are correct (and something I’ve eluded to myself in the recent past) that the Spurs don’t want to show their hand prior to playoffs.

    But that doesn’t make up for how the team was able to play tough and close (twice I think it was) have good leads and then lose at the end. That is not something I think was planned and should be of concern to the players and coaching staff.

    Of course I agree that come playoffs Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker will hopefully be as close to full strength as possible to help eleviate some of those issues. But it’s the other players that have fallen off a bit that will be key components to the Spurs winning that has me concerned.

    What good will it do to have Duncan, Ginobili and Parker at the top of their game come playoffs if role players are regressing and losing focus and confidence? That is happening at this point and concerning to say the least.

    This team will not have a good chance at advancing deep in the playoffs if the role players on the team cannot find a way to elevate their play as of late. They will have a great chance of at least going to the finals if some players lacking confidence/abilities are able to step it up and play like they did earlier this season.

    Regarding tonights game…Portland may have more to play for than the Spurs. Being a b2b…after seeing what’s happened these last 3 games…I give the edge to Portland and hope L.A., Dallas, Chicago and the Celtics can follow suit in the the loss category these next few games until San Antonio has some easier opponents to play.

  • Alec

    I thought the Spurs might lose five of six, or six straight, and we’re halfway there going into tonight’s game. I consider this Portland game a “must-win” for San Antonio, if it is to get the all-important #1 seed. But I just don’t see it happening without Manu and Timmy in the line-up. If we’re lucky, the Mavericks knock off the Lakers on Thursday, but Dallas plays the previous night, while LA will be rested. Not the greatest scenario to generate an upset, but one never knows. By the way, has anyone heard an update regarding Tim? Any chance he could be back later this week?

  • jwalt

    I will say it again. If we don’t have Western Conf. HCA it means we are so bad that it won’t matter what our seeding is. We will be #1.

    However, we are favored by 3 tonight over Portland without both Tim and Manu out? That’s just incorrect. Tim provides all of our front court stability, Manu gets us over the hump. But hopefully we can pull an upset.

    And am I the only blogger who was pissed off at Pop for getting himself thrown out on Sunday. He already doesn’t have Duncan, he didn’t know how serious the injury to Manu was going to be (bad enough, he played only a few more minutes) and so when the team truly needs some leadership he goes into a snit and gets kicked out. I’m sure a lot of times in the past he’s gotten kicked out intentionally, but this WAS NOT THE TIME TO DO SO.

    I hope he fines himself.

  • rob

    @jwalt

    “And am I the only blogger who was pissed off at Pop for getting himself thrown out on Sunday.”

    No. I was too. Thought it was over the top. Granted the Spurs were getting mauled and it was a rough game…but you are correct i.m.o.

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

    Just for once, I would love to be a fly on the wall during a coach’s meeting. It’s not like they aren’t well aware of Matty’s defensive shortcomings. It was plain as friggin day that the Grizz went to whoever he was guarding on more than one occasion; and of course, it worked for the Grizz. The Spurs had 3 timeouts with a minute left in the game and Bonner was in on defense. I just don’t get it and I’d love to hear a truthful reason why…

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

    BTW, could the management adjust their clocks for once? Three hours off CST now. Maybe I’m the only one who gets annoyed by that, lol.

  • Mark B

    Perhaps the servers are located in Alaska? Heh.

  • TD = Best EVER

    Keys to a BIG win tonight……

    TP MUST outplay Miller – no more 8 turnovers or 20 shot attempts (RJ/Splitter need someone to pass them the ball and we all know Hill ain’t passing to NOBODY

    GHill – Needs to step up defensively more than offensively…….(can’t let Matthews/Batum get going)

    POP needs to call PLAYS and stop running this dumb offense the entire game……. take advantage of any mismatches we have…… and run Neal/RJ off some screens to get them some good looks…….Give Splitter/Blair a post up or 2 as well…… helps to keep the game at a reasonable pace for our D

    LaMarcus/Wallace have to be contained (combined for 60 points last night)

    If we can do 3/4 – we should be able to get a HUGE win………

  • Tyler

    I wouldn’t draw too many conclusions based on the last 3 losses. Our role players have been asked to do more out of necessity, not by design. And when that happens, you usually end up with guys trying to do things they’re uncomfortable or incapable of doing. Naturally, the product suffers. The fact that we’ve struggled shouldn’t be a surprise.

    It’s easy to forget just how good any of our big 3 are until you see our team without one or more in the lineup. Without a TD, Manu, or TP, every Matt Bonner or Gary Neal 3 is a little more closely guarded, every RJ and George Hill driving lane is a little tighter. The Spurs’ big 3 allows the role players the opportunity to make plays; they excel in large part due to the attention the big 3 receive.

    The most important thing at this point is health. If TD or Manu is not healthy, nothing else matters.

    I’m not too worried. We played 3 tough road games and had a chance to win all 3, even without TD. We simply lacked that final push to put us over the top. One or two plays here or there, and we’re looking at a win or two instead of 3 straight L’s. If TD and Manu are healthy, we’re not having this conversation.

  • TD = Best EVER

    Just watch and see what type of Offense we run…… That will be huge for us…. If we go after whoever Gerald Wallace is guarding in the Post……. Huge Mismatch on offense for us and we Need to take advantage of it……As well as if they try to put Batum on Parker, we need to Post RJ up on the smaller guard……