The Margin: San Antonio Spurs 87, Boston Celtics 86
Ed. Note: Rob Mahoney, my spirit animal and proprietor of the TrueHoop Network’s Two Man Game, has a unique style of game recap. He takes the margin of the final score and posts a note for every point. I’m going to being shamelessly doing a half-hearted version of his idea with some regularity.
This column is so much easier to write when the Spurs win by one instead of, say, 35.
- Despite getting the victory, the Spurs only scored 28 second half points. (As compared to say, 32 second quarter points.) That’s nothing to gawk at. However, I want to propose the wildly counterintuitive notion that the Spurs offense was not that bad in the second half. The team had a truly abysmal second half shooting percentage – a couple of percentage points south of 30 percent. In particular, the team’s 3-point shooting fell off a cliff. The Spurs went 2-17 in the second half from outside. In the past I’ve been critical of what I’ve perceived to be the Spurs overreliance on 3-point shooting. But in this instance I come not to bury the Spurs outside shooters but to praise them. The truth of the matter is, despite a team-wide cold streak, the ball movement remained crisp, the floor remained well spaced and the shot selection remained high quality. Nothing was falling, but don’t mistake misses with poor decision-making or ball movement. Many of those 3s were wide open and there’s nothing wrong with a 40 percent 3-point shooter, which the Spurs possess in spades, taking a wide-open outside shot. There were a few ill-advised 3s here and there, but of the seventeen, the majority were open looks that I only regretted once the ball failed to splash through the net. The point is, over the years the Spurs have proven that the systems they employ on both ends of the floor work. On face value there’s not much to like about San Antonio’s offense in the second half. However, what I loved was the fact that, amidst a drought, the team remained calm, spaced the floor, moved the ball and found open shots. One rough quarter didn’t cause anyone to abandon the game plan. It may have been ugly to watch at the time, but in the future that combination of clear-headedness and confidence will pay dividends.
UPDATE: In the comments section, etomai rightly pointed out that, in the second half, the Spurs’ guards did a poor job penetrating the defense. That’s absolutely right. Attacking the rim and either getting easy shots or to line is often an effective antidote when a team’s mired in a drought, and San Antonio’s attempts to do that were largely thwarted. There are plenty of things the Spurs could have done better. I’m merely saying that, in spite of the poor penetration, turnovers and myriad other things going wrong, I wasn’t really bothered by the high volume or quality of outside shots San Antonio was taking.