The Margin: Spurs 93, Sixers 76
Ed. Note: Rob Mahoney 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 stealing his idea with some regularity.
- Tonight I engaged in the semi-annual tradition of watching the Spurs-Sixers game at a bar with my good friend Chris Neary, an exceptionally talented journalist and a whip smart basketball mind. I love watching Spurs games with people who don’t often watch the team because a) they have fresh observations that my tired eyes tend to miss and b) they’re genuinely amazed by the level at which guys like Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard are playing.
- If I say anything insightful in this recap, you can assume it was actually Neary’s idea. If I say anything dumb, it’s probably something I came up with on my own.
- Speaking of Neary, he had a terrific audio piece on the Sixers for Voice on the Floor last season that you should listen to.
- Back to the Spurs: I couldn’t be happier with the way Kawhi Leonard played this evening. It’s not just the energy with which he attacks the boards and the defensive end of the floor, although I appreciate that immensely. I love how much more instinctual his sense of space on the offensive end of the floor has become as the season has progressed. He cuts into the lane at the right time. He slips along the baseline behind a distracted defender at the right time. He perches himself in the corner at the right time. His hallmark will always be defense, but with each game I grow more bullish regarding his offensive abilities.
- That being said, his rebounding is what stood out this evening.
- Boris Diaw also rebounded well, and was a disruptive interior defensive presence. I’m a little concerned about his conditioning, but I’m still in a wait-and-see mode regarding his acquisition.
- In general, the interior defense was terrific, especially in the second half. Whenever a Sixer made his way into the lane, the primary defender stayed tall and long while the help defender attack the ball. The Sixers had a very difficult time scoring at the rim in the second half.
- DeJuan Blair has such an enigmatic offensive game. There seems to be almost no correlation between the relative difficulty of a shot and his likelihood of making it. He’ll spin wildly, toss up the ball and it will drop softly through the net. He’ll catch the ball with plenty of space, lay it up softly against the glass and miss the basket entirely.
- For a while Manu Ginobili was a better pick-and-roll partner for Blair, and that’s still largely the case, but Parker has steadily learned how to utilize Blair’s particular, preternatural sense of movement.
- Parker has always been an underrated passer in my opinion, but in general his passing does seem more imaginative and daring (in a good way) than it has in seasons past.
- When did Tim Duncan get a technical? I completely missed that.
- Speaking of Tim Duncan and technicals, I don’t believe Joey Crawford should be allowed to referee Spurs games. Supposedly Crawford is not the one who issued the technical this evening (or at least that’s what I read), but that doesn’t change my opinion on Crawford. And no, the reason is not, “cause he’s a terrible ref.” He’s a good ref. Let me explain.
- To put it simply, in the American judicial system, if a judge has a conflict of interest with either party, they can file to have the judge replace. It doesn’t mean the judge isn’t qualified to sit on the bench. It just means he’s human.
- I believe the same should be true of NBA referees. Tim Duncan and Joey Crawford had an altercation with resulted in Crawford’s suspension from the league. If Crawford harbored some resentment about the altercation in Dallas a few yeas back, he’d only be being human. So what should the NBA do to ensure that there’s not bias refereeing, or even the perception of such? They should ask him to recuse himself from any game in which Tim Duncan is playing. It doesn’t mean he’s not capable of being an NBA referee. It’s about the NBA realizing that sometimes it’s worth going the extra mile to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.
- Across the board, the energy level from the team tonight was terrific, especially given that it was the third night of a back-to-back-to-back.
- The Spurs are only the fifth team to win all 3 of its games in a back-to-back-to-back.
- I’ll give Justin Dentmon one thing: He ain’t afraid to shoot.