The San Antonio Spurs are on an unbelievable road trip; 9 games in 23 days. Their last home game was against Houston on Saturday the 29th of January, and they don’t play at home again until Wednesday the 23rd of February against OK City. Of, course their last road game is on the 17th against Chicago, but still that’s 9 games in 17 days with 3 back-to-backs. And unfortunately, the Kings are catching them on only the 3rd game instead of later in the trip, but it is the 3rd game in 4 days and the 2nd game of their first back-to-backs.
The Spurs started February with the best record in the NBA, 40-7; they were 25-2 at home and 15-5 on the road. For January they were 6-0 at home and 5-3 on the road; with losses to New York, Boston and New Orleans. SA is 3rd in Offense and 7th in Defense. They are 10th in getting to the FT line and #1 in not sending their opponent there, and they are 7th in fewest turnovers. But, the most shocking stat of them all is that they are 21-1 against Sub .500 teams, that one loss being a 90-85 road game against the Clippers.
Here’s a little Roster history for you Fan’s watching and salivating over the NCAA and the NBA Draft.
Tim Duncan Drafted #1 overall in the 1997 Draft
Mano Ginobili Drafted 57th in the 1999 Draft
Tony Parker Drafted 28th in the 2001 Draft
Tiago Splitter Drafted 28th in the 2007 Draft- played in Europe until this year
George Hill Drafted 26th in the 2008 Draft
DeJuan Blair Drafted 37th in the 2009 Draft
James Anderson Drafted 20th in the 2010 draft
Matt Bonner Via Trade in June of 2006
Richard Jefferson Via Trade in June of 2009
Antonio McDyess Free Agent in July of 2009
Gary Neal Free Agent in July of 2010
Larry Owens Free Agent in January of 2010
Chris Quinn Free Agent in November of 2010
Only one lottery pick that was drafted and only two picks in the top 25 picks in any draft.
Splitter the 6-11 center out of Brazil has appeared in 37 games averaging 4pts /2.5 rebs in 11 mpg. Quinn is a 6-2 guard in his 5th year out of Notre Dame, has played in 29 games averaging 2pts / 1ast in 6mpg. Owens the 6-7 Forward/Guard out of Oral Roberts has only seen 4.4 minutes in 7 games. And, this year’s draft pick, James Anderson a 6-6 guard out of Oklahoma State played in 6 games until he broke his foot and just returned 3 games ago.
So, let’s look at who does play. First off the Spurs have 6 players who have played in all 48 games this season, all 5 starters and Gary Neal. So, lets’ look at the starters.
Mano Ginobili has moved from the best 6th man, to the starting SG alongside Tony Parker. Ginobili is the leading scorer 18.8 ppg, the leader in Steals 1.8 per game, and 2nd in assists at 4.8 apg. Parker is 2nd in scoring at 17.3 ppg, first in assists at 6.8 apg and averages 1.3 steals per game.
The starting frontcourt consists of DeJuan Blair at Center, Tim Duncan at PF and Richard Jefferson at SF. Duncan is the leading rebounder at 9.4 rpg, and 3rd in scoring at 13.6 ppg. Richardson the 6-7 forward in his 10 year in the NBA is 4th in scoring at 12.3 ppg, and the most dangerous 3pt shooter at 41.6% on 190 attempts. Blair at 6-7 is best known for his performance in last year’s Rookie/Sophomore game during All-Star weekend, and for having no cartilage in either knee which is why he dropped to the 2nd round of last year’s NBA Draft. But, it doesn’t stop him from averaging 8pts / 7 rebs in 21 mpg.
The main reserves are Gary Neal the undrafted 6-4 guard, who is currently ranked 7th on NBA.com’s Rooking Ladder and was voted to the Rookie Team in this year’s Rookie/sophomore Challenge game. He’s currently averaging 8.5 pts / 2.5 rebs in 19 mpg, and is 2nd to Richardson in 3pt shooting, averaging 39.2% on 189 attempts. Then there’s George Hill a 6-2 PG in his 3rd season out of Jerry Reynolds favorite university IUPUI. Which spelled backwards is IUPUI. Hill has played in 42 games and averages 11 pts/ 2 asts in 28 mpg, and shots 37% from three on just over 100 attempts. The first big man off the bench is 6-10 Matt Bonner in his 7th season, and averaging 7.6 pts / 3.6 rebounds in 22 mpg and he too is shooting 50% from three on over 120 attempts. Antonio McDyess the 6-9 PF in his 15th season is the only other player besides Duncan and Blair who plays significant minutes and isn’t a 3PT threat. McDyess has played in 44 games averaging 5 pts/ 5 rebs in about 18 mpg.
The Spurs starting lineup has over 40 years of NBA experience and that’s with starting a 2nd year center. The Kings experience would be around 10 years if JT starts instead of Dalembert. In fact the entire Kings roster has less NBA experience than the Spurs starters. This is why they are so efficient both offensively and defensively, and why they don’t make mistakes or turnover the ball. Plus I can’t imagine how many shots they have taken over their careers, explaining why as a team they shoot 47% from the field and 39% from three. And, why they outscore their opponents by almost 7 ppg on average. Plus, they have just enough depth that none of their aging starters averages more than 33 mpg. Their age doesn’t seem to slow them down; they play right at the league average pace, but win whether they have to play 90 or 100 possession per game. No matter how you want to play, you’re not going to take them out of their game.
There is no secret about what makes the Spurs so successful; it’s Tim Duncan. He’s the most active big on the court. He’ll set multiple screens on every possession and roll to the basket looking for the ball. And, if he doesn’t get it and the ball doesn’t move he’ll go back and try again. And, if that doesn’t work he’ll move into the post and go iso easily getting a shot off over his defender. On defense, he knows when to let his man move away while he doubles up in the paint and shut down the lane. With his length he’s an effective rebounder and will tip the ball to a teammate when he’s not able to retrieve it himself. Duncan is quick to leave his man to double or give help, and his man needs to slash to the rim looking for the entry pass out of the double. The Hornets, the only team to defeat the Spurs twice this season, held Duncan to 2-10 and 2-11 in their wins. Of course, having the Spurs fail to find the range on their 3pt shots at the same times increases your chance of beating San Antonio.
The Spurs have started off their Rodeo Roadtrip with a loss to Portand 99-86 and a win over the Lakers 89-88. The Kings will be facing the Spurs in the first of three regular season meetings. The Spurs swept the 2009-10 regular season series, 4-0. San Antonio has won 14 of the last 15 meetings against the Kings. The Kings haven’t fared well against penetrating PG’s like Parker or Veteran teams in general. If they’re going to have any success against the Spurs, they’ll have to contain Duncan and limit Parker’s ability to create with good rotations and help defense in the paint Go Kings!