Pace: 90 possessions (slow)
Offensive Efficiency: 100 points/100 possessions (near league worst)
Defensive Efficiency: 92 points allowed/100 possessions (beyond league best)
Some bullet points before Brian Robb’s full recap:
• Here’s what’s going to annoy me about the analysis of this game: All of the focus is going to be on how the Spurs were in a position to win despite 17 turnovers—at least five of which were silly and unforced—and terrible foul shooting (7-of-17). If the focus is indeed that narrow, I’ll have two problems:
1) It ignores the fact that the C’s had a lot to with those turnovers, particularly Duncan’s six TOs. Their interior defense was phenomenal tonight. More on this later:
2) The Spurs grabbed 20 offensive rebounds tonight. Twenty. That amounts to 40 percent of all available rebounds under the C’s basket, and that’s just way, way, way too many. Just for the sake of context: The C’s allowed 20 offensive rebounds in a regulation game just once all of last season. These teams could play 20 more times, and that wouldn’t happen again.
My point: Yes, the Spurs were sloppy, and the C’s had nothing to do with their atrocious foul shooting (does Tony Parker just hate the color green?) and a third of their turnovers. But the Spurs made up for at least some of that by grabbing 20 offensive boards and earning 10 more field-goal attempts than Boston.
• Are we worried about the rebounding yet? We know this C’s team is not build to grab offensive boards, but pulling down just two is problematic. But the problems on the defensive glass are more troublesome, because that is where this team’s personnel is supposed to excel Coming into tonight, the C’s were grabbing 74 percent of available defense boards (10th in the league), down from 75.7 percent (and 8th in the league) last season.
They’ll drop further in that category once tonight’s numbers are factored in.
• DeJuan Blair changed this entire game. For about the first 40 minutes, didn’t you get the feeling that the Spurs were a bit unnerved by the C’s physicality? The C’s big guys were doing what they always do—little shoves on a player’s hip as he drives to the basket, well-placed forearms, aggressive shot challenges, etc. There were a lot of possessions that ended with Spurs players missing inside shots and then flapping their arms to indicate their displeasure with a non-call.
The C’s can do that to a team.
And then Blair game in and just wrecked Boston inside.
Nothing like 18 points (9-of-11 from the floor) and 11 boards (five offensive) in 22 minutes of play. Holy hell. He scored on offensive boards, as the roll man on screen/rolls and by just moving well without the ball. He was took quick for Sheed, who is getting by on playing the angles and swatting at the ball right now.
Blair provided a toughness San Antonio didn’t show for the first three quarters. The Spurs aren’t soft. But they looked as if they didn’t want any part of the C’s physical defense until Blair perked them up.
• The C’s did a nice job keeping Parker out of the paint with just a few exceptions. Specifically, they designed their defense to keep him out of the middle of the paint. Watch how Rondo defended Parker whenever Tony got the ball on the wing, and you’ll see him open up his stance to give Parker the baseline. When the Spurs ran their high screen/rolls for Parker, the C’s had the screener’s man slide across the foul line to try and prevent penetration.
The result? Parker got some nice looks from the elbows and missed most of them. You’ll live with that. Because if he gets in the paint, it opens up San Antonio’s three-point game. And that’s where they kill you.
• Don’t be surprised if the C’s play poorly tomorrow at Oklahoma City. They had to work hard on defense for a lot of 40-second possessions tonight because of all the offensive boards.
• Sheed played a near-perfect game until the 7:13 mark of the 4th quarter, when he got a little carried away after making a semi-important three and launched two more in quick succession. I only had a problem with the last one—a rushed brick from the left corner over a strong close out. Before that, Sheed had spent most of his night in the post, shooting over Matt Bonner, Blair and even Duncan. And he was effective. More, please.
• That Rondo strip on Tony Parker with 26 seconds left and the C’s up 87-83—wow. Just wow. That play has to be perfect for it not to be a foul, and Rajon pulled it off. Great stuff.
• Rajon and KG had their thing going tonight, with Rajon drawing the defense under the hoop and tossing the ball out to KG for 20-footers. And as Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm pointed out (via HoopData), KG was hitting 16-23-foot jumpers at a 46 percent clip before this game.
After an early slump, the patented KG jumper is back.
• It’s nice to have a national audience see how far Perk has come. He was the primary defender on Duncan tonight, and he and KG are essentially interchangeable against teams with traditional power forwards (i.e. not Orlando). This really helped tonight, because Perk and KG could switch on the interior to close off open looks.
The best example occurred at about the 9:30 mark of the 3rd quarter, when Duncan faced up against Perk from about 15 feet out at the left elbow. He drove right and got a slight step on Perk. KG (defending McDyess in the middle) jumped in front of Duncan to cut off his drive. Duncan made the right play—he dumped the ball to Dice, who had drfited away from the hoop along the left baseline and was in nice position for a short J. Except Perk had already switched onto Dice and blocked the shot.
Hands and arms everywhere, all night for the C’s. Give the boys in green some credit for those 17 Spurs turnovers. (Some of them, anyway. Not the ones where Richard Jefferson threw away an inbounds pass or Manu dropped a ball out of bounds or Mason and Finley stepped on the sideline spotting up).
• Speaking of Manu, it should be noted that he played a grand total of 3 seconds in the 4th quarter after playing 7:07 in the 3rd. The next time these two play, he’ll probably be taking crunch time three-pointers instead of Roger Mason Jr.
• Quote of the night comes from Mike Fratello, who said the following of Richard Jefferson: “Sometimes Richard Jefferson just doesn’t pay attention to detail.” He will be earning $29.4 million over this season and next.
Seriously, though: Jefferson’s PER is below league average, and he hasn’t been the offensive spark the Spurs had hoped. Six points tonight on just 3-of-13 shooting, and almost all of them were tough shots.
• It’s hard to win games when three of your starters combine for six total points.
• It’s nice to win games when Paul Pierce scores 8 points on 2-of-9 shooting.
• In a game in which Doc tightened his rotation down to nine players (no Shelden), it’s nice to see he kept individual minutes mostly under control. Ray Allen played 40, but Pierce and KG played 37 and 35, respectively.
• As for Shelden, I think this was just an issue of match-ups. It’s asking a lot for Shelden to track Bonner around the three-point line. Scal is a more natural fit to defend a perimeter-oriented big, though Bonner hurt the C’s on the offensive glass by tipping a few rebounds out to shooters. Shelden would have prevented those ORBs.
• One thing I noticed: Doc deviated from his recent pattern of taking Rondo out first among the starters (usually with about 4:00 to go in the 1st and 3rd quarters) and replacing him with House. My guess: This is out of respect for Parker. He wanted Rondo to defend Parker for as many of Parker’s minutes as possible. Smart call.
• Sheed screaming “You can’t leave me! You can’t leave me!” after nailing an open three in the 4th was…funny. Make a few before you start yapping, big fella. But great game, though.
That’s it for me. Get ready for a tough one against the Thundies tomorrow and watch for Brian’s recap later.