What's on the Menu? "mmmmmm . . . Basketball!!!!"

Saturday, January 12, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for November: 3. San Antonio Spurs

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of November 30th): 13-4,  second place Southwest Division





9
This Month:

3
Team Statistics and League Rank (as of November 30th)
  • Points Scored: 100.9 (5th)
  • Points Allowed: 95.7 (11th)
  • Team FG%: .472 (5th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .439 (13th)
  • Rebounds per game: 40.8 (23rd)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 43.6 (23rd)
  • Turnovers per game: 14.6 (11th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 15.1 (16th)


Individual Statistical Leaders

  • Scoring (ppg): Tim Duncan (19.0)
  • Rebounds per game:  Tim Duncan (10.5)
  • Minutes per game: Tony Parker (32.7)
  • Assists per game: Tony Parker (7.5)
  • Steals per game: Kawhi Leonard (2.0)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Tim Duncan (2.4)


Worst Player of the Month: Manu Ginobli


Father time has finally caught up with the aging Argentinian as Manu Ginobli has come into the season looking old and worn out.   The 35 year old swingman started November stumbling out of the gates scoring under seven points per game and shooting .330 from the field.  He did manage to pick up his game as the month of November wore on scoring 13.1 points per games and shooting .449 from the field; however, it has been painfully aware that Manu's professional basketball days are coming to an end.  He can no longer play the same minutes that he once did and his playing time has steadily dropped making him even less of a factor.  With him on the last year of his contract, it looks as if this will be the last time fans will see Manu in a Spurs uniform as the ravages of old age have finally caught up with him.


First Player of the Month:  Tim Duncan


Who would have though that a 36 year old, 15 year veteran would come into the season leading his team in scoring, rebounds and blocked shots?  After three year of declining performances averaging career lows in scoring, rebounds and minutes played, many thought it would be the end of the man who many regarded as " the Big Fundamental;" however, Tim Duncan has shocked all his detractors and doubters as he posted his best numbers since 2009.  Many cringed when the Spurs, instead of letting Duncan go, signed him to a three year extension worth in the 30$ million range; however, TD has gone to silence all doubters that believed signing him to that much money was a bad investment.  It almost seems as his abilities never really declined, but more that he was just simply holding back the past three years.  Thus far, Tim Duncan has continued to defy the odds along with father time as he still remains the league top franchise centers. 

Analysis:

Despite possessing the third best record in the NBA, it is extremely difficult to get excited about the Spurs because they have been so consistent that it goes to the point of being monotonous.  It is no surprise that San Antonio starts strong because they always have for the past 15 years, always finish amongst the top four or five teams with the best record and a high seed in the playoffs.  It was no different this season as the Spurs ended the month of November losing just four games and winning the other thirteen; however, unlike previous seasons, there is something slightly off on the Spurs routine victory laden seasons.  This time, they are no longer the head honchos of their Southwest Division as it has been taken by an unexpected party.

For the first time in the team's history, the Memphis Grizzlies were at the top of the mountain in November as they not only sat upon first place in their division, but also owned the best record in the league.  For the first time in what can be seen as an eternity, the Spurs have found themselves no longer at the top looking down on their opponents, but on the bottom looking up.  The Spurs were no longer the top dog or the head honcho anymore--they were not even amongst the top three in they west. Instead they would be places behind the Los Angeles Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder because regardless of their winning record, not having the top spot in their division automatically relegates San Antonio to fourth place in the Western Conference.  Nonetheless, it has not really affected them, as the Spurs still continue to consistently win and remain dominant despite their current standing in the West.

The Spurs for the month of November did basically what they always do--just win; the month was just so predictable, one could set a watch on when and where they would win.  Entering November, the Spurs dealt a relatively soft schedule rather handily beating their lesser opponents by rather considerable margins as eight of their 13 games were by 10 or more points.  The Spurs had their share of close shaves as well narrowly escaping upset wins against lesser foes such as the New Orleans Hornets (10/31/2012), and the Toronto Raptors (11/25/2012); yet they still managed to remain predictably victorious throughout the month.  The four losses San Antonio suffered were from teams that were expected to be able to beat them-- the Pacific Division leading Los Angeles Clippers, twice (11/7, 11/19), the Eastern Conference leading New York Knicks (11/15/2012), and the reigning NBA Champion Miami Heat (11/29/2012).  There were not any real surprises thus most of the Spurs exploits, as they have been every year, have remained relatively ignored, except this one small instance.

After finishing the month of November winning five straight games on the road, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich up and decided to sit down his four key players--Tim Duncan, Manu Ginolbi, Danny Green and Tony Parker--for the sixth and last game of their road trip.  Unfortunately, that game happened to be against the Miami Heat and what Popovich claimed to be just a simple coaching decision became a whirlwind of controversy.  The media and fans in Miami were outraged that Poppovich pulled such a move without any prior warning as they anticipated to see a grudge match between two of the best teams with six of the league's biggest stars playing against one another.  Instead they were forced to watch their Miami Heat face a skeleton crew consisting of second stringers and nobodies.  It even angered league commissioner, David Stern, which led him to fine both Poppovich and the Spurs for making a much anticipated matchup between two of the league's powerhouses into a laughing stock and a public relations disaster.

Poppovich would deservedly catch a lot of heat for his actions as he deprived millions of fans from seeing a great matchup between two of the NBA's best teams simply on a whim.  None of the players he sat down were hurt or injured and were capable of playing.  In one swift move the Spurs coach not only brought upon the ire and contempt of the league and fans, but collectively gave the Miami Heat a virtual lap in the face; ironically, however, the Heat responded to that slap by beating an undermanned and much weaker Spurs team by just five points.   In effect, Poppovich's move not only made the Spurs look bad, but made the Heat look even worse as they with their superstar trio of James, Wade and Bosh could not put away a team that was playing at a fraction of its full strength.  It only goes to show how deep in terms of talent and abilities the Spurs really are, that even without their top guns, they can still pull off the same effort night in and night out.