Game #1 Preview: Pacers @ Spurs - It's In The Cards

WOO HOO! Real basketball is back and Spurs fans everywhere are raring to go. Tonight the fun starts with the Pacers. Everyone have your Kool-Aid ready?

After how many soul-crushing months of no Spurs basketball, the start of the new season is upon us. Tons of things to talk about, debate on, curse at, throw allegiances to, or simply burn down to the ground like LeBron jerseys after The Decision.

But just like how coaches coach, let's take this one game at a time shall we? After all, the entire NBA season's not a sprint but a marathon and I'm getting a little tired of launching cliche after cliche so that'll be the last. For now, welcome back, Spurs fans. Allow your reflexes to take over and jump in for the maiden preview of Season 2010-2011.

Music is PtR Life

Here is your pump-me-up music for the game.

Take Me To Your Dealer

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Hello, my name is David and you have no choice but to deal with whatever hand I give you. Hah, "deal"! Get it?

I, silverandblack_davis, should've made this last year, which was supposed to be more apropos considering the FO's brave leap into lux-tax territory, but hey, ideas can come late at times. Well actually, most of the time. Still, I hope to make things relevant, just like how the Spurs will be by season's end, when all is said and done.

Do you like to gamble? I don't. I'm a fairly uninspiring, boring individual that likes to play life safe, more content with doing things at a slower-than-slow pace, a Matt Bonner-trying to run wind sprints-on-water pace, if you will. It's like my Dad's defensive driving lessons 101 - never mind how slow you're moving, as long as you get there.

Umm... well, at least in terms of driving, the opposite happened -- I became the family's hotheaded reckless driver who only gets called to driving duty when everyone else is too tired or busy to drive. That's what happens when you drive a car with an AC more inconsistent than Lamar Odom and tends to break down like Greg Oden's knees, for four years in college. I'm always rushing to get to where I'm supposed to go. And did I mention the sweltering heat tropical countries are known for, and traffic so insane that pedestrians actually dominate the road? Yep, my life in a nutshell.

Anyway, back to the gambling part (lots of "balls" in 3, 2,..). Even though most people don't have the balls to grab life by the balls and actually start ballin', there's no denying the rush that comes when you get into a high stakes game. For the San Antonio Spurs, the team's championship window has been getting smaller and smaller, and in a few desperate gasps, the front office suddenly throws a ton of their chips out there, hoping that the returns will be exponential. Of course, this also goes without saying that if they lose, they'll lose A LOT.


Season Scenarios: Texas Hold 'Em Style

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"KGB, CIA, who? I'm just a regular retiree enjoying his wine in a casino."

In the next few minutes, I will try my best to lay out this season's multiple scenarios -- played out poker-style (not because I'm good at it - I suck - but because it's popular and we're pop culture conformist like that), described by the different hands that this great franchise might be holding. We won't actually have a solid knowledge of the cards that they're dealt with, but hopefully we'll get a better insight into the future with each game until we get bounced or *gasp* win it all. Sounds a little dangerous but intriguing? See, you're liking this gambling thing already.

High Card - 1 in 1.99 = 50 percent

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The Anti-BLLLAAAAAIIIIIRR.

Ahh yes. This hand is probably equivalent to three-fifths of NBA teams -- decent players here and there, a middling record but always falling short of the Big Dance in April. What would amount to a "High Card Season" for the Spurs?

I think here, you finally start talking about "no playoffs" since, like, forever. That Dall-ass-kissing Mavs fan in Bleacher Report finally gets some measure of vindication after continually predicting that the Spurs will be the odd team out in the playoff picture, and the Duncan window is formally, irrevocably closed off -- sealed, boarded up, plastered with layers and layers of duct tape, what have you. It's over. Fo' sho'.

In this hell-on-earth scenario for Spurs fans, only one of the Big Three perform well (hence, the High Card) while the two stink it up either due to injuries or age or wicked voodoo that LRMR Marketing has resorted to in an effort to win LeBron the title at all costs. George Hill regresses, DeJuan Blair becomes the best preseason Spurs player ever to grace the Riverwalk, RJ shrinks smaller to become a seed, Pop is arrested for drunken dougie-ing, and James Anderson unknowingly becomes The Franchise.

Only CapHill walks away happy, but somewhat mildly and confusedly. Choosing what to drink during games becomes such a chore that she goes mad and proceeds to shoot us all with a Nerf gun loaded with rusty nails, while she recruits Queness to double-tap with her baseball bat those that even show the slightest bit of struggle.


One Pair - 1 in 2.36 = 42 percent

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Tony: "Manu, I think we do make a great pair."

Manu: "Sure, TP, as long as you pass me the ball."

You have two out of three in The Big Three playing up to standard, but the bad news bears is, we've seen this before and it wasn't pretty. Also, this is where the bench once again stinks up the joint and no one can buy a shot to save a baby unicorn from the malevolent fangs of Kobe Bean Bryant.

The team is probably good enough to hang on to a playoff spot (yes, I think our Big Three are that good and that experienced), but get the beating of a lifetime (wait, wasn't that the Dallas series in 2009? Uhh...) that the baby unicorn dies anyway just from watching the carnage.

Just like the One Pair, there will be moments when we'll say to ourselves, "We can win this. No, no. Seriously. WE CAN WIN THIS." This hand is probably the ultimate "hope" hand.

Thinking to self: "Because I have a badass pair (TWSS), who gives a shizzle if it's a low pair (TWSS), it'll be better than most players' hands. Wha... you raised? You're in for some deep trouble, compadre, because I call!"

The ensuring emotional breakdown need not be further discussed.


Two Pair - 1 in 21.03 = 4.8 percent

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The kids are alright.

Holy goatpuff, Batman! How can you go from 42 percent to a measly single-digit chance of winning?

Strictly speaking, most two pairs are actually good enough to win a few rounds, just because other higher hands have even less of a chance of occurring. In the NBA, though, this might result to maybe a playoff series win or two, at best. Two of The Big Three play superbly, while the remaining one isn't his All-Star self but still a threat nonetheless. One of the role players provide a welcome surprise, and this is enough to take the Spurs past the next round where it wilts in the face of higher cards/hands.

Sound oddly familiar? It's against Dallas again, but this time it feels a lot like 2010. Only Manu and Tim are clicking, TP's somewhat out of rhythm but effective, and Albatross turns out to be The Big Difference. In this situation, we unfurl another "20XX First Round Champions" banner in SinCitySpur's Las Vegas basement doubling as an underground strip club, and then use said banner to drown tears in another playoff flameout in the next round.

Soggy.


Three Of A Kind - 1 in 47.32 or 2.1 percent

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No card counting cheats right here.

When was the last time you saw The Big Three happy, healthy, firing in all cylinders? I thought I saw glimpses of it in this amazing SA Express News interview of the three beautimous amigos. The off-court banter was seamless and like clockwork, I wish they could be like that the entire season. It's really a sight to behold (or an article worth every second of reading).

Historically, how has the team performed when all Three Gods are clicking? I won't dive into past statistics here but I'm guessing it more or less resulted in a championship. One of the more vivid times I can remember when that didn't end up with the trophy was probably during the... wait... for... it... 2006 series versus the Mavs! Yes, Dallas again. They seem to be everywhere, even inside the JV's shiny dome. Especially considering how Dallas bombed out in the Finals so badly, it makes the whole thing that much painful to remember.

Do I think having a Three Of A Kind season is enough to win it all? Yes, but so many things - luck most especially - have to go right for it to happen. Conversely, only a few bad things need to happen that will keep us out of the championship picture -- a bad foul, a missed call, a lucky shot or hot streak, those kinds of things. The Spurs will be able to return briefly to "elite" status, but a ring is still not a sure thing. And yes, I purposely made that rhyme.

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Cuteness comes in Three Heads.


Straight - 1 in 254.80 or 0.4 percent

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I know somebody who likes Fives. Really likes Fives. I heard they're magic.

Ugh, it's getting tougher. To put it simply, five players need to be magical. I used the term because in today's NBA, most of the contenders just seem to have that many great players. The LA Lakers' starting unit is one of, if not the best starting fives in the league. Derek Fisher will always be the anointed weak link, but his clutchness in the playoffs is the stuff of Robert Horry lore so it all evens out. The Orlando Magic's and Boston Celtics' first five seem to cover all bases - post play, rebounding, defense, penetration, outside shooting.

I like our preseason and first game starting five. I like them a ton. Manu will probably return to bench duty at some point, but that's my Magic Five right there. We all know what we'll be getting with Manu, Tim and Tony, but the wild cards are RJ and Blair. Maybe switch in George for one of them, if you want. They seem to be that one difference-making card missing in your potential Straight hand that you pine for as the turn, flop and river pass by.

If those five players transform into something really special, I will most likely grow a playoff beard so epic that all the animals in Noah's ark will find plenty of space to live in it, and even Rapunzel won't have to use her long hair to get down that darn blasted tower. I will be that confident.


Flush - 1 in 508.80 or 0.2 percent


Full House - 1 in 694.16 or 0.1 percent

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How The West Was Won: With Full Houses and Thick Mustaches


I think these two are more of glorified five-card hands, something akin to that 2007 championship sweep of the Cavaliers. Those Spurs ghosts of championships past will collude to form one mean machine that will rejuvenate Tim's knees, regrow Manu's lost hair, restore Tony's Hollywood virginity and imbibe in RJ that Bowen-esque streak of wanting to put the hurt on people. And finally, Tiago Splitter will be such a bad ass that he'll dunk on Kevin Garnett and put him on his behind with such force that will make Big Baby Davis cry tears of joy, having been finally freed from his slave driver of a master. Tiago will then shout at the top of his lungs, watching everyone without particularly looking at any one, "Are you not entertained??!!"

It'll be like 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007 all over again but five times as much fun because PtR has grown so big and we're going to have Mardi Gras or wine -and-cheese parties in different parts of the world every time the Spurs have games. The blog's rich kids (whoever you are) will be shipping free booze to members of various locales, with sales of Pop's favorite drink particularly experiencing a never-before seen spike in sales volumes.

It's going to be legendary.

If it happens, that is.


Four Of A Kind - 1 in 4,165 or 0.02 percent


Straight Flush - 1 in 72,193.33 or 0.001 percent


Royal Flush - 1 in 649,740 or 0.0002 percent

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Back when we were kings.

In a perfect world, the San Antonio Spurs will beat every known record in the book, will finish the season 82-0 and sweep the playoffs with a point differential so massive it will make John Hollinger's head explode with the magnitude of a nuclear blast a million times strong. This will lead to total universal annihilation, but will be prevented from happening by Manu Ginobili, who will be arriving on his white-gold pegasus touching every Spurs fan in the nose with his divine fingertips -- lefty, of course.

Manu will then proceed to actually have babies with whoever has mentioned, written or even thought of, that they want to have Gino's babies. The world will now usher in a new era of civilization devoid of evil things like Baron Davis' beard, David Kahn's intellect, Chris Bosh's raptor face, Paul Pierce's fake injuries, the Sasha Vujacic-Maria Sharapova marriage, memories of the 0.4 shot, and The Decision, among others.

All that'll be left are Ginobilis big and small, a smattering of Minka Kellys and ScarJos, and cake. CAAAAAAKE.

In a perfect world.

Meanwhile, in the real world where you and I live, the real preview right there. As in down there. (try scrolling down a little)

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Hustler, baby.

Tim C. has once again graced us with his brilliance and set up a new preview template. Tell us what you like in the comments. If something doesn't look right, it's probably CapHill's fault. And no, there aren't any stats because there haven't been any games yet.


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San Antonio Spurs vs Indiana Pacers
Where: AT&T Center
When: Oct. 27, 2010; 7:30 pm Spurs Time
Watch: KENS HD


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By the Numbers

Data source: basketball-reference.com

Category Stat Rank
Offensive Efficiency N/A N/A
Defensive Efficiency N/A N/A
Defensive Rebound Rate
N/A N/A
Offensive Rebound Rate N/A N/A
Field Goal Percentage N/A N/A
3-Point FG Percentage N/A N/A
Free Throw Percentage
N/A N/A
Turnovers Per Game
N/A N/A
Category Stat Rank
Offensive Efficiency N/A N/A
Defensive Efficiency N/A N/A
Defensive Rebound Rate
N/A N/A
Offensive Rebound Rate N/A N/A
Field Goal Percentage N/A N/A
3-Point FG Percentage N/A N/A
Free Throw Percentage
N/A N/A
Turnovers Per Game N/A N/A
Record Wins Losses
Overall 0 0
Conference 0 0
Division 0 0
Home 0 0
Away 0 0
Position Conference Division
Record 1st 1st
Lineups

Starters
PG: Tony Parker
SG: Manu Ginobili
SF: Richard Jefferson
PF: DeJuan Blair
C: Tim Duncan

Key Bench Players
George Hill
Antonio McDyess
James Anderson

Record Wins Losses
Overall 0 0
Conference 0 0
Division 0 0
Home 0 0
Away 0 0
Position Conference Division
Record 1st 1st
Lineups

Starters
PG: Darren Collison
SG: Mike Dunleavy
SF: Danny Granger
PF: Josh McRoberts
C: Roy Hibbert

Key Bench Players
James Posey
Tyler Hansbrough
Paul George

Matchup Analysis

Point Guard
Shooting Guard
Small Forward
Power Forward
Center
Bench
Coach
Intangibles
Mojo
Winner

Starters

PG: The Wee Frenchman is back to his usual self. The summer off did a world of good. Although Collison did good work for the Hornets last year as a rookie, he's no match for The Blur. And as always, Tony needs to dominate Fisher.

SG: Manu vs. Dunleavy. Is there anyone who really thinks this contest is even close? Didn't think so.

SF: Although RJ has looked much better and, more importantly, much more comfortable this preseason, Granger still gets the star. Granger may not be a defensive threat, but he's a > 20 ppg offensive machine.

PF: It looks like McRoberts has won the starting job, despite his inconsistency. DeBeast has been a revelation this preseason. Blair's ability to play alongside Timmeh, while upping his mpg significantly, is especially important considering our Brazilian import is still wearing his snazzy suits.

C: I like Hibbert - he's a solid, young big man who's gotten better each year. However, he might actually be slower than Timmeh. Yes, Duncan's getting older and he won't have the same numbers this year, due to fewer minutes (hopefully). However, the preseason showed that Timmeh's still got game.

Bench

Will the Spurs have any offense off the bench? I was happy with the effort during the preseason, even though the results were inconsistent. However, 3-pt shooting is worrisome, as is the relative inexperience. I have no idea about the Pacers, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

Coaching

Seriously. Should I even bother acknowledging this category?

Intangibles

We're at home and we're better. No, not just on paper.

Mojo

The mojo is still dead. Or maybe it isn't. Anyone have an opinion on this?

Prediction

Spurs win.

Other Reading

Spurs

48 Minutes of Hell - These guys keep cranking out the great content. Go give them a read.

Pacers

Indy Cornrows - Currently, they are bemoaning the lack of effort and consistency in the preseason. Very good reads.

Following Along

TV

KENS HD

Radio

WOAI 1200AM; Audio League Pass[streaming]

Online

As always, NBA league pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area.

Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate. You can also shoot an email to poundingtherockmail@yahoo.com (IMPORTANT: Please include your PtR username in the email for reference) for further assistance.

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