FanPost

Game 23 Recap: Spurs Suddenly Look More Youthful And Vigorous, What's Their Secret?

Game 23, vs. Portland: Spurs 95-78     (Record 20-3)             RAGE: +3

As you know, I'm somewhat a connoisseur of awful commercials. The more senseless they are, the more I can't simply fast-forward through them on my DVR. This is the latest one to blow my mind. Watch it with me, won't you?

Just For Men Commercial (via jrstroud36)

Now let's deconstruct this puppy.

:02 "Hi, can I borrow some milk?"

OH MY GOD. HER HAIR IS YELLOW AND SHE IS NOT OBESE. I THOUGHT CREATURES LIKE THIS ONLY EXISTED IN MY FANTASIES.

:07 THERE'S NO MILK IN MY FRIDGE. I CANNOT FAIL THIS GODDESS.

Fact: Every bachelor's refrigerator in the history of television contains precisely one bottle of beer, one jar of mustard and one carton of Chinese food. You never see a six-pack of soda or salad dressing or leftovers from a rack of lamb. The only way they'll ever show a guy with a fully stocked fridge is if A) He's really fat, B) He's really gay (and boy will the food items in those two instances be different), or more likely C) He's married.

:10 BRAIN: SHOULD WE RISK DYING FOR THIS STRANGER WHO'S MARRIED FOR ALL WE KNOW? PENIS: FUCK YEAH WE SHOULD.

:15 DREAM WOMAN WON'T LIKE ME BECAUSE MY HAIR IS SLIGHTLY GRAY. SHE WON'T THINK I'M YOUTHFUL AND ENERGETIC EVEN THOUGH I CAN JUMP ONTO MOVING TRUCKS FROM THREE STORIES UP. I BETTER TRICK HER WITH HAIR PAINT.

At about this point in the commercial I admit it was getting somewhat difficult for me to suspend my disbelief. Okay, the guy jumps down without breaking his legs, fine. Am I supposed to expect that a slightly above-average looking woman will be patiently waiting in her hall for 15 minutes without questioning anything? She won't knock on the door again or just give up, thinking the guy blew her off? Really? How can she let him walk all over her like that? Is she coming off a bad, emotionally abusive relationship? Does she have daddy issues? Is she so poor and in need of milk that she's willing to just wait forever? I bet she has a lot of cats. I so wish she was real and lived near me.

:17 OH DER, THE MILK. HEH.

It's pretty much an industry-wide rule at this point that all white men in commercials have to be complete idiots whenever women are involved.

:18 I BETTER HURRY UP, PRETTY LADY IS GETTING SUSPICIOUS. SHE MADE A "WHAT'S GOING ON IN THERE?" FACE. SHE MUSN'T KNOW I'M DYEING MY NAUGHTY PLACE TOO.

Again, I'm having trouble turning my brain off here. The dude JUMPED down two flights. How did he get back UP into his apartment without going through the front door? Did he fly? If he had a fire escape, wouldn't he have simply used it to climb down instead of risking life and limb? And let's examine the time line here: At least five minutes at the store. Two minutes to "beam up" back to his apartment. A minute to start the shower. A minute to take off his clothes. Two minutes to prepare the hair dye glop. Two minutes to apply to head. Wait five minutes for it to seep in. Two minutes to rinse out. Two minutes to dry hair, body. Two minutes to dress. A minute to comb hair. By my count this process would take, minimum, 25 minutes. Surely even a woman with severe mental trauma would be suspicious by, I'm estimating, no later than 23 minutes. Nice try, Just For Men.

:22 MUST APPEAR CASUAL AND CONFIDENT AS IF NOTHING HAPPENED WHEN I GIVE LADY MILK.

:23 (Lady bites lip) HIS HAIR IS BROWN AND SHINY. I COMPLETELY FORGOT WHY I WAS WAITING HERE ALL THIS TIME, I'M SO OVERWHELMED BY HIS HANDSOMENESS. I MUST SHOW HIM HE JUST EARNED A ROUND-TRIP TICKET TO FUCKTOWN DEPARTING IMMEDIATELY IN A DEMURE, NON-SLUTTY WAY.

Commercials are so fucking stupid.

In a completely unrelated note, I bought Just For Men for the first time the other day. Stuff totally works.

 

Alright, alright, alright, I just finished watching the game. Yes, I know it's Tuesday night. Some of us have lives, people. Besides, it was kinda boring. They didn't even score 110 points. What the shit is that about? If I wanna cheer on some bullshit slow-it-down-walk-it-up-the-floor-lucky-if-they-crack-95-points-three-star-team I'll root for god damn Miami. (Yawn). 

 

In beating Portland the Spurs allowed a season low in points and opposing field goal percentage (37.9) and  the Blazers' point total was even more impressive -- depending on your point of view -- when you consider that Portland only turned it over 14 times and that they pulled down 20 offensive rebounds. Usually when a team has that many possessions, it's bad news for a defense. Not only do defenders get deflated doing all that darn guarding for nothing, but those second chances tend to be near the basket, lay-up and dunk opportunities for the Marcus Cambys and LaMarcus Aldridges of the world.

Both those guys got plenty of easy buckets on put-backs, but outside of that the Blazers couldn't buy a jump shot. But that wasn't the difference between this game and the 0-3 against these guys last season.

We lost 96-84 Nov. 6, 2009 @Portland when Brandon Roy had 24 points, Greg Oden shut down the paint with four blocks and Tony was limited to 11 minutes with a sprained ankle. The Blazers were 27-of-30 from the charity stripe, while the Spurs shot 38% from the field and 19% (4-of-21) from three, and they had nine offensive boards. Hill was 3-of-6 with 8 points.

The next game, a 98-94 home loss on Dec. 23, 2009, saw Jerryd Bayless score 31, Aldridge 22 and Portland again was hot from the line, going 23-of-26. The Spurs shot 51% from the field, but played at such a slow pace that they had only 70 field goal attempts. They turned it over 13 times and had just six offensive boards. Also, they were just 28% (6-of-21) from downtown, and Hill was 1-of-8 with 3 points. We lost to a team with no Roy, no Oden, no Rudy Fernandez and no Joel Przybilla.

Finally, they went down 96-93 at Portland on Feb. 4, getting scorched for 28 points by Aldridge and 21 by Martell Webster. The Blazers only got 12 points from the free throw line this time, but shot 51% from the field and 46% from three (6-of-13). The Spurs shot 44%, 23.5% from three (4-of-17) and had ten offensive boards. Hill was 6-of-12 with 16 points. Again, no Roy and no Oden.

So in the three games the Spurs shot 14-of-59 (23.7%) from deep and 8.3 offensive boards per game, with Hill averaging 9 points per game on 38.4% shooting.

Now compare those averages to Sunday's game. The Spurs didn't shoot a great percentage overall, but they were their typical marksman selves from three (9-of-17, 52.9%), making at least three more shots from deep than in any of their matches with Portland last season. They were also 22-of-26 from the line, while they averaged about 17-of-21 against the Blazers last year, never making more than 20 in any of the games. The Spurs also had 15 offensive boards, five more than their best game against Portland in '09-10 and nearly double their 8.3 average.   

With all those threes, free throws and offensive boards, the Spurs got those "hidden points," that helped them overcome a poor shooting night from the field and it didn't hurt any that Hill, their secret weapon off the bench, had a season-high 22.

Defensively they didn't allow Portland to get those hidden points. Not only were the Blazers awful from the floor, but they only made 5-of-15 threes (33%) and were just 7-of-11 from the line. They averaged 19-of-25 in the three games last year, with the fewest makes and attempts being the 12-of-18 last February, in the game where they shot their best percentage from the field. Portland also had 14 turnovers, so it was a perfect storm of offensive ineptitude for them. If it wasn't for all those offensive boards, they would've been in the 60s.

While it would certainly be nice to think that the Spurs have turned some corner and are going to be a defensive juggernaut on par with the '04-05 team going forward, I think the game was mostly an anomaly. 78 points is crazy low. What cannot be ignored, however, is that they have been slowly improving little by little and that they're allowing only 1.17 points per shot attempt, which is fourth in the league.

Why is that figure so low? Because the Spurs are far and away the league leaders, by a considerable margin, for fewest opponent free throws made (338) and attempted (467) and even when they do foul, they're fouling the right people, as opponents are shooting just 72.4% from the line against them.

Compare that to the other end where the Spurs are sixth in freebie makes per game (20.7), 10th in attempts (26.1) and seventh in percentage (79.2%). They're taking and making six more free throws per game, which makes a big difference.

They've cracked the top ten in points allowed per game (96.5) and are 14th in field goal percentage against (.457). Where they're killing themselves is three points defense (.398), where they're 28th in the league. If that figure wasn't so high, if they weren't giving up so many of those "hidden points" there, their points allowed would be even better, but it seems like the Spurs really are a team that lives by the three and dies by the three, in more ways than one.

The good news for them in that regard is that while they're only shooting 1.6% better from three than their opponents, 41.4% to 39.8%, their defense is preventing opponents from attempting as many threes as we do. The Spurs have 67 more made threes on 148 more attempts, and their nine makes per game is just a tick below Yosemite Sam's "I say-I say-I say" go-go Knicks. Indeed while the Spurs may be 28th in defensive 3-pt percentage, they're tied-for-second in attempts allowed, with 349.

While the Spurs shoot 9-for-21.6 per game from three, their foes shoot about 6-for-15. Nine more hidden points per game. Add up the free throws and the threes, and that's a 15-0 lead per night before we even jump it up.

You want more hidden points? The Spurs are third in the league in steals (9.1) and allow the eighth fewest (yes even with Manu and Tony slingin' it around) at 6.8. That 2.3 differential is easily tops in the league, by almost 50%, as Portland and OKC are tied for second with 1.6. You think that helps the fast break a little?

The Spurs are 10th in turnovers (13.9 per game) and seventh in takeaways (15.9) and that 2.0 differential is tied for third best in the league with Utah. Their assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.71 ranks fourth. Really, it's almost impossible to come up with a stat the Spurs don't rank high in, except dunks and ESPN mentions.

The Spurs are the top team in Hollinger's offensive efficiency (110.3) and tied for 8th in defensive efficiency (99.7) while playing at the 12th fastest pace in the NBA (Boston is 22nd and Miami is tied for 24th).

Actually, the one area where the Spurs have been fairly average so far is rebounding. They're in the middle of the pack in defensive rebound percentage, where they've usually ranked fairly high. I blame the Tinyball lineups, Bonner, and Timmeh's career-low minutes per game.

The bottom line is the Spurs are awfully good at many different aspects of the game. They won't win every stat every night, but they have the talent, the chemistry and the coaching to win a great many of them each night, whether it's fast break points, rebounds, threes, whatever. Plus, just about every game they play they will out-Manu the other team 1-0 and I don't think the importance of that stat can be overstated.

Alright, enough of the geek-fest, let's get to the big finish.

Your Three Stars:

3. Antonio McDyess - Excellent interior defense in the second half, and he had three steals, six boards and two assists in 23 minutes. Look for him to sit against the Bucks and save his legs for the Nugs on Thursday.

2. George Hill - Brilliant once again in all facets - even two blocks! - and he's scored in double digits for 11 straight games. In fact, his 17.2 ppg average in December leads the team.

1. Tim Duncan - 8-13-4-0-2 doesn't seem like a huge night, but anyone who plays a 1,000 games in a Spurs uniform gets an automatic first star on principle.

Up Next: Wednesday, vs. Milwaukee (10-13). The season-long six game home stand ends with a visit by the Bucks, who got off to a miserable 6-12 start this season but have won four of five. I liked this team coming into the season mainly because of Andrew Bogut and Ersan Ilyasova and I like them better now since they beat Dallas on the road. Woohoo! They're 30th - dead last - in both points per game and assists, which tells me that they're getting wretched point guard play from sophomore Brandon Jennings. I thought he'd be much improved in his second season, but all he's doing is taking more shots, and still hitting a cool 40 percent of them. And that's not from three by the way (though that's a respectable 37.2%) that's overall.

Really everyone's been disappointing for them, from John Salmons to Corey Maggette to Carlos Delfino to Bogut himself, who's just now starting to find himself after that gruesome injury he suffered on a cheap shot by Amar'e last season (to think, Suns fans call the Spurs dirty). The only thing the Bucks have to hang their hats on is defense (sixth in points allowed at 96.2 per) and rebounding (fourth). They should provide a good test for our bigs inside and it'd be nice to see some better spacing and ball movement than we've had the past couple of games. Ideally the big three can wipe them out early so they can rest up for the SEGABABA at Denver, but the Bucks don't get blown out often.

My blogging be taking a bit of a hiatus. I have to drive to San Diego Wednesday morning to cover the 49ers game on Thursday. I won't be home with some time to kill until Friday and I'll probably spend most of that day sleeping. Maybe Saturday I can watch the games and write a breezy combo recap heavy on generalization, bitching and jokes and light on numbers and analysis. We'll see.

This is fan-created content on PoundingtheRock.com. The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff at Pounding the Rock.

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