Game 30, Vs. Washington: Spurs 94-80 (Record 26-4) RAGE: +4
The 49ers lost today, meaning they got eliminated from playoff contention. Yay! That means I get to go to Vegas in two weeks. Ten days really. Crap, that means I have ten days to put the next issue of SFI together. So, um... expect more week old recaps in bunches, bitches. I'll be back in a regular schedule by my birthday.
Here's a video, in honor of Christmas...
My girl Sarah, at her most adorable... mmm.
Alright, alright, alright! The preseason is officially over. Now we get into the serious part of the season. Not to say it's been all cake so far, the Spurs just had a stretch where they played seven playoff teams in eight games (and the eighth was a Memphis squad who had a respectable 40-42 record last year in the Western Conference) and they went 6-1 there, with the only loss coming on a dreaded SEGABABA, but those were for the most part lower-tier playoff teams. Now we're gonna see the big dogs.
Actually, let's go back to that SEGABABA theme for a second. As you're no doubt aware, our last two losses have come in that situation. In fact, you'd have to go way back to Nov. 26, the day after Thanksgiving, to find the last loss -- against the fucking Mavs -- the Spurs had with a day of rest.
But how soft has the schedule really been, and how much is really left? Well, let's take a look.
Home Games: 19 (17-2) Road Games: 11 (9-2)
Home Games Left: 22 Road Games Left: 30
Home Playoffs: 8-1 Road Playoffs: 4-1
Home PO Left: 12 Road PO Left: 16
Figababa: 5-0 Segababa: 3-2
B2B Left: 13
As you can see, we've played about 14 playoff teams so far and gone a very healthy 12-2, even though most of the games were at home. We're 14-2 against non-playoff teams, so really there hasn't been much difference in our play as far as the quality of competition is concerned. 28 of our remaining 52 games are against playoff teams, so the schedule is tough, but not ridiculous.
How do I define "playoff teams"? Well, in the West I'm going by last year's eight, and most likely this year's as well. So us excluded I'm counting LA, Utah, Dallas, OKC, Phoenix, Denver and Portland. I'm not counting Memphis, Houston or New Orleans. In the East, because there's been a roster shakeup with the Heat, I'm counting the teams likely to make the playoffs this year, so Miami, Boston, Orlando, Chicago, Atlanta, Milwaukee, New York and Indiana.
Last year's Spurs finished 50-32. All we have to do is go .500 -- 26-26 the rest of the way -- to finish 52-30, and call me optimistic, but I think we're gonna beat that .500 mark. So what should our projection be? Well, we have ten home games left against non-playoff teams. I'll give us a 9-1 mark in those. In the 12 games against home playoff teams, I'll go with a conservative 8-4. That's 17-5 at home and a final home record of 34-7.
On the road, I think 11-3 is reasonable against non-playoff teams. Against the playoff teams I'll go ultra-conservative and say 8-8, which means 19-11 the rest of the way and a final road record of 28-13. By my count that's a 62-20 final record.
Would 62-20 be good enough for the #1 seed? The way Dallas is going, I doubt it. And it definitely won't hold up against Boston unless they have major injury problems. Frankly, I'm not worried about having home court against the Mavs. We've proven we don't need it to beat them. I very much want it against the Lakers though.
Let's look at the back-to-backs. So far we're 5-0 in the front end, 3-2 in the back end, including losses on two of our last three. We've got 13 of them left, which is an awful lot. Here's a data set for you:
R = Road, H = Home, P = Playoff Team, N = Non-Playoff Team. So "RP" means a road game against a playoff team, a "HN" means a home game against a non-playoff team and so on. As you can see, of the 12 back-to-backs, only two of them involve playoff teams at both ends; the next one coming up, at New York and Boston; and the last one of the season, the final two games of the year, at LA Lakers and Phoenix.
Of the remaining 11 sets, seven involve one playoff team and one non-playoff team, and five of those are the good kind, where the tough game is first and the second game is easier. There's four B2Bs where both ends are against non-playoff teams, but two of those are in that treacherous FOGAFINI category.
What I'm trying to say is the back-to-backs are not that bad and I don't believe they will have an adverse affect on our record. That situation where we just faced at Orlando, where we're playing a playoff team on the road in the back end? We've got only three of those left the whole year: @Boston, @Milwaukee and the last game of the season @Phx, which might be meaningless anyway.
Of course we did lose a SEGABABA to the Clippers, so I suppose they're all troublesome.
One last thing: The fearsome "Rodeo Road Trip."
Nine road games in a row sounds awful, but have you people actually looked at the schedule? Six of the nine are against crap teams! It starts out rough at Portland and the Lakers, but after that it's the Kings, Pistons, Raptors, Sixers, Wizards and Nets before finishing up with a tough one at Chicago, in a game Joakim Noah may not even be playing in. 5-4 should be the bare minimum on that trip, but 7-2 is very doable.
Is 73-9 in play? Probably not. But I see no reason why the Spurs, if they keep playing the way they are, can't put up something almost as obscene, like a 65-17 or some such record. It depends all on health and how much Pop is willing to push for the top record. His history says he won't try for it at all, but he's already shown with our offensive system that he's willing to try new things and maybe he'll realize home court is this team's best chance to navigate through the West and not have to play both LA and Dallas.
As for Sunday's game against the Wizards...
Pfffft. Who cares? Without Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee (both of whom I had to look up to spell their names correctly) and with John Wall just making a cameo appearance, the game was never in doubt.
The defense made some positive strides after the atrocity in Orlando, holding the Wiz to just 80 points on 37.5% shooting, but who exactly was supposed to score for them? Sam Young? Rashard Lewis? The Big Bug? Come on. I was happy we kept them out of the paint and didn't let them go crazy from downtown either. For the most part they took perimeter twos, which is winning basketball for a defense. Only 11 freebie attempts and an 18:14 assist:turnover ratio? Yes, please. All good, and all meaningless because the competition was a joke. Hold LA under 95 and we'll talk.
Offensively the ball movement was excellent and we continue to live and die with the individual ebbs and flows. Tony, Manu, and Rocket going well? That must mean Timmy, Neal and RJ have gone to shit and vice versa. Obviously I'm thrilled that Hill is back and just in time. I can't believe I missed that long-faced mug so much but really you can argue he's the third most indispensable Spur. Our offense has gotten by before with Tony. Our defense goes to hell in a handbasket without Hill.
As far as shooting goes, a couple of developments I'm happy with are that Neal and Rocket have both gotten progressively better from two as the year has gone on after disastrous starts and the more runners and floaters they can throw in, the more effective they'll be when good defenses run out on them. Also, it was nice to see that Hill wasn't rusty at all from his corner threes and that Manu had the long ball working just in time for LA and Dallas after an extended shooting slump.
Alright, enough for today.
Three Stars (with apologies to Rocket, Dice and Neal):
3. George Hill - Nice comeback after four game absence with a sprained toe. Hit all three of his shots and had 11 points in 16 minutes. No go guard Kobe.
2. Manu Ginobili - 5-of-7 on three points, 0 boards, 1 assist. When did we trade for Ray Allen? At least Manu made up for it with a 19-second "shift" late in the game after a panicky Pop checked him back in. Steal, dunk, steal, back to the bench. You could even read Manu's lips joking about it with Hill afterward, he said something to the effect of, "Two steals, one dunk, eh, not too bad..." I wonder what the PER for that 19 seconds would be. Like 150? First dunk since Nov. 17 vs. Chicago, if you're scoring at home.
1. Tony Parker - 20-14. Not too shabby, Frenchy. But I don't like the way you've been looking at Amy Duncan. Stop that right now.
Up Next: Tuesday, Vs. Los Angeles Lakers (21-9). Statement game. I don't care what it means to LA and they can say it's another game if they like. Hell, I hope they mean it. I know it SHOULDN'T be just another game for us and it damn well won't be just another game to me. I want this one bad. I'd feel a lot better about it if the Lakers hadn't lost two in a row, including to Miami on Christmas at home in embarrassing fashion. It's not going to be a RAGE game because it's at home, but it should be a tight one. We'll need our guards to be great to overcome their advantage up front and I think this would be a good time to bring Blair off the bench. With Odom and Gasol starting for LA, there is no one for him to guard. Just start Dice, Pop. Or Bonner even.