Start of 2010-2011 season was as surprising for us, Spurs fans, as its finish. Except that it was a pleasant surprise. Nobody expected us to start the season 51-11 beating the Lakers twice, Chicago, Miami by 30, playing @Boson closely all the way down to last possession, beating Dallas, OKC, Denver, Memphis. We won a ton of close games, playing smart, fast, team-oriented basketball that was fun to watch. Beside having the best (by far) record, we were also the only team that played the same starting 5 every game.
Then we lost to the Lakers at home in quite embarrassing fashion, and Pop decided that he needed to change something. The most notable change was the change in the starting five. Dice started for Blair for the first time in the 64th game of the season. Since that the Spurs won 11 more games, including victories @Dallas, @Atlanta and against Memphis, and beatings of a bunch of lottery-bound teams. They also lost 12 games and found themselves in 1-3 hole against #8 seed Memphis. Whatever tweaks and changes Pop made after March 5, it seems fair to conclude that they didn't work. It particular, starting Dice looks like a total bust to me. Why did it work so bad? It's really hard to tell, but I'll try to present my reasoning. Blair has been our energy big, very active on the boards (e.g., in that fateful game against the Lakers he had 8 offensive rebounds in 21 minutes). With Dice, our starting five became really old and lacking some youthful energy. At the same time, our bench lost defense and veteran leadership. With both Duncan and Dice starting, Pop decided to play a lot of Blair-Bonner combo, which doesn't look like a good idea, because Blair and Bonner are both high-energy guys who cannot defend tall bigs of the opponent. At the same time our best players came down with injures one after another and our team has never looked happy and confident in last part of the season. So, why our team that started season so well is finishing it so badly? Please, share what you think.