Morning Rehash: Warriors... Come Out to Plaaay...

DERP DUNK - Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Minus their star guard Stephen Curry, the up-and-coming Golden State Warriors came into the AT&T Center Friday night and gave the San Antonio Riffs, er, Spurs all they can handle. San Antonio needed all-star level performances from Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Tiago Splitter to push their home winning streak over the Warriors to 28 straight.

Opening Hash

In case you haven't heard, Tim Duncan is having one hell of a season but still managed to get snubbed for a starting spot in this season's All-Star Game due to overall fan ignorance and the broken voting system that fosters a popularity contest rather than actually rewarding players who deserve the honor. So aside from a 24.4 PER and his continued high scoring efficiency (including a dramatic improvement at the charity stripe), Tim Duncan also is having one of the better defensive seasons of his career.

The Spurs block rate without Tim Duncan on the court is 3.6 per 100 opponent possessions. That number jumps up to 6.8, nearly double, when old man Duncan gets out on the floor. As it stands right now, Tim Duncan has the second most blocks in the NBA with 114, only 4 behind Milwaukee's Larry Sanders. That 114 is nearly half of the total team blocks this season (229). Duncan has a block/personal foul ratio of 1.56 (114/73) with Serge Ibaka being a distant 2nd with 1.01. (108/107). Right now, there are only a handful of players in the entire league with over half of Tim Duncan's current ratio. So not only does Timmy have a ton of blocks, he's pretty efficient at it and much more so than anyone else.* He also happens to be blowing out his per 36 minutes metric in blocks - currently at 3.3 with his career high of 2.8.

Duncan's work on the defensive boards has remained consistent with his career numbers (11.5 at 36 per minutes) but his defensive rebounding percentage , an estimate of the percentage of available defensive rebounds a player grabbed while on the floor, is higher than it's ever been.** Duncan's defensive rating (estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions) has also returned to numbers familiar in the first half of his career.** However, Duncan still struggles with shooting big men, high screens, and moving laterally in general. Spurs opponents attempt and connect on a higher number of midrange shots. The emergence of Tiago Splitter and the multi-purpose Kawhi Leonard has allowed Duncan to shift away from the Aldridge's and Griffin's of the league.

Tim Duncan is by far All-Star worthy, but he is also "Defensive of Player of the Year" worthy too. Considering how many glorified weak-side help blockers have won the award in the past, it almost seems a no-brainer that Duncan's work should at least earn him a spot in top 5 talk.

*Hat tip to Eric Blase for bring the BLK/PF numbers to light.

**Rebounding and defensive rating data from basketball-reference.com

Shoot Around Notes

  • Got to the AT&T Center early enough (3 hours before tip) to watch the Warriors big men run through a series of drills in the paint. Very efficient work.
  • David Lee and Chip Engelland were pretty cordial with one other. I don't know the connection but I'm interested in learning it.
  • Chip Engelland was ripping into Corey Joseph early on for a lack of energy. Chip was demanding young Joseph to be "more athletic" and to "explode" on the drills. Corey eventually was going full tilt but he sure did look care-free in the first few minutes.
  • I saw former Spurs coach Stan Albeck at the game, the first time I've seen him this season.
  • Nando De Colo goes all out in his pregame drills. Never jokes around and builds up a serious sweat. De Colo's mobility and quickness is much more impressive close up.
  • That rolling advertising you see along the scorer's/media table? Held together with packaging tape.
  • I watched nearly every second of Jarrett Jack's workout. I've been begging for this man to end up in San Antonio for a few years now. I overheard Spurs GM R.C. Buford giving Jack praise for his work against Parker in the past.
  • He didn't get any minutes (again) but DeJuan's jumper pre-game was looking decent. His mechanics are just a bit longer and smoother than they were a year ago.
  • Never noticed this before but Duncan's heels barely spend any time on the court. I thought it was a shoe design at first but his heels tend to float just off the floor. Makes sense, your body is relaxed and at rest when your heels hit the floor and requires more time and energy to get moving.
  • Patty Mills was asked to sit shortly after he started his workout. Mills got pretty heated after missing numerous shots and assistant coach Chad Forcier made him sit to cool off.


Standard Pop Pre-Game Quote

It's just great timing. He is long but he understands players and he knows how to take his best shot at it. His timing is superb.

-Coach Pop on what makes Tim Duncan such a great blocker.

Quick Game Hash

The following is not a recap. Be sure to see Matthew Tynan's recap of last night's game if you haven't done so already.

I have no worries about Tiago Splitter later this season, including the playoffs. Last season, Splitter finally broke through and showed some of the talent and production that Spurs fans have been so patiently overhyping salivating over for the past 20-something years (it at least feels like it has been that long). Still, Tiago was inconsistent and continuously battling foul trouble and getting overwhelmed by stronger opponents. I don't have the numbers to prove it but I'm certain Tiago has put on a little bit of mass since last season, helping the Brazilian to no longer look like a punching bag down low.

Tiago has actually regained some of the aggressiveness that got the big man in consistent foul trouble the last two seasons. The "soft" label that hounds players from Euro-leagues no longer applies here. Splitter is quick to get out to his man and make him work for every inch of ground, using his body instead of just his reach like in seasons past. This aggressiveness and will to battle is even more evident on the offensive end. Tiago is an intelligent and agile player under the rim, continuously successful at using the ball fakes and pivots to get defenders jumping the wrong direction. But Splitter will also go through bodies and arms to get the ball up and he doesn't try to bail himself out with a flail (...Parker...).

In the early 2nd quarter of last night's game, Festus Exeli blocked a short range jumper by Splitter. Tiago got the offensive board deep in the paint just right of the basket between a pair of Golden State players. Splitter was getting pummeled (and fouled) but still muscled the ball up for the right angle and a scoring layup. By the expression on his face, it was obvious that Splitter wanted to rip into the officials, inquiring about the lack of a whistle. But instead Splitter glanced over at Coach Popovich with a look of "Really?" and then headed back the other way to get back to work.

So far, Tiago is averaging career highs in minutes, points, free throw percentage, rebounds, offensive rebounds, and assists, Oh, and according to basketball-reference.com, Tiago is statistically the third best defender on the team (behind Duncan and Leonard). Chalk up another victory for the Spurs front office.

My Game Boss

Splitter_pro

TIAGO SPLITTER

PTS

FGM

FGA

REB

OREB

AST

PF

MIN

19

8 10 9 2 2 1 35:39


Sure, Parker had more points and Duncan more rebounds and points but Tiago Splitter stepped up when Duncan got into foul trouble and cranked up the defense in the final minutes of the game. Splitter also helped close a 9 point Warriors lead in the second quarter with a 12 point, 6 rebound performance.


My Game Runt

Biedrins_pro

ANDRIS BIEDRINS

PTS

FGM

FGA

REB

AST

BLK

PF

MIN

0

0 0 2 0 1 1 6:04

For a man who nearly averaged a double-double for a few seasons (and did it once), Biedrins failed to somehow get more game time than rookie center Festus Ezeli (0 points, 5 rebounds, 2 TO, 17 minutes).


This Thing Was Over When...

...Tony Parker found Danny Green all alone in corner with 90 seconds remaining in the game. Danny Green had enough time to check his pulse, adjust his socks, and square up for a big three-pointer that gave the Spurs a 7 point lead.


By the Numbers

  • 7 - Straight games Tim Duncan has recorded 3 blocks or more.
  • 3.8 - Duncan's blocks per game average for the month of January.
  • 14 - Spurs bench points against the Golden State Warriors.
  • 17 - Missed 3PTA by the Spurs
  • 11 - Total team turnovers for San Antonio. Spurs have averaged only 12 turnovers over their last five games.
  • 16 - Point differential in the paint last night (44-28).
  • 823 - Career wins by Tim Duncan, tied for 8th all time with Gary Payton and only one behind John Havlicek and Sam Perkins for 6th/7th. Duncan is highly likely to end up with sole possession of 5th all time by season's end. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar leads all with 1,074.

Leftover Hash

  • Gary Neal and Nando De Colo will be drowning in Pop's anger all the way to Atlanta. Both had bad mental lapses on defense,
  • There was some debate on what caused the delay at halftime. Some reports stated a bent rim but I'm hearing the screws were loose (likely threaded out).
  • Spurs PA guys did a good job keeping the fans entertained during the extra-long halftime break.
  • Sorry, but if anyone from the Spurs deserves to go the 3-Point Contest, it's Danny Green. Matt Bonner is shooting 46.5% from three but has only attempted 58 shots. Danny Green is 84-206 (40.8%), which is top 20 in makes and percentage.
  • I want Festus Ezeli on the Spurs just because I love his name.
  • Richard Jefferson looks extra ridiculous wearing a towel on his head considering that he gets zero playing time. Most expensive paper weight ever.
  • Andrew Bogut, Stephen Curry, Brandon Rush. All this team needs to do is sign Greg Oden and trade for Brandon Roy.


Bird is the Word

@sbdavis_PtR: @poundingtherock We need Bonner's offense. #notreally

@Mos_Heff: The Spurs shooting can only be blamed on one thing. #blameJefferson

@blanchard48moh: "That could've been me." - Richard Jefferson


Going into the Next Game, the Spurs Need to...

...be ready for an ugly grind-it-out game against the Atlanta Hawks, Both Hawks and the Spurs played last night and every game against Atlanta seems to turn into a grinder. The Hawks are a top-ten team in points allowed and their opponents roughly average 15-16 turnovers a game. Spurs need to be ready for gritty basketball from a team that has no desire to lose at home on back-to-back nights.

For more rambling and Spurs talk, follow Aaron Preine at @DukeOfBexar on Twitter.

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