I just finished rewatching Spurs @Minni game (I know what y'all think, I prefer to see it as the expression of my dedication to the Spurs rather than masochistic insanity or total lack of any life), and I noticed several things that were not much discussed in the recaps. While these are very subjective observations, I'd like to share them with the Spurfandom of the PtR. So, here are some lessons I learned from the rewatch, in roughly chronological order:
1. Our starting five started the game impressively well.
It seems to be totally lost in all doom and gloom just how well the Spurs looked in the first half-quarter of the game. Green looked like real star, and even though our bigs struggled mightily on offense, it was compensated by their solid defense. I just wish Pop would stay with our starters (Joseph, Green, Jackson, Bonner and Splitter) for a bit longer. Lesson learned: even without 3 of our best players, we still have guys who can play. It's the most optimistic lesson from this game, and I'd like to mention that in a game that we lost by 24 points, two of our starting fives had positive +/-: Jackson with + 3 and Bonner with +5 (the Bonnerhate reared its ugly head again recently, following a bad streak of Matt's shooting, but even during bad shooting night he played generally solid defense).
2. Our bigs had an off night.
If I want to point a finger and stick a fork into a particular guy, it would be Blair. He played an atrocious game. When Blair entered the game the Spurs were leading in double figured, when he returned to the bench they were losing on double figures and never recovered. Blair however shot 2-2 from the field, while our other bigs were 5-26, including 10% shooting night of Tiago. Blair/Diaw combo played some of the worst defense I even have seen in an NBA game. Their defense reminded me of a rookies/sophomores all-star game, where anyone is almost forbidden to play any D. Other combos including Blair didn't look much better. I still think that Splitter/Bonner played pretty decent defense in this horrible game. Lesson learned: we need Timmeh as much as ever (duh!).
3. The Wolves played better than their record.
In particular, Rubio had the first triple-double of his career, and Alexey Shved couldn't miss. These two guys turned the game around and brought them a victory.
4. Manu had the team-worst -30.
People have been already saying things about Manu. He didn't look as horrible as his +/- suggests to me, but his stat line suggests a horrible game:
Lesson learned: we may start thinking of Manu more as a role player and an X-factor than as a cornerstone and leader of our team.
5. Pop played small ball ... again.
Evidently, Pop was so disappointed with our bigs that he played Jax at 4 for extended period of the game. It didn't work, and I would argue that it was during this period that the game got totally out of hand and out of reach. The worst part of it was that we didn't have KLeo, so Pop didn't have anybody but Jax at 3, but he still wanted to play him at 4 and play everybody else out of position. For some time he played microball with Blair and Jax playing 4 and 5. This reminded me the time when Pop was insisting on playing RJ at 4, while RJ was struggling even playing at his normal position at 3, and we didn't have nobody else to back him up at 3. I see this rotation as one of more noticeable Pop's brainfarts. Pop is a genius of a coach often (like starting Joseph for example), but sometimes he is making moves that just make no basketball sense whatsoever. Playing Jax at 4 while we have nobody else at 3 is a great example in my opinion. Lesson learned: we cannot trust Pop, he is mentally unstable. (Evidently(?) I am only half-serious here)
Well, there is just so much you can learn from a regular season game you play without three of your best players against a lottery-bound opponent. This game was not as depressing as the home loss against Portland, though it highlighted again some of our ongoing problems. The best thing about a regular season though is that we have another game coming, so we can forgive if not forget about our losses. Onward to Dallas now!