Game 11 @ Portland Trailblazers: Spurs 107, Blazers 98
"That leaves Kevin Martin, who, well, I know I shouldn't say this, because it's just going to piss people off... I would trade Manu for him. Right now. Seriously. It would kill me to do it, and I would check the Kings box score every day, but Martin is a 23 year old 6'-7" SG who can penetrate, shoot off the dribble, shoot the three and defend." - Matthew Powell
Well done, Matthew. Well done.
But. Lets for the sake of argument pretend that you were being serious. I know, it's laughable, but just play along.
Who in their right mind would trade The Sickness for Kevin Freakin' Martin?
All Martin can do better than Gino is score meaningless baskets for a meaningless team in meaningless games.
He doesn't pass like Manu, he doesn't rebound like Manu, he doesn't have the ability to change the game on the defensive end of the floor like Manu, and he can't singlehandedly destroy a team in the 4th quarter like Manu.
If you don't believe me, then look at the numbers. According to John Hollinger of ESPN.com,
Martin averages, per 40 minutes, 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, turns it over 11% of his possessions, and only 10% of his possessions wind up in assists..
Manu on the other hand per 40 minutes is good for 6.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists, he turns it over 9.7% of his possessions, and his assist rate is 20%
And if you look at 82games.com, you'll see that Matthew's contention that Martin is a good defensive player is absurd.
With him on the floor the Kings are allowing 104.4 per 100 possessions. Without him the number drops to 98.4. With him their team effective FG% allowed is 53.0% Without it's 40.7. During his 347 minutes of playing time so far the Kings have been outscored by eight. In his 85 minutes on the bench they're plus 14. It's a small sample size, but so far it doesn't appear that he makes his teammates better.
Now look at Ginobili's stats: With him we give up 99.8 per 100 possessions. Without, it jumps to 102.3. With him the effective FG% allowed is 47.7%. Without it's 48.7%. Finally, on the floor he's a plus 58. Off the floor the Spurs are plus 15. Either way we're good, but Manu makes us better.
But even putting the stats aside, I mean, HOW DARE YOU? Doesn't the past mean anything? The guy pretty much won us that third ring. We both believe it was a total joke that Timmeh won that Finals MVP.
And even when the shots aren't falling, the guy STILL HELPS US WIN GAMES. Don't you remember the playoffs last season against the Mavericks? Manu's defense in the 4th quarter won games 1 and 5 of that series every bit as much as his offense won Game 6. Watch the games again if you must and you'll see.
I've watched sports my whole life and have seen plenty of ballers. Very few people have that it factor, the ability to inspire their teammates, the fans, the whole stadium. It's not something that can be quantified. You just know it when you see it. Alexei Kovalev of the Montreal Canadiens has it. Jeff Samardjiza of Notre Dame has it. Brian Westbrook of the Eagles. David Eckstein of the St. Louis Cardinals. These aren't superstar players. But they're the guys the superstars turn to bail them out of tight jams. In a way, fans gravitate to them more than the stars. Guys like Duncan or Pujols or McNabb are freakishly talented. But the Ginobilis and the Ecksteins don't have that much more ability than their peers, they just have the will and the sense of the moment.
Anyway, the two untouchables on this team are Tim and Manu. They just have too much history here. If either of them ever got dealt, then everything this organization stands for is a sham. Tony isn't there yet, he hasn't had his signature playoff moment yet, so if somebody like Chris Paul was offered, yeah I'd do it. But not Jameer Nelson.
And that's kind of my point. The only shooting guards you can trade Manu for without causing a riot are LeBron and Wade. End of list. Kevin Martin as a SG is like Nelson at a PG. A good young player, but nothing more. Guys like Martin come off an assembly line. Gimme a break. You want Manu's numbers to look better? Tell Pop to run more plays for him.
As for the actual game, well it was our fourth SEGABABA, but our third SEGABABACRAPPAOPPA (Second Game of a Back-to-Back vs. a Crappy Opponent.)
We've been 1-1 in that situation thus far, beating the Knicks, losing to the Bobcats. Furthermore, we'd won our only previous SEGABABA that consisted of nothing but road games. So I liked our chances.
Then the first half happened. The way Zach Randolph treated Fabricio Oberto could be the subject of a CSI episode. It was just plain ugly. In fact, both of those guys are ugly. The whole damn spectacle was ugly. Besides that, their shots were falling, they were making all the hustle plays, crashing the boards, their zone defense was confounding us, and Tony's jumper had deserted him.
So what changed in the second half? Well, just like the Sacramento game the law of averages caught up with the Blazers and they started clanking their outside shots. Bruce switched to Randolph and denied him the ball. On offense knocked down a couple of corner threes. Timmy did his thing. We forced a ton of turnovers. And somebody kicked Manu in the leg.
Pretty much good night Aunt Sally after that.
Should I be concerned that our whole team had two more rebounds (25) last night than Dwight Howard? Not really. For one, the Blazers had a lot of turnovers in the second half. For another, eight of their misses would've been rebounds for us if not for the ball going out of bounds or them being whistled for over the back violations. Either way, we got the ball back. Finally, Pop went to the dreaded smallball more in this game, pretty much exclusively in the 2nd half really, than any other so far this season. I've pretty much made my feelings on this known. It's a decent tactic that can be used in spurts against certain opponents, but it's not a viable long term strategy against quality opponents. The only way the Mavs can challenge us for the Western crown is for him to be dumb enough to try that shit again. Against them we need to rebound and clog the lane on defense, period. Great, now I'm thinking about last year and I'm angry again.
Anyway, here are your 3 stars, but only because it'd be rude to list Manu three times.
3) Tim Duncan- Another great night from the field -10 of 16- for 25 points, and his 3rd quarter where he had 13, turned the tide of the game. Also played great help defense down the stretch and led the team with five dimes. An off rebounding night, but that's gonna happen with no other bigs to help him box out. Also hit his first real bankshot of the year, even though he's been a wizard using the glass on those short 6 foot half-hooks off the spin move all year.
2) Bruce Bowen- Pop having Bruce guard Randolph in the 2nd half was a master stroke. The Blazers don't really have any stud wing players to be concerned of, and Randolph was just killing Oberto. Coach figured out the best way to limit Zach's offense would be to deny him the ball, and that's what Bruce did. The tactic enabled Tim to still play help defense on everyone else. Bruce even managed to contribute on offense, hitting two big threes in the 3rd quarter.
1) Manu Ginobili- I don't know if it was getting kicked in the calf that woke him up. Or maybe he heard the Blazers announcers relentlessly hammering him the whole night (really these guys were complete jackasses - yes, Ginobili is in a shooting slump, I got it, thanks) or maybe he was just due. For whatever reason Manu had a 4th quarter that was like one prolonged youtube highlight clip, like this old one from his Italian league days - minus the dunking, unfortunately. When the carnage was all over, he had 18 points in the fourth on six of six shooting, two steals, an assist, a block, three bombs, two and-1s, and he flew the team plane back to San Antonio. Still, just to keep things in perspective, he now has one less 1st star award on the year than Beno Udrih.
P.S. Anyone ever notice he plays his best games when Tony plays like complete ass? Funny, huh?
Record: 9-2 Streak: W-3
Up Next: Vs. Miami Heat
I dare say this should be a complete rout for us. All we gotta do is let D-Wade get his and shut down everyone else. In fact, I might just put Bowen on `Toine just to make this happen. On defense they don't really have any answers for Tony, so I expect him to carry the load. Haslem and `Zo might give Tim some problems, but the threes will be there all day, and the Hustlemaker will be there in the fourth if things get hairy.