It's game 41. Do you know what that means? It means that after tonight we are halfway through the season. Yes, that's right HALFWAY through the season. HALF-FREAKING-WAY. Do you know what that means? It means we have had a lot of drama and a lot of complaining and a lot of belly-aching and we are only HALFWAY to the games that matter. It means that the team MIGHT start caring pretty soon. Good god the NBA season is a grind. So, let's all take a deep breath. Seriously, sit back. Close your eyes. Take a nice deep breath. Breathe deep down into your lungs. Let it out slowly. Do it again. Good. Let all that first half of the season anxiety out. All the Manu-bashing is gone. All the Tony-whining is gone. All the Anchorman jokes are gone. All the dunking cheerleaders pictures. Gone! Good. Now, let's wrap up the first half with a 'W' against the Pacers. This way. Follow me. Bring your yoga mat and let's get our Buddha on.
- Point Guard - Tony is playing really well offensively this year. His shot keeps getting better and better. He's making his free throws at 81% -- well up from his dismal 65% in '05 and considerably better than 72% last year. All in all, I think everybody has to give Tony a thumbs up for his offense this year.
- Off Guard - Manu is still finding his stride after surgery. The Charlotte game not-withstanding, he has started to get to the line more often which is a good sign. Maybe once he regains his 3-pt stroke, he's at 24% for the month, the game will start opening up for him and he'll start dominating. I expect over the next 3 weeks we start to see the Manu of last year. We'll get 3 30 point games out of him before the all-star break.
- Center - Tim started out the year very strong and has since settled into his normal coasting along routine. Of course, this is just my impression and the statistics don't support it. Check out the monthly averages. Almost identical. Hmmmpphh!!! I still stand by my statement.
- Power Forward - Bonner has been MUCH better than I ever could have hoped for. Unfortunately, he has had to be good because we don't haven't had anybody else on the front line playing worth a damn. Bonner slumped off in December to only shoot 40.7% from downtown. He's rallying in January though with 58.6%.
- Small Forward - FinDog has been playing well for FinDog. I still think he is playing too much. He's averaging just over 28 minutes per game. I would really like to see that down around 20. He's played less than 20 minutes in only 20 games. He's shooting 44% from the field and 39% from 3. Both are better than last year.
- Bench - No complaints with the front office decisions over the summer. Roger Mason has just been superb as token starter in front of Manu. He's played big minutes. Hit big shots. Early on he had big games. Same for George Hill. He's been an A+. Although his minutes of been kept down in the 14-15 range since Tony came back, he appears to be getting more comfortable and a little better all the time. KT is just starting to show anything. The first two months of the season he was doing his Horry impersonation. I'm hopeful he'll start to give us a solid 20-25 minutes per game through the end of the season. Fab has been injured and fallen out of the rotation. Ime has never been in the rotation which is a huge surprise to me. The JV has played in 7 games since November 19th which is all you need to know about how well George has been playing. Bruce is an enigma though. I'm not sure what is up with his role on the team. Is Pop saving him? Has he given up on him being a full-time player? I just don't know, but he is averaging 20 minutes per game. IMO, he's not really playing that great of defense though.
- Coach - Serious time is here. Pop blew right threw the soft speech and went straight to "our defense sucks". Right now our opponents are shooting 46% from the field against us and we are getting out-rebounded by half a board a game. From here to the end of the season, we need to be at 43% and we need to out-rebound our opponents by 2 a game. I'm skeptical. And yes, I just made those numbers up. They aren't based on any metric whatsoever, but I believe them wholeheartedly.
- Mojo - We've been living right with the mojo all season. Buzzer beating game winners have gone our way. Outside of Timmy missing the 3 to tie on opening day, FinDog missing the 8 footer to win in the second game, and Duncan missing the short runner against the Bucks, we have had everything go our way as far as late shots go.
- Winner - Considering the Manu and Tony injuries, I'm saying the first half of the season has been a success. We haven't played particularly well, but luck and a soft schedule has us sitting in second place in the West. I'm not over-confident in our team, but I do think we have a chance to win it this year. We will have to play better though. Much better. Starting real soon too.
Keys To The Game
- The Big Suck - Manu hit two big 3's in the last couple minutes of the Bobcat's game. To that point, he was 2-9 and 0-3 from 3-pt and had no free throw attempts (that's 4 points). Tony was horrific from the field as well going 3-10. Tim was clanging away from the free throw line. Two of these guys will have to play well offensively. I'm betting on Tim and Manu.
- Danny Granger - Granger is averaging 30.7 points/game this month. I expect he'll have another 30 point effort against us since we don't really seem intent on stopping anybody like him. Durant and Green. Mayo and Gay. Etc.
- FOGAFINI - Both teams are on a SEGABABA, but we are on a FOGAFINI. Considering how ugly the game was yesterday, I can't think it will be much prettier today. Well, that's not true. The Pacers defense sucks and we should score some points.
Some other reading
Other things of possible interest
Bobcat's Gameday Recap from spurs.com
Pacer's Gameday Preview/Recap from spurs.com should be up sometime tomorrow early afternoon. Then after the game this will become the recap link.