The Spurs played their 21st game of the season on Wednesday night when they blew out the Bucks. In recognition of the first quarter of the season behind them, let's review the highlights of the season so far. Stampler and J.R. Wilco had a very interesting conversation about the first quarter of the season, but we'll take a more visual view in this one. The PtR staff got together and came up with these noteworthy moments of the season so far. Most people don't get to see the Spurs on a nightly basis, us lucky ones were treated to all of this.
Opening Night and Kawhi Leonard
Travis Hale's favorite moment of the season was opening night as a whole:
It was a chance to move past the way the last season ended, and the beginning of building something new. The crowd was into it, and you could really feel the energy in the air. The game started, Kawhi made a three on the Spurs' first possession of the game, and the Grizzlies promptly called a time out just 40 seconds into the game. Clearly, Memphis' entire plan for the season had already gone up in flames.
Manu Ginobili currently has the second highest effective field goal percentage of his career. This is even more impressive if you'll recall that he had a five-game stretch where he was 5-for-23 from three. He's found a rhythm, going 26-for-52 from deep since that stretch, and is in the early mix to win his second sixth-man of the year award. In addition to leading the most exciting second unit in the NBA, Manu has continued to treat us to awesome assists on a nightly basis. During a game against the Celtics he connected with Boris Diaw on this beauty:
After the game, Mike Monroe of the Express-News, described Boris as "darting" during the above play. Manu responded with this little gem:
Ginobili looks strong and healthy, and The Manu™ provided us with one of the most graceful drives through the lane I've seen:
Boris has reinvented himself, apparently after seeing some guru or something, and is now looking to score as often as he looks to find an open teammate this season. His play even inspired this excellent post by DewNO, which includes this description of the Frenchman:
His passes are savant-level, and he's easily the best big man passer in the league. He has the most loping, child's-first-dribble, bouncing-up-to-his-belly penetration game of virtually any professional basketball player, and yet it works.
Against the Knicks, BoBo found Tony Parker in what might be the prettiest French Connection yet:
Boris added the "Cream Shake", credit to Jesse Blanchard for that nickname, to his repertoire this season. It is wonderfully mesmerizing.
[Edit: After I put this up I saw this comment in DewNO's piece.
Boris, as a kid, went to a Freinet school, where kids don't have any mandatory class. They are pushed to cooperate between themselves, have collective projects (often a school newspaper or a chorus), to make their own decisions, what class they attend or not, what they eat at lunch, etc, etc...It kind of explains a lot of things about his unusual behaviour in the NBA circus. One anecdote: he always got good grades from his professors, but also a personal comment on him: " Boris has inadequate expectations for himself in relation to what he can achieve", meaning he persistently underestimates himself. - desi75015
I couldn't agree more with DewNO's reply: That’s absolutely fascinating. Thanks for sharing.]
The most consistent player the NBA has ever seen had perhaps the longest shooting slump of his career this season, and at one point he was in danger of being held under a 10 points-per-game average in a 10-game stretch for the first time in his career, as he had averaged 9.4 through nine games. In the tenth game Tim put up 19 points and 9 rebounds in 23 minutes. Since then he is back to being the GOAT PUFF - Tim's last 6 games:
17.8 points, 11.2 rebounds, 1.5 blocks in just 27 minutes. He shot 59.5% from the field, and 79.2% from the charity stripe.
During this stretch Big Fun also became the oldest player to have a 20 point - 20 rebound game, and to really put the exclamation point of that performance against the Hawks, he also hit the game-winning shot. Timmeh still looks determined and hungry, but also very aware that it's a long season, and that is a good thing with him starting his 1200th regular season game tonight.
In another game, Obi Wan Ginobili found Tim Duncan with this well-timed lob, and after the game the Spurs apparently started some kind of exclusive alley-oop club. The big man looks good finishing this one:
In the most recent "game" against the Bucks, we saw Timmy accomplish this:
Per Elias, Tim Duncan tonight became the first player since January of ‘89 to have 20+ pts on 75+% FG and 15+ rebs in 25 minutes or less.
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) December 12, 2013
I don't know how, but the
old man veteran managed to do something we've never seen him do. I know it's been said, but it can't be said enough - we're a lucky group Spurs fans; only Stockton, Reggie Miller, and Kobe have spent longer than Tim's 17 seasons with one team.
The Wee Frenchman has seen a small dip in his per-game production this season, but he's barely playing 30 minutes a night. We haven't talked about Tony much this season, but he's still the best player on the team, and when the team needs him in the fourth quarter, Tony is still delivering.
Of course, Tony is still finishing at the rim as well as anyone in the league.
Diaw's cool is crazy; his crazy is cool
I'm going to be honest: the metamorphosis of Boris Diaw is about the funniest thing I've ever seen. Since joining the Spurs, Boris Diaw has reinvented himself more than LeBron James has, and has readjusted his game just as successfully as LeBron.
The Foreign Legion
I'll say it again. The Spurs' second unit is my favorite part of games so far this season. Once Bili MiNelli get rolling, a game can quickly get out of hand in exciting fashion. In the basketball version of a model UN, this international crew has ended world hunger and is well on their way to World peace. Perhaps Pop has found his next career --- under-the-radar World domination. Watch out Ban Ki-moon.
Without further rambling from me, let's have a look at some outstanding moments from the bench.
Let's start with one from just the other night. During Aron Baynes' career night against the Raptors, he had a monster dunk - the kind of dunk we're not used to as Spurs fans.
Marco Belinelli, our own MIT (Manu in Training), has quickly found his place on the team. He is enjoying the best season of his career with the Spurs. Isn't it amazing what playing in the Spurs system can do for a good shooter? Italian Ice is shooting 12% better from the floor, and a whopping 16% better from behind the three-point line than his career average coming into this season.
He's a good passer, and unselfish at that, but he doesn't shy away from taking an open shot or even creating for himself when the offense stalls. I, and I think a lot of fans, had high hopes for Marco, but what he has been able to do with the team has already exceeded what I was hoping for by the time the playoffs started. Great pickup by PATFO. I'm serious about the MIT moniker, if you ignore the full head of hair, the three on his back, and squint just a little, he looks like the Magician. This makes sense when you consider that Manu was the player that Marco wanted to be like, not that Mike guy.
Look at this pump fake and tell me it doesn't remind you of Numero Viente.
Not only is he a great shooter, rivaling Ginobili's ability to get hot from three, but he has already adopted Tony Parker's patented floater to his repertoire. He was phenomenal against the Magic:
We've covered Manu and Marco, but what about the other third of Bili MiNelli?
Patty Mills took control of the backup point guard spot in just a couple of games. Coming into the season the Spurs had a logjam at the position, but Patty's play has relegated Cory Joseph and Nando de Colo to the end of the bench. The little Aussie routinely comes off the bench already warmed up, and doesn't need much to catch fire from distance. The greatest towel waver the league has seen is also good for a steal off of an inbounds pass in seemingly every game. This dude brings his effort every minute he is on the court (as Patty Thrills leads the league in average speed while on the court among players that average at least 15 minutes per game), has a great attitude, and is really contributing to the team. Not that I don't think towel-waving and high-fiving are an important contribution to the team. They're very important. You gotta share the love.
Patty even catches Pop off guard, as he was walking past the bench when Patty did this:
Patty is so good at stealing the inbound. It can't last much longer as teams will surely make it clear to their players that Mills is really good at this:
PtR Staff Consensus picks for best moments of the season so far:
The Mexico City fire
The debacle in Mexico City seemed to please all of us. There was smoke, there was twitter, and there was a possibly imagined struggle between Pop and Adleman versus the "We must play this game" Stern. By the time the smoke DIDN'T clear, and the game was officially postponed, Pop had the Spurs on their bus rolling out as the announcement came down. Kudos to Pop for orchestrating a prompt exit from the arena and back to SA.
@cjzero provided this time-lapse of the arena filling with smoke
The arena eventually looked like this:
— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) December 5, 2013
In one of the best pieces of the season, our very own Caleb Saenz was able to track down the source of all of that smoke.
The source of the Mexico City arena fire has been identified: pic.twitter.com/XvKmFVrjii
— Caleb Saenz (@calebjsaenz) December 5, 2013
Tony and Manu prank Tim during blowout
This one probably doesn't need an introduction, but I'll set it up in case you missed it the first time around. The Spurs were enjoying a huge lead against the Cavs, and Manu, with the help of Tony, got Timmy pretty good with this one:
Matt Bonner, the Red Mamba, runs point
I'm not sure what to say here.
Matty B might be the funniest guy in the NBA, so I'll let him break this one down:
"Yeah, we both kinda had the ball. It's rare when I actually get a rebound. I called an iso for me, obviously. I would have dribbled through everybody and dunked it, but, unfortunately, Tony came back and got the ball. He ruined it. I would have been number one on the top ten at ESPN."
There you have it, Pounders. The first quarter of the season. What did we miss?
- Boris Diaw is the coolest crazy thing to happen to the Spurs in ages
- Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
- J.R. Wilco debates Phil Naessens on the merits of having the NBA Finals at a neutral site
- Game Rehash - Spurs use new strategy at Milwaukee: Have best players play well
- Do the Spurs have swag?