We are going to try something different today. Since Chris Itz and J.R. Wilco were both unavailable, I'll be breaking things down for you. And because a) I think we should promote the work our fearless leader does every game on Twitter and, b) my computer is on the fritz, preventing me from creating the GIFs, we will have our very first Vine Breakdown. Enjoy!
Before going into the plays themselves, this Vine will let you know everything you need about how alert the Spurs were going into this game.
Yeah. It didn't go well.
Alright, onto the plays.
This first play shows why the Wolves have had problems on defense this season and why the Spurs average so many assists per game. Joseph gets to the middle after a Diaw screen, forcing a momentary switch. Because Love is not a good rim protector, Brewer has to leave Leonard for a second to deter the drive. He succeeds, so Joseph passes to Diaw, who attacks the paint. Since Rubio doesn't fully commit to the switch and goes for a steal instead, Brewer stays with Joseph. So Kawhi is free to cut baseline, receives the pass from Diaw and finishes strong. Half-hearted defense will usually equal two points against even a uncharacteristically sloppy Spurs' team.
Everyone laughed when the Red Mamba called for that ISO a while back but the joke is on us. Bonner shows off his ball-handling and touch with a Parker-esque floater. The best part of this one surely is Rubio's reaction after the bucket. Ricky had a great outing against the Spurs, finishing with 23 points and seven assists. But what he will always remember about this game is Matt Bonner making a fool out of him.
He knows we are starting to take for granted his steals leading to breakaway dunks so Kawhi mixes it up and treats us to a block leading to a breakaway layup. Leonard still doesn't seem to have the tools to create for himself consistently on half court sets but that doesn't mean he can't put up points on his own. His ability to create offense from defense is something I think the Spurs have lacked since the days when long-haired Manu terrorized ball-handlers and raided passing lanes.
Look at the grace Jeff Ayres displays here. Not only did he catch the ball (never a given with him) but in one smooth motion he spun away from the defender and into a pretty hook. Yes, I know it was probably by accident but the guy had a good game with seven points, four rebounds, one steal and one block. So I'm willing to look past the completely fortuitous sequence and praise a consummate pro who plays hard every time his number is called.
I know I said a couple of plays back that Leonard still can't create for himself consistently but if this is a look at the future, then consider me as excited as everyone else is about his potential as an offensive player. Leonard takes on Luc Mbah-a-Moute, who is no slouch on the defensive end. He takes a dribble, then goes behind his back to get to the rim. But the most encouraging part of the play is how Leonard looks for contact with his body before going for the layup. Those little things are hugely important for a player that has often struggled getting to the line. That wiliness often separates competent offensive players from legitimate scoring options. It's fantastic how much Kawhi has improved in such a short period of time.
After all the pretty Spurs plays, let's finish with a sequence that truly represents how this game went.
Nothing was going the Spurs' way. The Wolves capitalized on every Spurs mistake (and there were many) and got a quality win at home.
That does it for the first and likely last edition of Vine Breakdown. You should really follow J.R. Wilco on Twitter or Vine because he posts a lot of these six-second gems during the games. And hopefully Chris will be back next time to do a proper job.