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Study Hall: Spurs survive slow start and finish Celtics late

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The Spurs survived sluggish play at the start and end this one, but brilliant play in the middle and solid last-minute execution saved the day, as the Spurs escaped with their 17th win.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Spurs 108, Celtics 105 - Dec 5, '15

The Spurs started this one off slow, falling behind by 10 with 5 to go in the first, but rallied quickly and ended the 1st with a 2 point advantage. They increased that lead to 15 by the end of the 3rd, as every lineup Popovich put on the court was effective.

Sloppy play in the fourth saw the Spurs offense grind to a halt, as they scored just 10 points in the first 10 minutes of the quarter. Boston scored 22 in this stretch and suddenly the Spurs found themselves with a mere 2 point lead in the final minutes of play. The Spurs were fortunate do just enough things right to escape with the win.

The Spurs did not enjoy good three point shooting in this one, going just 29% from deep, but they were deadly inside the arc, shooting 64% from inside 8 feet 59.1% from 8-16 feet, and 50% from 16-24.

As the league is moving further and further away from the mid-range game, the Spurs are taking (and making) far more of them than most teams.  Their season-long FG% on those looks isn't fantastic (39.2% from 8-16 feet and 43.0% from 16-24), but the Spurs' roster seems uniquely constructed to turn the game's most inefficient shot into an acceptable one. Still, one has to wonder whether the limits of such an approach will ever make it effective enough to compete in today's 3s-and-layups world.

On the ballhandling front, the Spurs squandered a 3-turnover advantage by tossing it away 5 times in the fourth quarter, fueling Boston's comeback.  Both teams finished with 14 turnovers, but the Celtics generated 3 times as many live ball turnovers as the Spurs, leading to easy transition buckets.  And the Spurs endured a 25 point deficit in fast break points.

The Spurs won this one by committee, with seven players contributing 10 Adjusted Game Score points or higher. Manu Ginobili led the Spurs with 15 points on 11 shots, 6 boards, 4 assists, and a Net Rating of 30.  Great play from The Manu, who continues to perform at a high level this season.

Kawhi struggled a bit in this one, going just 4-13 from the field and tallying three turnovers.  It says something about Leonard that an off game for him now entails a mere 15 points, less than two fewer than his 16.8 average from last season.

Aldridge had an excellent showing, finding his rhythm early and scoring 17 points to go with 8 boards and playing excellent defense.

David West had probably the most impressive showing in limited minutes, going 4-4 from the field, grabbing 6 boards, an assist and a block all in just 14 minutes of play.  Boris also was engaged and effective, pitching in 16 points, 3 boards and 4 assists. The Diaw/West pairing may be undersized and struggle on the glass, but it is a lot of fun to watch two highly skilled bigs have their with second units.

Danny Green is still struggling from the field, going 0-2 from deep.  I'm not sure what it's going to take, but the Spurs desperately need him to find his rhythm this season, or they will struggle to keep pace with the Wests's best offensive teams.

In the end, despite some struggles, a win's win. You'd like to see better focus throughout the whole game, but it had been a while since the Spurs fell asleep like they did in the fourth, and you have to expect lulls like that from time to time. Fortunately, the Spurs face the historically hapless 76ers on Monday night, a game where they'll only realistically need maybe two quarters of focused play to run away with (knock on wood). Go Spurs Go!

Four Factors (def.)

Spurs Celtics
Shooting (eFG%) 55% 52%
Ball Handling (TO%) 16% 14%
Off Rebounding (OR%) 30% 23%
Shooting FTs (FT Rate) 26% 26%

Team Stats (Definitions at bottom of post)

Spurs Celtics
Pace (No. of Possessions) 97.7
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.11 1.07
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.29 1.22
2-PT FG% 58.2% 47.4%
3-PT FG% 29.4% 41.4%
FT% 68.2% 68.2%
True Shooting % 57.6% 54.9%
Spurs
Celtics
Offensive Rating 111.7 106.4
Defensive Rating 106.4 111.7
Net Rating 5.3 -5.3
Spurs Celtics
Passes / poss. 3.2 2.9
% of FGA uncontested 50.0% 52.3%
Points in the paint 44 30
Second chance points 10 10
Fast break points 3 28
Spurs Celtics
Assists 26 22
Steals 3 9
Turnovers 14 14
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.07 2.21
Spurs Celtics
Expected Offensive Rebounds 10.0 11.8
Offensive Rebounds 12 11
Difference 2.0 -0.8

Spurs Shot Chart

Celtics Shot Chart

Players (Definitions at bottom of post, columns sortable)

Spurs

Player
Min
AdjGS
GS/Min
Line
Usage%
Floor%
OffRtg
DefRtg
NetRtg
Manu Ginobili 26 16.5 0.64 15 Pts (6-11 FG, 1-5 3PT, 2-4 FT) 7 Reb (1 Off), 4 Ast, 1 TO, 1 PF 24% 59% 132.4 102.4 30.0
LaMarcus Aldridge 27 15.1 0.55 17 Pts (8-15 FG, 1-2 FT) 8 Reb (3 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 TO, 4 PF 27% 54% 95.2 101.8 -6.6
David West 14 15.0 1.04 10 Pts (4-4 FG, 2-3 FT) 6 Reb (2 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Blk, 2 PF 17% 96% 128.2 113.1 15.1
Boris Diaw 25 14.7 0.59 16 Pts (6-11 FG, 1-2 3PT, 3-5 FT) 3 Reb (2 Off), 4 Ast, 3 TO 28% 53% 127.8 104.4 23.4
Kawhi Leonard 34 13.0 0.38 15 Pts (4-13 FG, 2-4 3PT, 5-6 FT) 8 Reb (1 Off), 4 Ast, 2 Stl, 3 TO, 4 PF 24% 44% 106.3 108.8 -2.4
Tim Duncan 24 9.9 0.41 6 Pts (3-5 FG, ) 5 Reb (1 Off), 4 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 TO, 1 PF 11% 62% 108.4 105.3 3.1
Patty Mills 26 9.8 0.38 9 Pts (4-8 FG, 1-4 3PT ) 4 Reb (1 Off), 2 Ast, 1 PF 13% 58% 114.1 105.2 8.9
Tony Parker 27 6.8 0.26 10 Pts (5-8 FG, ) 1 Reb (0 Off), 6 Ast, 4 TO, 4 PF 21% 51% 104.4 110.2 -5.8
Kyle Anderson 8 5.0 0.62 4 Pts (2-3 FG, ) 2 Reb (0 Off), 1 Stl, 1 PF 16% 69% 115.5 97.2 18.3
Danny Green 29 2.1 0.07 6 Pts (2-6 FG, 0-2 3PT, 2-2 FT) 4 Reb (1 Off), 1 TO, 4 PF 12% 42% 100.5 111.0 -10.5

Show Celtics Players

Spurs Index: 95.8 (def.)

Factor Value Score
Passing (AST%) 59.1% 28.6
Shooting (eFG%) 55.4% 20.6
Defensive Rebounding (DReb%) 76.6% 20.1
Defense (DefRtg) 106.4 18.8
Opponent % of FGA Uncontested 52.3% 7.8
Total 95.8

Celtics Spurs Index: 91.1 Show Breakdown

Confused? Show Advanced Stats Glossary