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Parker's shows what he's still capable of against the Cavaliers

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The Spurs survived an ice-cold start, rallying behind Tony Parker's phenomenal play to close within 6 at half. San Antonio found their rhythm after the break, stifling the hot-shooting Cavs and putting up 59 second half points to claim the big win.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Spurs 99, Cavaliers 95 - Jan 14, '16

Remember when everyone (self included) thought Tony Parker was just about done? Maybe good for an occasional scoring outburst and some assists, but probably the weakest link in the starting lineup? I've never been more glad to have been more wrong. 

Instead, Tony Parker has turned back the clock in a big way this year. It's been noted before, but the addition of LaMarcus Aldridge and the ascent of Kawhi Leonard has shifted Tony from the focal point of the Spurs attack to a player who can take a back seat for long stretches, instead stepping up when the Spurs' two top dogs aren't in rhythm, as was the case in the first half against Cleveland, which saw San Antonio's forwards go a combined 2-11 from the floor.

Parker is averaging 1.5 fewer minutes this season than last, and his scoring has taken a step back in volume, going from 14.4 last season to 13.1 this year. But where Tony's scoring volume has taken a dip, his efficiency on both sides of the ball has taken a major leap.

The Tissot model's usage rate has fallen from a team-high 24.7% to just 21.7% this year, and he's taking 2 fewer shots per game. While that may not seem like terribly much, it has been the difference between Parker struggling to shoulder a large offensive burden and a more relaxed Tony picking his spots and scoring efficiently in spurts.

And boy has Tony been efficient. Parker's effective field goal percentage this season has surged to 55.2%, his best since 2005-2006 's 55.3% and the third highest mark for a point guard behind only Stephen Curry and Jose Calderon. Last year's mark: 50.8%, a 4.4 percentage point jump.

On the defensive side of the ball, Tony's play has improved as he's had more energy to expend in his own end. Tony has never been a big defensive stopper, and has tended to be the kind of player you hope to "hide" on the defensive side of the ball. Last year, things got particularly bad as Tony's nagging hamstring injury hampered him further, causing him to fall all the way to the 2nd worst defensive point guard in the league with a -3.33 Defensive Real Plus-Minus.

This year, Tony's improved health, energy and mojo have caused that mark to rise to -.92. While that sounds pretty terrible, it's actually 28th out of 83 point guards. Point guards tend to have pretty terrible defensive stats; only 11 of those 83 have a positive DPRM. Something about being 6' tall surrounded by behemoths?

The last time the Cavs visited the AT&T Center, Kyrie Iriving exploded for a season-high 57 points. Tony just wasn't able to keep up, and Kyrie feasted, as athletic point guards tend to do against San Antonio. This time around, it was Tony Parker who emerged on top, holding Kyrie to a pedestrian 17 while putting up 24 efficient points himself.  If Tony can continue to show a pulse defending the Kyries Irvings, Russell Westbrooks and Chris Pauls of the league, the Spurs will cover up one of their most glaring weaknesses. Or what passes for a "glaring weakness" for the Spurs.

As always, the Kawhi Leonard/LeBron James matchup got a lot of attention ahead of this game. Looking at the box score, it was about as even a matchup as you could expect. Kawhi put up 22.8 AdjGS to LeBron's even 23.0. LeBron scored 22 to Kawhi's 20. Both had 5 assists and 4 turnovers. It's actually uncanny how alike those numbers are.

But we all know that Kawhi's impact goes beyond what the box score can capture. Early on, Kawhi could not find his rhythm, going 2-7 in the first half and forcing things a bit as he tried to take it right at James. But even while he was struggling offensively he made his presence felt, blanketing James and discouraging him from even attempting shots. Take a look at what is perhaps the most telling stat of the night:

I'd be remiss if I didn't shout out to David West for playing 18 phenomenal minutes, putting up 13 points on 7 shots and securing 5 boards. The Cavs could not match his toughness and it was great to see San Antonio's less-heralded addition shine on a night when their more splashy free agent struggled from the field.

Perhaps my favorite play of the night was seeing the Spurs go to Tim Duncan late once again. When Duncan got the ball in isolation against Kevin Love, you just knew he was going to score.

Never gets old. Just like Duncan.

The Spurs move to 35-6, tied for their franchise best first half of a season. San Antonio hosts the Mavs on Sunday at the AT&T Center as they look to add another quality win to their already impressive resumé. Go Spurs Go!

Four Factors (def.)

Spurs Cavaliers
Shooting (eFG%) 49% 52%
Ball Handling (TO%) 13% 19%
Off Rebounding (OR%) 24% 21%
Shooting FTs (FT Rate) 27% 13%

Team Stats (Definitions at bottom of post)

Spurs Cavaliers
Pace (No. of Possessions) 94.8
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.04 1.00
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.19 1.16
2-PT FG% 50.0% 50.0%
3-PT FG% 29.4% 38.5%
FT% 81.8% 81.8%
True Shooting % 53.4% 54.7%
Spurs
Cavaliers
Offensive Rating 105.7 99.1
Defensive Rating 99.1 105.7
Net Rating 6.6 -6.6
Spurs Cavaliers
Passes / poss. 2.9 2.9
% of FGA uncontested 44.6% 39.0%
Points in the paint 48 40
Second chance points 11 13
Fast break points 16 8
Spurs Cavaliers
Assists 17 15
Steals 6 4
Turnovers 11 17
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.09 1.12
Spurs Cavaliers
Expected Offensive Rebounds 11.3 10.8
Offensive Rebounds 11 9
Difference -0.3 -1.8

Spurs Shot Chart

Cavaliers Shot Chart

Players (Definitions at bottom of post, columns sortable)

Spurs

Player
Min
AdjGS
GS/Min
Line
Usage%
Floor%
OffRtg
DefRtg
NetRtg
Tony Parker 35 25.3 0.73 24 Pts (11-18 FG, 0-2 3PT, 2-4 FT) 4 Reb (0 Off), 2 Ast, 1 Blk, 3 Stl, 1 TO, 1 PF 27% 62% 104.3 93.9 10.4
Kawhi Leonard 40 22.8 0.57 20 Pts (6-14 FG, 2-4 3PT, 6-6 FT) 10 Reb (2 Off), 5 Ast, 2 Blk, 1 Stl, 4 TO, 1 PF 24% 52% 102.0 105.3 -3.3
David West 18 16.7 0.93 13 Pts (5-7 FG, 3-3 FT) 5 Reb (3 Off), 1 Ast, 1 PF 20% 83% 124.3 77.1 47.2
Tim Duncan 33 10.3 0.31 9 Pts (4-10 FG, 0-1 3PT, 1-2 FT) 6 Reb (2 Off), 3 Ast, 2 Blk, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 3 PF 17% 46% 100.1 93.6 6.4
Patty Mills 13 6.7 0.51 6 Pts (2-4 FG, 2-2 3PT ) 1 Reb (0 Off), 2 Ast, 1 PF 14% 62% 109.6 112.6 -3.0
Manu Ginobili 26 5.5 0.21 10 Pts (4-12 FG, 0-4 3PT, 2-2 FT) 3 Reb (0 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 3 PF 24% 41% 104.3 93.3 11.0
LaMarcus Aldridge 29 5.0 0.17 6 Pts (2-7 FG, 2-2 FT) 8 Reb (2 Off), 2 Ast, 1 TO, 4 PF 14% 43% 96.0 111.7 -15.7
Kyle Anderson 5 3.8 0.70 2 Pts (1-1 FG, ) 2 Reb (0 Off), 1 Ast, 10% 100% 152.2 90.0 62.2
Jonathon Simmons 9 1.9 0.21 2 Pts (1-1 FG, ) 2 Reb (0 Off), 2 PF 5% 100% 122.1 78.7 43.4
Boris Diaw 10 0.9 0.09 2 Pts (1-2 FG, ) 2 Reb (1 Off), 1 Blk, 2 TO 17% 23% 91.9 114.2 -22.3
Danny Green 21 0.1 0.01 5 Pts (1-7 FG, 1-4 3PT, 2-3 FT) 2 Reb (1 Off), 1 TO 20% 24% 110.3 110.1 0.2

Hide Cavaliers Players

Player
Min
AdjGS
GS/Min
Line
Usage%
Floor%
OffRtg
DefRtg
NetRtg
Tristan Thompson 35 27.7 0.78 18 Pts (7-11 FG, 4-5 FT) 14 Reb (4 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 TO, 3 PF 20% 62% 104.5 103.4 1.1
LeBron James 37 23.0 0.62 22 Pts (9-17 FG, 1-3 3PT, 3-4 FT) 7 Reb (2 Off), 5 Ast, 4 TO, 4 PF 28% 52% 105.6 97.9 7.6
J.R. Smith 33 14.9 0.46 17 Pts (7-13 FG, 3-7 3PT ) 1 Reb (0 Off), 1 Blk, 1 TO, 4 PF 20% 51% 110.2 106.0 4.2
Kyrie Irving 32 12.2 0.38 16 Pts (6-17 FG, 2-5 3PT, 2-2 FT) 2 Reb (0 Off), 4 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 TO, 1 PF 29% 40% 92.3 104.5 -12.2
Iman Shumpert 19 10.9 0.58 7 Pts (3-3 FG, 1-1 3PT ) 1 Reb (0 Off), 1 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 TO, 1 PF 12% 60% 80.9 114.6 -33.7
Kevin Love 37 9.3 0.25 10 Pts (4-10 FG, 2-4 3PT ) 12 Reb (0 Off), 1 Ast, 2 TO, 3 PF 15% 36% 101.5 95.7 5.9
Matthew Dellavedova 20 0.2 0.01 5 Pts (2-8 FG, 1-4 3PT ) 2 Reb (1 Off), 3 Ast, 2 TO, 3 PF 24% 30% 109.2 120.1 -11.0
Jared Cunningham 0 0.0 0.00 0 Pts , 0% 0% 0.0 0.0 0.0
Richard Jefferson 11 -0.7 -0.06 0 Pts (0-3 FG, 0-2 3PT ) 2 Reb (1 Off), 1 Blk, 12% 0% 69.6 119.7 -50.1
Timofey Mozgov 15 -2.6 -0.17 0 Pts 2 Reb (1 Off), 1 TO, 4 PF 3% 0% 90.0 117.5 -27.5

Spurs Index: 91.1 (def.)

Factor Value Score
Passing (AST%) 44.7% 21.6
Shooting (eFG%) 48.8% 18.2
Defensive Rebounding (DReb%) 79.1% 20.7
Defense (DefRtg) 99.1 20.2
Opponent % of FGA Uncontested 39.0% 10.5
Total 91.1

Cavaliers Spurs Index: 86.5 Show Breakdown

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