1 - Pop benched Duncan against the Warriors. Will that happen again, either in the regular season or the playoffs?
Bruno Passos: A lot of it had to do with Bogut and Ezeli being out. In those scenarios, I think it will -- especially given that game's end result and the success had guarding Curry so far from the basket.
Jesus Gomez: That question was actually inspired by this fanpost by longtime reader lvmainman about the viability of two-big lineups in close games. I think there's definitely something to the notion that the Spurs will have to go small at some point against the Warriors, just like they did against the Heat. Pop will probably save that for the postseason from now on, so I don't expect to see it again during the regular season, though.
Michael Erler: I very much think it will happen again in the regular season. I wouldn't be surprised if "The Big Three" don't see the inside of a plane again prior to Game 3 of the first round of the playoffs. But for the most part, yeah, there doesn't seem to be anyone for Duncan to guard against the Warriors. Unless they stay big with Andrew Bogut or Festus Ezeli. I just don't see Steve Kerr using big lineups very much. His advantage is with his skill guys.
Chris Itz: Sure I think it will happen again, in the playoffs even, and that's fine. Timmy will be good and rested for a 4th Finals MVP campaign.
Mark Barrington: I think that Pop has already verified his POC (Proof of Concept) for the Spurs small-ball lineup, so there’s no need to prove it again in the regular season. But if he’s healthy, I expect Kerr to put Bogut in the starting lineup, and Popovich will counter with Timmy. Whenever the big Aussie gets replaced by Harrison Barnes, the Spurs will go small, so expect a steady diet of cream shakes served up by Boris Diaw. No way Barnes can hold his ground against Bobo’s magnificent derriere, and Diaw will score on him whenever he wants to. If they switch Draymond Green onto Boris, Lamarcus will feast on Barnes.
2 - Kyle Anderson has been playing more power forward in small lineups lately. Is that his best position going forward?
Passos: I think so. He should have no problem sticking with stretch fours, and I definitely think he rebounds well enough at that position. You probably need a mobile rim protector at the five (like, say, Aldridge) to make it work on the defensive
Gomez: This is just my opinion, but I don't think he likes playing there, so a full transition to power forward would be rough. Hopefully his shot will come along so that he will be able to split his time between the two forward spots instead of being pigeonholed. If he develops a taste for the position, however, he could have as much potential as Trey Lyles.
Erler: It's his least worst position, but I think that's mainly a function of him getting to play with more skill guys instead of having to be one himself. Rebounding seems to be his best NBA skill right now, though his length makes him a decent defender as well. His passing can be an asset, but only if he's playing with enough other threats on the court. I'd still like for him to work on his three-point shot more, because people leave him open out there. As a small-ball four I don't know if he posts up well enough or is strong enough for that to work efficiently.
Itz: Well, Kyle sure isn't having a good season from the post. He's scoring .74 points per possession and turning the ball over on 18% of his post-ups. He can rebound, but I'd like to see him develop his range so that he can spread the floor.
Barrington: I don’t think so. He’s been great on small forwards, using his length to make up for his lack of speed on defense, and also using his reach to make sweeping layups on offense. He could play power forward against a team that plays micro-ball like the Warriors. Kyle can play power forward against any team that plays a small forward at power forward. That’s a pretty short list.
3 - Manu Ginobili announced that he will play in the Olympics. What's your reaction to that news?
Passos: I think a tournament on that level and so close to home was hard for Manu to pass up, but it should also mean that his body's feeling pretty good! I just see it as one of the game's great competitors taking on one more challenge before he hangs it up (whenever that may be).
Gomez: I'm obviously ecstatic, to the point of considering selling a kidney and attending at least one of the games. I think most Spurs fans will be happy too, now that Manu's health doesn't have as big an impact on the team's chances to contend as it used to.
Erler: That his native land has done a positively abysmal job of developing talent post "Golden Generation." They shouldn't have to beg and plead for a bunch of near-40 year-olds to play to stay competitive in international tournaments. But playing for his national team has always been Ginobili's first love and I guess he figured why not since he'll no longer have an obligation for the Spurs if he retires and he'll never have an opportunity to do it again. He missed out on the last tournament so he's probably feeling a bit wistful.
Itz: That's great!! I've had a whole lot of fun watching Argentina for the past 12 years. Besides the Spurs, my largest rooting interest in sports is the Argentinian National team, and one last medal - a long shot, sure - for those guys would be a blast. I'll certainly be watching and hoping they can capture a little magic one last time.
Barrington: Pure joy! I’m so happy for him and his teammates. One last run, and it’s going to be glorious. I can’t wait to watch them.
4 - Kawhi Leonard is shooting 51-46-88 percent. Can he improve his free throw shooting enough to join the 50-40-90 club before the season ends?
Passos: The Kawhi-Bot joke's been made plenty of times, but it really does reflect the guy's consistency in keeping his numbers humming at more or less the same place. Getting up to 90% seems like it would take quite a spike in the last handful of games. Even at a paltry 88%, he's still having a truly remarkable year.
Gomez: I don't think he will make it but I'm surprised that it's even a possibility. He averaged 47-27-75 in his last year in college and he's now one of the best shooters in the league! That's ridiculous. The improvement on three-point shoots in particular is astonishing. He was league average last year, now he's the best in the NBA. That guy has no ceiling.
Erler: Once you're in 88 territory it's pretty tough to improve your percentage, especially this late into the season. You pretty much have to be perfect, so I'm gonna say no. He can, but I doubt he will.
Itz: 0% chance. There are 10 games left, Whi won't play them all, and he averages 4.3 free throws per contest. He would have to hit 57-straight free throws to bring his average up to 90%.
Barrington: Not going to happen. Pop is going to limit his minutes for the rest of the regular season, and he’s not going to get enough attempts.
5 - Steve Kerr confirmed that the Warriors are going for the Bulls' record. Will they break it?
Passos: I think so. They've only got three away games left and Kerr's leaving it up to the players as to whether they play or rest. They seem to want it even more than he does. The biggest drawback to all this is another way of Old Guard NBA players criticizing the Warriors and what they've accomplished.
Gomez: I hope so. I love to see records being broken and that team has had a fantastic season. Kerr is smart, so I doubt he will risk health to get it, but if those guys are a little tired when the playoffs roll around, that wouldn't be bad either.
Erler: Sure. Their schedule is cake. And I doubt the Spurs play their A-lineup against them again before the WCF.
Itz: Almost certainly. And I hope they have to work a little to get it.
Barrington: They’d better. Although it’s going to be a pretty empty accomplishment if they don’t also win the title. But I think that eclipsing he Bulls’ regular season wins record is almost a foregone conclusion at this point. And it won’t matter at all.