Posted on: October 6th, 2014 by Devin Kharpertian Comments

 

Projected Record: 58-24 (2nd in West)

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Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich

The NBA's longest-running player-coach partnership has earned five titles in 15 years. (AP)

Head coach: Gregg Popovich
2013-14 record: 62-20
2013-14 ORtg: 108.2 (6th)
2013-14 DRtg: 100.1 (4th)
Players in: Kyle Anderson, Bryce Cotton, JaMychal Green, rights to Nemanja Dangubic
Players out: Damion James
Projected Starting Lineup: Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter

There's not much to say about the Spurs that hasn't already been overwrought with cliches in the last ten years, but there's also not much inaccurate positive coverage.
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As you might expect, not a lot is going well in the first half for the Nets against the Spurs. On the bright side, Mason Plumlee unleashed this volley of dunks in the second quarter:

Can the Nets win a ring?

Posted on: October 30th, 2013 by Max Weisberg Comments

 

 

Marc Gasol, Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, Matt Bonner

WENDIGOOOOOOOOOO (AP)

Each day that there's a playoff game, we'll have three things to watch in the NBA playoffs. Each note will be accompanied by a contest. We'll announce winners after each round. Here's today's three things to watch:

1) San Antonio's continued dominance. The San Antonio Spurs crushed the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, in a 105-83 laugher in San Antonio. The Spurs hit 14 three-pointers, shot 52.6% from the field, and never had a real threat from Memphis, who many anointed as the favorites in the series. Grizzlies starters shot just 40.9% from the field and didn't have a shot after going down 31-14 after one quarter. The Spurs have one of the most consistent, fluid offenses in the NBA, and Memphis -- who have both the defensive player of the year in Marc Gasol and one of the game's elite perimeter defenders in Tony Allen -- could do nothing to stop it. At home again in Game 2, will the Grizzlies make the necessary adjustments?

2) Zach Randolph. One of the aforementioned adjustments the Grizzlies have to make is getting Zach Randolph involved in the offense. Randolph turned in a terrible Game 1 performance, going just 1-8 from the field and finishing with just two points in 28 minutes of action. The Spurs stymied Randolph with a mixture of hard work and strategy -- pushing Randolph out of the paint and swarming him with defenders that could help off their man. If that analysis tells us anything, it's that Randolph can take advantage if his teammates show a bit more commitment to acting as a threat. Randolph averaged 16.1 points per 36 minutes this season and 19.7 per game in the first two rounds of the playoffs -- can he counter?

3) San Antonio's balance. The Spurs had five players score in double figures in a rout and Tim Duncan wasn't one of them. Manu Ginobili wasn't one of them, either. That should tell you all you need to know about San Antonio's balanced offensive approach, one that values the right shot over the top shooter. The Spurs have a bevy of offensive weapons, specifically with three-point shooters. When they're hitting, there's a lot of points to go around.

 

1) Indiana closing it out. After splitting the two games in New York and then sweeping the two-game home stretch in Indiana, the Indiana Pacers hold a commanding 3-1 lead on the New York Knicks and are one more road victory away from guaranteeing a spot against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Outside of a dominating 105-79 victory over the Pacers in Game 2, the Knicks have looked exceedingly vulnerable, a chilling contrast from their record-setting start to the season -- fewer three-pointers, Carmelo Anthony at small forward instead of power forward, and a lot of one-on-one offense. In Game 4, the Knicks shot just 35.6% from the field, and 61 of their 87 field goal attempts came from three players (Anthony, J.R. Smith, and Raymond Felton). If the Knicks continue their freakish stagnancy, they won't last beyond tonight.

2) Golden State staying alive. This is a personal choice. I'm a big fan of the Golden State Warriors and want to see them survive. They're down 3-2 to the San Antonio Spurs, but this is their last stand at home to force a Game 7. Earlier in the playoffs, Zach Lowe of Grantland called the Warriors' new offense -- particularly, Stephen Curry's new role thanks to the absence of David Lee -- "a glitch in the program." There's few things I enjoy more than watching a shooter dismantle a team from afar. Here's hoping Stephen Curry can do that tonight.

3) Golden State's Backcourt. On the heels of my gushing over Curry, I'd be remiss not to mention his partner in crime, Klay Thompson, whose production has plummeted since his 34-point, 14-rebound career night in Game 2 -- 17 points in Game 3, 10 points in Game 4, and just 4 in Game 5. The Warriors will need another great night from Thompson along with Curry to extend the Warriors' season to Game 7 -- will they get it?

 

Each day that there's a playoff game, we'll have three things to watch in the NBA playoffs. Each note will be accompanied by a contest. We'll announce winners after each round. Here's today's three things to watch:

1) Indiana doing it again. The Pacers now have a 2-1 lead over the Knicks in the second round of the playoffs, and it's no accident. While New York runs its offense through Carmelo Anthony at a historic rate (more on that in a bit), the Pacers utilize a balanced attack. Three different players (David West, Paul George, Roy Hibbert) have led the Pacers in scoring in their three games against New York, and they've gotten important contributions from George Hill and D.J. Augustin (in Game 1). It's not just their offense: the Pacers have done an excellent job funneling three-point attempts away from New York like no team has been able to this year. At home, their success should continue tonight.

2) An unlikely hero. With San Antonio joining the world in expecting Stephen Curry to shoot the Warriors through the playoffs, the Warriors got two unlikely heroes in their two series wins: guard Klay Thompson (who put up an enormous 34-14 in Game 2) and Harrison Barnes (who somehow took 26 field goal attempts in their Game 4 overtime victory). I'm guessing Thompson will do it again: you can only stay at home on Curry for so long without giving Thompson some open looks.

3) Melo the shooter. As Kevin Pelton of ESPN noted today, Carmelo Anthony is currently using 38.7% of his team's possessions in the playoffs, the highest of any multi-series playoff performance ever. He's taken 230 field goal attempts in the playoffs, just ten fewer than his next two teammates combined. If that trend continues and Anthony continues to shoot poorly -- just 39.1% in the playoffs an 29.5% from deep -- it could spell trouble for New York.

 

Each day that there's a playoff game, we'll have three things to watch in the NBA playoffs. Each note will be accompanied by a contest. We'll announce winners after each round. Here's today's three things to watch:

1) Miami bouncing back. Even without Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich, and Luol Deng -- again -- the Chicago Bulls shocked the Miami Heat with a 93-86 victory in Miami in Game 1, thanks to improbable performances yet again from Nate Robinson, Jimmy Butler, and Joakim Noah. After losing Game 1, Miami has to feel an impetus to defend its home court, and LeBron James is always due for a dominating performance. I am notoriously terrible at predictions, but I smell a blowout cooking. Is tonight the night the wheels finally fall off for a beaten-up Chicago team?

2) Stephen Curry. Before Game 1 of the Golden State Warriors-San Antonio Spurs series, I said that no player in the league has a light as green as Stephen Curry, and his otherworldly shooting ability makes him a threat for a huge scoring night in any game. Sure enough, Curry dropped a 44-point outburst on the Spurs in a thrilling 129-127 overtime loss -- outscoring his next two teammates combined by a full six points. The Warriors offense runs through Curry as its first and second option. Will lightning strike twice again?

3) Nate Robinson. Perhaps the most improbable of all storylines in this year's playoffs is Nate Robinson's sudden emergence as an offensive juggernaut. Through eight playoff games, Robinson has averaged 18.3 points in 31.3 minutes per game, shooting 50.4% from the field and 36.6% from deep. Robinson, unbelievably, is doing most of his damage when the game matters most: he leads the entire NBA playoffs in points per game in the fourth quarter with 8.3, including 11 against the Heat in Game 1. The Bulls will need him to come through once again to have a shot against the Heat in Game 2.

 

Warm-Ups



The Game Starts Now... MORE →

 

Tony Parker, Deron Williams

AP

Grade the Game At Any Time!

Tonight: The 29-21 Brooklyn Nets host the 39-12 San Antonio Spurs, at 8:00 P.M. EST tonight at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Spurs, coming off a shorthanded loss to the Detroit Pistons, have the best record in the NBA and are on the second game of a nine(!)-game road trip. The Nets have lost five of their last eight games, most recently an 89-74 drubbing at the hands of the Washington Wizards.

Watch & Listen: Tonight's game is broadcast on YES Network. Ian Eagle and Greg Anthony are on the call. The game is nationally televised on ESPN. The game is radio simulcast on WFAN, and in Spanish on WADO.

More on tonight's game, including injuries and stats, after the jump... MORE →

 

I stopped by the excellent San Antonio Spurs Blog 48 Minutes of Hell to preview tonight's Brooklyn Nets game with Spurs expert/very tall man Andrew McNeill. Here's a snippet of our discussion:

AM: When the Nets were in San Antonio, it was a short time after Avery Johnson had been fired. How’s P.J. Carlesimo doing and what’s the longest one of his press conferences has gone?

DK: Friday night’s is still going, actually. I left after the third three-hour answer. P.J.’s been up and down — literally, just once. The Nets were jolted immediately after Johnson got fired, and it was evident. LeBron James said it best: they’re not doing anything different, their system hadn’t changed other than a few minor tweaks, but they were just playing harder under P.J. Unfortunately, after the first bump, they’ve fallen prey to some of the same issues in the past eight games that hurt them at the end of Avery’s tenure: not running through sets or exerting the effort to do them successfully, then falling back on late-clock isolations. It’s cost them bad losses, and P.J. (or something) has to get their energy/effort back up to right the ship. And seriously, probably about 15 minutes.

AM: When he was in San Antonio on New Year’s Eve, his pregamer was a solid 10 minutes. My shoulder got tired from holding up my recorder. And then I just stopped because I knew I wasn’t going to use any of it.

I do love monitoring the dead coach bounce, which is one of Basketbawful’s greatest contributions to the blogosphere.

DK: Yup. It’s pretty clear here. Even if you don’t believe a word that comes out of a player’s mouth, it’s hard not to see that Deron was shooting and playing better once P.J. took over. These days? Kind of going back down the end-of-A.J. road. I have one answer from P.J. that is six minutes long, and he didn’t answer the actual question

AM: That’s the worst. If Pop’s not going to answer your question, he’ll let you know immediately. It’s one of his good qualities.

DK: I’m planning on going to one of Pop’s pre- or post-game pressers tonight just to watch the man in action. I’m far too terrified to actually ask him anything.

AM: I suggest pregame. Depending on his mood, it’s a lot of fun. Either way, there’s more of a back-and-forth than postgame, when the video cameras are in his face. But he loves New York, so I’m pretty sure he’s going to be in a good mood.

DK: Excellent. I’m giddy! I mean, professional.

We also discussed he power forward problem, Joe Johnson's sideburns, Brook Lopez's career season, and more. Check out our full discussion in the link below.

Read More: 48 Minutes of Hell -- Spurs at Nets Give and Go Preview

 

AP

San Antonio Spurs forward/center Tim Duncan and shapeshifting guard Manu Ginobili are listed as doubtful for tonight's game against the Brooklyn Nets. According to Spurs beat writer for the San Antonio Express-News Jeff McDonald, both could be out until the All-Star break, making tonight's doubtful seem more plausible.

Duncan and Ginobili, along with point guard Tony Parker, are the two best players the Spurs have, and key catalysts for their regular season success both against the Nets (a 104-73 blowout victory saying it all) and everyone else (a league-best 39-12 record saying it all, louder).

The Brooklyn Nets have a tempered injury report; guard Jerry Stackhouse and forward Tornike Shengelia are listed as probable for tonight's contest, while point guard C.J. Watson is a game-time decision.