And we’re back! Miss us?
Since the NBA schedule makers decided to follow up a brutal 66-game season with a starting back-to-back for our favorite team, I’m protesting by not recapping the individual games, but a bullet-form, this-is-what-I-saw account of the two games against the Hornets and the Thunder. Mostly, though, I’m just lazy and my personal schedule for watching and writing about the two games sucked.
A lot of the hope for this Spurs’ season is built around three specific things: OKC not being as good without Harden; the Lakers not being able to figure it out with Nash, Kobe, Howard, and Gasol; and the meme that Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green will make “leaps” of development in year two with the Spurs. I don’t have a lot of opinions yet about #1 or #2, but #3 might actually be real. Kawhi is going to be a menace defensively for every guard oriented team the Spurs play. He can get out of position and does not always play through screens well, but he clogs passing lanes with his freakish length and his pick-and-roll defense already looks better than last year. Green has become a valuable shooter and defender also.
The Hornets are not going to be an easy win for anyone, especially in New Orleans. I might just take Monty Williams in the “next really good young coach” pool.
I really liked what I saw of Anthony Davis. I think he’s a gamechanger defensively and has enough offense now to help his team. If the Hornets get healthy and happy (Eric Gordon to the white courtesy phone, please), I think they could contend for the 7th or 8th spot.
This just in: TD cannot guard KD in the open floor. Thanks for playing.
I love Boris Diaw; a full season of watching him play with Duncan will be a joy. He looks so much like a totally different player than the Charlotte Boris Diaw, it’s hard to imagine it was the same guy. In the first two games at least, he seems much more comfortable with his own offense (as evidenced by 66% shooting and 10 points against OKC).
Continuity matters early in the season. The offense is already in rhythm, even without Manu; the defense is still a work in progress – as it has been since David Robinson left – but I saw some signs, especially on p&r situations, that it can come around. Holding OKC to 37% shooting is a nice start.
Whatever offseason voodoo Tim is doing to keep himself in shape and healthy is working. He looks amazing through two back-to-back games.
The Thunder will be better than they were in San Antonio, but there are lots of questions about them: Can Kevin Martin produce in playoffs? Can he defend? Who helps him get shots on 2nd unit? This is going to be a fascinating season and OKC just went into “must watch” mode on my NBA League Pass.
The Spurs have no respect for Westbrook’s jumper; Parker flew under every screen, all game long and basically encouraged him to shoot. Every Westbrook jumper keeps the ball away from Kevin Durant.
Every jumper Serge Ibaka missed made my soul die a little more. And there were a lot of them.
I can see why, even with his issues, Gary Neal is the defacto 2nd PG (although he probably won’t be the primary ball handler when Manu returns). Patty Mills scares me to death; he makes plays that could be amazing, or could be a complete train wreck.
This is the greatest picture ever. Ok, probably not, but it is funny and makes it crystal clear how TP got wide, wide open for the last jumper. Give Westbrook credit though: he had seen the Spurs run the action dozens of times when Parker goes to the lane and then reverses back to the side he came from. I think that’s what he was anticipating. But to lose sight of a guy and be that out of the play…
On a related note, I’m excited for this season. I like this team a lot and I think all of our justifications for why the Spurs could be in the Finals (Kawhi/Green leap, full season of Diaw, Harden trade, Lakers not meshing in the Princeton offense) are all just that” justifications. But they may be valid justifications. Time will tell. What the Spurs (and fans) need to focus on now: 1) a solid regular season that enables a top 4 seed; 2) health and managed minutes of the Big 3, plus select others; and, 3) refining the defense. That’s it. This season will ultimately be judged by the playoff performance, so in some ways, I feel much differently about the regular season. It’s a lot more about the way they play, rather than the wins and losses.