I hate when the Spurs travel to Milwaukee. The Spurs traditionally don’t play well there, going back to the George Gervin / Sidney Moncrief years, regardless of who was suiting up in either team. In fact, the Spurs are 24-14 in Milwaukee, going back as far as our friends at PtR were counting (hat tip: @poundingtherock). In the first half though, the Spurs played as well as they have for the last five games, running the Bucks out of the gym. The second half became a predictable run of San Antonio looking ahead to tonight in NYC and Milwaukee getting great performances from bit players to crawl back in. A win is a win, though.
Song of the Game: Men at Work, “Dr. Heckle and Mr. Jive”
Yes, I know. It’s a terrible song. But it’s hard to find a really good that describes the schizophrenia of this particular game. I have to confess to being a closet Men at Work fan, however. As 80s pop bands go, I like them more than most. Let’s just move on.
Play of the Game: Kawhi Flush
Kawhi continues to be more active since his return from injury. We’ve seen the steals and the rebounds grow back into form, but we’ve been missing some of his hard cuts to the hoop. Tonight, I thought Kawhi looked fully back to form, as evidenced by his monster slam in the 2nd quarter. Tim got the ball on the left block as he likes and paused for a second, before he got into his post move. Kawhi, in the meantime, shakes his man off a nice screen at the top (I couldn’t see who because of a bad camera angle) and darts down the middle of the lane. Tim shovels a nice pass into Kawhi’s massive paws and Luc Mbah a Moute slid over just in time to be on Kawhi’s poster. While this looks like a simple pass from the post play, the action with the screen at the top and Kawhi hard charge down the lane set up an easy basket against a team not interested in playing much defense.
Trending Up: The Starters
Weird game. The starting crew – except for Kawhi – posted a positive plus/minus number, led by Duncan’s +18. The ball movement was crisp, Tony and Tim were exceptional, Danny Green shot well, and Splitter was his usual efficient self (even though his minutes were down with foul trouble).
Trending Down: The Bench
Yikes. The last thing Pop wanted was to have to bring Tim and Tony back in for the 4Q. But the bench crew couldn’t hold a lead and as the lead dipped to 10 with 8 minutes to go, there sat 21 and 9 at the scorer’s table. As a whole, the only positive plus/minus on the bench were Gary Neal (in limited minutes) and Jack. DeJuan Blair, Pop’s new human victory cigar, was a shocking -11 in 4 minutes of playing. In general, this was not a great performance for one of the best benches in the league.
Stat of the Game: 88 points
Lest you think this was a game of all-around brilliance for the Spurs, the defense and rebounding all night were pretty poor. The Bucks scored 88 points in the last 3 quarters of the game and only a 66 point first half for the Spurs provided a padding that led to a win. In addition, the Spurs gave up 13 offensive rebounds and were outrebounded in total 40-47. That kind of work on the defensive end won’t get it done against better teams.
It will be interesting to see who sits and who plays tonight and if anyone is on a pitch count. I guarantee Pop is mindful that this will be a tough game for the Spurs and have Philly waiting in San Antonio on Saturday when they get back.
Tonight’s game marks the 20th road game of the season, meaning the Spurs have now played just under half of the road games they will play this season. When you also consider that of the remaining 21 roadies, 9 of them are during the February Rodeo Road Trip, we’ll be seeing a lot of the friendly confines of the AT&T Center this spring.
My quick peek at the Hollinger Ratings tells me that San Antonio has played the 5th toughest schedule in the league so far and that they have more road games than any other team above them except for the Nuggets. And all of this with a 26-8 record while Pop has been tinkering with lineups.