Thursday, December 4, 2008
Game 20: Spurs @ Nuggets
(Boulder-CO) Although the Spurs have battled injuries to two of their top three players in the first quarter of the season I still think they are a geriatric crew that is well past their prime. But, am I counting them out in tonight's game against the Nuggets in the freshly fallen snow of the Mile High City? Hardly, but I just think that barring any monumental breakdown on the Nuggets behalf the Spurs are about to run into an oil greased buzz saw.
In San Antonio's last game against the Pistons (one of which I watched for scouting purposes), I could barely even recognize them as the Spurs of old despite Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Tim Duncan all being on the floor for the first time this season. Simply stated, San Antonio played scared. And to back up my calling the Spurs geriatric, San Antonio could only muster 32 points in the second half as they lost to the Pistons, 89-77. Furthermore, only three Spurs scored more than six points while being paced by Tim Duncan's 23 points and 13 rebounds despite Timmy only scoring one point in the fourth quarter.
Now, if we look at the Nuggets' first victory over the Spurs the first thing we'll see is neither Tony Parker or Manu "The Flopper" Ginobili played in the Denver win. Parker and Ginobili will play tonight, but the second thing that jumps out at me is San Antonio's meager 81 points in that loss. And when I look at the overall statistical team standings that 81 points shouldn't be chalked up to tremendous Denver defense. The Spurs are miserable offensively with the league's fourth lowest points per game average of 92.6 ppg which is not going to bode well for them against the Nuggets who are averaging over 102 ppg while handing out the NBA's second best average of assists per game too. Furthermore, the Spurs are in the bottom four teams, statistically, in the following categories: Steals per game (30th), blocks per game (29th), field goals made per game (27th), and free-throws made and attempted per game (30th and 30th).
So, with the picture painted by the numbers it's pretty obvious that the aging Spurs play at a snail's pace and I don't think that in only the second game this season having their top three players together that there is going to be any offensive explosion. When I watched the Spurs/Pistons game on Tuesday, the entire San Antonio offense comes to a complete stop when Tim Duncan gets the ball in the post and Timmy rarely passes for an assist as his 3.1 assist average indicates. My prescription for this is for the Nuggets to not send a double-team at Duncan and risk allowing open perimeter jump shots while forcing "Old Man" Duncan to be a one-man show. Follow me on this as I see it will have a double-edged effect. First, it will keep Nene one-on-one with Duncan and I think the strength and quickness of the Brazilian jungle cat will disrupt Duncan putting the ball on the floor and getting to the rim. Plus, without a double-team, Duncan will be forced to face up and shoot mid-range jumpers of which I think the Nuggets can rebound and run off of the inevitable misses. This will push the pace of the game and leave the Spurs breathless at altitude. The second cutting edge of this game plan eliminates Matt Bonner, Manu, Parker, Bruce "The Undercutter" Bowen, and Roger Mason from getting things started from three and thus leaving the Spurs standing and watching Duncan lurch his way from the low block to the wing as their offense goes into slow motion.
And if you can't score, you can't win! Especially against the Nuggets, who are capable of putting up 30+ points in any/all four quarters anytime, anywhere, and against anybody.
Say it with me now...