Category Archives: San Antonio Spurs

The Texas Triangle and its neighboring franchises

A week ago, the Portland Trail Blazers finished their first road trip through the Texas Triangle since 2007, playing consecutive games on the road against the Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs, and Houston Rockets. They survived, which is always a question when teams travel to the Lone Star State for three games over a handful of days. Portland even had a chance to sweep after impressive wins over the Spurs and Mavericks, but they couldn’t muster enough defense to contain a Rockets squad, one that was missing Terrence Jones.

Overall, Portland finished a respectable 2-1. So too did the New York Knicks, who finished their trip through the Texas Triangle three weekends ago.

At least a couple teams each year (2.8 to be exact since 2000) play a combination of the Mavericks, Spurs, and Rockets in consecutive games with the results often disastrous. 42 trips have been made through the Texas Triangle since 2000 with 17 ending in three straight losses. Only nine finished with two or more wins with two leaving with a sweep: the 2002 Sacramento Kings and 2008 Boston Celtics. Since 2000, teams are a combined 30-96 against the Texas Triangle, good for a winning percentage of 28.6.

Here’s a team-by-team breakdown of their performance against the three Texas teams since 2000, when the West became the premier conference. (Any feedback on how that table looks is appreciated. Trying something new here.)

You might notice some teams missing from that table, specifically six from the East and four from the West. The Bobcats have been lucky enough (especially in 2012) to not slog through a road trip in Texas. Miami last went through the Texas Triangle in 1996 while Cleveland, Indiana, Philadelphia, and Toronto all went through it in 1997. For the West, Denver last took the trip in 1991, Phoenix in 1993, Charlotte/New Orleans in 1997, and the Lakers in 1998. The Lakers actually swept the Texas Triangle that year without Kobe Bryant for all three games, though Dallas was significantly weaker back then. They had neither Steve Nash nor Dirk Nowitzki and finished the season 20-62.

You might also notice the franchises neighboring Texas avoiding the daunting road trip. A factor that impacts scheduling in general, some teams go through the Texas Triangle more or less than others because of geography. Memphis, Oklahoma City, and New Orleans haven’t made the trip since moving from Vancouver, Seattle, and Charlotte, respectively. Also, like mentioned before, Denver and Phoenix haven’t made the road trip in over 20 seasons.

That’s a nice edge to have over the rest of the league, especially for the Grizzlies who went through the Texas Triangle four times in their final two seasons in Vancouver. Another benefit comes from the teams closest to Texas often included in road trips featuring the Mavs, Spurs, and/or Rockets. Portland finished their road trip not with the Texas Triangle but a road loss to Oklahoma City, and from March 7 to March 14 they’ll have another road trip of Dallas-Houston-Memphis-San Antonio-New Orleans. Had New Orleans not been rattled by injuries, the road trips to the that region of the league would only be more brutal than they already are.

Sure, that also means the Southwest Division is more competitive than others, but it’s more of a problem for the entire West with how each team plays each conference foe at least three times per season. Had divisions led to Dallas, Houston, Memphis, New Orleans, and San Antonio playing each other six times instead of four, then there might be a problem. 

Right now there just isn’t any other area like Texas and its neighbors just north or east of them. A west coast trip often has Utah or Sacramento to capitalize on. The northern, central area of the league has Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Detroit to feed off of. The entire Atlantic Division has been a mess this year while the southeast has Orlando and Charlotte in rebuilding mode. New Orleans is the only weak link of the south, but they could luck into a top-5 pick next year and already hold one of the best young prospects in Anthony Davis.

Are the Spurs the NBA’s Monstars?

Tim_Duncan_approaches_bench_Spurs-Magic078

via Flickr

These are my thoughts at 3 a.m., which carried over to a morning with just a couple hours of sleep.

We should’ve seen a performance like last night coming, especially after what happened last year when the Spurs rested Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and even Danny Green against Miami. The Heat needed 47 minutes and 55 seconds to pull away from a “depleted” Spurs squad, one that got a double-double out of Matt Bonner, no less.

Despite the excitement that came from a near-upset over the Heat, the Spurs got tacked with a fine for resting four-fifths of their starters. There was no fine for resting Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker last night against Golden State. All they left with was a victory over a Warriors squad trying to find themselves again since Andre Iguodala returned from a strained hamstring.

Golden State also might’ve leaked their frustration over Twitter:  

For a second, I thought Bogut was going for a Dos Equis line starting with “I don’t usually tweet after games, but when I do I…

Last night wasn’t a mega-Ewing Theory because the Spurs aren’t vastly overrated and Duncan won four rings from 1999 to 2007, though it was understandable to write them off last night when their starting lineup gave us a clue of what we could possibly see in 2016.

What they could be, though, is the NBA’s version of the Monstars. It’s entirely possible that Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker transferred their talents over to Boris Diaw, Marco Belinelli, and Patty Mills as soon as the former three were scratched from tonight’s game, right? Right?!?!

To be fair and not so weird, Diaw has already been one of the best players in the post this season. He’s fourth in the league in post-up efficiency, according to Synergy, averaging 1.13 points per possession over 38 tries. He’s also been oddly effective in isolation by finishing with scoops and hook shots, averaging 1.36 points per possession in those specific situations. Meanwhile, Belinelli has been on fire this season by shooting a league-leading 53.2 percent from three and 60 percent in catch-and-shoot situations, according to SportVU. Mills has also been a hot hand in limited time with shooting splits of 47.3/43.4/80 and a PER of 18.9.

But each put up a hell of a performance last night. Diaw was dunking and making chase-down blocks like he was jumping off a trampoline that didn’t collapse from his own weight, Patty Mills made huge plays in crunch time, and Belinelli was unstoppable off the bench while also being my player of the game, scoring 17 points in the third quarter and 28 points in 29 minutes. At one point I had to tweet this nonsense:

It was other-worldly even after factoring in Diaw’s performance in last year’s Finals, Belinelli’s streaky shooting in general, and Mills’ intense towel-waving. We also can’t forget Tiago Splitter‘s game-winner.

But you could also compare the Monstars to other teams in the NBA. After all, the Nerdlucks stole the talent of the NBA’s best players and Shawn Bradley. Were the Heat the Monstars of 2011? What about Daryl Morey over the last two seasons?

Maybe Gregg Popovich is just a really, really good coach. Switch him with Randy Wittman and let’s see how good the Spurs are without their three franchise cornerstones. Even with Pop, it’d be interesting to see how the they would do in the East.

At worst, they’re probably a fifth seed.

Here’s what the official site of the Spurs looked like before Tim Duncan’s first championship

http://web.archive.org/web/19990117025202/http://www.nba.com/Spurs/index.html

spurs

Oh, the nostalgia.

(via Reddit)

What was the NBA like when Golden State last won in San Antonio?

As a basketball fan in Minnesota, I hear a lot about the Lakers’ 22-game winning streak against the local  Timberwolves. There’s hope next year, but I’ve been saying that since 2006.

It’s been even longer for Golden State and their struggles at San Antonio. Their last win came on Valentine’s Day in 1997.

What were those teams like 16 years ago?

  • Three coaches in 2013 played for the Spurs in ’97: Vinny Del Negro, Monty Williams, and Avery Johnson. Avery Johnson was fired from the Brooklyn Nets this year and replaced by P.J. Carlesimo, who was the head coach of the Golden State Warriors in 1997.
  • Dominique Wilkins was also a Spur.
  • The game was played at the Alamodome.
  • Latrell Sprewell was a member of the Warriors. We were still nine months away from his choking incident with Carlesimo.
  • Other notable Warriors: Chris Mullin, Mark Price, and Felton Spencer.
  • San Antonio was in the tank for some dude named Tim Duncan. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Timberwolves were about to make their first playoff appearance in franchise history. Hmm.

Here were the logos of each team back then:

Golden State's logo back in 1997. It would change a year later.

Golden State’s logo back in 1997. It would change a year later. They still sucked.

The Spurs' logo from 1989 to 2002.

San Antonio Spurs’ logo from 1989 to 2002. Green, pink and orange. Let that sink in.

Since the last Warriors victory in San Antonio, four teams have relocated (Vancouver, Charlotte, Seattle, and New Jersey). One team has been added (Charlotte Bobcats), and there’s been about a kagillion uniform changes.

Here were some notable jerseys that made their debut during the ’97 season:

real97    jazz98         97

What else was the NBA like back in 1997?

  • Tom Gugliotta and Stephon Marbury were Minnesota Timberwolves, Chris Webber was a Washington Bullet, Damon Stoudemire was a Toronto Raptor, and Jalen Rose was playing his first season as an Indiana Pacer.
  • The rookie class consisted of Allen Iverson, Jermaine O’Neal, Ray Allen, Steve Nash, and Kobe Bryant.
  • Kevin Garnett wasn’t even old enough to drink yet, but made his first All-Star Game. Anthony Davis was only three years old and Dikembe Mutombo was only 56.
  • The awesomeness of NBA Live 97 was born.
  • The Clippers (36-46) won more games in 1997 than the Celtics and the Spurs combined.

Other notables in late ’96, early ’97:

  • Bill Clinton was inaugurated for his second term on January 20.
  • Filling up gas didn’t feel like as much of a chore.
  • The Green Bay Packers beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI. I was rooting for the Packers.
  • The Yankees won the ’96 World Series with youngsters Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte.
  • Roger Clemens was a Red Sock, Curt Schilling was a Philly, and Alex Rodriguez enjoyed his first full season as a Seattle Mariner. It’s also worth noting that A-Rod wasn’t really that hated back then.

I would go into a novel about how awesome life was back in the ’90s, but there’s some basketball to watch. Speaking of television, here are some quick hits on some TV shows back in ’97:

  • King of the Hill premiered on January 12. Recess premiered on ABC nearly eight months later.
  • Fox’s first Super Bowl telecast. Still five years from dealing with Joe Buck.
  • We were still six months from South Park airing on Comedy Central.

Notable films in ’97:

  • Titanic
  • The Lost World: Jurassic Park
  • Men in Black
  • Tomorrow Never Dies
  • Liar Liar

Unfortunately, all of them debuted after the Warriors’ last victory in San Antonio.

And now, a potential 30 for 30 about the Warriors’ 16-year drought at San Antonio. Will it continue to 17?

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