Tag Archives: San Antonio Spurs

East vs. West Week 3: Rough road trips for Brooklyn, Charlotte

Among other teams to take road trips out west, Brooklyn and Charlotte each had a rough go of it in Week 3 (and in Week 2). They went a combined 1-7, including 1-5 last week with the only win between the two coming from Charlotte over Phoenix on Friday night. The West’s struggles largely came from Utah and Oklahoma City, together going 1-5 including the latter team losing to Detroit on Friday.

Overall, the West went 12-7 in Week 3. That includes Thursday’s 53-point victory by Dallas over Philadelphia, who just had to go through the brutal Texas Triangle this season. You can see how that Mavs blowout screws with Pythagorean records:

Taking out Dallas’ victory, the West had a point differential of just 1.22 over the other 18 games and a Pythagorean record of 9.8-8.2. Kind of amazing what a difference one game can make. Over the course of an entire season, I’d like to believe enormous victories are balanced out with the occasional “upset”. Even if we’re taking into account point differentials of multiple teams versus just one.

Here’s how Week 4 looks:

week4

Week 4 brings 21 non-conference games with the West being repped in 10 of those by Phoenix, the Clippers, and San Antonio. Dallas, Portland, and Memphis take up six more games. Boston and Chicago have three games each for the East while Brooklyn, Cleveland and, um, Philadelphia play West foes twice. The East has a 13-8 edge in home/away games, so maybe that’s enough to prevent a solid week for the West.

Week 4 has a lot of fun matchups, though. In the meantime, I’m going to try and add some more posts this week. (Edit: Yeah that didn’t go well…)

Advertisements

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)

Life when the Spurs last made the NBA Finals

4471477257_3f861c2c64_o

Geoff Livingston | Flickr

Before finishing the sweep of Memphis last night, 2007 was the last time the San Antonio Spurs made an NBA Finals appearance. That feels like yesterday and forever ago at the same time. For someone now approaching their mid-20s (really depressing admitting that), 2007 to 2013 were times of major change that happened way too quick. Most of my best friends back in 2007, both in high school and college, are ones I haven’t spoken to in years.

But there’s more to 2007 than just depressing memories, and that’s what the NBA is for! Here’s how I looked at the NBA and other aspects of life back then:

NBA

If I have a soft spot for anything in 2007, it’s that Kevin Garnett was traded that off-season to a contending team. Trading Garnett is all I ever wanted after Minnesota imploded in 2005 followed by the likes of Ricky Davis, Marcus Banks, and Marko Jaric playing at the Target Center the next two years. I don’t know how Garnett put up with it, but I’m glad 2008 happened. That’s all at another post for another time, specifically when Garnett retires.

Back to 2007.

Dirk Nowitzki being awarded as the 2007 MVP got awkward really fast, right? I remember the feeling of doom for the Mavs as they were being overtaken by Baron Davis and the Warriors. It was like they would never be the same and Dirk was going to be the next Karl Malone. That’s before he was even named MVP. It was similar with the Miami Heat last year after losing Game 5 versus Boston, but both the Mavericks and Heat bounced back. It took Dirk and Dallas four years while LeBron and Miami only needed two days.

But back in 2007, both Dirk and LeBron were at a weird stage in their careers. Dirk had an unfair Karl Malone tag on him while LeBron put in one of the greatest playoff performances ever in Game 5 at Detroit. The expectations of LeBron being the next Michael Jordan went from ridiculous to still ridiculous to believable, but still a bit ridiculous for many reasons. Now both players have their own places among the NBA’s best ever. Six years ago, there was a chance they would’ve been remembered differently.

Also having its place in history is this highlight from the 2007 playoffs:

What else was the NBA like in 2007?

  • Brandon Roy was Rookie of the Year. Sigh.
  • Caron Butler made the All Star Game along with Josh Howard, Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur. Only the last two were injury replacements. Really.
  • Walter Herrmann made the All-Rookie 2nd Team. So did Adam Morrison.
  • The Hornets/Pelicans played their final season in Oklahoma City.
  • Did I mention Kevin Garnett was still a Minnesota Timberwolf? Pau Gasol was also a Grizzly.
  • The Toronto Raptors won more games than the Memphis Grizzlies and Boston Celtics combined.

Actually, look at the records of the top eight Eastern Conference teams that year. Only three were in the playoffs this season:

1. Detroit Pistons 59-23
2. Cleveland Cavaliers 50-32
3. Toronto Raptors 47-35
4. Miami Heat 44-38
5. Chicago Bulls 49-33
6. New Jersey Nets 41-41
7. Washington Wizards 41-41
8. Orlando Magic 40-42

The West wasn’t as different as it is now. Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, and Dirk remain on the same teams though Phoenix was still chasing a title at 61-21, Utah won 51 games, and the Lakers were just 42-40. Wait, that’s like this year’s Lakers. The Spurs were just being the Spurs: winning in not-so flashy ways all the way up to their championship. Like ESPN, I kind of buried them in this post even though they were the champs of 2007. I’ll never understand why ESPN treats the Spurs like they’re in the NHL.

Also, Miami’s title defense in 2007 was a joke. They suffered a sweep to Chicago and started their season with a 42-point loss against them. Dallas performed a similar crappy title defense five years later, though their roster went through major changes. 2007 Miami was probably what a few people continue to expect from San Antonio each year: For age to kick in.

Last but not least, here are some notable players who retired following the 2007 season:

It was also Chris Webber’s last relevant year. He only played nine games in 2008 for Golden State.

Overall, 2007 was the last of what felt like a three-year NBA grace period, in my casual-fan opinion. The end of the Lakers’ Kobe-Shaq era in 2004 started it and the Celtics’ Big Three era ended it. Just look at the Finals matchups from 2005 to 2007. Three of the possible six teams were the ’05 and ’07 Spurs and the ’05 Pistons. They weren’t exactly must-see TV for the casual fan. The other three: the ’06 Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks and the ’07 Cavaliers, and it was inevitable that the Spurs would sweep Cleveland in 2007. But that summer was David Stern’s wet dream. Basketball in Boston came back. Eventually, the Lakers would turn into a contender too.

Freaking Kwame Brown.

Other notable sporting events in 2007

  • Joakim Noah, Al Horford, and the rest of the Florida Gators repeated as NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball champions. Kevin Durant and Greg Oden were freshmen in college.
  • Candice Parker was named Most Outstanding Player of the 2007 NCAA Women’s Division I Basketball Tournament.
  • The Boston Red Sox won the World Series.
  • Track and field star Marion Jones surrenders the five Olympic medals she won in the 2000 Sydney Games after admitting to doping.

Notable video games

  • Guitar Hero II
  • Mario Party 8
  • Halo 3
  • Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground
  • Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock
  • Need for Speed: ProStreet
  • Rock Band

Notable albums

  • Graduation, by Kanye West
  • Taylor Swift, by Taylor Swift
  • Minutes to Midnight, by Linkin Park
  • Konvicted, by Akon

Notable hits that radio may or may not have killed

  • “Ayo Technology” – 50 Cent featuring Justin Timberlake and Timbaland
  • “A Bay Bay” – Hurricane Chris
  • “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” – Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em
  • “This Is Why I’m Hot” – Mims

Notable films

  • Spider-Man 3
  • Transformers: the very first one!
  • 300
  • Freedom Writers
  • Blades of Glory
  • Knocked Up
  • SuperBad
  • The Bourne Ultimatum
  • Saw 97 Saw IV
  • Juno
  • Charlie Wilson’s War

2007 in television

  • Bob Barker hosted The Price is Right for the final time in June. Drew Carey announced as the new host in July.
  • The Big Ten Network launches, with the first game featuring Appalachian State upsetting Michigan 34-32 at Ann Arbor.
  • The Writers Guild of America commences a strike against production studios.
  • Poker After Dark debuts on NBC.
  • Mad Men debuts on AMC.
  • The Big Bang Theory debuts on CBS. Bazinga is born.

Notable shows and their awesome titles that either ended or were cancelled in 2007

  • Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks
  • Catscratch
  • The (White) Rapper Show

    • Um…
  • Acceptable TV

    • How ironic.
  • Anchorwoman

    • Hey, real original.
  • Slacker Cats

    • How could this not be exciting?

It’s astounding how many shows are cancelled in their first season. They’re like newly hatched turtles trying to make it out to the ocean. Only a few will survive, even fewer will survive predators such as big-ass birds (or in this case, studio execs?), but after that it’s totally tubular and whatever else the turtles on Finding Nemo said.

Myspace

Can you put me in your Top 8?

Put me in your Top 8!

Myspace in 2007 was today’s Twitter and Facebook in terms of popularity. You could customize your profile, take quizzes that show what kind of person you are, choose your own theme music, and a couple other cool things I’ll go into detail. Basically, Myspace was a dream for a high school student, which was perfect since that’s who I was until graduating in 2007.

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s profile was always #1 on my Top 8. It was likely one of the reasons why my girlfriends during the Myspace years dumped me. Well, that and “Hypnotize” by Young Jeezy was my profile music through most of 2007. What in the world…

You know how unfriending someone on Facebook can legitimately destroy friendships? The same could’ve been said when ranking someone too low on one’s Myspace Top Friends list, better known as the Top 8. Ranking them too high quite possibly could’ve had a similar effect, like whoever did that would come off as clingy instead of nice.

Along with the Top 8, everyone–yes, everyone–posted self-fulfilling surveys on the bulletin board, and Myspace’s versions of subtweets. (This happened on Facebook too.) I took way too many hours out of each day to read surveys from girls I liked, hoping when they answered a question that involved naming their crush that it would be me. It never happened, at least until I was in a relationship. Then it had the opposite feeling I hoped for when I was single. Typical high school dramas.

Coincidentally, the site declined as soon as I went off to college. Since then, a sense of creepiness became associated with Myspace. I can’t explain this any better way than a brief conversation a year ago with a blonde lady similar to my age at a college bar called The Press. She was tall, sounded intelligent, and best of all I didn’t have to do anything to get her attention. She just walked right up to me. We talked about photography, which was cool since I had to take a photojournalism class in the fall and it gets tiring always talking about the shitty music played at the bar. I kept thinking to myself why she even came up to me until she asked if I had a Myspace, because that’s where her modeling pictures were. It explained everything, I thought. She had nowhere else to go but to me. It happened more often than I’d like.

Nobody I knew went on Myspace past 2009. Since then, all the news I heard associated with the site had to do with sex offenders. (Seriously, check out that link.) The fact that this girl I met at the bar was on Myspace in 2012 gave me the feeling she was bad news. I was probably going to be abducted that night, either by her or some middle-aged creep she probably knew, who knows.

I left and went to Jimmy John’s.

slocum ap

Yeah, I compared Gilbert Arenas’ career to Myspace. I went there and I’m never coming back. (Slocum/AP)

Myspace had an arc similar to the career of Gilbert Arenas. When Arenas was on his game he was one of the most prolific scorers in the mid-2000s, just like how Myspace was one of my favorite websites during the same time frame. Arenas became more of a problem though after 2007, only instead of a Myspace-like creepiness he was involved in a gun-related incident with teammate Javaris Crittenton.

Orlando traded for him later the same year. Why they would want anything to do with him? It was just like when I asked myself why Myspace Girl, as I now call her, ever talked to me.

YouTube

Like Facebook, YouTube was just starting to catch on in 2007. My friends and I spent way too much time in our college dorms talking about all the cool videos we watched. Basically, it was our alternative to talking about the best porn videos. I soon became an aspiring vlogger, only I didn’t have a camera of my own. When I came home on the weekends I took my dad’s video camera and recorded my acne-ridden face over films my dad taped from the 80s. This really happened. I vented about my roommate and the shitty job I worked at over the past summer, but nothing ever happened with those videos. Five years later, I’m very thankful for that.

Instead, I have this: A blog where I try to write about what life was like back when the Spurs last made it to the NBA Finals. The core of their team back then is the same as it is now, making their last title feel like it was only yesterday. When they meet LeBron James with the Heat or Paul George and the Pacers, it will feel like forever ago.

Also, I’ve gained like 30 pounds since then.

For a shorter, similar post related to 1997, check this out.

%d bloggers like this: