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My mounting frustration with my favorite basketball team will now overflow into this blog. Where to start. I guess I'll start by saying that I don't think the sky is falling just yet, the season hasn't gone quite as hoped, which is crystallized over the majority of wins coming against sub .500 teams and at home.
The reason I don't think the sky has fallen is because there is so much talent left on the team, Timmy has looked in full MVP form all season long so we know he has plenty of gas in the tank thanks to Coach Pop's coupon cutting and saving wear and tear in various ways (sit him in back-to-backs, not as much preseason action, etc). Tony hasn't been himself due to various nagging injuries like his season long plantar fasciitis in his left foot, a couple ankle injuries in the same foot and now a strain in his left hip flexor, that's encouraging because that means he isn't playing to his full potential and now he'll get some rest through the All Star break. Manu has progressively been improving through the season, his attack game is strong and now his shot is streakily finding its way.
Dejuan Blair has looked like a genius draft day steal and George Hill is looking far more advanced than you'd get out of a normal 2nd year player.
Those are the shining bright spots in my view. The glaring sore thumbs? The most obvious place you have to go is Richard Jefferson. Dear Lord, I thought we were getting Scottie Pippen but we've been handed that scrub in the gym wearing goggles and booty shorts. His confidence looks like HE was the one standing at the altar and not his fiancee. I don't know what's keeping him from connecting in games but he looks lazy and distant, as if his energy was stolen by the Grinch. I'm hoping he can find his place and can't help but think he'd be a better fit on the 2nd team with Ginobili and Blair, the games RJ does come alive seems to revolve around his driving and uptempo, so I'd like to see Roger Mason get the start and you can have Manu, RJ , Blair, Hill (who is also starting) and Bonner get some fast game going.
McDyess is looking far more comfortable in the system now, he's knocking down his jumpers and looking smoother on defense. The biggest challenge for this group more than anything seems to be closing out games, I'm not sure how many times I've watched a 10 point lead late in the 3rd or even in the 4th dwindle into a big fat loss. Certainly not the trademark I've come to expect from a defensive oriented team. I think the first problem was when Pop gave the reins to TP, maybe the thought was nice but the reality is that the Spurs need to be a halfcourt team that serves up a complimentary uptempo game when necessary, not the other way around. Because our offense sets up our defense, as soon as a shot goes up on offense 4 guys fly back on defense to prevent any fast breaks or transition mishaps, but that can't happen when you're trying to run D'Antoni's game, there's too many moving pieces to feasibly control.
So, what would I like to see? Slow down the offense, send 4 back after shots and start grinding teams down. Just as importantly, cease the careless turnovers, see the floor and take care of the ball, hit the open man. I'd like to see Pop play Roger Mason more as well as get Blair more minutes, the last few weeks Pop's gotten stingy with his minutes. Lastly, I want to see less RJ if his game doesn't deserve it, there's nothing worse than watching a space wasted on the floor by a guy who isn't working hard on the floor, I can live with mistakes at full speed, but not lackadaisical play. Laziness is not tolerated by Spurs fans.