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Losing to the Bastard Irish? I Need a Drink.

By Michael Erler on March 21, 2007.

Game 66 Vs. Boston: Celtics 91, Spurs 85

Ugh. We’ve seen enough of these this year, no? Charlotte. Houston. Lakers. @ Minny. They sleepwalk through three quarters, look up at the scoreboard at the beginning of the fourth, the reality of a 10 point defecit finally dawns on them, they wake up with from their stupor and fight furiously to tie it up and perhaps even take a small lead, and it still goes all for naught as they run out of energy and crap the game away. Finally, the ultimate indignity. The Celtics broke The Duncan Curse. On St. Patrick’s Day no less. A little part of me died last weekend. I really thought he was going to go his whole career without losing to those bums. He might as well go retire now I guess.

Anyway, whenever one of these comebacks go astray every, Spurs fan says the same thing: “Why the fuck can’t they play with the energy and purposefulness they showed in that six minute fourth quarter stretch all the time?”

Well, Matthew’s stock answer whenever we lose is simple – “Old and slow, old and slow.”

Me? Well I like to overanalyze things. Por ejemplo, I happen to think it’s pretty unrealistic to demand the guys to rev their engines to the red all of the time. Not only would ESPN and the rest of the media find it kind of curious when we win the first three games of the season by a combined score of 693 to 24, but the rest of the year would be a relative downer once the guys started getting hospitalized for exhaustion. But yeah, we sure would see a whole bunch of James White before too long now, wouldn’t we?

There were certain aspects of the game that I think are legitamate concerns and other parts that are too flukey to worry about. Like I read some guy freaking out because Rajon Rando, the rookie Celtics point guard, grabbed 14 rebounds. Apparently this is the sign of the Spurs’ impending doom or something. Just one problem – 13 of his 14 boards were defensive. Who cares who gets the pull when we miss a shot? Maybe their bigs boxed out our bigs and Rando happened to be the 3rd man in a bunch of times. Or maybe several long rebounds came his way from all of our errant threes. You want the rebound stats to look less impressive for the bad guys? I suggest we shoot better in the first place and give them less opportunity to collect misses.

Personally as far as Rondo goes, I’d be a lot more concerned about the fact that some rook outassisted our veteran PG 6 to 4 despite our guy playing five more minutes, but hey, that’s me.
Or here’s another myth: Frankie and Fab’s atrocious play vs. the Celtics is more damning proof that Pop will be forced to go to tinyball in the playoffs. Oh really?
Just one small problem with that. Any available statistic shows us it’s complete bunk.

Not helpin’ me here, Fab-0

Here are relevant lineup numbers, both offensive and defensive for Frankie, Fab, and the two gentlemen most likely to replace them in a tinyball lineup, Misters Finley and Barry. (All stats courtesy of

Player Min +/- Off Def Net48
Elson 32% +150 96.0 89.0 +7.0
Oberto 36% +160 98.4 91.8 +6.6
Barry 43% +162 99.3 93.7 +5.6
Finley 43% +102 96.9 93.3 +3.5

The “Min” is the percentage of available minutes for the season that these guys have spent on the court. You’ll notice that Brent barely edges out Oberto for top honors among the four, but he’s played 7% more. Meanwhile defensively the bigs help to allow significantly fewer points, per 48 minutes than the smalls and the net differential between offense and defense has Elson and Oberto ahead of their smaller, older counterparts.

Furthermore, if you look at the data based on per 100 possessions you’ll see the bigs still come out well ahead of the smalls.

Frankie (Net +0.3)
Fab (Net -1.7)
Brent (Net -5.2)
Fin (Net -9.8, gross!)

Are our bigs great? No. Are they even assets? No. Can I state beyond a shadow of a doubt that they’re not liabilities? I cannot. But they’re better than the alternative. Never forget that.

As far as the Celtics game goes, yes both Frankie and Fab were atrocious. Abysmal. Doltish, if you prefer. But Matt Bonner wasn’t. I don’t understand why Pop took him out in the 4th. They were doing fine with him in there. I wish Pop would quit dicking this guy around and give him an honest look so we can find out one way or another what he brings. Like we can’t afford Horry to go on IR for the next 5 games. Please.

Am I the only one here a little annoyed with RoHo’s game-by-game Lucy Van Pelt routine to Pop’s Charlie Brown? What a cocktease this guy is. Every game Pop brings him in with a couple minutes left in the 1st quarter to see if this is the night that “Big Shot Bob” will decide to show up. And nine out of ten times Horry slumps back to the bench six minutes later, never to resurface while Pop contemplates the Bonner vs. Tinyball 4th quarter dilemma.

No “Big Shot Bob” today, Pop.

The only reason tinyball happened to work for that six minute stretch in the fourth the last game is because the Celtics were dumb enough to go small themselves and played right into Pop’s hands. For one, we didn’t have to worry about giving up rebounds because Tim turned into this shotblocking demon. That he had the opportunity to block all those shots is a testement to Boston’s selfishness and Doc Rivers’ ineptness. All those guys driving on Tim have to do is make one extra pass and it’s dunk after dunk after dunk. Instead we got stops. Against good teams this will not work.

Or perhaps you noticed that we didn’t win the game. Kind of ironic for the offense to crap out at the worst possible time when we’ve got Tim and four smalls out there, right? Well these things happen when defenses force you to kick the ball out to Bruce Bowen in the corner. I know I’ve mentioned it once or twice, but as God is my witness my epitaph for the ’06-07 Spurs will be “Either play Bruce with two bigs behind him, or sit his ass on the bench.”

Yeah, I know, it’s not quite as catchy as “Where’s the beef?” I’ll work on it.

You know who really suffers when we play tinyball with Bruce? The Hustlemaker, that’s who. When we play with regular, Fab/Frankie set the screen for Manu when he’s isolated. This frees Tim to stay in the lane and occupy defenders and gives Gonzo a mostly clean path to the rim.

Howevuh, when we play tinyball, then Tim has to be the screener by default and the lane will be clogged with defenders galore, and guess who they’re doubling off of and leaving wide open ladies and germs? Mr. Potatohead, that’s who. Manu’s only option is to sling it over to the corner to a wide open Bowen and it’s clank, clank, clank.

Furthermore, I don’t think it’s too hard to figure out why the crowd was so dull and lifeless on Saturday. Honestly I think Pop has no concept of what home court advantage is. The rel
ationship of an excited crowd yelling to bringing his team extra energy seems to be completely lost on him. Not only do I get the impression that Pop would prefer to play the games in an empty gym but his holier than thou insistence for self-motivation among the troups speaks to a stupefying lack of understanding of even basic psychology.

Let me try to explain this as simply as I can. We’ve got this guy on our team. He’s wild, he’s energetic, he does crazy things. He dribbles behind his back, draws charges, deflects passes, hits threes and even dunks every blue moon. Also, and this is important, he speaks the español. Really I can’t stress that part enough. His ethnicity and native language is one of the major reasons the home fans are drawn to him.

Pretty much any positive thing the guy in the white, black and silver #20 jersey does get the fans excited and into the game. Do you understand this you big dumb wino?


Only in ultra-liberal Hollywood could a Frenchie be a “fan favorite.”

No, I’m referring to this dude…

Our new point guard?

Emanuel David Schnozzo Ginobili. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. Anybody care to take a guess why he ambled up and down the court for eight minutes the other day in the 1st quarter without getting a shot? Anyone? Bueller? Once again he’s gone completely below the radar, lost in the sound and fury (signifying absofuckinglutely nothing) of Parker’s one man show. You wanna call me a dick for shitting on a guy who scored 30 points on 14 shots and went 14-14 at the line while glorifying the other guy who went 2 of 8 for 8 points? Well you’d certainly be justified.

But guess what? I’M. NOT. WRONG.

A point guard’s number one duty is to get his teammates involved. When we shoot 37.3% as a team against the defensively pitiful Celtics, you best believe the point guard is a little culpable. When all the Spurs whose first names don’t start with a “T” shoot a combined 10 of 37, (27%) yes some blame falls on the primary distributor. It’s HIS JOB to get these guys better shots. The fellas had a team meeting yesterday and once again the topic of “trusting your teammates” was addressed. That’s code for “pass the fucking ball” in my book. For all of Tony’s scoring, it has to be noted that he was a team worst -10 against Boston. I’m not saying he played poorly. The guy had a wonderful night scoring the ball. But it has been proven, ad nauseum, that the ’06-07 Spurs do better when Tony feels like passing it. And if the concept of “home game” means anything at all, it’d be nice to get Manu involved early and often.

Your 3 Stars…

3. Michael Finley – 10 points on 10 shots is nothing to write home about, but he filled out the box score a bit with 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. Team best +9 as well.

2. Tony Parker – I’ve said my piece. I bet he takes less than 10 shots against the Pacers.

1. Tim Duncan – 20, 16 and 7 blocks. Once again the missed freebies were a bugaboo. He was beat by the end. Tinyball wears him out methinks. Or maybe it was the 40 minutes.

Record: 46-20 Streak: L-2
Up Next: Vs. Indiana Pacers

The guys have been off for three days stewing over their crummy play and eager to run roughshod over the poor saps unlucky enough to be next on the schedule. Unfortunately the worst possible opponent for this situation is a sorry outfit like the Pacers. Is there a more boring team in the league? They play slooooooow. It’ll be up to the team to give the fans a reason to be awake, let alone cheering.

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  1. Sebastian Ciano March 23, 2007

    HI, I’m Sebastian, from Argetina.
    i think you’re unfair with fabricio, he was the best pivot in Esrope before arrivin to spurs. i think pop has another plans for him, just a roll play. he can do stuff like he did againts Phoenix.
    What about Manu, man?. He’s the more regular Spurs player, isin’t he?.

    OK, I’m a spotrs yournalist, i write for a basketball web called
    I wirte about NBA, so if you wanna send a e-mail to me, so i can know how do u think about this, here is my adress



  2. Michael March 23, 2007

    Um… I like Manu. Have I not made that obvious enough?


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