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You Can't Spell Repeat Without a D.

By Michael Erler on November 2, 2007.

Game 2: Spurs 104, Grizzlies 101

This may come as a shock, but no, I will not use this recap as a forum to give one Manu Ginobili the proverbial reach around for yet another brilliant all around performance to save his hapless and disinterested teammates from a loss. First of all, he was good but not that good last night. The Grizzlies gave him way too many open threes and he didn’t finish well at all on the few drives to the basket he attempted. And secondly, and much more importantly, I am realistic enough about El Gimpo’s place in the basketball universe to understand that while he could easily be the best player on a handful of NBA teams, it would be a very unfortunate event indeed if he was the best player, on any sort of prolonged or consistent basis, on the Spurs.

Yes folks, this is exactly what you think it’s going to be. We’re the defending champs, we’re 2-0, and Michael’s gonna have himself a little rant. Whoever had Game 4 in their office pool clearly doesn’t know me at all.

What’s my problem, you ask? Simple. The team is going through the motions. They’re settling for lazy jumpers. Nobody over 30 is setting foot in the key, at either end. They’re playing NO defense. Basically, they’re a bunch of lollygaggers. The 2-0 record has almost nothing to do with the Spurs and almost everything to do with the quality of their opponents. If we started out with say Utah and Houston back-to-back and played with this kind of effort, we’d definitely be 0-2.

Along with staging an excessive pre-game fireworks show that left their arena looking like some sweltering gym in the Euroleague filled with 10,000 chainsmoking Italians, the Grizzles’ marketing staff had the creativity to hire Michael Buffer to introduce their starting line-up. Yes, Michael Buffer is still alive, and this was so lame and cheezy I’m amazed the Spurs didn’t think of it first.
(NBAE/Getty Images/Joe Murphy)

Not that any of it surprises me, nor should it surprise you. Just because our superduperstar big man doesn’t waddle into camp at 400 lbs., it doesn’t mean he’s 100% ready to dominate at both ends. And just because Tony or Manu don’t resent Tim (or each other), it doesn’t mean that the chemistry between our big three won’t need the occasional tweak here or there. Face it gang, we’re the new poster boys for Lakeritis. If you thought that last year was bad in terms of how unfocused and uninspired the guys were for the first half of the season, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. I predict that this squad will plummet to new depths when it comes to frustrating their already meager and spoiled fan base.

The games on the schedule that make you think to yourself, “Man, that’s a tough one, I dunno…,” yeah, we’ll be losing almost all of those. And the games like the upcoming one vs. the Kings where you giggle with delight at the thought of a 30 point runaway? They’re gonna be tight the whole way through and we’ll probably win them by eight or twelve points, depending on who’s taking the desperation time free throws. Going into February, with 45 games under our belt, our record is going to be something like 29-16 and we’ll all be outraged, saying, “I don’t understand, the first half schedule was so easy…”

Pop will be calm and patient longer than you think. Hell, Lakeritis can affect coaches too. He’s not going to yell, he’s not going to seethe. Really, he won’t break out the overt sarcasm with the press until Game 25 or so and he won’t call the guys the dreaded S-word (Soft, of course) until Game 35. But eventually it will happen. And this time he’s not going to sit the fellas down and tell them nobody is getting traded. Nope. He gave them that rope last year, and it’s going to royally piss him off to see the team fall into the same regular season complacency trap again. He’s going to get sick of looking at the same vacant stares two years running and I’m guessing that a rotation guy will be moved, just to send a message. Maybe Elson, maybe Barry, or maybe somebody we’d never guess in a million years. Whoever it is, eyes will open, ears will perk up and your San Antonio Spurs, as you’ve come to know them, will finally show up by the Ides of March. Only this time the schedule will be too tough down the stretch and there will be too many teams in front of them, and all their late desire will earn them just a 5th seed, nothing more, going into the playoffs.

He’s waiting for the perfect moment to strike, like some wine-loving cobra.

Or screw it, maybe they’ll rampage through the league at 66-16. What the hell do I know?

Just note that already I’m seeing the signs. Duncan is getting scored on easily by the likes of Darko Milicic and he hasn’t tried his signature banker from the left wing even once yet. Who knows how that thing looks in practice. Fin and Bones look like decrepit zombies. Tony has no rhythm on his floaters and is putting up token resistance, at best, against his man on D. Manu may already be in Brent Barry mode, chucking threes. Fab-O and Tim don’t have that telepathic high-low combination down yet and Elson keeps losing his guy on the backdoor plays. We’ve allowed 97 and 101 respectively to two of the poorer offensive clubs in the West, teams that between them might send one guy (Gasol) to the All-Star game if they’re lucky.

So, I repeat, no I’m not walking around with a boner because Opus had 30 last night. If he’s going to be our best regular season player, we’re in big trouble. November isn’t exactly the month I’d pick for Ginobili to carry us. This is supposed to be the Tony Parker Show, and really everyone has to pick it up a notch, and in some cases two or three notches, or the Rockets will flat out kick our asses on Tuesday. This just in: They’re very good.

The game-winning lay-up, I think. Man, Darko has really filled out, hasn’t he? He’s HUGE.
(AP Photo/Nikki Boertman)

As for specific game details, I think the rant covered most of it, to be honest with you. We were extremely fortunate to win. I thought Tim was way too lax on Pau (What’s up with Gasol’s look anyway? I thought Spaniards were supposed to be suave and sexy. Dude looks like a Kazakh extra from Borat) and didn’t really play any help defense against other guys either. Rudy Gay and Mike Miller had lots of wide open good looks on the outside as there was constant miscommunication between Bowen, Oberto, and Manu. Don’t even get me started with Tony’s effort on Lame Duck Stoudamire.

Really, if Gay could’ve hit any of his threes, it’d probably have been a different result. And Gino banked one in, for goodness sake
s. That’s a six point swing, right there. The zebras probably gave us most of the calls and I thought they were picking on Memphis’ new import, Juan Carlos Navarro.

Ultimately, two things in the last 35 seconds won the game for us. First, Schnozzo drew a questionable charge call on Gay that gave us the ball with the lead and put them in have-to-foul mode. Yes, Gay was out of control and pretty much barreled into Manu’s chest, but don’t think I didn’t notice that the Hustlemaker’s feet were moving at the time. It was a 50/50 call, in my opinion, and it went to the veteran. Secondly, new head coach Marc Iavaroni, expertly tutored at the foot of that master tactician Mike D’Antoni, couldn’t seem to impress to his charges the importance of fouling someone -anyone- except the guy who resembles a charming cartoon water fowl. Hell, in one sequence with 13 seconds to go, we had Bruce, Tim and Fab on the floor and still somehow Manu was allowed to catch the inbound. I don’t care if you have to quadruple him and pass it to Bruce wide open under the basket. There’s at least a 20% chance he’d have the pass go through his hands or dribble the ball off his foot or something, right?

When you want to inspire your scraggly gang of basketball has-beens, misfits and ne’erdowells, there’s only one place to turn: the cool, calm, collected, and unfailingly professional bench of the Phoenix Suns.
(NBAE/Getty Images/Joe Murphy)

Whatever. A win’s a win, I guess. I don’t want them to be merciless poor sports like the Patriots and be killing people by 50 points and leaving the starters in during the 4th quarters and stuff, but a little more of that businesslike, quiet intensity the Colts have displayed all year would be mightily appreciated.

Speaking of poor sportsmanship, I plan on being a total asshole in my meaningless fantasy basketball league. I drafted Ginobili in the first round – a bit of a reach, no?- and I still think my team is good enough to kick everyone’s ass. Well, at least it would be if The Diesel were still alive. God damn, did anyone see him on TNT tonight? He’s done. I thought I outright stole him in the draft and it turns out I probably got suckered into taking him. I’ll be listening to any and all offers. Mainly I’m upset that the story about the judge going apoplectic on Andy Reid’s sons in court broke today and not last week. My fantasy team name is lame as it gets – Metalmouth Manu. I’m gonna see about changing it to Andy Reid’s Drug Emporium.

Anyway, here’s my team…

PG: Acie Law IV – Holy Christ I hope the Hawks coach doesn’t wuss out and give him the Mike Conley Jr. treatment.
SG: Manu Ginobili – Definitely a bargain at #5 overall. He’s the best player in the league.
G: Kelenna Azubuike – A Warriors’ sleeper with loads of potential.
G: Delonte West – A waiver-wire filler for a couple injury concerns.
G: Rodney Stuckey – He’ll be a steal for me, once he heals up.
SF: Tyrus Thomas – His numbers would probably skyrocket up if he got traded to the Lakers.
PF: Carlos Boozer – Let’s face it, I need him to be an MVP candidate to be competitive.
F: Ike Diogu – With constant injuries to J. O’Neal and Troy Murphy, he’ll play a lot.
F: Thabo Sefolosha – I don’t know what I was thinking here. I like him a lot, but Bulls have too many guys for him to get decent minutes.
F: Bostjan Nachbar – Hopefully last year wasn’t a fluke brought on by injuries to Jefferson and Kristic.
F: Matt Bonner – Can Horry’s personal absence last forever?

C: Shaquille O’Neal – I despise him more than ever.
C: Zaza Pachulia – For the love of God Atlanta, no Tinyball.

I guarantee this roster will be quite fluid. I hate autopick drafts. Whatever.

Your 3 Stars…
3. Tony Parker – It doesn’t matter that he shot 2-of-8 in the second half. Whenever Tony gets 7+ assists, I’m happy with him.
2. Matt Bonner – Knocked down two big threes early and played most of the crunch time 4th quarter minutes and the team didn’t suffer for it.
1. Manu Ginobili – My favorite play was obviously where he stole an offensive rebound and tried to make a shot over the backboard. Got a chuckle out of Pop. Vintage ’03 Manu there.

Record: 2-0 Up Next: Vs. Sacramento Kings
This should unquestionably, inexcusably be our first boatrace of the season. Mike Bibby is out and they have no capable backups. They just signed Beno but he’s still out with a bad finger, which sucks, because it could’ve been him and Tony’s first duel against each other since both were 17 and Udrih wiped the Frenchman’s butt up and down the floor. Their fortunes have gone in opposite directions since then you might say. Also, psychopath Ron Artest will be out with a suspension for smacking the missus around and Brad Miller is obviously crying for help (or staging a one-man protest about the drafting of Spencer Hawes) with that haircut.

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  1. Mike November 2, 2007

    Here are your question marks:
    – Rookie guards who could turn out to be crappy fantasy players this year.
    – West is in a very crowded backcourt.
    – Ditto for Azubuike.
    – Ditto for Sefalosha.
    – Diogu won’t play a ton unless the guys in front of him stay injured.
    – Nachbar won’t play much unless Jefferson is hurt.
    – Bonner pretty much only helps in FT% and 3’s.
    – Boozer is an injury risk.
    – Ditto for Shaq.

    You sure you are in a position to kick everyone’s ass?

  2. Michael November 2, 2007

    I don’t care if my roster appears like it’s lacking in the talent department, I’m going to will my way into victories like Manu did the other night.

    It says so right in the team name, “Metalmouth Manu,” these guys will be pissed at how the outside world view’s them and they’ll use it for motivation.

  3. Dingo November 2, 2007

    You said you were going to kick everyone’s ass last year and then Dwayne Wade got injured and you threw in the towel.

    You do realize that Renaldo Balkman is out for the next month or so, right?

  4. Eric November 3, 2007

    you’re playing my team in fantasy… thank God C. Billups got double digits assists, or else it’d be an ass rape, which it probably will be after tonight.

  5. Michael November 4, 2007

    Why is it whenever a guy’s team -fantasy or the team he roots for- is getting humiliated, we immediately reach for the oft-used and extremely over-reactionary “ass-rape” reference?

    Dude, it’s only the first week of the season. At worst, all my team is doing to your team is asking for some eye contact during a blowjob.


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