Actually, It's Pronounced 'Me-lee-wah-kay', Which Is Algonquin for "The Good Land"
Another night, another Eastern Conference team, another convincing victory. Excluding the last 5 minutes of the first half, this was another thoroughly dominant performance by the Spurs. We won pretty much every statistical category, and we just outworked and outhustled a good team playing good basketball. Every Spur that made it on to the court contributed positively, and we played an impressive team game.
What I Liked:
–Tim Duncan. How can you not love Tim? He played another beautiful game, controlling the game on both ends of the floor and giving us exactly what we need when we needed it.
–Matt Bonner catches fire. It’s nights like these that explain his permanent spot in the rotation and why he is so valuable to our team. When he is hitting open 3s, we have an unstoppable offense.
7/8ths of a good defensive game. For all but 6 minutes of this game, we played pretty stout defense. We limited them to quarters of 18, 24, and 24, and we were on our way to another low scoring quarter (and a complete blow out) if it weren’t for those last 6 minutes of the 1st half, when our offense went cold and our defense got lazy, allowing them to go on a 12-0 run and get back into the game. But what I was most impressed with was our ability to contain Brandon Jennings. We stifled him all game long, forcing him into some bad shots, and never allowing him to get himself or his team in rhythm.
–2nd unit domination. The second unit came into the game to start the 2nd quarter, and quickly pushed the lead to 15 points. When the 1st unit came back in, the Bucks made their run to take a one point lead into half. At the end of the third quarter, the 2nd unit again (with Tim Duncan this time) pushed the lead to 19, and the Bucks never had another run in them. This is the production we were all hoping for (and expecting) after that amazing opening night performance. But with injuries and rotation tinkering, we were never able to get a consistent rhythm and feel for the games. But with Bonner and Mason, Jr. both finding their shots, and Hill’s confidence surging, we have the makings of an extremely potent second unit. This will be important when we face teams like the Lakers and the Nuggets, who have very good starting units, but weaker second units. A lot of our games may be won or lost in the 2nd unit this season.
–Same starting line-up. Having a consistent starting line-up will be important for getting the rhythm of both units comfortable, and to help set our rotations.
–Aggression. The Bucks shot 50% from the floor, making 41 field goals to our 40. They made 7 3 pointers to our 10. That’s a slight edge, but not a huge one. Where did the overwhelming margin of victory come from? Try these numbers: 9-14 and 22-26. That was the free throw disparity. We shot 12 more free throws, and made a whopping 13 more. That tells me that we were being aggressive, attacking the rim, and not settling for contested jump shots. I like to see numbers like this. Another number I like to see: +17. That was our rebounding margin.
What I Didn’t Like:
–1/8th of a bad defensive game. Already covered above. If not for the last 5 to 6 minutes of the 1st half, this could have easily been another 30 point game in the 4th quarter.
–The fast break. We all know Tony Parker is a one man fast break. In the offseason, he was joyous at having a running mate in Richard Jefferson. Unfortunately, it seems like TP has done too much one-man fast breakin'; the boy doesn’t know how to finish a fast break with runners, and others don’t really know how to run with him. Whenever TP takes off for the races and someone else is coming with him, it can look awfully clumsy and awkward. Whenever Parker passes, it seems like it’s foreign and against his better judgement. Which it is. Hopefully he’ll figure this out as the year goes on.
I have to give it to a red hot Red Rocket. He poured in 23 huge points. But he also pulled down 6 boards, handed out 2 assists, and finished a team high +26.
We have Golden State at home on Wednesday, then we’re in Houston on Friday. Golden State is unquestionably the most dysfunctional team in the league, and we usually beat them. It’d be nice to keep a little momentum going into Friday’s game against the Rockets, a team that we always play close no matter what the standings or the stakes. They are off to an impressive start of this year, epitomizing selfless, hard-working basketball. As always, this should be a hard-fought game.
Tim Duncan should be the biggest factor for us in these 2 games. Neither team really has anybody to guard him, and he could continue his streak of putting up gaudy statistics, racking up lots of points, boards, and assists. I’ll also be watching for consistency in the rotation. These could be two wildly different ball games, with one of the worst defensive teams and one of the best defensive teams in the league. But I expect consistent defensive effort from our team in both games.
Also keep an eye on Manu. He may be ready to return this week, but Pop may hold him out for an additional game or two.
I’ll be out of town over the long weekend for Thanksgiving, so I may not get prompt recaps of these games posted, but I do plan on watching both games, and I will post my thoughts at some point near the end of the holiday weekend.
Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.
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