Back In Business
The Spurs have won seven of their last eight games and are on a three game winning streak again after that debacle against Cleveland. OK, so they only played the Clippers, T-Wolves, and Knicks, but as the Knicks showed our North Texas Nemesis, if you don’t come to play, there are no easy wins in this league – not even against the cellar dwellers.
Recent Developments (From the past two games)
Bogans out, RJ in – to the starting lineup that is. This could not have happened soon enough for me, and RJ is responding better than ever. He is averaging 18.5 points and nine rebounds in the past two games and has lately shown a knack for rebounding that may be turning his game around. I certainly hope so. The offense is not designed for him to the be first, second, or even third option most times, so he needs to create opportunities by doing the little things like going to the glass and battling for loose balls. Lately he has done a much better job of that. Meanwhile, Bogans has responded… interestingly. He had 10 points off the bench against the Wolves on Friday, but was 0-for-1 with a rebound and an assist in 9:29 against the Clips. So in other words, he didn’t start and played less than 10 minutes and had about the same game he was having in just about every game he started and played like 20 minutes.
Duncan and Ginobili have been playing limited minutes. For awhile there Ginobili was just running wild and while it was very entertaining, it was also risky. In the past two games, however, Ginobili played only 46 total minutes. While he didn’t have the scoring output we like to see, he remains healthy and the Spurs still won, so no harm in that. Duncan is in the same boat here. He played a total of 38 minutes in the past two games, and only 13 against the Clippers. Popovich gets credit here for knowing when to rest these guys, we can’t afford to see one of them go down right when we get Parker back in a few weeks.
George Hill has been a rock. It’s crazy how far this guy has come this season, and how efficiently he is running the team and bringing some much needed scoring in place of Parker. He has averaged 16.5 points and 9.5 assists over the past two games. That’s unbelievable, and now I know how great the Hornets must feel to have a guy like Darren Collison to step in for Chris Paul.
Cedric Jackson and Ian Mahinmi have been getting some good minutes in the past two games. Jackson has played a total of 23 minutes and is 2-of-7 from the floor with a total of seven points, four rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks. This is looking like a pretty good signing and Ced might develop into a decent guard. Mahinmi has played a total of 12 minutes and has shot 5-of-7 from the field. He has had a total of 11 points, three rebounds, one block and only one turnover. Turnovers were a huge problem for him against Cleveland if you’ll recall. He played five minutes and turned the ball over three times… it was horrible. It’s nice to see him bounce back from that, although it’s hard to fathom him bouncing in any other direction.
Matt Bonner was the high scorer for the Spurs against the Clippers with 21 points. Malik Hairston added 12 points, and Roger Mason found his stroke – at least for the moment – and chipped in 11 points. Antonio McDyess has been starting at center as of late, but DeJuan Blair is still bringing it with 6.5 points and seven boards per game in these past two contests.
Next Up (A preview of this week’s match-ups)
The Spurs are playing pretty well, but the level of competition is about to get a lot better. This week we have the Miami Heat (34-32), Orlando Magic (47-20), and the Golden State Warriors (18-47).
The Heat are kind of a hit-or-miss team this year, and the Spurs blew them out earlier this season in a 30-point win on New Year’s Eve. There’s really no telling which Heat team will show up this week, but if it has Dwyane Wade, then it’s capable of winning if the Spurs aren’t in sync.
Orlando will be another test for the Spurs and it would be nice if they took these young’ns down a peg or two. The Spurs need to limit Dwight Howard and try to get him in foul trouble early on. This could easily turn into a game of “whoever can hit three-pointers wins”, so it will be equally important to close out on Vince Carter, Jameer Nelson, and Rashard Lewis, so that means we could see more of Bogans and/or Hairston as perimeter defenders. RJ will also be counted on to step it up on D.
Golden State would seem to be an easy win, but these guys are feisty and Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis and Corey Maggette will give the Spurs all they can handle in a game of small ball. Curry is arguably the Rookie Of The Year and is balling out of his mind right now, but George Hill may be able to put the brakes on him for the night. Hopefully that doesn’t mean Monta Ellis gets to run rampant. The Warriors have a very thin frontcourt, so the Spurs can do a lot of damage in the paint in this game, so let’s hope they take advantage of that opportunity.