D.C. Council Opening Statements: Wizards vs Spurs, Game 48
You know the drill. Playing the Spurs is like a drill. Sgt. Gregg “3G” Popovich gets his troops in action and boots on the ground, while the opposing Wizards tend to get tangled up in their capes and wizard sleeves.
Washington has not won in the city of San Antonio since December 11, 1999. Back on November 13, 2013, the latest casualty, the Wizards suffered just the classiest of beat downs at the hands of Los Spurs. That night, Kawhi Leonard (currently injured and out of this tonight’s contest), scored the game’s first eight points before the Wizards could even crack to scoreboard. The rest is history and is perhaps best chronicled by Marcin Gortat’s failed attempt at a Dream Shake.
Paws for the cause…
All and all, the Wizards have not beaten the Spurs, in any arena, since November 11, 2005. That night, Gilbert Arenas dropped 43 points on 20 shots and Jared Jeffries dropped seven points on six shots in a 110-95 victory at the Phone Booth.
Let’s get Spur’d.
Teams: Wizards vs Spurs
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, DC
Radio: THE FAN-FM 106.7
Spread: Spurs favored by 1.5 points.
Wizards tickets … anyone?
Click to get them served up for cheap via TiqIQ and TAI.
Q #1: The Wizards have used the D-League to send a guy down once this year: Glen Rice, Jr.
And that was more of a rehab assignment. Washington hasn’t really used the D-League to “develop” their own players in years (although they’ve had plenty of D-League call-ups during the painful rebuilding process over the past four seasons).
The normal excuses: We don’t have enough healthy bodies to send anyone to the D-League for development, and the affiliation franchise is all the way in Iowa (and it isn’t even an owned affiliation or a one-to-one ratio affiliation).
The Spurs, I have noticed, seem to send their own draft picks down to the D-League quite often (they own the Austin Toros, who are about 90 minutes away). What is San Antonio’s general D-League philosophy (in particular in terms of player development), and how has the D-League further aided a class franchise like San Antonio while the Wizards twiddle their thumbs trying to undo their own historical ineptness in the NBA-League?
@drew_48moh: Well, it started from where the Spurs are typically drafting each year. San Antonio is usually picking in the late first round and players of that talent often aren’t good enough to crack the rotation of the perennially-good Spurs. By taking over the Toros years ago, they’ve been able to send those players to Austin for consistent playing time and development—not to mention plenty of practice time, which people don’t realize there isn’t much of during a typical NBA season—that they wouldn’t afford those young players in San Antonio.
They also take advantage of the rule changes in the latest CBA that let you send players with three years of NBA experience or less to the D-League whenever you want. So when someone like Aron Baynes or Nando De Colo hasn’t been getting a lot of playing time in San Antonio, they’ll send them to Austin for a home game or practice just for the afternoon and then call them back up the next day. I’ve gotten plenty of press releases on a Sunday morning after a Spurs game the previous night announcing one of those players will be in Austin Sunday afternoon suiting up for the Toros. Then I would get another on Monday morning saying they’ve been called back up. It’s a way to keep those end-of-the-rotation players with some sort of rhythm and game conditioning. I wrote about it a little at 48MoH earlier this season after Baynes had a out-of-nowhere big game for the Spurs against the Raptors just a couple of days after appearing for the Toros.
Q #2: If you look at the bottom NBA teams in free throw attempts per game, starting at No. 30, you have: San Antonio, New York, Milwaukee, Memphis, Boston, and Washington at 25.
Please try your best to explain this and then tell me why you may or may not give a damn.
@drew_48moh: I wouldn’t say that I don’t give a damn, but I wouldn’t say it’s a big deal either. I think most of it stems from how much the Spurs are a jump-shooting team. And I mean that in a positive way. A lot of teams attack the rim in an effort to score or draw fouls. San Antonio attacks the paint to score or kick out to an open shooter, which there are usually plenty of. Tim Duncan doesn’t post up a lot anymore, Manu Ginobili doesn’t get to the rim as easy as he used to, and Kawhi Leonard is more likely to put the ball on the floor for one dribble and pull-up for a long 2. The Spurs don’t create a lot of free throw opportunities, but it’s not a big deal because they get so many efficient shots in other areas.
Q #3: Aside from injuries and age, what’s the biggest roadblock to San Antonio’s redemption championship quest?
@drew_48moh: Just not being good enough anymore. Health is always the concern, but as this core ages and teams like the Thunder—whose best players are all 25 or younger—get better, talent is always going to be a concern. The Spurs have an excellent system and players that fit it, but come playoff time, your best four players need to be better than the other team’s best four. Because Kawhi hasn’t developed this season as much as people thought he would and we’ve seen some drop-off from Duncan, there’s a good chance the Spurs simply aren’t going to be good enough to beat the other teams in the West come May.
Q #4: Aside from experience and Poppin’ Popovich, what gives the Spurs the advantage to make it to the Finals out of the West over other teams?
@drew_48moh: Well, I’d probably argue that they don’t have the advantage of making it to the Finals over Oklahoma City, but for the other teams in the West, it’s probably because San Antonio is so damn disciplined. The Spurs play good defense when everyone is healthy and they take excellent shots on offense. And that’s hard to do when the stakes are high. There are a lot of shots that players on the Spurs can make, but they don’t take those shots because it takes away from a better shot that a teammate can hit at a higher rate. You’ll rarely find a Spur take a shot and think well that was a dumb shot. It just doesn’t happen, because they understand how the system works.
Name your top three all-time Gregg Popovich moments.
#1) The intentional foul on Shaq to start the season in 2008-09. You’ll never find a funnier moment than that.
#2) When Gregg Popovich explained why he was drawn to the Jacob Riis quote about pounding the rock. I challenge you to find a sports figure answer a question better than that.
#3) Pop’s postgame press conference after the Spurs beat the Wizards in San Antonio last season. Tim Duncan went down at the time with what many feared was a serious knee injury after Martell Webster went crashing into Duncan’s left knee. Pop came out in a huff for his postgame press conference in one of the more tense media sessions of the season. But he conducted the entire interview with a fish taco in his left hand, just out of the shot of the assembled cameras. He held it low so it wouldn’t be on camera, but let me tell you, that was one pungent fish taco.
But John Wall Double-Blocks Off The Glass Are Cool.