SPURS GAME DAY! GAME 43: SPURS VS. CAVS, 14-1-2022, 7:30PM (CT)

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Re: SPURS GAME DAY! GAME 43: SPURS VS. CAVS, 14-1-2022, 7:30PM (CT) 

Post#41 » by G R E Y » Sat Jan 15, 2022 9:32 am

4TH Q: SPURS 109

CAVS 114

We've flipped the script, and not in the best way. Whereas we excelled in scoring in the first and fourth Qs and struggled in the middle two, getting outscored badly, we won these, but another slow start and wickedly woeful finish with a cursed rim that spat out all our shots, we couldn't score and just put in 23 points, our lowest of the game while allowing another 30-point Q.

I think DJ is pulling out some heroic performances, scoring at least 30 points in two consecutive games, and the rest of us it's like we're scared to score to start games and frozen to score to finish them. Can' recall teh last time Jakob was held scoreless. Not only did he not make a basket, we only set him up for four attempts. He was central defensively in keeping us in the game with a team-high 12 boards (1 on O), 2 assists, 2 steals, and 3 blocks, so a monster in that regard, but we made a lot of TOs in trying to get the ball to him. They just sealed up the passing lanes and poked the ball from behind Jakob or flat out stripping him. He's not really good at hanging onto the ball strongly except for those times when some fire kicks in and plays with some more fire.

That said, he still IS our best rim protector, amazingly mobile, shifts so well for help D blocks, and can contort his body and still maintain balance while covering a lot of ground in staying with drivers or sliding over to double. I wish eh would box out more, and finish strong at the rim to limit missed bunnies he's prone to, but that's basically wishing for a perfect player. And given how much he does do for us, and given he's in the first year of a bigger role, he's actually doing quite well. Frankly, if we had a true starting PF he could be helped a lot.

As it stands, we make do with what we have, this time against a team we were facing for the first time that has given a lot of trouble with their not two but three very tall players at the 3-4-5. But we took too long to impose our game and instead reacted to what the opponent was doing and giving us rather than pushing to take what we do best.

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Pop put it this way:

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And it's interesting that post-game DJ said we need more discipline and TOs.

In other words, we didn't execute the gameplan. If I had to guess, it was as I mentioned in the intro post of making sure that we covered the point of attack rather than allow them to make uncontested passes to their bigs inside. Our advantage - points in the paint - was neutralized and they won it 60-40.

Because we didn't really always move the ball but drove into their wall of players down low, we kept getting blocked of having our shots deflected or altered or it got into our head and we over-adjusted for rushed shots and missed bunnies. We left a LOT of points on the court because of it.

They're a slow paced, low scoring team yet we got dinged for 114 points. It was in part not executing the game plan of not allowing easy passes to their bigs, in part for not covering the middle for their drives - always and ever something that gets Pop to boil over with rage on the sideline, rightfully so - in part not protecting the ball.

WE TOd the ball a whopping 15 times to their 9 (a characteristic of our losing streak, and in part a result of new guys in and out of the line-up). We gave up 18 points on them, earning only 9 in return. Some TOs were pressure from them executing their game plan of not allowing easy passes inside to Jakob but whereas for them it was about preventing Jakob from getting the ball, for us it was pressuring the original passer.

Whoever Jakob covered then opened up their second tall athletic big to work our smaller players to their advantage. It was critical that we switched and rotated well and switched out of mismatches where their big was on one of our guards down low, but it didn't always work out that way. This is another apect of our game we have to improve.

Jock was energetic but was only 1-3, a dunk from which he garnered a FT as well. Basically they took our bigs out of the game. They combined for only 7FGAs all game which is crazy, with Jock making the lone basket, even more insane.

Diop held his own and was terrific defensively with his foot movement and huge wing span making a difference in preventing easy passes and making good contests. I loved the man D that Jakob and Diop provided. Diop scored the best of them all, making 4-6 and 1-2 from 3, getting 4 boards (2 on O) and 1 steal in the process. I like that he is responsible defensively, is an absolutely drama-free player, steady in deameanour, and increasingly showing more of his O game. If there a knock against him it's that what makes him good for us - he blends in so well - is also a knock against him in terms of his being more assertive. He moves so well without the ball like for those sneak in back door cuts, so quiet and stealth that nobody really sense him behind them, and his crafty finishes at the rim, patient with fakes, and stealth in driving for reverse layups off the glass. He's also deft at getting to the corner and making those 3s.

It didn't help us that joining Jakob in the struggle to score department were Devin and Doug. Doug's in his first game back, and though he made 3-6 from 3, those were the only shots he connected on, scoring only 3-13. All his drives were misses close to the basket. It's his first day back after nearly two weeks away, and it was versus a towering front court, so a double adjustment, but it was an unprecedented bagel. He also led the team with 4TOs so his P&R game with Jakob was neutralized.

Devin also struggled in the starting role making 4-11, 204 from 3 along with 5 boards and 2 steals. He had 3 TOs and 5 fouls and a team-worst -14 on his way to 10 points and yet I still wasn't as annoyed with him as I was with Lonnie. More on him in a bit.

Joining them in the TOs was Primo who had 3 TOs in just 10 minutes of play, was but 0-1 with 2 boards (1 on O) and a block. So the three of them combined for 21 points and 10 of the team's 15 TOs.

Primo has shown some flashes in terms of guts in trying shots, in terms of making heady D plays, and crafty attempts in scoring with a feel and moves you can't teach. But you can hone them, and that's best done in the G-League for now. Just too many mistakes, over dribbling at times, not enough movement of the ball quickly enough. But these are to be expected of the youngest player in the league after a single college season. Welcome to the trial by fire, young man.

Devin was actually solid defensively but as a starter beside DJ our back court got burned often enough for his plus/minus to take a hit. I did like his timely poke and steal for a dunk. It was reminiscent of DJ's move and what I love about Devin is that he absorbs what more experienced player do and adopts and adapts to his game. That poke was a DJ move; those elbow Js off two feet are reminiscent of DD. He still was disruptive in passing lanes and active defensively, though starting is still at times perhaps too big a role for him. He didn't get any assists as we weren't using him as a ball handler but off ball receiver.

Lonnie did get some handling duties and he came through with 6 assists. So that was a job well done, but his decisions with the ball are still puzzling. He keeps pulling back and

So from the starters DJ had an amazing performance leading us with 30 points, clutch gutsy shots, great bounce passes (though he had some bad ones into too small a space that were picked off, too). Another 30-point performance on solid 13-24, 1-4 from 3, with a team high 14 boards (2 on O) and team high 8 assists. He distributed, defended, danced around defenders, did all he could.

What we couldn't do was stop their PG from getting anything he wanted, including leaving him too open for 3s and too open on drives. Sometimes we missed the switch, sometimes he got the first step and we didn't rotate over for help D. So part of that is a new starting group, part of it is guys coming back from H&S protocols, and part of is it frankly missed D assignments.

Keldon was at least looking more like his old exuberant self scoring 18 on 7-14, and 4-9 from 3, both terrific. He showed less successful versions of himself with trying to bulldoze through defenders for O fouls, then learned and showed the better version of himself with a crafty Euro step and sweet finish off the glass. Solid, confident 3s shooting as well. He grabbed 5 boards (2 on O) and had 2 assists, the latter standing out because the ball didn't stick with him as much, and even our commentators pointed out how he was making a concerted effort to make the extra pass for god to great chances that team mates sank.

I want to like Lonnie's game, I really do, and I think he's a terrific young man, but I don't trust him on the court. He has a "I'm going to get this shot" mode that's not exactly selfish, but more hero mode that doesn't help the team. Right now Lonnie stands out as the player who keeps reverting to this habit of taking well meaning but ill advised shots, ones that are too early in the clock or too late, ones that are from not involving the team more which suffers from not exploring better options.

To his credit he is driving with more resolve and willingness to absorb contact, and is better at finishing at the rim, but these are also unreliable. You never know what you're going to get. Perhaps it's unfair to keep singling him out as Primo makes wayward decisions at times and I've pointed out Keldon's tunnel vision, but neither of them have been with the team as long as Lonnie has. And it's also probably less fair that Lonnie's been out for a year, then on various positions with the team. But that's a function of our trying to see where he fits as well. After learning the system, after getting him to buy in defensively and not disappear on that end, and be more assertive on O. Check, check, and check. But he's almost over-correcting the other way in asserting himself and it's at times in discord to the team play.

He had better stats this game in making 4-9, 0-2 from 3, 3-4FTs compared to Devin and yet the stats hide the shot selection story, both in terms of shot clock and good to great team concept. I like the assertiveness, but simple don't trust him late in games. Yes he did make that courageous drive to get us ahead in the Jazz game (although he admitted after the game that the play wasn't for him; he essentially chose not to run what Pop called. Luckily for him he made the circus shot over Gobert otherwise bless his heart facing Pop in the locker room or during film. Perhaps he was called out for it anyway). But he's good for weirdo turnovers like stepping out of bounds, fouling when we don't need it, passing to nobody, dribbling off his foot or finishing at the rim with the strangest angles that miss. Just like, off somehow, and can't put it together, and it's mostly mental.

We can't and won't fault Bryn at all today. He did his job well scoring 15 on 5-8, 4-5 from 3, 1-1FT along with 2 assists, and no needless overdribbling like he was the O initiator or something. He dutifully gave up the ball to DJ or even Primo to run point. Primo is still in the nascent stage of doing so at this level, and he's going back to the G-League with the knowledge at least of how much he still has to learn.

Bryn played within himself and succeeded. Keldon improved in the passing the ball along, and while Lonnie had 6 assists on some very good drive and kick outs, I don't trust him as the ball handler.

We have each of our new guys go through our system in various roles, progressing to main scorer and/or O initiator as primary ball handler. We've been doing it in GL and SL for ages. And yet the two guys I don't trust as primary ball handlers are Bryn - who knows better though sometimes gets ahead of himself, and Lonnie, who tries hard and is just off kilter in his decisions.

We did do some things well. I like how we competed even though we had to chase another deficit down, I like that we counter punched with some scrambling hustle plays, and I like that we made 15-34 from 3 - both numbers above our average.

We still need to get to the FT line better; we made 10-13, good efficiency, but low output. We had 24 fouls to their 13 overall. Once again we allowed drive after drive, and once again we fouled, even with some calls being too soft, and others not going our way on the other end.

So we're passing well, though it can be better in terms of movement, we're shooting the 3 better, but our D isn't as consistent as it needs to be, with the caveat that some teams' rosters are a bad match-up for us and will give our roster fits. (I can't wait till Zach is back for a proper front court!)

We're reeling in that we've now lost five in a row, too many of the last ten, and look disjointed at times. But we did fight better in this one, and with Po managing the minutes well (we had three players playing 30 or more minutes, DJ leading with 36) we're well positioned to put together more of what we're doing well and clean up what needs work - better ball protection, better protection of our paint, and better defensive execution of our game plan. Onward.
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