SPURS IN THE 2020 BUBBLE INFO

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Re: SPURS IN THE 2020 BUBBLE INFO 

Post#41 » by GREY 1769 » Wed Jul 29, 2020 4:00 am

Small sample size, but an interesting pattern to look out for. Considering this is a new starting line-up, with three new starters, a positive trend:
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Re: SPURS IN THE 2020 BUBBLE INFO 

Post#42 » by GREY 1769 » Thu Jul 30, 2020 6:45 pm

PRACTICE 11 - July 29, 2020

It's getting to that time when the team closes its doors on practices in preparation for the season. Slim pickings:
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But there is this snippet of a tremendous closeout. At least he had his hand up to contest the shot *better than Bryn* :lol:
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Re: SPURS IN THE 2020 BUBBLE INFO 

Post#43 » by GREY 1769 » Thu Jul 30, 2020 6:51 pm

PRACTICE 11:
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Re: SPURS IN THE 2020 BUBBLE INFO 

Post#44 » by GREY 1769 » Thu Jul 30, 2020 6:56 pm

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Re: SPURS IN THE 2020 BUBBLE INFO 

Post#45 » by GREY 1769 » Wed Sep 9, 2020 10:24 pm

Ok so I've been thinking about doing a bubble play review for a while now. Pandemic time has reduced my ability to focus to about 38 seconds so I'm trying to build it up again.

Anyway, who had us at 5-2 going into the final bubble game with a shot at the playoffs? There were some voting options on Twitter about our bubble results and I chose 6-2 but it was nowhere near the most popular selection. Most were in the 2-6, 3-5 range, and that's before we found out that we'd be without three starters and sixth man Patty.

I loved how we played, I loved the changes we made, I loved how we came together and stayed resilient, and I loved that we looked better, more energized, and enjoying playing together throughout it all.

Because LMA, Trey, Bryn, and Patty (for the most part) were out, we went the 'development' route, but I say that in quotes because I think it was the baseline accomplishment from the bubble experience. That's good of itself, but I do think that that stated goal also took some pressure off a team relying on entirely new line-ups to try to keep the playoff streak alive. And I think we fought for that goal hard.

That we fell just short was greatly mitigated by the spirited way we showed up and played, by the prepared and gutsy alterations to our style of play, and by the inspired raising of the games of so many players.

Before getting into those details, I think the development was also about revving up the experience of our assistant coaches. Before this season began, both Messina and Udoka left for other teams. Messina was sort of expected as he'd interviewed for other HC positions and there was word about a week before it was finalized that he may be going to Europe for a while. But Udoka came out of nowhere and I wonder if we were blindsided by the news.

There was an article making the move smell like roses by snake Jabari Young, so I thought there's more to it. He's taken enough shots at the Spurs organization and its methods for a long enough time that I don't trust his spin on anything. Of course the Spurs would be publicly supportive, but considering Messina had left, this would have made Udoka the lead assistant. He left instead to be Brown's lead assistant and since there were already loud whispers after last season about Brown being on the hot seat, my immediate sense upon hearing the news then was that he left to maneuver into a potential HC position. Nothing wrong with that of itself, but I think it happened suddenly and quickly and we were left trying to fill a position we didn't think we'd need to.

Thankfully Timmy stepped up for Pop, and we moved Will Hardy to the front bench and Mitch Johnson up to an assistant coach position to fill out the assistant roles along with Becky and Chip. The point being we had a far younger bench in terms of assistant coaching experience. Each brings his or her areas of expertise and specialization, but this brings us back to the bubble.

I thought it was a great move by Pop to have each of Becky, Mitch and Will to coach a game, one per scrimmage in that order. These were small sample sizes, but overall I thought that the team responded best to Will. Thinking back, there were several factors that could have contributed to this: he coached the final game, so there was already some continuity with the new line-ups. I also gave Will credit for not playing Bryn but found out later that Bryn was out with a quad tightness or something along those lines. Finally, that was our only scrimmage win, so feel good vibes resonated all around.

Still, I thought Will's line-ups, his timeouts to address things he didn't like, his engagement on the sidelines, and the way the team responded stood out well. That's not a knock on Becky or Mitch, they didn't look at all out of place, but coming into the scrimmages without preconceived expectations, these were just my impressions. Will directed and led the team well and the team responded by executing well. There was probably some better focus as this was the final prep game before the ones that counted, so that likely worked in the favour of better overall focus and cohesion, nevertheless, sometimes things could go the other way under increasing pressure for young guys to perform well, so full credit to the coaches and players for trending the right way at the right time and stepping up when it all counted.

Chip is our longest-tenured assistant in his fifteenth season, then Becky who has been in the position for six years, and Mitch and Timmy in their first seasons. Although Will has been an assistant for four years, he has been with the Spurs for ten years. Chip is invaluable. And not that I don't think the other assistants aren't, but Will stood out in a good way and impressed me. I hope we keep him.

So these were good experiences for all three, and I can only imagine the valuable feedback and growth they've gotten from it. Trying circumstances for the team, but I like that the development was carried through from the coaches - including Pop who now was pushing an up-tempo, transition, D-oriented, faster paced passing team - down to all the players.

And then there was Patty, sitting healthy on the bench with the coaching clipboard on his lap making notes. Seeing as how he's already the spiritual leader of our team and a great unifier, energizer, and extension of Pop on the court in terms of running plays and regrouping the team, he'd make an awesome coach down the line. If this is the beginning of an eventual transition towards it, we have another gem, and I'm all for it. It was an eye opening experience in the best ways.
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Re: SPURS IN THE 2020 BUBBLE INFO 

Post#46 » by GREY 1769 » Tue Sep 15, 2020 4:39 am

Ok on to the team in the bubble. Like I said previously, our bubble play was a revelation. I don't think that DeMar at the small ball 4 is a long-term permanent solution, but knowing now that we can use these line-ups, and do so with a very capable facilitator at the 4 adds new .

Being without three starters and our sixth man necessitated the line-up changes. I thought for sure without LMA, then Trey - our starting front court - we'd look far more lost at least initially, because so much of our O these past several seasons have revolved around getting LMA touches in the half-court working from the left block. Certain habits take hold and take time to uproot, but wow did we ever move on from them fast!

Throughout the season it felt that half-court and transition styles of play were at odds for primacy. In the previous two seasons, we used both and they flowed well, but with DJ back in the starting group learning the tendencies of teammates and how to facilitate in the half-court sets kept us with one foot on the gas, one on the brake. The bench unit, having the familiarity of playing together longer, was ever the energy group. The subs in the regular season were for O but there was a slimmer margin for misses so when Beli and Bryn were not hitting their shots at a high enough rate - and this season their efficiency dove - both O and D suffered.

But with Bryn also sidelined, and Beli getting fewer minutes, our starting five - DJ, Derrick, Lonnie, DeMar, Jakob - switched a front court that court shoot 3s for a line-up that moved better with and without the ball, defended better, and found the open man quickly. Even with DJ not facilitating as capably, we now had three other players in Derrick, Lonnie and DeMar to share the load (even Jakob helped with passes out from the elbow at times) we used the collective strengths of speed, movement, and defense to push and pressure the ball.

Loved the rotations, too. Rudy, DeMar, and to a lesser extent Beli were the three vets that played regular minutes. Around them were the young guys hungry to prove themselves. Keldon and Drew got regular rotation minutes and thrived, while Mezie, Luka and Q filled out the remaining minutes. The latter three were probably frustrated at not getting more chances, but we needed to see how guys further along in the program could contribute.

There was a post-game interview in which Pop basically said that guys were playing for their spots on the roster (maybe not that drastic, but words to the effect of players needing to show something. I'll find the quote, but it struck me at the time as a direct statement about the seriousness of the evaluation process).

So there were multiple objectives coming into the bubble games: Getting the assistant coaches more game management; coming together quickly and embracing big changes to line-ups and style of play to make a push for the playoffs; developing and analyzing the players.

There was some pressure playing from behind the frontrunners for the final post-season positions and doing so without four key rotation players. But from all accounts, the guys showed up in shape, the practices were spirited, and everyone rallied to take on the challenge. You could see both the serious intent in their cohesive play and how they were buoyed by both coming together at last but also in playing well. So much so that this was the best, most cohesive and successful stretch of games we played all season.

I've posted this elsewhere, but do so again here to reiterate that we hadn't been in the positive on both D and O all season - until our resurgent bubble play:
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We were 5-2 going into the final game, and wholesale improvements were emerging:
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Looking back, tying the NBA playoff streak was a huge achievement and it took a tremendous effort in two very challenging seasons to reach it. Coming into this season, I wondered whether losing a couple of seasoned assistants and the off-season going sideways from what we intended, forcing us to have two new starters and losing a key scorer, took some steam away that you need from the outset and were harbingers of things to come. We struggled through much of the season and it was too much to overcome to reach the post-season again. But looking forward I am so encouraged by how we played in the bubble. The energy and focus everyone brought, the surprising ways in which various players stepped up, and the joy of being together and rising to the various challenges resonated in such as way as to carry through into next season. We likely wouldn't have had these unique bonding and evaluating opportunities otherwise, so knowing that we have sharpened our tools individually and as a team is a clearer, stronger foundation from which to progress.
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