GAME DAY, BALA! PRE-SEASON GAME 1: SPURS VS. THUNDER, 12-12-2020, 6PM (CT)

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GAME DAY, BALA! PRE-SEASON GAME 1: SPURS VS. THUNDER, 12-12-2020, 6PM (CT) 

Post#1 » by GREY 1769 » Sat Dec 12, 2020 8:40 am

It's finally and already here!

I stumbled on a tweet showing the Spurs roster from the 2016-2017 season and was struck by just how much we've changed in a relatively short time; we only have three players now who were on the team then - Patty, LMA, and Dejounte.

And they say we're carrying on as before. Our culture? Yes, as always, at the core of the team. The team itself? Completely different from roster to new style of play.

I expect some conflation of energetic nerves and determination to prove ourselves as we grow together.

WHERE: AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

WHEN: Saturday, December 12, 2020, 6pm (CT)

Ushering in the mood and theme for the season - Earn the Stripes - is our spirit leader, Bala Patty:

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GO SPURS GO!!!
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Re: GAME DAY, BALA! PRE-SEASON GAME 1: SPURS VS. THUNDER, 12-12-2020, 6PM (CT) 

Post#2 » by GREY 1769 » Sun Dec 13, 2020 12:12 am

Update: Lonnie's back!
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Re: GAME DAY, BALA! PRE-SEASON GAME 1: SPURS VS. THUNDER, 12-12-2020, 6PM (CT) 

Post#3 » by GREY 1769 » Sun Dec 13, 2020 12:52 am

Patty frankly keeping us in it.

Identity in terms of style is disappointingly rearing its head again. Patty running and gunning. Others trying the half-court style. Not working when we can't marry the two or decide on one.
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Re: GAME DAY, BALA! PRE-SEASON GAME 1: SPURS VS. THUNDER, 12-12-2020, 6PM (CT) 

Post#4 » by GREY 1769 » Sun Dec 13, 2020 1:04 am

I'm going to chalk it up to 'rust' with LMA, but he's not shooting it well, he's not running out to cover the shooter in the key with any urgency, and he's getting beaten on drives. Looks bottom heavy and not really that invested. I hope I'm wrong.

There's been plenty of talk throughout the bubble with all other players and Pop saying how LMA's dedicated to the new style of play, how as long as he's committed to it we'll be all right. Almost as if there was too much emphasis about it making it seem like there was some hesitancy there.

LMA just now didn't bother to look for anyone to box out allowing their player to get the O reb easily for a putback; gets a O foul; misses a fadeaway J.

Brutal.
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Re: GAME DAY, BALA! PRE-SEASON GAME 1: SPURS VS. THUNDER, 12-12-2020, 6PM (CT) 

Post#5 » by GREY 1769 » Sun Dec 13, 2020 1:13 am

Early takeaway is that having three vets in starting group isn't working. DD, LMA, Rudy were part of a big line-up that went against OKC's small ball slashing, driving and kicking, 3 shooting line-up and it's biting us.

We're chasing them all over the court.

Would love to see LMA site and we go to bubble mode in the second half.

LMA may be a problem if he's not hitting 3s. I hope I'm wrong.

Patty and Vassell of all players got the message - assertive, pushing the ball, making things happen.

Loving Devin's confidence and impact on both ends already.

Outwith the old, in with the new.

I'd much rather we give they young guys more burn if LMA feels like beach-lifing his way through the pre-season.
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Re: GAME DAY, BALA! PRE-SEASON GAME 1: SPURS VS. THUNDER, 12-12-2020, 6PM (CT) 

Post#6 » by GREY 1769 » Sun Dec 13, 2020 1:14 am

p.s. Guard the 3 yeah, Spurs? Thanks.
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Re: GAME DAY, BALA! PRE-SEASON GAME 1: SPURS VS. THUNDER, 12-12-2020, 6PM (CT) 

Post#7 » by GREY 1769 » Sun Dec 13, 2020 1:15 am

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Re: GAME DAY, BALA! PRE-SEASON GAME 1: SPURS VS. THUNDER, 12-12-2020, 6PM (CT) 

Post#8 » by GREY 1769 » Sun Dec 13, 2020 1:32 am

GET. LMA. OUT. OF. THE. GAME. AND. KEEP. HIM. OUT.
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Re: GAME DAY, BALA! PRE-SEASON GAME 1: SPURS VS. THUNDER, 12-12-2020, 6PM (CT) 

Post#9 » by GREY 1769 » Sun Dec 13, 2020 2:24 am

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Re: GAME DAY, BALA! PRE-SEASON GAME 1: SPURS VS. THUNDER, 12-12-2020, 6PM (CT) 

Post#10 » by imagump1313 » Sun Dec 13, 2020 2:31 am

I'm not gonna kill anybody for an exhibition game in a covid season, but I'll give you my quick observations:

Aldridge and DeRozan:They didn't bother me as much as LMA was bothering Grey. They both seem to be at least trying to fit in to a more open style. They just seem to still not be entirely comfortable and falling into their own bad habits which is understandable.

Trey Lyles is out of shape, needs to get his legs under him. Still hustling but his shot is way bad because he looks to have no legs.

Luka is a boy playing a mans game. He has no lateral movement at all and everyone just walks right past him. Hopefully he grows up a little for 2021/22 because he is no way ready for NBA basketball now.

Gay looked decent but you can tell is out of shape. I like that he lost some weight.

Murray:OMG Murray..... The guy is beyond useless. He does absolutely nothing. Besides the occasional steal because of his long arms he just drags this team down. He cant pass, he doesnt get anyone involved, people score on him easily, he cant shoot even though no one is guarding him. Its like 4 on 5 basketball when he plays. If he is our starting point guard after the 1st of the year im gonna have a hissy fit.

Vassell:You can tell just watching him for 5 minutes that he can play. The kid has an impact on the game just being on the floor.(Unlike invisible people like Murray and Luka) He defends, rebounds, blocks shots and can score in a variety of ways. I was totally impressed by his game.

Trey Jones actually looks like a point guard. In the small amount that he was on the floor he had an impact. He gets to the rim, he passes people the ball and gets them in a comfortable position to score. He has a ways to go but he did nore in 3-4 minutes than Murray did the entire game.

Mills played well but he does that. If he can balance out our scoring coming off the bench I'm ok with that.

Lonnie Walker:Just more of the same from him. Still for the most part timid and invisible. You can already tell Vassell is 10x the player Walker is.

I was impressed with Bates-Diop's size. He is a lot bigger than I thought he was. He didn't log many minutes but he was aggressive and might be useful coming off the bench for us.

Poeltl is what he is. he played well. I don't see him becoming much more of a player than he already is though. I think what we see now is his ceiling.

I don't really care that we lost. Our defense looked almost as bad as last year but like I said. its an exhibition game so we will wait and see.
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Re: GAME DAY, BALA! PRE-SEASON GAME 1: SPURS VS. THUNDER, 12-12-2020, 6PM (CT) 

Post#11 » by GREY 1769 » Sun Dec 13, 2020 5:35 am

lol fair enough, gump, it's just after all that talk about LMA fitting in with the team and then force feeding him a career-high 10 3 attempts, his hitting a whopping 3 was one thing. The utter lack of effort in finding players to box out, the getting beaten on drives, the lack effort contesting shots was abysmal. It's like he took shooting 3s and stripped it to the worst version, doing nothing else but.

He was better in the second half. But I just hope this wasn't passive aggressive LMA returning. We can't afford 10 first games of him getting acclimated and accepting his role before he decides to give it his all. That's what bothered me - he knows he can do better and give more but the first half was a low GAF level.

DD was a half court player again. Part of it was having two new starters again in Rudy and Jakob. Rudy at the 3 was fine going against other Spurs but this was a reality check in his going up against quicker opponents. He was the leading starting scorer but was -8, second worst behind DeMar's -10. He hit a 3, but I know better than to expect this in the regular season.

The combination of the three vets in the starting line-up with LMA in a new role made for some confusing D missed assignments - sometimes the switches didn't pan out, other times the middle part of the key, long established as the no-go zone under Pop as we've always tried to force guys to drive out not in, was a welcome mat. Jesus.

With the three vets in the starting line-up we went away from what was so successful in the bubble for us and that was a downer. I can accept it given that Lonnie is just coming off back spasms and has barely practiced with the team. He only played 13 minutes so he was brought along slowly. Ok. He's shown some nice progress in working on his handles in the off-season and hopefully we get to see some more of his game.

Hopefully this three-vet line-up was just for this one game, or just so Lonnie gets his wind in him. I'd much rather see a DJ-Lonnie-DD-LMA-Jakob or DJ-Lonnie-DD-Trey-Jakob starting group, and that's only because it seems we absolutely have to start LMA for some reason (probably so he doesn't go into full blown passive aggressive mode). As it stands, we are once again in that in-between place of going half pushing the ball and half half-court play.

We didn't run back on D, we didn't run on O, got our assignments on D mixed up, didn't communicate, etc., etc., especially in the first half.

Luka needs to actually play with players who will get him the ball so he has more than 4 shots in 12 minutes. He seems to try to do too much with the few chances he gets. In the final game of the bubble, he settled in after some early nerves because he wasn't just an afterthought on the court. He's got too many tools to just be the garbage cleanup guy. I think he's worked hard to get stronger, he switched well on D even though he got caught a couple of times going under screens which burned him, and on O it looked like he tried too much with the few O chances he got. Pokusevski shot it 12 times in 23 minutes. His teammates got him the ball. Would Luka have gone 1-9 like Trey did? I think Luka has a far more pure shot. Trey was too tentative time and again in trying to guide his shots in rather than letting them fly. People talk about a lack of confidence and intensity with Luka but Trey is in his fifth year and is showing the same issues. He got starter minutes at 23 yet was the worst shooter of the night and that's saying a lot.

Devin flat out is a baller. He defends well, drives without hesitating, has a great 3 shot form, rebounds, moves the ball, and even led us at the FT line going 4-5 - just a terrific all around performance, all the more impressive given this was his first ever pro game.

I agree with gump about Keita - bigger than I thought, and has some nice moves. Cam showed well, too, looking for his shot, trying to make a good impression.

DJ shot poorly, but unlike gump I thought he showed a tighter handle and better court vision. I think he's burning to show more, but we're maddeningly going to LMA time and again to get him involved even if it hurts the team.

Despite his inexplicable 0-4 FTs, Jakob was a terrific rebounder (10) and shot blocker (4!) also going 3-3FGAs. It was a solid performance next to LMA who once again took up so much of the O focus.

Patty was as promised - FIBA version, looked for his shots, led us in FGAs (16, tying LMA) and points (24).

I guess I was hoping we'd continue where we left off in the bubble and would run a lot more than the shoehorned version of sticking the half-court into a transition game that DOES NOT WORK. We know because we got burned by it last season. I hope this was just some attempt at getting the legs under the guys. I hope we go back to our transition game. We played an opponent with an almost completely different roster, our advantage is supposed to be our continuity with most of the same roster, yet they looked the more cohesive team. They pushed the ball, we were slow in getting back on D, they ran P&Rs we didn't communicate on coverage, they drove and kicked and we kept giving away open shots with late coverage as if seeing each shot for the first time.

WE NEED BUBBLE BALL. Whatever it takes. Even if it takes bringing LMA off the bench which will never happen, but I'm so over appeasing him. Already little patience for him and it's just the first game.

Here's what I think we need: DJ, Lonnie, DD, Trey, Jakob ultimately, until Derrick and Keldon return. Rudy needs to be a 4 coming from the bench; LMA can be with him there if he doesn't feel like hustling from the get-go; shorter minutes, hopefully conserve some energy for greater impact.

Simply put: something's off about the energy of the team with both LMA and DD on the court together again. We handed things over to the young guys only for LMA especially and DD to dominate the conversation again. I think LMA has to accept a smaller role not just a different one, and the young guys need to be fully given the green light to take over.

When Derrick returns, DJ, Derrick, DD, Trey, Jakob - fast, versatile, solid D if not enough 3 shooting. Small ball DJ, Derrick, Keldon, DD, Jakob is solid, too. I just thought / hoped we'd see something cohesive after all that talk about the new style of play taking over. I also was surprised we got beaten down the court on D a lot and didn't show the defensive intensity in the bubble. I will try not to make too much of the way we played with two new starters (again) but we simply MUST decide on the transition style of play and stick to it, no matter who is in the line-up.

On to the next one.
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Re: GAME DAY, BALA! PRE-SEASON GAME 1: SPURS VS. THUNDER, 12-12-2020, 6PM (CT) 

Post#12 » by GREY 1769 » Mon Dec 14, 2020 4:49 am

I'm not done thinking about and still fuming over last night's game. It's not that a pre-season game should be taken seriously, and there were some good signs, but the overall ethos or approach still bothers me. Here's a look at some numbers:
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On the surface, our shot distribution of 41% of points coming in the paint, 38% from the 3, and only 22% from mid-range looks like a nice adjustment. Last season, we attempted 38 3s only three times, so there's a concerted effort to better balance where our shots are coming from. Ok good. Last season we were one of the better 3 scoring teams in terms of accuracy, but near the bottom in attempts; we were the team with the two mid-range dominant players around whom our game catered and are lowering those shots. Fine.

The trouble is, our opponents attempted 49% of their shots from the 3 and hit two more on seven fewer attempts; they connected on 54.8% of their 3s. It's one thing for us to miss our 3s in getting used to taking so many more; it's another to allow such an atrocious percentage against. More on that later.

While our pace increased last season to middle of the pack up from the bottom third the year before, it was often the case that opponents put up more shots than we did in 2019-20. In this game we had 13 more attempts yet made five fewer FGs. Again, misses will happen, opponent efficiency is on us.

Who knew that a DJ-DD back court along with a slower Rudy at the 3 long since moved to the back-up 4 would result in problems guarding the perimeter? Well, we did. All of last season. We got torched mostly by career 5.6PPG on 36.8% from 3 Mike **** Muscala's perfect shooting and beanstalk rookie Pokusevski's 50% (4 of 8) from the arc.

Our 3rd Q was an instructive reminder:
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Hmm. Turns out that even though we were undermanned without a couple of our best defenders, we do still have the personnel who can get the job done defensively even if they were together for the first time.

That's one part of what's nagging at me.
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Re: GAME DAY, BALA! PRE-SEASON GAME 1: SPURS VS. THUNDER, 12-12-2020, 6PM (CT) 

Post#13 » by GREY 1769 » Mon Dec 14, 2020 7:05 am

Here's another part that's still bugging me. All that talk about returning to our bubble play and the main change was moving LMA to the arc. He tied Patty with team-high 16FGAs. If the declaration to go with the running, transition, and defending style that caters to the strengths of the young guys has not only been made but reinforced in multiple post-practice interviews from Pop on down through the players, why is LMA the focal point again?

I checked the rosters of all the teams this season. Is there a precedent for how we're catering to LMA?

Well there was Timmy, and at a higher usage (and also a higher PER) but the game was quite different in 2011-12.

Currently, the only player who is 1. 35 years old 2. starting and 3. justifiably has the team's game centered around him is LeBron James.

There may be others if I looked harder over the last decade throughout the league, but in the modern game LBJ is the hub around which his team turns.

I appreciate that LMA was our second leading scorer and is the second highest paid player. So from these contexts the optics of not only altering but reducing his game aren't great. And it's not like he can't contribute anymore; he provides value for the contract. It's just that it's clear that out of all our vets, LMA most stands out as not fitting into the bubble play of the youth movement.

Once again our team identity was this 'not fully this / not fully that' hybrid that clearly doesn't fit. We said we'd go bubble play, which means catering to the strengths of the young group supported by vets not the other way around.

We instead had three vets starting, and along with Patty they combined for 54 of the team's 101FGAs. True, Rudy, DeMar, and especially Patty were efficient, and these I think are also a function of Derrick and Keldon being out of the line-up. I'm sure these will balance out better when more of the younger guys are back.

But the LMA-centered O just doesn't make sense to me and I can't talk myself into accepting it this season. Frankly, we're not only better off his taking a more economical role, but perhaps a bench one. I think DeMar should be the sole vet starting, and Patty, Rudy, and LMA coming off the bench, except for advantageous match-up situations. DeMar can run well in transition and has shown he can alter his game enough to cater around the young group while still making an impact when needed. It's a fine fit. Rudy, can too. But add LMA to the mix and suddenly it's back to catering to his game. There's just a shift that happens where everyone automatically defers to him and this weird limbo style that doesn't quite mesh well with the youth movement.

Whose team is it? I thought it was made clear the switch to the young group was definitive. The young group emerged as the one with go-to players and D-oriented, transition style. Vets can be leaders in a supportive way. One game in, and gone was our defensive focus and our O looked disjointed but for passing it out to LMA to shoot from the arc and DeMar walking the ball up and operating with it much like last season. Why is his return to the line-up causing us to revert from the predominant style we committed to?

We're trying too hard to cater to a player whose game is the one that least fits the young group, and for whom there's no precedence in the league to keep as such a dominant part of the O. If he runs with the team, if he gets fewer shots while still spreading the floor, if he passes the ball along, sure, but we've yet to see it. And in a shortened season where the playoffs are the goal, and frank admissions that last season's style of play didn't get it done, I can only hope that this is an adjustment and commitment that can be made by everyone as quickly as possible.
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Re: GAME DAY, BALA! PRE-SEASON GAME 1: SPURS VS. THUNDER, 12-12-2020, 6PM (CT) 

Post#14 » by GREY 1769 » Mon Dec 14, 2020 6:30 pm

And another thing about that 3rd Q:
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Ironically LMA went 4-9 (2-6 from 3) in that Q, but the defensive intensity and our ball movement were better. Someone brought up a good point about the four vets being in their contract years so giving up scoring opportunities to facilitate growth for the young guys may be more challenging. We'll see. I think it's a matter of old dogs/new tricks, especially with LMA who had chances to pass the ball out to open teammates at the arc and keep it moving but instead took bad shots against two defenders. I'm tough on him in this thread, and I will be on anyone who talks of commitment to bubble play but doesn't back it up.

Derrick and Keldon can't get back soon enough.

It's Lonnie's birthday today - Happy Birthday, Lonnie! - and I hope he gets to start at the SG until Derrick gets back.
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Re: GAME DAY, BALA! PRE-SEASON GAME 1: SPURS VS. THUNDER, 12-12-2020, 6PM (CT) 

Post#15 » by imagump1313 » Mon Dec 14, 2020 11:46 pm

I never really got the feeling watching that game that we were catering to LMA at all. He got a few open three looks because teams still aren't used to seeing him take them.

I was also annoyed when he fell back into being LMA and forcing poor shots and not moving the ball but like I said, He is still falling into old habits. Lets face it, he wasn't in the bubble and they have practiced for what? A week? I'll give it some time.

Saying he was all in for bubble ball but never playing it until Saturday will take some time for him to get used to. As long as the coaches keep on him for it and don't let it pass I'll be patient.

I did like how DeRozan was engaged with Vassell during a couple timeouts that I saw. Not that DeRozan is any type of leader but I was encouraged how it looked like he was trying to help Vassell recognize his defensive assignments.

You know me, I'm not big on DDR or LMA being here still. It was just one exhibition game. If the season starts and Gay, DDR, LMA and Mills are still getting the most minutes I'm gonna be pissed too.

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