D'Orazio Sports San Antonio

We rant about sports.

Grades…

With the season over, the San Antonio Spurs report card, is in.

-Tim Duncan

Regular season: A-

Although, Tim Duncan played less minutes during the regular season, his numbers are comparable with his career average. Duncan is an unrestricted free agent. His contract will be renewed and he will be a (paraphrase) “Spur for life.” Expect more of the same next season.

Playoffs: A-

Tim Duncan is not the reason for the loss against the Thunder. However, his shots needed to go in, at a frequency better than what he liked. It is a make or miss league, and Duncan knows this more than anyone. He will rebound from this seasons devastating end, better and wiser.

-Tony Parker

Regular season: A+

Tony Parker would have his best season with the Spurs. He would come in fifth for the NBA MVP. The team was his, and he treated the challenge, with poise and control.

Playoffs: B-

Tony Parker came into the playoffs with a renewed sense of what was expected of him. Win, attack, and win. He would do this for 10 straight games. Then, he disappeared? Parker would show his mettle in the first half of game 6 in OKC, then disappeared again? Perhaps others making their shots, while he makes his, will be the answer. He is still the “head of the snake.”

-Manu Ginobili

Regular season: C+

After breaking his hand early in the season, he rebounded well enough to be healthy going into the playoffs. It would be the first time that he would go into the post-season without a noted injury since 2007.

Playoffs: A-

Manu left his cape in San Antonio after game 2 in the Thunder series. Yes, he had huge points and more minutes. However, he can not do things alone. He played with heart, as he always has. He can make an impact with more than his shooting. Other players can not leave it to Ginobili. The offensive call against him in game 6 was the dagger, in a bad way. He is best as a 6th man, the energy from the bench. He can be the Finals MVP next season, if things are better with the others.

-Kawhi Leonard

Regular season: B+

A bright spot going forward. Leonard has been likened to the next Bruce Bowen. He has a long wingspan, and huge hands. Leonard was inserted into the starting line-up after the March trade of Richard Jefferson. Most nights, he was required to guard the other teams best players. Sean Elliot has called him (paraphrase) “Bruce Bowen’s upgrade.” He played above the rim, hit three pointers, made steals, and played like Popovich’s new favorite player. Without a true summer of coaching or a summer league last year, he can only get better with the experience of this season.

Playoffs: A-

Kawhi Leonard looked like a rookie in the OKC series. He did enough to warrant playing time, when other players did not. Leonard looks unfazed by the pressure. A good thing going forward.

-Matt Bonner

Regular season: B

Matty B would stretch the floor and make the other team feel as if there were six guys on the court at one time. He would make three pointers, and seemed to make two’s with more frequency. He seems to be a Pop fav., but no one seems to know why. He is considered a ‘big’ but no one would consider Bonner as a reliable big man inside the paint.

Playoffs: F

Bonner looked stuck in quicksand. He is ineffective in road games.  He is a wasted player in the playoffs. But, the Spurs have known this forever. Bonner has become a “what to do with” player. Regular season, never post season.

-Tiago Splitter

Regular season: C-

Tiago Splitter could have all the playing time he wants in San Antonio. He needs to be more than a good pick-n-roll player. He came into San Antonio with SpursNation as hopeful as ever. Why isn’t he starting, because he hasn’t gotten ‘it.’ Will he ever is the question.

Playoffs: F

Playing 39 seconds in an elimination game says it all.

-DeJuan Blair

Regular season: A-

DeJuan Blair has several nicknames, D-Bear and Beast and others. DeJuan would be the starting center for the Spurs throughout the majority of the season. Blair is without ACL’s in his knees and that is all we ever hear from TV commentators. Although he has played center for the Spurs, he is undersized and can not hit a shot beyond two feet. This has been a problem and Pop knows it. He has gotten the minutes in the regular season, but…

Playoffs: D-

…He can not get off the bench in the post-season. He had a shot blocked, missed a defensive assignment, looked slow…and then didn’t see the court for games on end. He was supplanted by another short center in Diaw towards the end of the regular season, and all of the playoffs. Will this be enough to convince him that playing with another team will improve his MPG (minutes per game)? Hope not. What Blair needs to work on will be his shot selection, rebound kick-outs, and arching his shots beyond two feet. He can become an All-Star if he can develop a jump shot.

-Gary Neal

Regular season: A-

Gary Neal has become a shooter in this league. Not very good at commercials, but his three point percentage is notable. His confidence continued to grow with every game. He is not a back-up point guard however. His game would decline when Pop began to play him in this manner. Pop did the same with Roger Mason Jr. No one gets it. Neither does Neal.

Playoffs: C-

Being sick aside, Neal gave it his all. His effort and guile provided rest for Parker. However, his shots did not go down. And he knew this was a bad thing. Neal’s scoring was definitely needed. He will have to remain a shooting guard and not the back-up to Parker moving forward. His scoring is needed, especially in the playoffs.

-Danny Green

Regular season: B

I sure hope the Spurs do not overpay Green in order to keep him in silver and black. He is a restricted free agent, meaning the Spurs can match any offer he may receive. Green has had moments of spectacular athletic play this season. But he has had downs too. His starting gig during the regular season would spell rest for veterans. We like the “Green Giant” but will not be upset if he gets overpaid somewhere else.

Playoffs: D

Was pulled from the starting line-up…perhaps a game or two too late. He was needed in the playoffs, but gave little to win. A shot in the WCF he could not make. He became a bench warmer. He may have lost money by doing so poorly. We’ll see.

-Boris Diaw

Regular season: INC.

Diaw was released by the lowly Charlotte Bobcats. His knowledge of the game, and his friendship with Tony Parker were invaluable.

Playoffs: B-

Boris Diaw became the starting center for the Spurs after his acquisition late in the season. He has been living in Tony Parker’s guest house since then. Although, he did good things in the playoffs, if he is to remain in the silver and black, he’ll need to learn the playbook to be effective. He is an unrestricted free agent, meaning he may go wherever he wants, but don’t expect him to leave “a good thing.”

-Stephen Jackson

Regular season: INC.

He has stated that he should have never left the Spurs after winning a Championship with the team in 2003. He gave the Spurs, and Tim Duncan, the fight they needed.

Playoffs: A-

His three point accuracy can be deadly. His mouth can be too. Jackson has become a rapper since his days in SA, so he’ll bring his brand of ‘ugly’ to the team. When he was not in the game, he would wave his rally towel and get the crowd and team “juiced.” Next season is the last on his current contract. So, he will be in a contract year.

-Patrick Mills

Regular season: INC.

Patty Mills (he prefers Patrick) lit up the opposition in the latter portion of the season. He was insurance because of the retirement of T.J. Ford.

Playoffs: F

To Mills defense, he didn’t get to play much. Mills may shoot too much, and had a costly turnover, limiting his court time. He is an unrestricted free agent. It can go either way.

-Cory Joseph

Regular season: INC.

Playoffs: INC.

-James Anderson

Regular season: D-

The Spurs do not have many draft picks, and used one on Anderson in 2010. His contract was not renewed by the Spurs. James Anderson is an unrestricted free agent, and will play with another team next season.

Playoffs: F

Read above.

-Richard Jefferson

Regular season: B-

Failed experiment. Traded in March to the Golden State Warriors.

Playoffs: None

-T.J. Ford

Regular season: B+

Could have been the back-up point guard the Spurs needed. A play-maker, a veterans high basketball IQ, and a leader. He was forced to retire after a hit to his (previously) injured back by NY Knick Baron Davis. A part of the trade to Golden State.

Playoffs: None

Very missed. Very.

-Gregg Popovich

Regular season: Coach of the Year

Pop had a great season when it began in obscurity. As he has put it (paraphrase) “No one knew we existed at the start of the season.” He was too humble with the acceptance of the COY award. He may never get another one. Spur fans hope he can guide the team to another ring and Larry O’Brien trophy instead.

Playoffs: B+

He would out coach, and then be out-coached. The reigns will need to be loosened a bit when it comes to getting the team ready for the playoffs. He did a wonderful job of this towards the end of the regular season. Several new players and a lock-out shortened season put his skill to the test. But, Pop tired out the better players in the playoffs. This became evident in the WCF games 4-6. Trust and teaching will be needed by Pop for the “young-ins. He will need to use his players more effectively, and the Thunder gave him this lesson.

-R.C. Buford

Regular season: 2nd in Executive of Year voting

He is trying, no one can deny that.

Playoffs: B-

He needs to try harder, especially with the free agent contracts and team deficiencies. Can someone say “BIGs?”

-San Antonio

Regular season: B

The posters went up. The jersey’s were worn. The black and silver came out everywhere. Black and silver became the fashion mainstay in San Antonio. The AT&T was sold out. The town was happy faced.

Playoffs: B+

After two consecutive sweeps, a comeback game for the ages, and a new and improved roster, the Spurs were (finally) gaining the respect and national acclaim that we all hoped for. Tim Duncan was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and no one can remember the last time a Spur club was so feared. The team appeared deep. Everyone had them ready to win the Finals. San Antonio was ready.

However, the series momentum shifted when the role players gave the Spurs very little. Oklahoma’s Chesapeake Arena was loud, and the AT&T Center needed to be too. One can say that SA was loud too. An A will be given next season, just watch.

The San Antonio Spurs will make the needed changes, players will get more experience, and the team will be as good as ever next season.

Defense will, once again, be the word every Spurs fan hears, defense.

Go Spurs GO! Be ready for another June run next season Spurs fans. A few tweaks and experience, and the Spurs will come out hungry and angry next season. I have no doubt.

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It Is Setting In…

The San Antonio Spurs Champions!!!!

The San Antonio Spurs have four Championships.

Today, Friday, should be game 7…It isn’t.

LeBron did it in Boston, the Spurs could not do it in OKC. In the east, game 7 will be played Saturday.

Driving around town yesterday, I noticed that the banners, signs, balloons, handcrafted jerseys, flags and all things Spurs….Were still going strong. Everyone was ready, ready for the Finals to start. Ready to support. Ready to go to our favorite bars and restaurants. Ready to buy tickets to the Finals, if we could. Ready to cheer. Ready.

Every time I saw these things, a tear would come to my eyes. Why? Well, there isn’t a vacation in my future. No fouls were called against me. The London Olympics is not in my future. No free agency lists or summer league rosters to toil over.

But, what I do have, is a heavy heart.

The local news had several fans describe what they felt, the “morning after.” One man stated, (paraphrase) ‘it was like losing a family member.’ Yes, we as a fan base that loves to call itself SpursNation, is in morning. The loss of this series will have lasting effects on this town, the team, the future.

What went wrong when the series and the Spurs seemed primed for a fifth Championship? Two things really stand out.

First, the referees made very questionable calls against the Spurs. This was evident in the disparity at the free throw line. Not only did the Thunder shoot more free throws, they would benefit from questionable calls. I can’t remember when I’ve ever seen so many blown calls, Spurs players being hit without a call, or Tim Duncan arguing with officials. One call that Spurs fans will remember, is the one against Manu Ginobili in game 6. Manu would be called for the offensive foul that would negate Kawhi Leonard’s made three pointer. With the whistle, the game and the series would essentially, be over. Just like that.

It has appeared to me that in the years that I have watched the Spurs, they have always had to overcome two teams. The opponent and the refs. Obstacles that this teams’ core has been able to thwart. But, not this time.

Second, the playoff schedule did not do the San Antonio Spurs, any favors. The series would have a game played every other day. Advantage, younger legs. The lock-out shortened season was never typical. The playoffs have shown this to be true. The older Spurs and Celtics are having trouble with the younger teams. Expect a Thunder versus Heat Finals.

No one should be happier about the Finals match-ups than David Stern. He is the NBA’s version of the ‘Evil Emperor’ (Star Wars reference). Is he happier that the Oklahoma fan base is buying up everything blue? Of course. His job is to make the Association money. Would San Antonio buy up everything black? I don’t know, but it sure seemed that way. Everything was sold out here.

So, as I put up my jerseys, T-shirts, hats and car flags, I look at my growing to-do list with disdain. A long break from basketball is in my future.

I keep replaying LeBron’s comments from his Finals loss last season, (paraphrasing again) “everyone still has the same personal problems that they had today,” and wonder if he was right after all.

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Congrats!!!!

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Gettin’ Nasty.

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More? Okay.

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‘Nuff Said.

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The Block.

Manu Ginobili and the San Antonio Spurs hold a 2-0 lead heading into tonight’s game in Oklahoma. The crowd will undoubtedly be loud. The Spurs have experienced this before. At least most have.

Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green have not. They will be needed in various ways. Defense, steals, three pointers….court time. Pop will pull the plug on them early if they miss assignments or play lack luster defense. It is now, when these two players, can earn respect from the veterans.

Will Dejuan Blair play tonight? That will be anyone’s guess, but if Diaw or Splitter get into foul trouble, Blair will be tossed into the fray. It will be his opportunity to excel, and Spurs fans will hope that he does just that.

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Prize Fighter.

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The Spurs Are Hot!

The weather in San Antonio is as hot as the Spurs. Temperatures continue to climb, and a rainy day might sounds luxurious to the vegetation in South Texas.The Spurs are the team to beat. 18 wins in a row, 29 or 31, and Tim Duncan is close to breaking the record for blocks in the playoffs!

The San Antonio Spurs are, once again, in the Western Conference Finals against a young and talented Oklahoma City Thunder. Most media outlets are covering the team practices and player comments from both teams. Kevin Durant looks as annoyed as Popovich when he is asked questions about the other team. He wants to talk about what the Thunder are going to do, and not about what the Spurs are going to do. Not having to play until Sunday is going to make a heated comment come out. Many more to come, I’m sure.

Meanwhile, Manu said that *(paraphrase), “it’s gonna be a fun series.” Manu Ginobili did not play against the Thunder this season. This will change on Sunday. Remember the “block of the season” from last season? I’m sure Kevin Durant does. Manu chased a streaking Durant on the break….And blocked his shot at the rim. The block was voted as the best play of the season by nba.com. It was a play that showed Manu’s heart, passion, and will to win. He has a better supporting cast this season, and can trust that he is not alone. Ginobili will have energy and health. Something he has not had, in the playoffs, for a very long time. Too long. GO SPURS GO!!!!!

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Tim Duncan-Yep. There’s room for five.

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