Brooklyn Nets vs. San Antonio Spurs: Live Score, Highlights and Reaction

Deron Williams and the Brooklyn Nets (5-7) are on the road to take on the suddenly clicking San Antonio Spurs (8-4), Saturday at the AT&T Center.

It’s the first meeting between the two this season.

 

Tipoff8:30 p.m. ET

Coverage: Fox Sports Southwest

 

Keys to the Game

The Nets will have to do a much better job of sharing the ball if they want any shot at a win. They’re 25th in the NBA in assists per game, while the Spurs are first in points allowed.

The Spurs, meanwhile, have won six of their last seven, thanks in large part to that stingy defense. Kawhi Leonard has assumed the role of leader on that end, and will likely spend some time defending Joe Johnson and possibly even leading scorer Deron Williams.

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Why the San Antonio Spurs are the San Antonio Spurs

Clinton was in the White House, cell phones were a mysterious luxury, and I had just completed the arduous journey of becoming potty-trained. This is what the world looked like back in April of 1997; the last time the San Antonio Spurs ended an NBA regular season without a ticket to the playoffs.
Even the most casual NBA fan is no stranger to the fact the Spurs have been the NBA’s most consistently successful franchise over the past 15 years. With playoff appearances 24 out the last 25 seasons, and five Larry O’Brien trophy’s we all get it; the Spurs are awesome.
That being said, knowing WHAT the Spurs have done in the last 15 some years is one thing. Realizing HOW they’ve done it is an entirely different matter.
With every new season the big question surrounding the Spurs is when old age will catch up with them and they finally fall off. News Flash: This isn’t going to happen. Sure, when Tim Duncan does retire the Spurs will take a step back, but expect it to be a small one.
Nothing will illustrate

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LeBron James Coughs Up Ball In Final Seconds As Spurs Beat Cavs (Video)

LeBron James provided a perfect snapshot of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ season.
James coughed up the basketball in the final seconds Wednesday as the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Cavs 92-90. Cleveland now sits at .500 (5-5) despite the sky-high expectations placed on the organization once James returned to team up with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving this past offseason.
The final seconds of Wednesday’s game were rather frantic after Manu Ginobili missed a free throw that would have put San Antonio up by three points. James’ costly turnover certainly caused a social media frenzy, though, as people tend to go nuts whenever the four-time NBA MVP stumbles. That’s life when you’re a polarizing superstar like King James.
James’ last-second fumble — or “choke,” depending on how you want to look at it — was even more noteworthy because it occurred against the Spurs. San Antonio dismantled LeBron’s former team, the Miami Heat, in last year’s NBA Finals and have caused some problems for the 10-time

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LeBron’s late blunder dooms Cavs vs. Spurs

The Spurs beat Cleveland on the road.

      
 

 

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San Antonio Spurs’ Most Startling Statistics of 2014-15 Season So Far

The San Antonio Spurs have encountered a well-documented rough start to the 2014-15 NBA campaign, which has resulted in a few startling statistics.

Three key rotation players returning from injury should boost San Antonio where it has underperformed and also contribute to sustaining what the squad has accomplished while short-handed.

Nevertheless, since the Spurs have overcome the up-and-down nature of the opening weeks, not every topic is a complete negative.

A couple sets of numbers provide reasons for the struggles, while others show exactly how Pop’s crew has overcome what’s currently holding it back.

 

Long-Range Shooting

San Antonio’s back-to-back Finals appearances were keyed on the roster’s three-point shooting efficiency. So yes, despite what Los Angeles Lakers head coach Byron Scott says, the long-range attempts can win championships.

After connecting on a league-leading 39.7 percent last season, though, the Spurs’ marksmen have been ice cold from distance. To date, they’ve buried just 32.4 percent of their looks, which ranks 24th in the NBA.

Manu Ginobili (29.4), Kawhi Leonard (26.9) and Boris Diaw (25.0) each sit below the franchise’s total mark. Furthermore, Patty Mills and Marco Belinelli, a pair of true sharpshooters, being unavailable hasn’t helped the matter.

However, that means the contributions are coming from elsewhere. And pardon my yelling, but what has infected Tony drain-it-all Parker?

When he entered the league, the French point guard loved the three-ball. The problem, however, was Parker wasn’t good at it: He launched 787 triples throughout his initial four years yet only knocked down 248—or 31.5 percent.

Shooting coach Chip Engelland joined San Antonio’s staff in 2005, and he essentially removed the three-pointer from Parker’s shot arsenal. Now 10 seasons later, while he’s found net on a comparable 32.6 of attempts, Parker has only hoisted 521 since the obviously important hire.

But this year, he’s nailed 62.5 percent of his triples, boasting a near career-best effective field-goal clip of 53.4. It’s a small sample size, but Parker’s consistency has lifted a collectively sluggish opening from beyond the arc.

 

Bench Production

San Antonio prides itself on a deep bench, but the early-season injuries to Tiago Splitter, Mills and Belinelli have affected that impressive asset.

Last season, San Antonio easily had the NBA’s most productive reserve unit. The Spurs posted a top-two ranking in each listed category of the following table except for a No. 4 rebounding spot.

Note: Playoffs were included in the hoopsstats.com calculations.

Even if San Antonio’s bench numbers don’t return to 2013-14 levels, the current deficiency will be reduced when its critical pieces return.

As it stands, Austin Daye is being given meaningful minutes against top competition. Belinelli isn’t exactly a dominant force, but the Italian is definitely an upgrade.

Consequently, the Spurs need Diaw and Ginobili to continue shouldering the load until their injured players return. Both players haven’t seen their role and playing time change significantly, excluding Diaw receiving a spot start on Nov. 19 during a 92-90 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The bench is surviving, but San Antonio needs its firepower back.

 

Defensive Rating

Without Splitter, the Spurs defensive efficiency was expected to noticeably dip, and the 7-footer’s absence on the blocks would be felt. But San Antonio has surrendered a league-best 91.6 points per outing and earned a 95.7 rating, which is nothing short of stellar.

For reference, the Indiana Pacers were the only team during the past two campaigns to record sub-100.0 marks in both points allowed and defensive rating. Many franchises achieve the former, but the latter is quite elusive.

This success is largely a product of absolutely outstanding defensive rebounding, an aspect that the Spurs utilize to fuel their typically prolific offense and limit second-chance opportunities.

Currently, the roster has grabbed 81.3 percent of missed shots by opponents, which is frankly absurd. According to tracked values since 1973-74 available on Basketball-Reference, no team has ever exceeded 80 percent.

Though it’s probably not a sustainable feat, San Antonio has only been able to employ Splitter for 10 total minutes as of this writing. The team’s defense will improve when he returns, and that’s a potentially a scary thought for the rest of the NBA.

After all, the Spurs offense is struggling. Once the Spurs start scoring, opponents must attempt to capitalize on the other end, and that doesn’t appear to be a painless task.

 

Note: Unless otherwise noted, all stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference and accurate as of Nov. 19.

Follow Bleacher Report NBA writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers Are Miles Apart Despite Close Contest

CLEVELAND — Sometimes, the difference between where two teams stand can’t be captured accurately by the scoreboard or even the standings. Sometimes, it’s about the expectations. It’s about what each side perceives as a sign of success and what isn’t even the slightest bit satisfying. 

That’s rarely been better demonstrated than it was Wednesday, before, during and after the Spurs‘ 92-90 victory, a day upon which the losers felt as if they’d progressed some, while the winners still didn’t feel quite like themselves.

And while the perspectives may change some by the time the Cavaliers and Spurs meet again, on March 12 in San Antonio, or perhaps—if the Cavaliers make major leaps—sometime in June, there was no ignoring what currently divides them. 

The Spurs know who they were and must again attempt to become.

The Cavaliers still don’t know quite who they are or who they can be. 

That contrast was clear early, after shootaround at Quicken Loans Arena, when LeBron James characterized the Spurs, with their track record of success and sacrifice, as “too far for us to even try to put ourselves in the same category or same breath; we’ve got a long way to go.”

Then, the Cavaliers gave way to the Spurs and an intermittently gregarious and grumpy, playful and prickly Gregg Popovich.

When asked about the “temperature” of his team, Popovich quipped that nobody had asked him that in 19 years, since “we don’t exist” compared to the NBA‘s glamour teams, before adding more seriously, “But the temperature of our team is we’re not anywhere close to where we were at the end of last year. Time will tell if we can get there or if that will be good enough. But we’re certainly not there yet.” 

Popovich then doubled down on that premise in the evening. While he said he wasn’t dwelling on the team’s rather ordinary 6-4 record, calling it meaningless to all but “you all,” he did acknowledge that the Spurs’ 2014 championship had been a “detriment” to the team’s focus thus far, which isn’t a surprise considering the Spurs no longer have the heartbreaking 2013 Finals defeat as a driver.  

Why? 

“Because the team is made up of human beings,” Popovich said. 

And while he quarreled with the descriptor of “hangover,” he explained, “I think when somebody has success, it’s to be enjoyed. And I think every human being would take his or her own time in deciding when it’s time to move on from the satisfaction. Everybody doesn’t do it at the same time.” 

Clearly, he doesn’t believe all of his guys have done it yet, but that certainly hasn’t been the only cause of the Spurs’ relatively sluggish start—albeit, still a start better than Cleveland’s and against a superior schedule.

Absences have played a part in San Antonio’s inconsistency, especially offensively, as well. The Spurs didn’t have Kawhi Leonard for the first game, haven’t had Patty Mills for the entire season, haven’t had Tiago Splitter for more than one game and have missed others—due to rest, minor injury or ailment—on occasion, including Marco Belinelli and Mills on Wednesday. 

So Popovich again had to plug in players, such as Aron Baynes and Austin Daye, who would seem to have no place in a contender’s rotation. And yet, he did so, because that’s what he has always done, while the first-year NBA coach on the other side, David Blatt, continued to stay with a tighter rotation even while possessing a healthier roster, missing only “significant rotation player” Matthew Dellavedova.

Blatt held to his promise, honoring James’ request for a little less time on the floor, removing the star forward with two minutes and 27 seconds left in the first quarter and keeping him out through the first 3:09 of the second quarter. Ultimately, he trimmed James’ total-minute count to 34, the third-lowest of the season, though three early fouls contributed to some of that pine time. 

And Blatt didn’t use James’ lesser load as an opportunity to spread the minutes to a greater number of players, which was the other potential benefit, beyond just rest, that James cited as a reason to give up some of his allotment.

He didn’t play any of the four active veterans—Mike Miller, James Jones, Brendan Haywood, Lou Amundson—on the end of the bench, and he played a ninth man, rookie point guard Will Cherry, just two minutes. He rode center Anderson Varejao, who was exceptional (23 points, 11 rebounds) Wednesday, for 22 minutes in the first half and 37 minutes overall, with the latter total greater than in 59 of Varejao’s 65 games last season. 

His most unconventional decision, however, concerned rookie Joe Harris, the second-rounder who has earned some trust due to his willingness to listen, hustle, spot up and defend. Harris had been getting regular time, with 20, 19, 21 and 24 minutes, over the Cavaliers’ past four games. Even so, it was a surprise that, after he replaced Shawn Marion with 7:28 left in the third quarter, he never came out.

Not once. 

Blatt explained that he wanted another shooter on the floor, and that he liked Harris’ physicality on defense. And Harris generally held up fine—he was a minus-one in 27 overall minutes. But he’s green and, as he admitted later, he got a bit gassed. While he didn’t know exactly how long he’d been out there, “by the end, I was sucking wind a little bit.” 

So it wasn’t a surprise that the crafty Manu Ginobili sucked him in when it mattered. 

After Varejao’s lob for James was short, leaving the latter to deflect it out of bounds, the Spurs called a 20-second timeout with a one-point lead and 34.9 seconds left. Ginobili brought the ball up the floor, passed to Tony Parker on the wing and lost Harris as Parker passed to Tim Duncan at the top and Duncan one-touched the ball to the rim. 

Layup. 

Three-point Spurs lead. 

“That was a frustrating one,” Harris said. “Because I’m not a dummy. I figured they would probably be coming at me, and we had talked about it too. That was one of the plays we had prepared against. He kind of just almost lulled me to sleep.

“He knew that I was getting on top of him hard on all of his cuts. He just kept me on his back side and it was quick high-low action. I should have done a better job with my vision…tried to get between him and the basket, instead of playing it on the top side.” 

That’s when Blatt called that third and final 20-second timeout, with all five of their full timeouts already utilized. A well-designed play, and a strong Kyrie Irving drive, drew a foul on Duncan, and Irving made the two free throws. Then, after Kevin Love intentionally fouled Ginobili, and the Spurs guard made just one of two, the Cavaliers had the ball. 

But no margin for error. 

Varejao grabbed the rebound with seven seconds left and handed it off to James, who went behind his back to elude Ginobili. 

“I tried to make him change directions, and I was going to chase him from behind,” Ginobili said. “But I think it was a bit of a bad move by me. I should’ve run backwards, but it worked out.”

Sure did.

“Just lost it,” James said of the ball. 

And with it, the game, and with Duncan, who was impeding his path, credited with the steal.

Would it have been different if Blatt had retained a timeout to set up a play? 

“I think we needed to make the timeout calls that we did, in all honesty,” Blatt said. “Do I wish I had one? Yeah. But I thought that we took our timeouts with purpose and for good reason. And the way things played out with that turnover near the end, which wasn’t expected, we got caught a little bit.”

Perhaps. Yet Popovich still had a 20-second timeout remaining at the end, even though he had burned a full one just 17 seconds into the third quarter, after a Love layup, to scream this at his players:

“They think this is a playoff game, these people. And we’re letting ‘em get away with it.” 

In the end, the Spurs didn’t. They did what they do. 

Still, James wasn’t sweating it too much, not after getting swamped by the Spurs in the 2014 NBA Finals, not after witnessing some defensive growth from his new squad, with Irving playing what Blatt called “the best defensive game I’ve seen him play all season,” helping to limit Parker to eight points. 

“I think this is a game that I am happy about,” James said. “I’m never happy about a loss; I hate to lose, but I’m happy about the progress we made tonight. It’s totally different from Monday (in a loss to Denver). We came to play. We competed for 48 minutes, and if you give yourself an opportunity to win, that’s all you can ask for.” 

Well, perhaps, unless you’re Popovich.

“We executed a couple of plays—the layup from Manu was executed pretty well, and the defense down the stretch was pretty good, I guess,” Popovich said. “But I don’t think either team played that great, to be honest with you.” 

He said he expected the Cavaliers to “multiply by two or three” in terms of performance, by season’s end. 

Maybe, by then, their expectations will too—in order to match those held by the Spurs.

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LeBron’s late turnover dooms Cavs vs. Spurs

The Spurs beat Cleveland on the road.

      
 

 

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Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich Tells LeBron James Critics to ‘Go Swim in the Lake’

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich knows a thing or two about basketball, so when he talks, everyone should listen to what he says.

Before Wednesday night’s game between the Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers, Popovich had nothing but kind words to say about Cavs superstar LeBron James, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:

That’s high praise for a four-time league MVP coming from a coach with five championship rings.

Considering they have squared off in the NBA Finals three times since 2007, Popovich has studied James enough to know just how good he is. There are a lot of critics out there, but that’s only because James is held to such a high standard.

For anyone who wants to nitpick James’ game, listen to what Popovich has to say first. There’s a reason he will go down as one of the greatest coaches ever.

[Dave McMenamin]

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San Antonio Spurs vs. Cleveland Cavaliers: Live Score, Highlights and Analysis

LeBron James and the San Antonio Spurs meet again.

Months after falling to the Spurs in the NBA Finals as a member of the Miami Heat, James will seek revenge with the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday night.

The Spurs travel to Cleveland at 6-4, boasting the league’s second-best defense. Though their record doesn’t reflect absolute dominance, they have a few hallmark victories under their belt, having already defeated championship contenders like the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors.

Cleveland, meanwhile, is trying to ensure no more alarms are sounded. The Cavaliers come into Wednesday night one game over .500, hoping to secure their first convincing victory since unseating the Chicago Bulls on Halloween.

Will the Spurs prevail over James’ team once again? Or will this be one of those games where the Cavaliers offense catches fire and proves unstoppable?

It’s also a 2007 NBA Finals rematch, and you can catch all of the action on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET. But be sure to keep it locked here for updates and analysis throughout tonight’s game.

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LeBron Respects San Antonio Spurs, But Denies Rivalry

According to ESPN,  LeBron James stated that his history of facing the San Antonio Spurs in the finals is not a rivalry but rather a matter of respect. Following back to back finals match-ups between LeBron and the Spurs when he was in Miami, James will face San Antonio as a Cleveland Cavalier on Wednesday.
James said “I’ve had an opportunity to be in three Finals against them and it’s been extremely fun. … But I wouldn’t say it’s a rivalry. I would say it’s mutual respect, it’s great competition and they definitely helped me grow along the way and hopefully I pushed them, too.”
The post LeBron Respects San Antonio Spurs, Not A Rivalry appeared first on Basketball Bicker by Joey.

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