Paul sets a record, Spurs Arrive to Try and Rain on his Parade

Published: December 17, 2008

Last night, Chris Paul stole the ball five times, he and a generous scorekeeper making extra certain that he tied Alvin Robertson for the record of 105 consecutive NBA Regular Season games with at least one steal.  Honestly, it’s a bit of a silly record, but nonetheless it’s still cool, so I went and took a look at Robertson’s record-setting seasons and found out something that made Paul tying his record even more impressive:

Alvin Robertson set the record when he played for San Antonio through the two seasons spanning 1987-89.  That San Antonio team was definitely not the San Antonio team of recent years, going only 52-112 during that stretch as they waited for David Robinson to serve his two years in the Navy and join them.  Those teams were run and gun(badly) teams, and according to Dean Oliver’s book “Basketball on Paper” were one of the top 25 fastest teams to have played in the NBA since they started tracking turnovers in the 70s.

Why is that relevant to the steals record?  Alvin Robertson’s teams averaged 107 posessions per game through those two seasons.  Chris Paul’s team has averaged 90 posessions per game through his two seasons.  Paul has averaged a little more than one minute more per game than Robertson did.  So in the end, Robertson had about 17% more chances to steal the ball, or about 10 more tries per game.

Worship at the feet of Paul.

Matchup: Spurs(15-8) @ Hornets(14-7)

Off Efficiency: Spurs 106.4(7th), Hornets 107.5(5th)
Def Efficiency: Spurs 102.1(10th), Hornets 102.6(12th)

The Spurs gameplan isn’t any different from last year.  They dominate the defensive glass, rarely crash the offensive boards, and take solid shots.  The difference is this year, their perimeter defense has started to slip – partly because of the absence of Ginobili and Parker for part of the year, partly because Bruce Bowen’s offense has fallen so badly he’s hard to keep on the floor for his physical brand of defense.  And no, don’t listen to the idiot pundits who keep trying to claim that Udoka will be replacing Bowen’s defense any time soon.  He’s not.  He’s not even close.

The Hornets game plan is the same as last year too, but their difference is their interior defense has gotten weaker as Tyson has struggled and Hilton Armstrong and Sean Marks have played way too much.  Wayyyy to much.

The Spurs roll into town on a six game winning streak, having beaten some good teams like Atlanta and Dallas in the stretch.  They are just starting to click, and will be dangerous as always.  They also have had two days to rest from their last game, so they should be ready to play against the Hornets who played a surprisingly physical game in Memphis last night, and had a couple guys already looking tired.

It will be interesting to see if the Hornets come out with the desire to put down the Spurs, or if they come out flat.


Spurs: None
Hornets: My eyes have barely recovered after watching Armstrong/Marks last night.  Please, Tyson, play long minutes to limit their bleeding.

Positional Analysis

PG: Tony Parker v Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
CP > TP, even if TP is a PC.

SG: Roger Mason v Rasual Butler
Advantage: Spurs
Roger Mason is yet another great find by R.C. Buford and Popovich in the off-season.  He displayed a moderately efficient scoring touch in Washington last year, and they snatched him up, put him in their structured and intelligent system, and he’s flourished.  He’s averaging 13 points on ten shots, and combines with Matt Bonner to be a pair of deadly three-point shooters in the starting line up.  His defense isn’t Bowen-level, but it’s decent.  Defensively, we’ll probably see a cross-matchup here with Mason defending Stojakovic instead of Finley.

SF: Michael Finley v Peja Stojakovic
Advantage: Hornets
Finley is decrepit, but can still score a bit and spot up from three.  Without Bowen’s physical type of defense, Peja should have a better game than he did to end the Spurs series last year.  At least until Bowen enters the game to track him.

PF: Tim Duncan v David West
Advantage: Spurs
Duncan is still one of the two best defensive big men on the planet.  He doesn’t have the number of offensive tools as David West, but the ones he got are honed to deadly efficiency, which makes him a better scoring threat. Again, we’ll probably see defensive switching with Chandler taking long turns on Duncan, who he showed some ability to contain last year.

C: Matt Bonner v Tyson Chandler
Advantage: Hornets
Bonner is slow, a mediocre rebounder, and has as much of a chance to block a shot as Muggsy Bogues did.  however, the man can shoot the lights out from deep, averaging 52.6% from down town.  Chandler, who hates to get out on the perimeter, will have to chase him out there.  Or David West will while Chandler contests Duncan, but West is usually just as unwilling to go out to the three point line.  In the end though, the Hornets edge here exists only if Tyson can keep his fouls down and energy up.

Advantage: Spurs
Any bench that rolls out Manu Ginobili is better than  . . . well . . . everyone.  George Hill is a very nice rookie point guard who can score a bit, Kurt Thomas and Fabricio Oberto are solid, frustrating backup big men, and Bruce Bown is a prick skilled defensive player.  Our bench just doesn’t match up, no matter how money Posey is from three.

Enjoy the game.

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