Game On: Spurs @ Hornets

Ryan breaks down the season opener against the Spurs with the help of Andrew McNeill of 48 Minutes of Hell.  He then gives you three key things to keep an eye on.

(Note: Eric Gordon is out indefinitely.  Sigh.)

The Spurs are a strong offensive team.  The grind-it-out Spurs are a thing of the past, and last year they generated the second strongest offensive attack in the league while posting a slightly better than average defense.  They were average at drawing free throws and taking shots at the rim – what they did really well was not take long twos.  They shot the third least number of long two’s in the game.  Instead, they took the fifth highest number of threes, and were in the top 10 in shots from inside 10 feet.  Good shots.  Good offense.  Shocking, I know.   This is a team the Hornets will need to play disciplined defense against in order to prevail.  It’s unlikely they will be able to simply outscore so potent an offense.  (The Hornets have caught a break with Ginobili sitting out the game.  Of course, if Gordon sits out too, that break is null and void.)

To get more insight into this Spurs team, I fired off three questions to  Andrew McNeill of the excellent Truehoop blog 48 Minutes of Hell.

Ryan Schwan: This question may be a moot point if Eric Gordon doesn’t start the season in the line-up, but I’ve heard mixed reviews about Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard’s defense.  Are they up to par as true defensive wing stoppers that could give Gordon trouble?  Or are they still shaping into that roll?  Last season, it seemed the Spurs had difficulty defending wing players.

Andrew McNeill: Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard are both emerging defenders on the NBA landscape. I don’t think anybody would label them as true stoppers in the All-Defensive Team mold, but they’re going that direction. They both spent time last season marking the opposing team’s best players — Green usually handling point guards and smaller 2-guards, and Kawhi checking shooting guards and small forwards. Because of his physical stature and athleticism, Leonard has a higher ceiling as a defensive pest, but they’re both talented in their own right. They gained a lot of experience last season and should help the Spurs defense improve some. I would expect Danny Green to get the lion’s share of minutes defending Gordon on Wednesday night, but Leonard may get some time as well, if nothing else to give Gordon a different look and Leonard some more experience.

Ryan Schwan: One of the most surprising story-lines of last years Spurs team was Boris Diaw returning to the living, and the contributions he made in San Antonio after being dreadful in Charlotte.  In the past, he’s struggled mightily with conditioning coming into the season.  This off-season, did Diaw or the croissant win?  Will the Hornets catch a little break?

Andrew McNeill: Boris Diaw definitely came into camp in decent shape. No one will ever describe Diaw as a “physical specimen,” but he returned from his summer vacation at a decent playing weight. Playing in the Olympics with teammates Tony Parker and Nando De Colo helped, as did the general idea that he’d again be playing basketball for something resembling a contending team.

Ryan Schwan: It looks to me like the biggest key for the Hornets offense against the Spurs is going to be Ryan Anderson.  Do the Spurs have a frontcourt player who can chase a true stretch 4?  Who do you see chasing Anderson?

Andrew McNeill: The Spurs don’t have a lot of frontcourt players with the chops to do much chasing of any sort, let alone pursuing professional athletes. That said, Boris Diaw and Matt Bonner will probably get the bulk of the duty harassing Ryan Anderson. Tim Duncan’s chasing days are done and Tiago Splitter is better served hanging around the basket.

What to watch for:

I want to watch for three basic things in this game – all are fundamental, and will tell us how quickly this extremely young Hornets team will show their chops.

1.  How do they handle the Parker-Duncan/Splitter pick and roll.  The guard needs to go under – Parker is not a threat to fire away from deep, but the Hornets big man has to be ready to step out and jam Parker  because both Splitter and Duncan like to slip towards the basket and “carry” the guard with them.  If the Hornet’s big man doesn’t stay for a second and jam the guard hard, Parker gets what he wants – a clean lane closer to the basket to launch a floater or finish.  If Parker is getting close shots, the Hornets Bigs aren’t doing their job. (unless the guard is going over the pick, then Monty isn’t doing his job.)

2. Rotations.  Fundamental rotations.  The Spurs are incredible shooters and have a dozen different ways to get the corner three.  They will run post-ups, pick and rolls, and down screens all with the intent of generating either that corner shot directly or to start the Hornets defense scrambling so they can work the ball around the edge and get the second most efficient shot in the game.  If the Spurs are getting this shot off in the half-court, the Hornets defense is not doing its job.

3.  Offensive rebounding.  The Spurs for the past five seasons have been a top 5 defensive rebounding team.  If the Hornets can grab a good percentage of offensive rebounds against the Spurs, then it is likely the Hornets will be able to do it against anything.  However – don’t be fooled by raw numbers.  Compare the offensive rebounds to the number of misses the Hornets have had.  If they are grabbing better than one board for every four misses, then we should feel good.

To get this same style of preview from the other side, be sure to check out Michael and Ryan’s Q&A over on 48 Minutes of Hell, the Spurs’ blog within the ESPN TrueHoop Network.

Enjoy the game!

33 responses to “Game On: Spurs @ Hornets”

  1. I really hope EG starts or perhaps comes off the bench in the first quarter… We don’t need to tell the world what we are doing until its time..

  2. Didn’t really know where to say it, but you guys are doing an awesome job. So much content through the pre-season to now, loving it.

    • We are working on getting the input data necessary.

      The is the goal. We have the tech and knowledge and will. The data, as always, is the issue.

  3. I will observe the “actions at the rim” and “off the ball”.The Hornets offense will require sharing and solid ball and player movement to occupy defenders regardless of what team they play.The young players have to understand those two areas must be a constant as they adjust to the game.

    The ball and player movement must have “rim action” from slashers and dribble drives that set up a variety of possible results….

    The Hornets have only been fair on the defensive side of things with their “off the ball ” defense. (Its the toughest area to master as a young player and even some vets need constant reminders……If the areas I mentioned don’t become consistent areas of play you can…fuhgetaboutit.

    • Hey Gman, you think the Spurs will let us borrow Ginobili tonight so we can have a player not playing who actually wants to play?

    • I’m really trying to be optimistic about Gordon but my patience running out. Trade him for some expiring contracts and picks. That is if any (other) team is willing to take a $58 million chance on him.

  4. When the kid bashed his team twice in the media during the offseason, that should’ve been a red flag no to sign him. Instead we give him the max and now he is pulling the same stuff. He wouldn’t even talk to the media at all and he gives vague answers and descriptions of the “pain” he is feeling. Our guard play is going to suffer because Gordon won’t play 80% of the season.

  5. Well… Shabaz Muhammad anyone?

    I kid, sort of, but an unhealthy EJ is going to really make me adjust my expectations for this year.

  6. I think that this will be a boiling point for the front office, but people need to step up (Austin Rivers & Roger Mason) to elevate their game. Granted Rivers is going to struggle, but as long he has Mason under his wing he will be fine. I think we will see Xavier and Gordon traded, but telling from Gordon’s body language in his interviews he does not feel like he belongs here. The only team that I will think that will trade for Gordon could be Sacramento. I think the Kings have enough ammo to pull a huge trade that can turn their franchise around.

  7. Ouch about Gordon. But it seems as if Monty is subtly saying something about it as well, mentioning repeatedly the problem must be medical. I feel for EG if he is honestly hurting, but his long history of being shelved, off-season statements, and generally unenthusiastic attitude are going to make him extremely unpopular for the next 4 years and eventually hurt his pocketbook if he doesn’t produce at some point in time.

    • Ask Dwayne Wade or Kobe Bryant about playing hurt. EG ain’t “honestly hurting” If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, its a duck … the dude simply doesn’t want to play for us, and he won’t be with us much longer. I’m sure Benson, Loomis and Dell will get him out of here as soon as we get a decent offer.

      • Yes, I think with what Monty was saying the “if” is a serious doubt; he was doing everything to politely call out EG. What most maddens me – and this is just the way the NBA works nowadays – is that EG acts petulant and as a response the organization handles him with kid gloves. I’d rather have seen him gone this offseason than have issues like this linger … particularly in a locker room that has a HUGE veteran void.

  8. Gordon is a child. We pay him too much to whine. But the team will grow with or without him. I’m looking forward to Darius, AR and Dayton benefiting from the minutes caused by his absence. I have no patience left for him.

  9. Wow. I just read Dell & Monty’s statements about Gordon. “He’s been given some information that he’s having to process.” What does that mean? Are we going to trade him? Is the knee worse than we were led to believe? The Hornets have made him unavailable to the media. Something crazy’s going to come out in the next couple of days. Will there ever come a point that this franchise isn’t constantly dealing with drama??

    • They probably showed him that fine print in his contract that says he won’t be paid X amount if he’s injured too often

    • they need to check these guys character before giving them the money. baron davis, david west, tyson chandler, eric gordon, none have heart. You have too be “REAL” to make it in our city (New Orleans).

    • Looks like:
      Hornets G Eric Gordon expected to address media tomorrow regarding his “indefinite” absence due to persistent knee soreness, source says.

      While there is no new medical knowledge on Gordon, he “didn’t feel 100 percent” after going through drills in recent days, source said.

      Ken Berger Twitter

      This will be interesting . . .

  10. If anybody would take this zombie sob just do it ! We would have 15 mil to spend on somebody with heart. Or can he just collect the money & crush our hopes?
    What are our options? JC? MM? Anybody?

    • I don’t know about that. Looks like the Bees are putting in work. If we can pull this off I could sleep very well. And my Spurs loving boss would hate life which would be the highlight of my week. lol

  11. Seriously, if we had to lose, I’m glad it happened the way it did against one of the most well-coached teams in the league. If aminu has one more game in a row like this, no one should ever questioning his starting role
    Seriously. Oh and jason smith, welcome back. Good hustle bees.

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