Why Spurs’ head coach, Gregg Popovich, should be awarded ’Coach of the year’

By Jonas Norgaard Nielsen

A streak of consecutive 50-win seasons might have been snapped but this has possibly been Popovich’s best coaching year yet. Pop

Danny Green. Patty Mills. Kyle Anderson. Dejounte Murray. Rudy Gay. Manu Ginobili. Tony Parker. Pau Gasol. These players alternated to be the second best player in San Antonio Spurs’ regular season games this year. They are all solid role players but none of them can be considered anything close to a star. Rudy Gay was once a proven scorer but his reputation has dwindled the last 5 years as the teams he has departed became better once he left. Murray is a sophomore, Kyle Anderson is probably the slowest player in the league, Manu is 40(!) years old, Gasol is 37 and Tony Parker has had his worst year of his career stat-wise.

Grit-and-grind

Despite of this, the Spurs can look back at the 17-18 season and be satisfied with the results. 47-35 in the tough Western Conference is impressive for a team that has only had one all-star in Lamarcus Aldridge, who has been surrounded by role players – some of whom would have been marginal players on other teams, but who have flourished under Popovich’s tutelage. But how has he done it? Defense and controlling the tempo.

Looking at the Spurs-players individually, Danny Green and Dejounte Murray are the only ones who have positive defensive reputations, but in spite of that the Spurs ranked 4th in defensive rating during the season. How? Gregg Popovich. The Spurs have not been the offensive force that we have come to be familiar with over the last 20 years under Popovich, but they have managed to change their playing style. This season they have changed it to more of a grit-and-grind playing style that has become synonymous with the Memphis Grizzlies over the last decade (ironically, the grit-and-grind slogan in Memphis started as a jab to Rudy Gay), which is illustrated by the fact that it is only the Sacramento Kings, who have played with a slower pace. We should not be surprised by Popovich’s ability to change the playing style to suit his roster, as he has done it successfully for over 20 years now, but we should be ashamed if we do not recognize it before the legend retires.

Give that man an award.

 

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Black & Silver: The Road to win the 6th ring

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The San Antonio Spurs have not only had the wealth of making the playoffs appearance the past 20 years, but also the achievement of holding the NBA record of 18 consecutive seasons of winning 50+ regular season games.

The Playoff appearance still continues as San Antonio Spurs successfully locked a Playoff seat last Saturday by holding back the Portland Trail Blazers by 116-105. This is Spurs’s 21st consecutive season to advance into the championship battle. However, the sad news is that the team ended up 47 wins and 35 loses in the regular season, which means the 50-plus win streak record ended at the number of 18.

Starting from this Saturday (April. 24th), The 7th seed will travel to the Bay Area and face against the familiar opponent, 2nd seed the Golden State Warriors, who they faced last Western Conference Championship round.

Will Kawhi Play?

Could the Spurs beat the Warriors? Well, by simply looking at the players in 2 teams, even though the Warrior Ace Stephen Curry won’t play in the first round, they still own 3 more All-Star players and the only big name that the Spurs have is LaMarcus Aldridge.

Will Kawhi Leonard surprisingly show up in the line up and help the Spurs in the Playoffs? For now, the answer is still uncertain. There were rumors about him doing some positive recovering exercises and participating in 3-3 game in the team, but no confirmed news from the team officials yet.

Who’s the X factor?

Rudy Gay. This is the guy who could contribute a lot in the offensive line, and he is so versatile in all offensive skills. Spurs have excellent overall team defensive and all they need to worry about is the fastbreak after turnover by their own. Therefore, making the bucket score could help them in both ends.

 

Honestly, I do not believe the Spurs will advance to the next round and realistically speaking, winning 2 games this round against Warriors is good enough for me. But who knows? Rome could beat Barcelona 3-0 and advance to the semifinals in UCL, there are possibilities that Spurs could make the miracle happen. After all, we have Pop, and the older, the wiser and better.

 

— Xuhao Lou

 

 

 

 

What’s a Maverick to do?

1200px-Dallas_Mavericks_logo.svgThe Dallas Mavericks now have the second highest cap space available in the NBA at $12.5 million.[1] This creates a fair amount of options for the team to increase their winning in the 2017-2018 season which stands at 5-16. The question now lies in what Mark Cuban decides to with the remaining salary allowance and the three players (Dorian Finney-Smith-power forward (r), Devin Harris-shooting guard/point guard (r), and Jeff Withey-center (r)) who are all on partial guarantees for the season.[2] Besides these few, there are 22 other players in the league which are currently pending their full season guarantee. This is not including any other free agents available, five of which will be from the Mavericks trade exemptions following the trade deadline. With a cutoff date of February 8th for the NBA trade, this gives them eight games between then and the playoff eligibility time.
The Mavericks have been working toward reforming their team since their backbone consists of one of the oldest age-averaging teams in the NBA. Given the nine new players added this season far exceeding the three that they lost, is Cuban going to simply allow these players to adjust to their new surroundings?[3] This may be the best method to abide by. With the 2017 game record not looking the good thus far, the push to qualify for playoffs with the newly adjusting team seems like a bit high of an expectation. Between the salary leniency and the option to either resign or guarantee the eight pending Mavericks, focusing on next season to spend their remaining salary allowance would be most beneficial. Although this isn’t the greatest news for the Mavericks and their fans, this may present a lot to look forward to for the team in the future.

2017-18 Dallas Mavericks Media Day

 

[1] “NBA Team Salary Cap Tracker” < http://www.spotrac.com/nba/cap/&gt;.
[2] “Dallas Mavericks Team Salary” < http://www.basketballinsiders.com/dallas-mavericks-team-salary/&gt;.
[3] “2017-2018 Dallas Mavericks Preview:” http://uproxx.com/dimemag/dallas-mavericks-season-preview-nba-2017-2018/&gt;.

3 Reasons The Mavs Could Win Tonight

 

Let’s face it, we’ve reached the point of expecting the Mavericks to lose (i.e. It’s a delightful surprise when they win). But, taking down the OKC Thunder the other night with almost a 20-point lead felt different — it felt like a turning point. We saw a team that fought back, we also saw a team taking advantage of the awful performance by the Thunder. Currently, we’re standing at five wins (the very bottom of the Western Conference) but, a two-game win streak.

And yet, that could all come crumbling down tonight’s game against the Spurs.

But here’s are the reasons why we have hope:

1. Tony Parker’s return doesn’t mean instant Spurs success

With Tony Parker making his season debut tonight for the San Antonio Spurs, it raises the question of the Mavericks losing their solid ground. The veteran point guard surely brings maturity to the team, but with the Spurs playing all season without him, there’s a chance he could mess up their groove. And with break-out rookie Dennis Smith Jr, the Mavericks will certainly challenge Parker as a point guard. Smith Jr is living up to the hype this season, even averaging 14.3 points, 4.3 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game this season while shooting 38.2 percent from the field and 30.5 percent from 3-point range. Even with the losing record so far, that performance can’t be questioned.

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2. The Texas showdown is unpredictable

This Texas showdown is a huge rivalry (forget the Rockets, for a second). It’s all about two of Texas’ most beloved NBA teams leaving it all on the court. Just like every rivalry that’s ever existed, it’s hard to predict an outcome. There are so many emotions that flow through the players and into their game. Both teams have played each other 173 times throughout regular season game, with the Spurs coming out on top at 106 wins (leaving the Mavericks with only 67 wins). But, even though the Spurs lead the matchup, the Mavericks have proven themselves time and again they’re prepared to make an upset happen.

The Mavericks have a rhythm right now. This two-game win streak has built some great momentum for the team and there’s no doubt tonight’s game will challenge that. But, with that said, the Spurs are also coming off of a win against the Hornets (and a loss to the Pelicans).

Tonight anything that can happen — but don’t count the Mavs out just yet.

Why the Thunder should Fear the Beard

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When the season started, nobody gave the Rockets much of a hope to win anything. There were simply to many unknown variables with this team.

A new coach in Mike D’Antoni, coming from three bad seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, and that later was only able to get an Assistant Coach gig with the 76ers. He was far from his best coaching days, when he led a blazing Suns team that he molded for the talents and genius of Steve Nash, generating 2 MVP seasons from the Canadian.

A constant questioning of James Harden’s motivation to be the star that would carry this team to the next level. He seemed deflated last season, marked by his extremely poor defensive efforts, that rounded the internet in what could be called lowlight videos.

Who would’ve known that the arrival of a hyper-aggressive minded coach and a change in positions could make this Rockets team into the powerhouse they are today?

D’Antoni turned back to the blueprint that worked in his Phoenix days: assemble the most potent offensive juggernaut he can to maximize his uber-talented guard’s best assets and entrust him the driving keys, while staying out of the way.

It worked. By moving Harden to the Point Guard position, D’Antoni’s offense can make use of The Beard’s monstrous slash-and-kick ability and his freakish court vision to empower what would become the second-best offense in the league and the tenth best regular season offense of all-time. Of all-time.

This is one of the most potent race cars straight out of the Speed Racer universe with its multiple gadgets and that was tailor-made to fit the talents of its driver.

And he shares the ball. He became the first player to EVER score and assist on 2,000 points in a season. The ball moves. Unlike on the Thunder offense.

Westbrook had an amazing season, in good and bad ways. He averaged a triple-double for the season. But he played the ultimate version of hero ball to get there. Everything the Thunder did had to go by his hands. Where were Steven Adams, Enes Kanter, André Roberson, that were so good on the Playoffs last year? What happened to Victor Oladipo, a former top-5 lottery pick that had his good moments on the Orlando Magic? Westbrook sucked the life out of this OKC offense while feeding his monstrous numbers.

Everybody knows what the Thunder is doing on offense. Nobody knows what is coming out of Harden’s Mach 5. And he’s ready to cook.

Rockets vs. Thunder: MVP Shootout

Is James Harden or Russell Westbrook the better player?

While the NBA Playoffs won’t start until April 15th, the match-ups for the Round 1 games are already set. One of the highly anticipated games is the #3 Houston Rockets facing off against the #6 Oklahoma City Thunder. But the most talked about factor of this game isn’t necessarily which team will win but which star will play better, James Harden or Russell Westbrook. All season there have been talks of these two each being in contention for the MVP spot and all of the debating could come to an end after this game.

4 reasons James Harden is the MVP pick

  1. He is the first ever NBA player to both score and assist on 2,000 points in a single season.
  2. His team is ranked higher in the Western conference
  3. Most games in NBA history with 30-plus points and 15-plus assists
  4. Leads the league in assists per game

CBS Sports says of Harden:

“The Rockets are special this season, and that is first and foremost because of the play of Harden.”

4 reasons Russell Westbrook is the MVP pick

  1. 42 triple-doubles in a season, NBA record
  2. Has a higher average points per game than Harden
  3. Second player in league history to average a triple-double
  4. Many believe Westbrook carried the Thunder to their playoff spot

The New York Post says of Westbrook:

“Russell Westbrook doesn’t take ‘rest games.'”

Below is a side-by-side breakdown of some of Harden and Westbrook’s stats. No matter which player is your pick, you have to admit that they’ve both showed up this season.

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Dirk 1, Father Time 0

NBA-Playoffs - Dallas Mavericks - Denver Nuggets

Dallas Mavericks player Dirk Nowitzki from Germany celebrates a basket.

The Dallas Mavericks’ playoff run was shut down by the young, athletic Oklahoma City Thunder in a quick 5 games. But in a series highlighted by young superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the performance of 37 (almost 38) year old Dirk Nowitzki deserves some acknowledgement. The aging German averaged a team-high 20.4 points per game, averaging 33.4 minutes per game, a rarity at such an advanced stage in a player’s career. During the decisive game 5, Nowitzki surged up to 14th on the all-time playoff scoring list, passing Bulls legend Scottie Pippen.

The series was almost a lost cause for the Mavs, who were facing injury problems on top of the already dramatic talent disparity in favor of the Thunder. But the team, led by their gritty superstar, never backed down. They showed constant fight and effort, and didn’t take their foot off the gas until the final buzzer sounded. Said Nowtizki, “All you’re thinking basically is just make one more push, make one more push.” The quote is indicative of the way Nowitzki has played his entire basketball life, and at this stage in his career he is cherishing every moment that he gets to compete in the playoffs.

NBA fans everywhere should follow suit and cherish the few moments left to appreciate the greatness of a one of a kind legend. The humble, loyal, compassionate star has carried the Mavs to 15 playoff appearances in the past 16 years, and we can only hope this wasn’t the last.