Tim Duncan

NBA Season Preview: San Antonio Spurs


Last season: 61-21, best record in the Western Conference. But they struggled against big lineups and so drawing Memphis in the first round was trouble. The Spurs were eliminated fast.

Head Coach: Gregg Popovich, entering his 16th year at the helm of the Spurs. But he remains as cranky as ever.

Key Departures: George Hill, who played well for them off the bench.

Key Additions: Kawhi Leonard, T.J. Ford

Best case scenario: The over-the-hill gang is back for one more run at it — this is a team that wants a ring and the best case scenario is they get it. One more shot at the glory.

For that to happen: They are going to have to get some athletes and get more size of front. The Spurs are going to be very good in the regular season — it is hard to contain Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. And Parker looked very good at the European Championships his past summer. But the Memphis Grizzlies exposed the Spurs — they do not have the size to contain a big lineup. Like Memphis. Or the Lakers.

Maybe Tiago Splitter has a breakout year and maybe DeJuan Blair takes a step forward, but they need more inside play from somewhere to counter the big teams. It can’t just be Tim Duncan (who is still very good but is not Superman).

More likely the Spurs will: Be the more offensive-minded team they were last year, they will be quite good, and they will last in the playoffs until they run into a big roster. May be first round, may be second, but eventually size will wear them down.

I am looking forward to seeing if Kawhi Leonard can give them the athleticism and youth they need in the roster. I’m curious to see how much Pop trusts a rookie on the floor.

The other question out there is how this older team deals with the condensed schedule. They used to rest Tim Duncan on one end of a back-to-back, can they do that this year? How will Popovich deal with the minutes?

Prediction: 44-22 and a nice playoff seed again, but they may will not get out of the first round again.

Cavaliers stand in middle of Raptors dancers’ routine (video)

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The Cavaliers were ready for their game against the Raptors tonight, and Toronto’s dance team wasn’t going to change that.

The last time I remember something like this happening, Grizzlies guard Tony Allen walked through the Warriors’ kid dancers. This video doesn’t show got the Cavaliers got to that point, but they might have the defense of being there first. Allen definitely didn’t have that.

Wizards score 6 (!) fourth-quarter points in loss to Hornets

Cody Zeller, Ramon Sessions
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Gary Neal made a jumper with 10:12 remaining in tonight’s Wizards-Hornets game.

That was Washington’s last basket.

Jared Dudley made a pair of free throws on the Wizards next possession, and Neal added two more free throws with 23 seconds left.

And that was all the Wizards scoring in the quarter.

Washington, which entered the final period up seven, lost 101-87 after its 1-for-20 final-period shooting.

The six fourth-quarter points were the fewest by an NBA team in a quarter since Cavaliers scored six third-quarter points in a Jan. 26, 2014 loss to the Suns. Last time a team scored so few in a fourth quarter: Nov. 13, 2012, when the Raptors had five against the Pacers.

At least Neal’s late free throws spared the Wizards further shame. Nobody has scored four or fewer points in a quarter since the Warriors managed just two in a Feb. 8, 2004 loss to the Raptors.

As it stands, this is one of only 44 times in the shot clock era a team has scored so few points in a quarter.

76ers tie NBA-record losing streak, dropping heartbreaker to Celtics

Isaiah Thomas, T.J. McConnell

After a rare period of on-court competence, the 76ers led the Celtics by five with two minutes left tonight.

Then, Philadelphia snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

The 76ers yielded a 9-0 run to close an 84-80 setback.

They’re now 0-16. Combined with their 0-10 finish to last season, that’s a 26-game losing streak – tied for longest in NBA history. Last year’s 76ers already shared the record.

Philadelphia is also in danger of the worst start to a season. The 2009-10 New Jersey Nets began 0-18, and last year’s 76ers won only one game sooner.

The 76ers will try to avoid the all-time longest streak at the Rockets on Friday. If that goes unsuccessfully, they’ll try to avoid matching the worst season start at the Grizzlies on Sunday. And if both fail, they could set the worst-start record against the Lakers on Tuesday.

76ers-Lakers – it’s shaping up to be a big one.

Timberwolves read mean tweets about themselves (video)

Flip Saunders, Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones
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The Timberwolves didn’t select the meanest tweets about these players, but credit Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones, Shabazz Muhammad and Zach LaVine for being good sports.