Spurs Loading Up For Final Title Run: The San Antonio Spurs have been one of the league’s most dominant teams in recent history, winning four championships since the 1999 season.
However the franchise has been ousted from the playoffs in the first round two out of the last three years and hasn’t reached the Western Conference Finals since the 2008 campaign.
The time is definitely winding down on the club’s current core, who has won three titles together, and ownership is undoubtedly feeling the pressure to win now.
The reason …
Father time continues to wage its assault on the Hall of Fame bound Tim Duncan, now 35, while an assortment of nagging injuries have taken its toll on shooting guard Manu Ginobili over the years.
The Spurs currently occupy second place in the Western Conference and are just three games behind Oklahoma City for home court advantage throughout the conference’s playoffs.
Knowing time is of the essence, San Antonio has made three rosters moves in the past two weeks with the specific design to bolster up the roster for one more legitimate Finals push.
The Spurs traded for veteran swingman Stephen Jackson, who can play alongside Ginobili or as insurance if injuries arise, at the trade deadline.
The team also reached an agreement with reserve guard Patty Mills to back up Parker.
Lastly, the team signed veteran forward Boris Diaw, who gives the club additional depth behind Duncan on the interior, last week after the Bobcats bought out his contract.
The recent moves has Parker believing the Spurs made the right additions and are now in great shape to make the title push this season.
“Our goal is to win a championship,” Parker said on his radio show (French Radio RMC). “Tim Duncan and I haven’t got a lot of time left. The Spurs made the right moves by signing Stephen Jackson, Boris Diaw and Patty Mills. We have a complete team now. We know we can beat everybody in the West, we proved it by beating OKC two times already. Winning another title is something we can do this year. I’m really glad the Spurs signed Boris Diaw. I’m happy to be able to play with him. The first time I saw Boris wearing the Spurs’ jersey, it was kind of a shock for me.”
Ginobili also expressed little shock regarding the team’s recent activity reshaping the roster, alluding to the ticking clock on the core’s viability as contenders.
“We knew we were going all-in,” Ginobili told Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News about the club’s aggressive approach for a title this season.
The Spurs’ moves haven’t gone without notice around the league.
“They are loading up for a run,” Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said. “They are like a lot of us. They see this thing is pretty wide-open, and they have a great shot.”
The Spurs were the top seed in the Western Conference last season, thought at the time to be their last shot at a title, but were shockingly bounced in the first round by the eighth seeded Memphis Grizzlies.
With the new pieces in place, looks like the Spurs will get one final shot with Duncan as the leading man.
Stoudemire’s Back Woes, Huge Blow For The Knicks: As HOOPSWORLD’s Alex Raskin covered last night, when the New York Knicks signed Amar’e Stoudemire in the summer of 2010 to a $ 100 million deal it wasn’t just to improve the team’s regular season performance.
Stoudemire’s objective from day one was to return the Knicks back to their prominence of years past.
Sure Carmelo Anthony would arrive later in the 2011 season and steal some of the shine and Jeremy Lin received most of the national attention this season, but Stoudemire was the first building block in place to start the Knicks’ climb up the Eastern Conference standings.
But it now appears Stoudemire’s troublesome back may dampen any hopes the Knicks have of improving their playoff positioning and pulling off a first round upset.
The team announced on Monday that Stoudemire is out “indefinitely” after a MRI revealed a bulging disk in his back (lower).
Stoudemire also pulled a muscle in his back during the 2011 playoffs which sidelined him throughout last summer and was the cause of his early season struggles in 2012.
While the forward is traveling to Miami to seek a second opinion, the team has said Stoudemire will pursue a nonsurgical treatment for the back.
Stoudemire is officially listed as day-to-day.
“Hopefully the second opinion is something. Since he was out all [last] summer rehabbing it and getting treatment on it, I’m hoping it’s nothing too serious at this point,” Anthony told Ian Begley of ESPN. “My prayers go out to him and hopefully we can get him back as soon as possible.”
The Knicks hold a 2.5 game lead over the Milwaukee Bucks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
New York coach Mike Woodson stressed that the team couldn’t let up despite the disappointing nature of the Stoudemire news.
“You don’t wish it on any player, especially Amar’e,” Woodson said. “We can’t look back. We’ve got to continue to play and try to win games.”
“He’s got to keep his head up. If he has to have surgery, he’s got to rehab and come back. He’s still a young player.”
With Stoudemire on the shelf, expect forward Josh Harrellson and Steve Novak to receive bigger roles.
Reserve utility man Jared Jeffries is expected to miss another 2-3 weeks with a knee injury, but once he returns he’d be in the mix at forward as well.
All eyes now shift toward the much maligned Anthony to lead the team down the stretch.
T’Wolves’ Love Racking Up The Minutes: Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love is having a monster year averaging 26.3 points and 13.8 rebounds per game, but it’s his minutes on the court in this lockout shortened season which may be even more impressive.
After struggling to find consistent minutes sharing the frontcourt with Al Jefferson during his first two seasons, Love now finds himself leading the entire league in minutes played per game – 39.8.
“You’ll never hear me complain about minutes again after this season,” Love told the media on Monday. “It’s definitely different than it was a few years ago.”
The endurance showed by Love this season is a testament to the dedication he has put into his training regimen over the past few years which has drastically transformed his physique from when he first entered the league.
Love says his part in the equation is only half of the result. He credits the T’Wolves training staff for keeping his body loose.
“Our training staff does a good job of keeping us ready,” Love said. “I feel pretty dang good for playing so many games and so many minutes in such a condensed season. I just try to get as much rest as I possibly can on days like today and keep it moving.”
The T’Wolves (24-26) are currently just 3 games behind Utah and Houston – all tied at 27-23 – for one of the last two Western Conference playoff spots.
The franchise being in the thick of the playoff race for the first time since 2004 is one of the primary reasons Love has logged so much court action in the condensed season where most players’ around the league minutes have been monitored carefully.
“I worry about him all the time because we play him so many minutes,” Minnesota head coach Rick Adelman said. “He seems to get through it pretty good. … He’s just been so consistent for us, rebounding the ball, shooting the ball, making plays. He’s so important to what we’re doing and when you’re this late in the season, you need that rhythm as a team. He’s a big part of that.”
The T’Wolves will likely utilize the offseason (draft, trade or free agency) to find a backup power forward to help alleviate the need to play Love all of those minutes, but don’t expect Minnesota to change its rotation over the last month of the season.
The team will continue to ride Love and are hoping he has enough gas left in the tank to secure a playoff berth.
NBA Chats: There are three NBA chats scheduled for today starting with HOOPSWORLD’s Anthony Macri at 11am. Coach Macri works with NBA players year around with developing and improving their games and will do his best to answer your questions. Senior NBA writer Eric Pincus will hold down his weekly NBA chat at 4pm EST. Eric covers the Western Conference from LA with the Lakers and the Clippers. Stephen Litel will wrap up the day with his weekly NBA Chat at 8pm EST. You can always find the next upcoming chat here: Upcoming NBA Chats. If you are looking for a completed chat, check the Chat Archive.
Trackback from your site.