Newest Spurs face intensive acclimation
From Spurs Nation
By Mike Monroe
Starting with tonight’s game against the Phoenix Suns at the AT&T Center, the nine games packed into the final 12 days of the regular season will be used as a crash course in the Spurs’ offensive and defensive systems for the three players added to the roster since March 15.
Matchups were a factor in coach Gregg Popovich’s decision to start the second half of Thursday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies with Boris Diaw at center, but education also entered into the decision.
“I want to get him acclimated,” Popovich said of the versatile Diaw, who signed with the team on March 23. “I want to get him into our program, and the only way you do that is to get a guy to play. He can’t do much sitting on the bench and just try to get familiar with our program.”
For Stephen Jackson, who came back to the team he spent two seasons (2001-03) with, re-connecting has been easier. But he acknowledges hiccups borne of occasional indecision.
“Maybe I’m still trying to find my shots,” he said. “Defense is the easy part. I can guard anybody, but I’m still trying to find my shots, get comfortable in the offense. I’m used to having the ball a lot.
“It’s something I have to get used to, being a spot-up player and figuring out where my shots are in the offense.”
Jackson has made only 13 of 40 3-pointers (32.5 percent) in 13 games since joining the Spurs and 37 of 94 shots overall (39.4 percent). His goal in the rest of the regular season is to find a comfort level with a diminished offensive role.
“I’ve been in places where I get the ball a lot and now I’m a guy who’s a spot-up player,” he said. “I’ve played defense everywhere I go. I just have to figure out my role in the offense. But the thing about it is that the offense is still the same. It’s not that hard.”
What’s at stake: A victory in tonight’s game against the Suns would assure the Spurs of having home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs and yet another Southwest Division championship.
With eight games remaining after tonight, a victory would mean the Spurs could lose no more than 24 games. Memphis, the second-place team in the division, already has 24 losses and the Spurs, by virtue of a 4-0 sweep of the Grizzlies, own the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Formula for success: With Manu Ginobili missing 29 games, the Spurs’ Big Three — Ginobili, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker — have appeared together in only 24 games this season. Duncan did not play in two games in which Ginobili played. Parker did not play in one of those.
The Spurs are 9-0 when the Big Three have combined for at least 50 points. The trio totaled 61 points in Thursdays’ victory over the Grizzlies.
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