I’m back from the Philippines. Jet lag is my master.
But it was a good visit.
Basketball euphoria was high in Manila. Everyone was all about the Finals, despite the fact that we were tuning into games live at 8:30 AM local time.
A few thoughts on hoops in the Philippines below the fold.
UPDATE (3/12, 12:24 PM): Dan McCarney is reporting that Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard didn’t make the trip to Minneapolis.
Spurs @ Wolves. 7 PM. FSN, 830-AM. Boo-yeah.
The Wolves take on the Spurs tonight at Target Center. On paper, it looks to be a lopsided affair. The Wolves are 21-39. They have lost consecutive games by over 20 points. The Spurs are 49-15. They just beat OKC by 12. Two games before that, they beat Chicago by 18.
The ray of hope for this one is that SAS is not invincible. Dame Lillard & co beat them 136-106 in San Antonio on March 8th in the worst loss of the extremely long Tim Duncan era. Can the Wolves shock the world tonight? If I knew the answer, I’d be on a flight to Vegas, not writing this.
That said, things look grim. The Blazers are fighting for the 8th seed in the West. The Wolves are, well – depending on how you judge incentives – fighting for a respectable finish or a higher lottery pick. One thing they’re decidedly not fighting for is a playoff spot.
Which isn’t to say that they aren’t playing hard.
Anyone who’s been watching knows Ricky Rubio is setting an example that good players on bad teams ought to be required to follow. The energy and leadership Rubio displays nightly is a model for other NBAers to follow (even if his jump shot isn’t).
Hope not to see this scene in tonight’s game
The Wolves are coming off a tough loss at New Orleans on Friday night, in which they were beat handily by the worst team in the Western Conference.
It doesn’t get any easier tonight at San Antonio.
The Spurs are good. Real good. 28-11 good – which is good for 1st in the Southwest Division and 3rd overall in the Western Conference. (San Antonio is currently 1½ games behind the 28-8 Oklahoma City Thunder.)
The Spurs are good, but are they great? That’s where the data stops and the speculation starts. But with the Lakers threatening to miss the playoffs, OKC lacking James Harden, and the Clippers being the Clippers, the Spurs have a shot in the West this year. And it isn’t just question marks about the competition; San Antonio’s play this season suggests they’re every bit a threat to make The Finals.
Unfortunately for the Wolves, if the Spurs have a special strength, it appears to be their performance at home. The Spurs have actually lost three of their last five, but all three of those losses came on the road, against the Knicks, Hornets, and Grizz, respectively. At 15-2 (.882), San Antonio has the best home winning percentage in the NBA. They’ve been eminently beatable on the road, at 13-9 (.591), but divine intervention isn’t going to move this tilt to the Target Center: coming off an overtime loss in Memphis Friday night, expect the Spurs to be primed and ready tonight at home.
Some specifics to look for tonight: