Saturday, November 24, 2007

Opposing View: 11/25 vs. San Antonio

All season long, Sonics Beat will be consulting an expert on the opposing team as part our gameday preview. John Robbins of took time out to answer five questions on the defending champs. Also see Mike Monroe's feature in the San Antonio Express-News on the Spurs and P.J. Carlesimo putting aside their feelings for each other tonight.

How is this year's Spurs team different from the squad that won the NBA championship last year?
Essentially, it’s the same team. The starting five that the Spurs had on June 14 is the same starting five that they have now. The one major move made in the off-season was the acquisition of free agent Ime Udoka. Most Sonics fans are probably familiar with Ime since he spent last season in Portland where he averaged 8.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists while starting in all 75 games in which he appeared with the Trail Blazers.

Manu Ginobili has been on fire so far this season. Is he doing anything different than in years past?
Manu’s hot start is just Manu being Manu. He gives 110% every night and when his shots are falling his numbers garner a lot of attention. That being said, the man dubbed “El Contusion” by Brent Barry did give his body a deserving rest this summer by opting not to join the Argentinean national team for international play.

“His summer off obviously helped him a lot," Tony Parker said recently. "It looks like he's got a lot more energy. He's being very aggressive and shooting the ball very well.”

Having won series with and without it, how important is home-court advantage for the Spurs as a goal?
It’s important, but not as important as becoming better as a team. The goal is to consistently improve throughout the course of the season, whether it’s on the road or at home, and then be playing basketball at the highest level possible when the playoffs arrive. If that is achieved, the rest takes care of itself.

The Spurs brought over 2005 first-round pick Ian Mahinmi, who is getting some experience in the D-League. What can we expect from him in the future?
Ian has a great opportunity this year to familiarize himself with the Spurs brand of basketball. He’s already had a taste of it after starting the regular season on the Spurs roster and now he will have the chance to play extended minutes under the guidance of Austin Toros Head Coach Quin Snider.

“He's a very competitive young man," Gregg Popovich has said. "He possesses good athleticism as far as running the court and getting to the basketball, that kind of stuff. He's improved his moves down on the block steadily as he's been playing with this caliber of player."

What don't we know but should about the Spurs?
The Spurs spend almost as much time helping the San Antonio community as they do entertaining it on the court. Spurs players, coaches, front office personnel, Silver Dancers, Coyote and former player George Gervin make more than 1,200 appearances in the community each year.