Bernucca: Among the Elite, Thunder the Team to Beat

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Kawhi Leonard A look at the overall NBA standings shows four teams at the top – Indiana, Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Miami – separated by one game in the loss column. In fact, they were dead even until three of them lost Sunday. 

Just a notch below them are three more teams – Houston, the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland – separated by two games in the loss column. They also would have been dead even had the Blazers held on Sunday against the Rockets.

Let’s call these teams the Magnificent Seven, because your NBA champion is somewhere among them. Dismiss any of them at your own peril; these are the only teams who, at the season’s three-quarter pole, have won at least two-third of their games.

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Bernucca: Fixing the Fans’ All-Star Mistakes

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Kyrie IrvingNBA fans do an awful job of protecting the image of their favorite sport.

This is not the NFL, which has been America’s pastime for a generation and can do no wrong in the eyes of its fans. The only time the NFL has an image problem is when a storm affects satellite reception.

This is also not baseball, which has a considerable image problem with its collection of prima donnas on PEDS. But it also has more than a century of tradition on its side.

NBA fans constantly have to argue the merits of their sport not only against other sports but against other versions of their sport. The international game is more fluid. The college game has more energy and emotion. The women’s game has more fundamentals.

So what do NBA fans do to cultivate and protect the image of their favorite sport? They ignore common sense and vote their darlings as All-Stars.

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Bernucca: With fundamentals, Spurs making NBA look like AAU

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We are all familiar with the Spurs and their uncanny efficiency. Are you familiar with AAU basketball? benched spurs

I have coached it at the high school level for the last three years. And one thing I have learned is that with just four hours of weekly practice time followed by four games every weekend, if you don’t have definitive, well-drilled schemes on both offense and defense, you have no chance to compete.

However, if you have a group that is committed to a specific style of play on both ends of the floor, you can consistently compete with, and even beat teams that are bigger, stronger, quicker and more talented than yours.

Gregg Popovich has the San Antonio Spurs committed to a system. At its roots, that system is grounded in the fundamentals that are preached – and often ignored – at every level of basketball, from AAU to NBA. On defense, pressure the ballhandler to make things difficult. Commit to playing defense as individuals and as a team. Box out and don’t allow second shots.

On offense, get the ball quickly upcourt and look for early offense. In the halfcourt, set solid picks and make hard cuts. Trust your scheme and your teammates. Give up a good shot to get a great shot.

These are the basics of the game. And right now, with these basics as their foundation, Popovich and the Spurs are making the NBA look like an AAU tournament.

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Tweet of the Day: Matt Bonner to New Balance, “Give Me Shoes!”

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San Antonio Spurs sharpshooter Matt Bonner spent some time with Nice Kicks on Monday. He sat down for an interview and had the opportunity to take over their Twitter account for a brief Q&A with fans.

The interview focused on Bonner’s sneaker plight — he hasn’t had a sneaker deal in quite a while.

Down to his last two pairs of New Balance sneakers, the Red Mamba is desperate for a new deal.

His only requirement is that the shoes be comfortable. In what turned out to be a fast developing movement, a Facebook page was started as well as a Twitter campaign.

The maneuver seemed to have worked, as New Balance came through with a reply for for Bonner.

Red Mamba sought clarification of the terms of the tweet, but did not receive a reply via Twitter.

There have not been any further updates on the situation, but it’d be nice to hear that Bonner will have an official deal.

At any rate, it seems that he will at least have more than his last two pairs of sneakers to play in this season.

 

Previous Tweet Posts:

Tweet of the Night: Luol Deng Concerned About Injuries

Tweet of the Day: Dwyane Wade does Twitter Q&A

Tweet of the Day: Tony Parker

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While most of the national media attention continues to go to the Chicago Bulls and Derrick Rose, whether or not he will play against the defending champion Miami Heat, quietly the San Antonio Spurs are preparing for their second round series against the upstart Golden State Warriors.

Granted, the Spurs have never needed fanfare to get up for a playoff series. And, considering that they boast an impressive 29-0 home record against the Warriors in the Tim Duncan era, internally they may not be too concerned with their second round matchup. However, it doesn’t negate the fact that it is a big-to-do. It could, potentially, be the most entertaining series of the second round.

[Spurs-Warriors Preview: Five Key Factors]

All-Star point guard Tony Parker isn’t overlooking tonight’s game.