“When it happens the first three times, four times, five times,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said, “then you say, ‘Okay, things happen. The schedule and…’ Now it’s eight (losses), so there has to be a tendency now.”
The eight losses Ginobili is referring to: The Spurs’ 1-8 record against the NBA’s elite teams; 1-7 against the Western Conference’s best.
The one victory (116-92) was against a Chris Paul-less Los Angeles Clippers team last month, which Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said doesn’t count.
The latest Spurs defeat came Friday at the hands of the Trail Blazers, 109-100 at the AT&T Center.
Granted the Spurs were without center Tiago Splitter, one of their best interior defenders, and guard Danny Green, a decent defender on the perimeter. But for a team not known to make excuses, the Spurs didn’t start after the loss.
“We look everything square in the eye,” said Popovich, when asked about his team’s shortcomings against the NBA’s best.
The Spurs are 15-8 against opponents with plus-.500 records, but in the games against those elite teams, the struggles show.
In nine games, the Spurs allowed an average of 108.5 points, while scoring 100.5 (Spurs are 9-8 this season when allowing 100 or more points). The rebounding battle: Opponents averaged 45.1 to the Spurs’ 38.7, and the Spurs shot 46.1 percent, but allowed a 49.5 percentage.
Asked about their struggles against the good teams, Ginobili told the Express-News: “I guess at the moment we’re not ready to beat them. They’re very talented; everybody is more athletic than us. To beat these types of teams, we’ve got to be even sharper, more precise, and at this point, we are not.”
Thing is, those same elite teams are not buying the notion that the Spurs can’t beat them. Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard was told about Ginobili’s comments, that the Spurs aren’t ready to beat the NBA’s best. He didn’t agree.
“I thought they played a good game,” Lillard said. “We made some big shots, and that’s what it came down to.
“They’re still a great team; you can’t take that away from them. We just won the game tonight.”
Lillard emphasized the word “tonight.” San Antonio Spurs News, Scores, Stats & Analysis – Spurs Nation » Ginobili: ?We?re not ready? to beat the NBA?s best