A scoutís take on your San Antonio Spurs
by Dan McCarney
The NBA season tips off in less than a week, which means you will be inundated with all manner of preview material in the coming days. Unless youíre a true hoops junkie, in which case youíve been knee deep for weeks.
(Is it impressive or pathetic that I know Denverís Ty Lawson led the league in drives into the paint from outside 20 feet last season? Iím leaning strongly toward the latterÖ)
At any rate, rather than rely solely on the semi-dependable eye and snarky wit of the national media corps, Sports Illustrated is offering an overview of every team in the league from the men who scout them for a living.
Hereís a sampling of the Spurs entry:
* I think Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are the best trio in the NBA. Parker and Ginobili are probably the two best playmakers on the same team. With Parker and Ginobili breaking down defenses, capable shooters spaced out for catch-and-shoot opportunities and Duncan remaining a very adequate post player, they are really hard to defend.
* Two years ago, I thought there was no way that Duncan [who is 36 years old] would be playing right now. But he does a great job of keeping himself in shape and coach Gregg Popovich handles him so well. Popovich was smart: He took Duncan out of the post more in the regular season last year and put him in more pick-and-rolls, which saved his legs. Then, at the end of the game, Duncan would go into the post, and heíd have the energy for it.
* I donít think they have the legs to compete in the playoffs against the top teams. In one game, they can beat anyone. In a best-of-seven, the top teams in the West are going to beat them.
With Duncan, even if they limit him in the regular season to keep him as fresh as possible, you canít have him on the floor for 38 minutes a game in a seven-game series. The same goes for Ginobili. They just canít recover like they used to, and some of their opponents, like the Thunder, will have young stars who can play big minutes over and over during the course of a seven-game series.
Lots of other great tidbits to be devoured, including how Popovich is the ideal handler for Stephen Jackson and Kawhi Leonardís fit with the team.
Pretty much what I've been saying all along. They can go out and get a defensive minded big man (which would be nice either way), or rest their laurels on the fact that they have a couple of perimeter defenders that will be better this year. But defense isn't what did the Spurs in. It's that they ran into a team whose best horses are better than and outlasted the Spurs best horses. No defense is going to go "90's Knicks" on the Thunder or the Heat. They are too good. You have to be able to keep up. And the Spurs tried with all their heart, but they don't have that extra gear anymore, unless KY Leonard takes a monumental leap this year.
I agree with Uwe. Without adding a dominant frontcourt player to supplement the decline of Duncan the Spurs will be a tough playoff out, but an out nonetheless. They will probably win enough regular season games to get a top 4 seed and thus probably make 2nd round at least. But lasting four rounds to claim a title looms improbable. Should still be fun to enjoy another record-setting 50 win season.
i do agree that defense isn't what did us in, it was more of losing gas and the Thunder having a 2nd wind.
And another draft pick in the 30s.
Maybe if we have a defensive minded big man we're not equal to the Heat (or maybe OKC), but we close the gap.
To my way of thinking, our offense is as good as it can get, but we lack on defense.
You are correct to note that our offense can't keep up with OKC or Miami when they are rolling (though I'd say we'd have a better shot vs. Miami than OKC did because our defensive strengths/weaknesses fit them better), but one of the things a good defense does is take some pressure off your offense.
Notice that OKC's offense played better when they slowed us down and could play more loose on offense.
That is what I think we are lacking.
With OKC losing Harden the West just got more open.
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