The Spurs Can Look To New England For Inspiration

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Updated: February 28, 2015
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It’s finally getting to the period in the NBA season when regular season matchups as well as the way teams are playing actually matters. Every year after the All-Star break, playoff caliber teams buckle down and make the second half of the season push. One team that has always been in the mix for a top spot heading into the playoffs is the mighty San Antonio Spurs.

This team is has been nothing short of NBA legendary over the past 16 years, and this season was thought to be no different. Unfortunately, the Spurs are not playing like the Spurs of old, and the main reason for that may be because coincidentally, the core of the team is getting too old to be dominant like past Spurs teams. Some people have even written them off and said Father Time has finally caught up to and has his clutches firmly on Gregg Popovich’s men. I personally would beg to differ. The Spurs just need a ticket to the dance, and if San Antonio need any form of inspiration they only need to need to look at their mirror image counterparts in the NFL, the New England Patriots.


Never Count Out Greatness…


The New England Patriots were Super Bowl winners of the 2014 NFL season, but this past Patriots season was nothing like their past early dominating seasons when it was a mere formality that Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and company would find themselves going deep into the playoffs and fighting for more Super Bowl wins. After a week 4 drubbing at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs to the tune of 41-14, people started writing off the Patriots, and namely Tom Brady. People were saying Brady was over the hill and the Patriots dynasty was over. There was stuff like this:

And who can forget that famous, now infamous quote from Trent Dilfer:

Dilfer still apologies to this day about how wrong he was with his far too premature “end to the Bill Belichick Empire” analysis. After that loss, the Patriots went on to ring off seven straight wins and of course, lift the 4th Vince Lombardi trophy in the Belichick and Brady era. In a piece I wrote in January of last year, I said the Spurs and Patriots were the best run teams in sports, and surely enough, both teams won titles after that piece. And I stand by everything I wrote in that piece about the Spurs because for me nothing has changed, mostly. But, just like the bit of a rough patch the Patriots went through, something is off about this year’s Spurs.

Serious Cause For Concern in South Texas?…


Nothing will happen for San Antonio unless the Spurs core 3 of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli get going and carry the team. So far this season Tony Parker and Ginobli have not helped Duncan carry the load, and it seems to be rubbing off on everyone. In the Western Conference, it’s survival of the fittest when it comes to the Point Guard position, and for years Tony Parker did nothing but get over looked as a premier point guard.

But what Parker did not get in regular season admiration he more than made up for in playoff dominance and championships. Unfortunately, this season has proved to be a serious dip in form for the French All-star. Parker is averaging below his career numbers in points (14), assists (5) and rebounds (2). While shooting 49% from the field and 46% from 3-point range.

The field goal percentages are fine; it’s the other intangibles that Parker usually brings to the table in distribution and leadership that’s lacking this season. Without Parker running the offense as seamlessly as he has in years past, guys like Danny Green and Marco Belinelli are aren’t finding their spots and draining the shots those snipers have become known for making. Danny Green is shooting 42% from the field and 39% from 3-point range. Belinelli is shooting 44% from the field and 38% from 3-point range.

Those two have to step it up in order for the Spurs to have that deadly outside shooting presence they’ve become accustomed to, but Parker has to significantly raise his assist and his tempo to get those gentlemen going.

Then there’s Manu Ginobli. Ginobli is the other piece of the trifecta and he’s also having a subpar shooting year for the Spurs. Ginobli is shooting 41% from the field and 35% from 3-point range. His overall numbers aren’t terrible at 12 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds, but Ginobli is the Spurs spark of the bench.

He makes things happen on his own and when he’s playing like this, coupled with Tony Parker’s down season, you can see why the Spurs are currently sitting in unfamiliar territory at 7th place in the West.

And one of the most curious cases I’ve seen is that of Thiago Splitter. The big man is only playing 19 minutes a night, but when he does play he’s giving the Spurs 7 points and 5 rebounds on 54% shooting. Why has Pop frozen him out essentially, I don’t know.

But it would make sense that putting Splitter in for more minutes may add something more to the Spurs offense and rebounding. But to question Popovich would be foolish and if he’s doing something, he’s certainly doing it for a reason. I’m sure in the near future Splitter will be added into the starting 5 and fortunes will start to change. But with all the doom and gloom in San Antonio, there’s always hope.

In Popovich and Duncan We Trust?…

If I told you I had an NBA legend still playing at a high level, and the best coach in the sport navigating everything, and a young star that’s a world-class defender on the verge of possibly being a very special player, would you take it? I know I would. And that’s what the Spurs have at their behest. Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan are legends that are still plying their trade and doing it well. Duncan is 38 years old so the Spurs can’t expect him to carry the load like he did when he was in his prime, but he can still give you 4 quarters of the best fundamental basketball the NBA has seen in years.

And Popovich is a mad scientist and always will be. With both of these basketball geniuses being the foundation of this NBA dynasty, the Spurs are never out of contention. And with Kawhi Leonard seemingly healthy after a hand injury that side lined him for the better part of the early season, they have their defensive stopper who is fearless. Leonard has to be the young glue guy that keeps everything together.

He has playoff and championship experience and he is an absolute workhorse. Leonard is averaging 15 points and 7 rebounds on just 43% shooting this season in 40 games. He’s an extremely talented two-way player and I know those numbers will increase.

Spurs fans just need to be patient because they are used to seeing their team being so dominant that this is weird territory for them. And it’s understandable. But all the Spurs need is a ticket to the dance. As we all know, in the playoffs, there are no back-to-back games. So the older guys can get a rest.

Plus in the post season, great coaching and experience in pressure packed big games are the most important thing. The Spurs have both in abundance, and Popovich/Duncan have 5 championships to prove it. Don’t write off the mighty Spurs, not in February, not ever as long as Popovich and Duncan are around.

The sports world gave up on the Patriots far too quickly, and the NFL season ended with the Patriots winning the title. No one should write off the Spurs, and if you do so, do it at your team’s own peril.

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