Today, Tuesday, March 5, 2019, I am making tilapia for the first time by myself. I normally hate fish, but it’s something I just have to get used to. As many Spurs fans and people who cover the NBA know, the Spurs are consistently a good team. A team full of unselfish, team first basketball players who focus on ball movement, stout team defense, communication and above all else, winning. Relatively, like my first encounter with Tilapia, people are going to have to get used to things outside of their comfort zone.
Unusual bumps in the road and a little drama won’t hurt anybody in San Antonio. The days of the big 3 are over, but that doesn’t necessarily mean this team is over. For these coming Spurs years, this team is going to be built solely around the youth, the attention to development will be at an all-time high. The savvy vets that are brought in or traded for (DeMar) will likely be the best players on the team, but the young cats’ roles won’t falter from that. With youth and inexperience comes growing pains.
After a 1-7 rodeo road trip, the Spurs have looked to come back to Earth after a solid 3 game winning streak, against 3 playoff teams. The San Antonio way might be coming back around at the right time, the bounce back has seemed tremendous considering the late-season skid.
When pointing back to the beginning of the article, I made a point out of being “out of your comfort zone” when talking about this team. Reason being, it’s a new group. While the season is long, there’s bound to be some downtime as in players in shooting slumps, slumps, and mishaps in communications, among other things. It is a long year, to be fully plugged in and effective for all 82, is very unlikely. While the effort and love for the game are there, I repeat it is a LONG SEASON. A team can go on a losing skid, losing to lottery teams, and then wind up smacking the best team in the league like Boston did last night.
It’s common in the NBA for a team to go down and hit a wall during the year, especially in those games 50-65 because that’s somewhat the middle of the year, you have some bumps and bruises, and in San Antonio’s case, you’re on the damn road for an entire month. Comfort zones are invaded, and in reality, there’s going to be times like this, more often than the days before, where Spurs teams will struggle to get the hang of it. Especially on the road. San Antonio struggled mightily on the road against some bad teams. Losses that shouldn’t have come to, like the Raptors were really lack of late-game execution and communication, as San Antonio let it slip through their fingers.
Losses that were in a case of getting blown out of the water like New York, Utah, SAC, etc were bound to happen if you’ve paid attention to the team closely. This team has had a little bit of trouble this year closing games out. Even in games they won, San Antonio would have trouble closing games out with leads. Bad execution, turnovers, missed shots would lead them to 4Q comebacks by the opposition, games decided by 2-4 points when they should’ve been locked away by 15 earlier in the contest. San Antonio’s rodeo road trip skid was bound to happen, as their issues with closing games out finally caught up to them, inefficient play on both ends before February affected the group entirely throughout February.
While the issues of that trip are all over the place. Some would say it just came down to a bounce here or a bounce there, others just say they aren’t that good of a team. While the talent on the squad in the youth is undeniable, this team is still a year away. Next year, I believe with a much more healthy group, more development and honestly another year with these pieces, they could really turn the tide and bring in the new era of Spurs basketball.
I truly believe those 8 games really made the team better, connected them and really brought them back. My proof? Monday night, a game that honestly San Antonio should’ve closed out earlier but Jamal Murray had other plans, San Antonio ultimately picked up a BIG WIN. After the game? Lone Star DeMar states: “GET READY FOR THE PLAYOFFS.” I know y’all heard the man. The playoffs are something that hasn’t been too kind to DeMar, he’s heard the criticism, I’m sure that message was being restated in the locker room. This team is far from dead, as many knows, in San Antonio, the season really begins in April.
Why do I think they’ll turn it around?
Many reasons. The biggest is the man with the gray hair and gray beard, that wears the suits on the sidelines. That guy, yeah, is kind of a good coach. Other reasons being this team I believe will hit their stride in full form come playoff time. As they are a half game out of the 7 seed, nobody wants that Golden State matchup. If they can sneak around that, they can potentially pull off a 2/7 upset with a team they match up really well against like Denver. I personally believe the only teams that worry me about San Antonio are Portland and Golden State.
Utah as well but they are a 6, and I think OKC (Yes, Paul George is MVP btw.) matches up well against them. The 3 point shooting has maintained well, Bryn, Rudy has cooled down a little bit (still maintaining efficiency and high effort on both ends), but Marco and Davis still are white hot. The ball movement with this team continues to get even better, it’s Spurs basketball baby. Beautiful passing, unselfish play, and a consistent 21-9-5 in LaMarcus Aldridge. At one point, he wasn’t the most popular among Spurs Nation, but I will say, he is very under appreciated. He has been the rock to this team, I would say the leader among players. Lastly, DeMar, Derrick, Jakob, Patty have all progressed.
Derrick and Jakob have been key to this team. Derrick White, if he played in a bigger market, would be a top 4 candidate for Most Improved Player. Seriously. The play on both ends, how well he can pass, the defense @ 6’4, is astounding. He can guard 1-3 very well, he has been a gem from that 2017 draft. The move of trading Danny-Jakob has been one of the better moves we’ve seen from San Antonio. Lowkey is how they keep it, and seeing how well Jakob has played in our system, it’s going to continue to benefit the team, the higher his play continues.
As for DeMar, keep doing your thing. DeMar gets a ton of love from me, not because he “replaced” Kawhi, but because his play and effort has really ramped up, and the continuous effort to better himself in this system has been phenomenal. Leading the NBA in 3pt assists, bettering himself as a rebounder, passer and honestly has played much better defense than what the DRTG has shown. I look forward to him being a Spur for a long time.
A lot of the young guys could learn from DeMar, someone who you’d want in your franchise for a long time. Patty’s leadership along with LMA will be much appreciated, the vets on the roster even from Marco and Rudy will definitely help the young guys like Bryn, Jakob, Davis, and Derrick. This group can be potentially scary for a lot of teams in the playoffs, one that can sneak up and play up with anyone. The combination of efficient play, and togetherness as a unit is something that isn’t looked at as closely as it should, but the Spurs mantra has been like that for 20+ years and continues to work in the future.
Lastly, Pau Gasol getting bought out was big for this team. I would like to put out there a huge thank you for always being a professional and also giving back 2.5 million dollars to the Spurs. San Antonio will only owe 4.2 million to the HOF Center next season, which is HUGE for this team and their cap situation. That is another discussion for another day, but in continuing about Pau, his minutes were disappearing and quite frankly Jakob is a much better player than he is right now. At times it felt like Gasol hurt the chemistry and overall play of the 2nd unit, it was best for both sides to move on.
Spurs Next 3 Games:
A huge win streak, I believe by next week the Spurs will be tied the 6th seed with Utah.