82 games down. What a season it was. A season full of many ups and many downs. Nowhere near the heartbreak or disappointment that was last season, but definitely many growing pains and stuff you just have to get used to. Typically with my articles, I tend to back up a lot of stuff that I say with numbers or stats or pointing out things to look at in a game or in the film. Today, with this article, there won’t be any stats. No numbers. Today, this is going to be picking of my brain. A picking and opinion of how I felt throughout the season. My feelings as to how everything worked. What impressed/disappointed. What worked, didn’t work, everything in between. This will be my regular season overview. In another article, I will address things like the moves they need to make, the regular season MVP, among other things. That will be in my 2018-2019 NBA year review and playoffs articles. Now then, welcome to my world, and no, this is not the world of RedBull.
From the beginning of this season, I myself, had many hopes for this team. The Spurs had the most drama-filled, unusual offseason they’ve had since the Dennis Rodman debacle in 1995. With a trade that many called “immature” or “arrogant” on the Spurs behalf, I thought could end up being a steal for San Antonio. So far, I have been very close to being entirely right. It didn’t look that way in the beginning though.
To many, these months are “worthless” and “unimportant” as to it dictating your outcome come mid-April. Teams that do phenomenal in these months, can cool down rather quickly and vice versa. That being said, these months had the NBA world shocked with how the Spurs started the year off at. The play of the team was in question off the bat, as to how 2 mid-range heavy players like DeMar and LaMarcus would work. Offensively, they had very little of a “struggle” figuring each other out. The 3 point shooting and spacing were going to be a question, but the genius in Coach Pop seemed to build this team correct and rotations of this team were spot on from the jump. We saw DeMar’s passing really shined from the start. DeMar showed a ton of maturity and progression in his basketball IQ. LaMarcus really picked up where he left off, and the 3 point shooting of Davis and Bryn was white hot.
Defensively, this Spurs team was probably the worst they’ve put out there in a very long time. Reason being, communication was off, bad rotations, bad close-outs, and lack of a paint presence lead to uncontested layups and dunks at the rim. You can call it “rust” or whatever helps you sleep at night, but in reality, they just weren’t very good. It was a new bunch, that needed time. These months showed a very inconsistent group, start to hit a little stride in the month of December, coming into the new year (mid-season) a lot stronger than it started.
This month for the Spurs started out emotional and strong. Wins against Toronto in the Kawhi Game showed this team really is together and all for each other. Everybody knew what this game meant for not only DeMar but for the city, the organization, the Spurs name. The aura in the arena that night was something you just had to experience first hand. Forget the boo’s and the curse words, this really brought a lot out of everybody. The Spurs continued to dominate offensively, as Derrick White really began to come on hot. With stellar games against OKC, Brooklyn, etc, he showed how much he belonged in this league on BOTH ends. LaMarcus continued to shine even more. His shot was great, beginning to try the trey ball more as the season went on. Lastly on him for this month, can we please appreciate his Post Passing a little bit more? That’s a top 3 quality of his. The 3 point shooting continued to get better, Marco started to come on as well. DeMar, struggled a little bit in January, hitting a slight slump. His shot went, his defense began to sputter a bit, you could tell the frustration was really getting to him. His minutes were very high at that time, his usage was very high, but the goat spoke a calming phrase on the subject, that turned out to be as simple of a truth that it could be: “Do I look concerned?”.
Defensively, around this time we saw a lot more of Jakob Poeltl. He changed a lot for this Spurs unit. Defensively he is great. He is a great rim protector, he plays the P&R very well and has great footwork. He rebounds very well on both ends and began to take Pau Gasol’s minutes. That was huge. Subtracting Pau off of this team was huge for the development of this team on both ends. Jakob started to strive, finishing at the rim at a 70+% clip, and really playing efficient and smart ball on both ends. Defensively, you saw the group still struggle a bit, but they worked on the stuff that killed them most which was rim protection and rebounding, and that helped them wholeheartedly.
FEBRUARY: (Stuff we’ve already heard)
The worst month of Spurs basketball in my lifetime. The record speaks for itself, but you saw the absolute worst slump of any Spurs team we have witnessed in over 20 years. The team stunk. Everybody stunk. Couldn’t buy a bucket, wasn’t buying in on both ends of the court. Struggling to hit open shots. Had trouble rebounding, had trouble playing defense, completely uncharacteristic of them. Everything was just uncharacteristic about that month. It was the worst month of basketball you’ll probably ever see from a non-tanking, San Antonio Spurs basketball team. The passing was bad, there was maybe 1 to 2 actual bright spots from this month, but in all honesty, it was just bad. This team struggled on the road for the majority of the year, but this really put it on Front Street. Everybody saw this team was hurting on the road. The Rodeo Road trip sucks and is unfortunate for the players, you can never really find a rhythm off the court because you are traveling for an entire month. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the cards that we have been dealt with for a very long time. It was a horrendous month for this team. From the terrible ending in Toronto to the ass-kicking in New York. The month is something you’ll want to forget. Luckily they bounced back very strong.
You saw this team bounce back very strong. Came home with a vengeance, going on win streaks, and going back to Spurs basketball. Derrick White really began to blow up on the national scene, showcasing all-NBA type defense and efficient offense. LaMarcus played very well coming back home. You saw Marco, Davis, Rudy start to hit their shots. Jakob went back to shining at a lot of times, and DeMar really came back to his high tier passing, efficient mid-range shooting and really began to play some REALLY good defense. There were some issues though with playing against zone defenses. The Spurs struggled more this month than previous months against zone, but all-in-all began to come back a little better than their normal, in these later months.
Defensively, there have been some struggles all year. I think honestly the biggest struggle has been in transition. That’s something with these two first round picks I definitely expect this organization to go after and secure probably with their first selection. Considering they have two, this draft is a pretty solid one, so it’s good to have two.
The play defensively has hurt most when going to the 2nd unit, the guard play has struggled off the bench. The on-ball defense has been a little iffy all season. I will say though, San Antonio has shown the ability of when it’s time to “lock-up” they go full force into it. It’s not a very strong tactic to roll within the playoffs, but for now, it’s gotten them here, at least. It’s a concern of mine, but I will say, if there’s 1 coach to rally these troops defensively in the playoffs, it’s Poppaveli.
The Closing like LeBron in Game 7.
The regular season was a tough one. There is a lot to like, and there are some things to not like. One issue with this team throughout the year is that they would play up to their competition, and down to their competition. In the playoffs, there’s absolutely no room for that. What worries Spurs fans should have, is teams that play with very high ball movement offensively, because that can give the Spurs a little bit of trouble. Quick swings, your rotations, and communications need to be on point. The Spurs at times get lost in all that sauce. One year down, with this new group and I will say defensively they have made some progression.
Offensively, they have been really good, great from 3, efficient from mid-range and finishing well at the rim. DeMar and LaMarcus are a perfect fit for each other. DeMar is the perfect player for this offense. Mills has been the leader of the locker room according to multiple reports, and that’s something that will go a long way with this group. Marco had a decent year, one that for the money he gets paid, you’ll be happy with. Bryn started out burning, got a little cold, then started to warm again. Davis is money. Latvian Laser, Latvian Legend. Whatever you want to call him, he’s cash. Aldridge once again, proves he’s one of the most underrated bigs in the league. Rudy, Jakob. So under appreciated. Very good fits. Excellent “Spur” players. Perfect fits in the system, they do their job, they enjoy it, they are great for this team. While I do think this team is 1 player away from seriously bringing the Gold back home, I will say a 48 win season, while projected to only win 37 games, a playoff berth (again) is nothing to be ashamed of. After trading your best player, probably your 1st and maybe 3rd or 4th best player, you do this? Not only that, you lose your starting PG (who is an excellent player) you started the year riddled with injuries and new players, it’s another credit to the greatest ever, Gregg Popovich.
With that said, Denver it is. Spurs in 6.
You heard DeMar a month ago before the Spurs even clinched: “GET READY FOR THE PLAYOFFS.”