This is my first post on TBF in a long, long time. Since I’ve been away, a few major things happened: my job role changed significantly, I moved, and the Spurs won a championship. I should probably stay away longer, to get the 6th ring, but alas, I’m back to give you a few thoughts on the first pre-season game against Alba in Berlin. No, I’m not in Berlin with the team. That would be awesome, but I’m not. I’m sitting on my couch watching the game on NBA TV. Anyway, my thoughts on the game…..
I hope everyone is recovered from the turkey coma and is basking in the gloriousness of turkey sandwiches. In case you missed it, like I did, the Spurs played two games while I was on break. On Wednesday, the guys took only their 2nd loss against the Thunder and last night, they returned to their thrashing-bad-teams ways in blowing out the Magic. The road split leaves the Spurs still atop the West with a sterling 11.3 point differential. In other words, there’s no need to panic.
There is nothing about the Cavaliers game you need to know about. The Spurs machine took another bad team and ground them into tiny little pieces, one night after out-gritting and out-grinding the Grizzlies. Tony is great, Tim looked good, defense was awesome, the system is amazing, blah, blah, blah. The most important thing that happened in this game was on the bench with 9:06 left in the 4th. And FSSW cameras just happened to catch it. YouTube link after the jump.
Every now and then, we are seeing flashes of what Kawhi Leonard can be. Usually, it’s a play or two per game where you just sit and watch and admire. Wednesday night, it was the longest stretch of sustained Kawhi-ness that I have seen. And it was something to behold.
It does not matter who is in the uniform or who is in the coach’s seat. It does not matter who the refs are. It does not even matter who the opponent is. When you go to SLC to play a game, you are going to get beat up, roughed up, smacked around, and generally ground down until you hurt. And for the 3 quarters, the Spurs let it get to them. But in the 4th, they flipped a switch and took over the game. Overall, an ugly but well-earned win in a tough place to play.
We didn’t learn a lot about our team in the last 4 days. Blowout wins against the Knicks, the Sixers, and the Wizards told us nothing about the Spurs so far, except that being a good team in the Eastern Conference is probably worth an additional 5-7 wins per season. And we haven’t even seen the Celtics or the Bobcats/Hornets yet. All of that said, I saw a few things I really liked recently.
East coast roadies have to be the worst: long travel, early start times, and being totally out of rhythm. I hope you didn’t waste any time at all watching the Knicks-Spurs game Sunday morning. I’ll confess I did, but we’re not going to spend any time talking about it. Why? We learned nothing new from this game. After the jump, I’ll present my game notes, as I wrote them while watching the game late last night.
After a comeback win in Denver and a tougher-than-it-should-have-been win at home against Phoenix, it’s nice to have an off-day in the midst of a brutal opening stretch: five games in seven days. For my off-day post, I’m throwing out 2 Top Five lists, related to the Spurs season so far. Warning: small sample size analysis follows below!
Back-to-backs suck. I can’t think of anyone in or associated with the league who enjoys a back-to-back NBA game, except maybe the Nuggets when their opponent is coming to Denver on the back end of one. So, why does the NBA keep scheduling them? Why do we have to have them at all? One of two things need to happen: either have fewer games (not going to happen) or do what hockey does and start October 1 instead of late October. There’s just no reason to give coaches a reason to bench players, or to have a terrible, ugly game just because of a calendar. I’m on a quest: end the back-to-backs.
“We’ve got 81 more of these, guys.”
That quote is from Gregg Popovich, for whom uttering that phrase to reporters at the post-game presser after the first game of the season is a rite of passage, like Christmas or paying taxes in April. With that quote, you get a sense of how he feels about regular season games. He greets each new season with some degree of disdain, hoping to only get to the Big Show in April and see how his team does. And yet, the regular season is so, so important to the Spurs and Pop knows it. This is the paradox of Pop.