Forty six games into the season and the San Antonio Spurs currently lead the league with a 39-7 record. While most NBA observers still believe the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics or Miami Heat will eventually win it all, the Spurs can't be taken for granted.
Except for the 96-72 embarrassing loss to the New Orleans last January 22, the Spurs have played well enough, continue to win ball games and show continued improvement on the defensive end.
They are currently 7th in league in defensive efficiency and 4th in effective field goal percentage and for good measure here are some stats over their last 10 games.
The decline in points per game average indicates that the Spurs are now finding more balance using their running game and half court plays which is a good thing as the playoffs approaches.
Their offense is also one of the league's best, they are currently third in offensive efficiency and fifth in assist to turnover ratio.
All these numbers suggest the Spurs are playing great basketball; however, there are many factors as to why the Spurs remains the best in the league.
One of them is health, although they have their share of injuries such as rookie James Anderson, three-point specialist Matt Bonner and George Hill. Regardless, the Spurs have been lucky enough to have their starters healthy all season which is key.
Besides that, the Spurs' offense has also evolved into a good mixture of running game, inside plays and consistent outside shooting. In fact, it could be argued that they are actually a better offensive team this season compared to their championship years.
The Spurs' backcourt is looking top-notch at this point and their bench have more fire power than ever. If and when Anderson comes back and play like he plays earlier in the season, the Spurs will be really tough to beat.
Nevertheless, the Spurs still need to raise the level of their defense like in the past before having serious thoughts on winning another title, allowing the Jazz to connect on 55 percent of their shots in their most recent victory won't make the cut.
Not only that, one of the most pressing issue for the Spurs right now is length. Sure they are winning more than ever before and have used the same starting line up all season with great success. But it is no secret that the game pace become more slower when the post season arrives.
If that's the case, will the Spurs have enough size against teams with huge frontline like the Lakers, Mavericks or Boston? Tim Duncan is Tim Duncan, DeJuan Blair plays above his height but lacks consistency and McDyess has shown that there's still plenty left on his tank. But for them to get over hump, they will need Tiago Splitter to play his role and maximize his talent. If they believe otherwise they should look for another big to help them out.
The Spurs will be the first one to admit this fact and for that, they know they still have a lot of work ahead. With coach Gregg Popovich at the helm and Duncan, Ginobili and Parker healthy as ever, they have their best shot but with this current group their margin for error becomes relatively smaller especially during the post season.
Yes, the Spurs has have been impressive so far and it's safe to say the no one expected them to be on top of the standings at this point of the season, but fair or not their true success will only be measured by winning a title this season, anything less than that might be considered a failure in San Antonio.
Thanks for all the compliment guys! It's always great to hear/read intelligent comments from our readers. By the way for all new readers/commenter. You guys and gals can always call me Robby, again thanks everyone for the comments and reads. Go Spurs Go!
As I have said, Defense will win it all for the Spurs, unless they improve on Defense I don't see a 5th title, Robby hit the nail on this : "Nevertheless, the Spurs still need to raise the level of their defense like in the past before having serious thoughts on winning another title" I'd like to believe we will get to that point and with our potent offense I think the Spurs should definitely win it all this season. Go Spurs Go!
If we don't win a title this year, is it a failure? I'm not sure, but let's be real about one thing Tim and Manu are not getting any younger. That isn't to say we don't have a chance, because we do. However, our trademark throughout the previous four titles was defense. We do own the best record in the league, and there is a reason for that, but I think the primary reason is an uncharecteristic offensive explosion with few glimpses of Spurs defense. Times are changeing,Tim and Manu are crafty old vets. but it is simply unrealistic to expect them to keep up with players such as Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard. Don't think I'm all doom and gloom, there is the other side of the coin to consider. With Tiago learning from the greatest PF in history, and DeJuan learning from a pretty successfull under sized C/F. Coupled with Matty Bonner, Larry Owen, James Anderson and RJ, our frotline looks pretty good for the foreseeable future. Then there's the guards. Tony is under 30 and probably a top 5 PG. We know what we have in George, and the offensive emergence of Gary Neal is extremely encourageing. I understand Mr. Lim's arguement for another big, and it would be benaficial espeacially agaaainst L.A. and Boston. Just don't forget about DeJuan who is a little inconsistant, but a monster nonetheless. Then there's Tiago whose as heady as anyone and much tougher than he gets credit for. By the way, they got two guys named Pop and R.C. who seem to know what they're doing. GO SPURS GO!!!
I agree with the article: SPURs REALLY need a DEFENSIVE big man in the paint to beat impressive teams as Boston or Lakers. Tiago is still young but show good improvment in defense. But i really think th eonly thing missing in this team is a better defense in the paint. With this additional big man and everyone healthy, i could bet the spurs wil a new title.
For what it's worth, I hope the Spurs win another title this year. Tim, Manu and Parker aren't getting any younger they must win now.
Spurs would not be a failure for not winning a title. Of course I would be disappointed. But I never expected them to be in this spot (best record). I figured it was the start of the end with their poor playoff record in the past two seasons (5 W - 10 L).
As for if they are ready, I hope the Spurs keep improving through the end of the season. I am not concerned about the losses, I think they could adjust in a 7 game series. It's just the defense isn't good enough yet, and the offensive lulls seem to be extended at times. Also concerned about a potential injuries, and rookie wall for Gary Neal.
But overall, I feel like the Spurs are playing with house money now. It's all good. On average, a team should win a championship every 30 years. Spurs have built up 109 years worth (12 years since '99 chip). I am excited that they are still in the hunt, still finding ways to get it done from the back of the draft, and still being honorable people.
Nice article and very timely with the Spurs playing so well anything less than a championship is definitely a failure. Just one quibble why did you use Matt Bonner's photo in the article instead of the big three? Go Spurs Go!
of course the season would be considered a failure, the spurs are one of the players in contention of winning the NBA championship alongside the other elite teams. Its not like they're the timberwolves, clippers, or kings where making the post season is considered a success. this aint the same team as they were in the early 90's; this team has been there and has what it takes, so it would definitley be a failure. hopefully they don't lose focus because how well they're doing in the regular season i.e(the 06-07 mavs)...sry, bad example because the mavs have always been choke artist :D GO SPURS GO!!!
I enjoyed reading the article very well written. YES, the SPURS has to win title number 5 this season or else it will be another failed season. Let's get it done!
Looking at the stats of their last 10 games, the Spurs really need to take care of the ball better and I quite surprise to find out that other teams are actually outshooting us from the three point area. But we keep on winning and that's what is more important. Get the number seed and win title number 5! That is the Spurs' mission for this season. Go Spurs Go!
A lot of people can dream of another LA-Boston Finals or LA-Heat but that's about it they can just "dream" The Spurs will win the NBA crown this year it's an odd year after all! Go Spurs Go!
Great article Robby, you pointed out all the things that needs to be address. We need more size and length come playoffs and we need to get back to that lock down defense. I also agree with what about this teams offense, the Spurs have won championships in past while relying heavily on the Big three to score points, this season that wasn't the case. We seriously have to win this title now this kind of opportunity doesn't come everyday and I don't think teams have already figured out on how to beat the Spurs consistently. GO SPURS! GO!
@LFJeremy I agree, the Spurs are not yet playing to their full potential but still has the best record in the league they definitely raised the bar higher this season and I believe that most Spurs fans are expecting another championship this season. Hopefully everything will pan out in our favor.
@SpursFanHenry Just as I expected :)
@Andrews Great observation, the Spurs are playing well as a team, but I too believe that our front court has to improve especially on the defensive end. I hope Tiago Splitter plays better and gets more playing time as the post season approaches.
@DennisM I couldn't agree more, the Spurs won four championships with defense, to win number five, they have to use that formula again.
@Alvin I know, having the best regular season record wouldn't mean a thing if you don't win the title. Ask the Dallas Mavericks! :D
Thanks for all the comments and reads everyone, it's very much appreciated!
The Spurs are having one of their best season so far and it would be a shame to be the number one seed and then have a early playoff exit, another championship is definitely in order this season. Go Spurs Go! Go for FIVE!
Very well said "the Spurs still need to raise the level of their defense like in the past before having serious thoughts on winning another title" DEFENSE will win it for Spurs.
I guess this has something to do with the kind of standard the Spurs have set for themselves. I think we have the best chance to win another title this season and you pointed out clearly that it will not be easy. Tiago Splitter has to be utilized for us to be a tougher team in the playoffs. Our frontcourt still has a lot to improve but I'm satisfied on how our wing men and backcourt are playing.
At the rate we are winning now and knowing how most Spurs fans (including myself) are so obsessed with winning another title I have to agree if we don't win a title it's another failed season in San Antonio.
@Mark_M Very well said! I just care enough of getting the number seed although that will be nice. All I care about is for the Spurs to win title number five!