It is hard to imagine how the team with the best record in the NBA the last two seasons continues to fly under the radar, but the San Antonio Spurs snuck up on the Western Conference once again.
The Spurs’ Danny Green drained a 3-pointer with nine seconds left in the game against the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday night to give San Antonio the win and first place in the Southwest Division with a 7-1 record.
While teams like the Lakers went through major rebuilds this off-season, the Spurs remained steady. Just a few weeks ago some NBA analysts were picking the Spurs to finish as far back as 4th in the West. They said the Spurs hadn’t made enough off-season progress to fix their aging lineup. It was accepted that the West was going to be dominated by size (Lakers) and speed (Thunder and Clippers). Yet, two weeks into the season and it looks like experience is dominating on the court.
Once again the slow and steady approach of both Gregg Popovich and big man Tim Duncan appear more productive than the flashy trades of Los Angeles and other major market teams. The San Antonio 7-1 streak to start off the season includes quality wins over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers and Indiana Pacers. They’re simply outplaying the best in the West right now.
The Spurs offense if fueled by Tim Duncan underneath, with 18.8 points and 9.6 rebounds per game and Tony Parker with 13.6 points per game and 7.6 assists per game. They haven’t even started to fire on all cylinders and get former 6th Man of the Year Manu Ginobili into the mix yet. He’s had a slow start to the season, averaging only 7.8 points per game, which is far below his average.
The Spurs are currently #1 on the ESPN NBA Power Rankings in week 2 and are showing no signs of slowing down. They have a tough stretch over the next few games, including games against the Knicks, Clippers, and Celtics. It will be interesting to see if they can continue their fast start. More importantly, the story with San Antonio is whether they have enough left in the tank come playoff time to continue to edge out quality teams like the Lakers and Thunder.
We all remember San Antonio’s amazing 20 game winning streak going into the Western Conference Finals this past spring, only to run out of fuel against the youthful Thunder, eventually losing the series 6-2.