Posted by Andrew Shi
The Spurs extended their winning streak to nine after Wednesday's win in Boston, but even with a rejuvenated looking team, can their momentum carry them through the playoffs?
The Spurs have beaten the best of the best this season. The team has gone 2-1 against last year's champions, the Mavericks, and 2-1 against this year's Western Conference first seed, the Thunder. They also punished the Grizzlies, who surprisingly ousted them in the first round of last year's playoffs, holding the series at 3-1. They're dominating the Western Conference and currently hold its second seed, only two games behind the Thunder
The team is still built around the three aging all-stars: Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. All three have demonstrated that what they've lost in agility and power which have decreased with old age (for the NBA), they can make up for in team chemistry. With the big three a few supporting and younger players including center/ power forward Dejuan Blair and forwards Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs have become the third highest scoring-per-game team, averaging 101.62.
This top tier points- per-game statistic is despite coaching decisions to cut minutes for the big three, and to allow the younger players to take on a stronger role. The fewer-minute strategy has worked, but will it work in the playoffs? No, it won't. Tony Parker still leads the team in assists and points, and Tim Duncan leads in blocks and rebounds. The Spurs still heavily depend on the all-stars for wins, despite having them play for less time.
The Spurs is exactly the same team it was last year, minus their rookie Leonard. Everyone is just one year older and that has proven to be dangerous as demonstrated by Ginobili's early leave in the season from an injury. He only just recently returned.
Yes, a nine game winning streak- one most likely to extend to at least 12 until they play the Lakers on April 11- is very impressive, but they had a 12 game winning streak last year and look how well they did in the playoffs.
Many times Spurs' Coach Gregg Popovich has had to sit Duncan or Parker in back-to-back games because he didn't want them too exhausted or didn't think they could manage to play both games. So how do the Spurs expect to seriously contend for a title during playoffs when games, and at least four of them, are one after the other?
The Spurs are just a better version of the Celtics, although the Celtics have a young all-star point guard (Rajon Rondo) who still has yet to reveal his full potential. Back to the point though, the Spurs' latest run has been impressive, but it's all a show. The Spurs at this point are scheduled to play the Houston Rockets in the first round and definitely cannot compete against the younger and more agile team, as demonstrated in the three out of four games that the Spurs have already lost to them this season.
The Spurs are done for now, and they're going to need some time to remold their team to a championship caliber again.