In recent years the San Antonio Spurs have faced doubts over what they can achieve because of their age. Critics consistently predict that this will be the year that the Spurs collapse and consistently Gregg Popavich’s team proves them wrong.
Their style of basketball has morphed over the years, making adjustments to fit the team’s personnel. A once defensive and gritty team has changed and become one of the top offensive powerhouses in the league. It seems no matter the circumstances, the Spurs know how to win and they do it with an efficiency that few teams can.
The 2012-13 season is young, but the Spurs are already showing the same type of consistency that has propelled them to great success over the years. This is a franchise that has made the postseason in 21 of the last 22 seasons. Since 1998, they have won four championships and been to the Western Conference Finals three times. The Spurs are, simply put, a bastion of excellence and a beacon of consistency.
San Antonio is off to hot start, narrowly trailing Memphis for the Southwest division lead by a half game. When it comes to offense, the Spurs are clicking as well as just about anyone in the league at 101 points per game, fifth best league wide.
Defensively, San Antonio is still a solid team which is why they rank fourth in point differential averaging a 5.2 point margin of victory. It makes it a lot easier to rack up convincing victories when you shoot the fifth best field goal percentage in the NBA and rank seventh in defending the three.
San Antonio also ranks in the top ten in free throw percentage, points in the paint, and turnovers, but those pale in comparison to the their ball movement and ability to turn it on when it comes time to close the game.
The Spurs are second in the league in assists trailing only Boston and the remarkable vision of Rajon Rondo. They rank fifth in the league in assist to turnover ratio and turn up the heat on their opponent’s attempts to pass the ball ranking fifth in the number of assists allowed to an opponent.
On top of all this, no NBA team is better in the fourth quarter. The Spurs average just over 27 points in the final period of games with Golden State the closest in comparison at just over 25 per fourth quarter.
The reason for their success goes beyond all of these stats, however. It comes down to composure, planning and experience. On a given night, the Spurs still take the floor with the greatest power forward to ever play the game, one of the most consistent sixth men of all time and a point guard who has averaged more than six assists per game in five of the last six seasons.
The Spurs come into every game promising to crash the boards hard, pick up points through the pick and roll and dig in and do the dirty work on the defensive end. They are never out of a game and never rest easy with a lead.
They are consistent because of the triumvirate of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili being on the floor, because Popavich has patrolled the side line for 14 seasons and has never failed to change his game plan when he needed to. They are where they are because their philosophy and game planning is as sound as their execution, at times evoking the word clinical.
Last night, they faced a Washington Wizards franchise in peril, a team that represents the exact opposite of what the Spurs have come to embody. After his encounter with the Texas super power, Wizards coach Randy Wittman was left with little to say other than the obvious.
“I’d like someday for us to play like that,” he said.
He’s certainly not the first to say it after an encounter with the Spurs and won’t be the last.