The San Antonio Spurs have lost three in a row after winning 20 straight. We decided that the Spurs were for real after they ended the season with a 10-game winning streak. But remember when we couldn't get a good read of them since this become a season without reason (thanks, Matt Moore)?
The Spurs' best player this season has been Tony Parker but no one really mistakes him as a superstar of the caliber of LeBron James or Dwight Howard. And while he has had an outstanding year at the point guard spot, not many people put him in the conversation as the point guard in the league. So, really, the Spurs don't have that dominant superstar. Anymore. Obviously, Tim Duncan will go down as one of the greatest players in history but let's not pretend this is 2002, either. And Manu Ginobili can still be lethal but he's also 34 years old.
The other reason why we never really thought the Spurs were for real earlier? Their defense hasn't exactly been top tier in the past few years. San Antonio's play has been more predicated around their offense these days. It's a lot more Parker/Ginobili these days than Duncan.
2011-12 Scoring: 103.7 (2nd)
2011-12 Offensive Efficiency: 108.5 pts per 100 possessions (1st)
2011-12 Points Allowed: 96.5 (16th)
2011-12 Defensive Efficiency: 100.6 pts per 100 possessions (11th)
Like I said, it's been like this for a while now.
2010-11 Scoring: 103.7 (6th)
2010-11 Offensive Efficiency: 109.4 pts per 100 possessions (2nd)
2010-11 Points Allowed: 98.0 (14th)
2010-11 Defensive Efficiency: 102.8 pts per 100 possessions (11th)
I assumed that Coach Pop would have them turn up the defense in the postseason since that had been his calling card as of late. And, yes, he's got guys that can still defend in Duncan and Kawhi Leonard. But, of course, Duncan is also 36 years old now and Leonard is no Bruce Bowen just yet. And there are holes in the Spurs defense that teams can take advantage of. Sometimes, all it takes is a Kevin Durant to bust that defense and the Spurs don't have a Ron Artest-type that can neutralize him. With the Spurs focusing more on offense, it's hard for Pop to ask them to put energy on defense as well. They're going to try to outrun you and outscore you, much like the fun Suns teams in the past and history says that doesn't win you any championships.
Of course, if they win Game 6 tonight and go on to win the series, disregard whatever the hell I just said here.
A season without reason, indeed.
PHOTO CREDIT: Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images.