Everybody and their mother has been talking about the red hot start from the Indiana Pacers. The Paul George led outfit are 11-1 and sports writers and analysts everywhere are speculating about the team’s possible challenge to the Miami Heat in the Eastern conference. Still, there is another team that has been equally (if not more) convincing. They are also 11-1 and they were in the NBA Finals last season. Somehow, the San Antonio Spurs keep finding a way to be the least talked about elite franchise in professional sports.
The last two games epitomize a team that just knows how to win basketball games. The Spurs entered their first half contest against the Boston Celtics tied at 48-48 with star player Tim Duncan struggling and every reason not to find motivation against a young opponent low on scoring talent. Instead, Gregg Popovich’s team romped to an 11-point win leaving the Celtics in the dust during an impressive second half display.
Two nights later facing a legitimate Western conference contender, and their Western conference finals opponents from last year, the Spurs showed similar closing ability. The Grizzlies put together a powerful third quarter and then pulled to within a point of the Spurs with less than seven minutes to play in the game. San Antonio just found a way to stay in control powering to the finish line enjoying a 23-8 run.
No franchise has enjoyed as much consistent success in regular season and postseason play as San Antonio over the last 15 years or so. Even as the countdown continues on the Duncan-Manu Ginobili-Tony Parker era, the trio continue to produce and new young stars like Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green begin to emerge.
There aren’t obvious weaknesses with this team. They move the ball well, get a lot of players involved, play strong defense, rebound well and have players who can close basketball games. They aren’t necessarily flashy in terms of saying anything controversial, or running up the floor and laying in heavy slam dunks, but this is a team that puts together some beautiful passing plays and is very effective and efficient on offense.
They are exceptionally well-coached and have some depth too. Marco Belinelli has provided excellent back-court support shooting the ball pretty well.
The talk around the NBA, including on this blog, has largely focused on the flaws of many of the West’s big contenders like Oklahoma City, the Clippers and Houston. It’s a lot harder to isolate and identify clearer flaws when it comes to this roster.
Maybe the Spurs are just doing what they always do. Maybe this veteran team will break down at some point during the regular season or even in the 2014 NBA playoffs. However, it really is remarkable that an 11-1 team is receiving as little attention as San Antonio has received so far.
Don’t worry too much though. History suggests that that’s exactly how Popovich and Duncan like it.