Reviewing the preseason
Praise Allah, the preseason is over. Ok, so the win-loss record means nothing. What did we learn from the Spurs’ preseason?
The Pacers are going to be tough. But then, we knew that already.
Peter Holt really IS cheap when it comes to the luxury tax. (See my other post.)
The Spurs should have a quicker start this year than they usually do, but we probably won’t see them dominate in the first month or so. As Finley reveals in this article, playing for the Spurs is different from playing for any other team, and it takes time for even great players to adjust to the Spurs’ offensive and defensive schemes and priorities:
“I thought I’d come in and catch on overnight,” he said. “Offensively and defensively, their whole way of approaching the game is far different from what I was playing in the last eight years of my career.”
A lot of players can’t make it in the Spurs’ system. It separates the chaff from the wheat, as I imagine Peter Holt might say. But with time, NVE, Finley, and Oberto will no doubt thrive, because they are smart players with balls and a dedication to winning. Brent Barry had a hard time adjusting last year, but when the playoffs hit, he nailed his treys, D’ed and nutted up, and played important minutes for us in the Finals.
From what I’ve read, the main negative about the Spurs’ preseason performance was the lack of D, and certain stats bear that out. We gave up 101 points to a 76ers team playing without AI, despite the fact that Pop played close to a regular rotation in that game. But this problem shouldn’t last, as it was probably due largely to the integration of the three new guys and less individual effort from some guys than they usually give.
We have finally discovered a situation in which Manu Ginobili plays with less than Satanic intensity: preseason games the year after winning a championship. I’m betting he flicks the switch and has a big game against the Nuggets on Tuesday night.
Nazr is a bit of a question mark right now, as he only played in a few games due to the birth of his child and his wife’s subsequent illness. (Congratulations, Nazr. We hope your wife gets well soon.) Pop was really counting on having him work on his understanding of the Spurs’ system in camp this year (since he was acquired mid-season last year), and unfortunately he missed a lot of that.
The biggest positive of the preseason is probably the fact that almost everyone on the roster showed flashes of individual greatness. The usual suspects had their moments, with TD looking like he’s ready to bitchslap the league’s frontcourts, the new guys got better as the preseason progressed, Beno had some great games, Rasho is apparently making a serious bid to be the permanent starter at center, and even our favorite Kiwi made a big impression. Brent Barry, as many fans have predicted, looks poised to have a good season despite the competition he faces for playing time. He seems to be much more comfortable on the floor than last year, and he capped off his nice preseason with a 21-point, 6-assist, 5-rebound performance, including a three-pointer to take the lead in the final minute. Personally, I love Brent, and I’m excited to see him playing so confidently (or at least read that he is).
It’s going to be beautiful to watch this team come together. It all starts Tuesday night at 7PM Central on TNT, when TD gets his third ring and Horry his sixth.
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