Bramlet lives. And he pronounces his opinions on the Spurs' season so far.
Profuse apologies to the gentle readers who have been longing for a post from their beloved Bramlet these last two months, but it’s difficult to blog when you’re engaged in marathon transcendental meditation sessions high in the Himalayas. Nothing like some good ol’ annihilation of the Self to give a little perspective on the Spurs’ only mildly disappointing, yet somehow still stroke-inspiring, season. My therapist recommended this approach after I burst yet another major cerebral artery trying to throw my couch at the TV. But don’t worry—they managed to patch me up, as always, and it doesn’t seem to have affected my writing skills. And my TV survived.
Fortunately I’ve been able to return to the material plane often enough to keep up with the Spurs, and I’ve been alternately frustrated and excited by what I’ve seen.
Tim: He’s slowed down a bit since the beginning of the season but is still quietly cranking out good games. He doesn’t exactly look physically compromised, but he also doesn’t yet look as physically dynamic as I expect him to be in the playoffs. That’s inevitable for a guy who’s been through as many 82-game slogs as Mr. 3-Time NBA Finals MVP has.
Manu: While some have lamented the lack of obvious explosiveness (and dunks over three Suns or four Lakers) that has continued to characterize his game this season, I think he’s playing brilliantly while managing not to put himself at too much risk physically. He’s made great adjustments to his game that will extend his career and make him a more durable and dependable player, and even without the dunks he’s still as much fun to watch as ever. Massive props to him of the huevos grandes. And when he gets back to his reckless, heedless self in the playoffs, he’ll be even better.
Tony: For all the abuse he takes from certain people, he’s continued to make strides in his game. Michael and I have shared a few laughs about the Argentine “Tony Parker is the Antichrist” League, because the interplay between these two guys has been frequently beautiful to watch. Tony will probably always take a shot here and there when he should pass (and, specifically, pass to Manu), but overall he’s had a good and at times very impressive season. Hopefully his defense on Arenas (who admittedly didn’t seem to have it that night) was a sign of things to come. He needs to have a big game tonight to redeem himself for his no-show against the Bulls, however. Let’s hope Eva will be in attendance to crack the whip. Better yet, let’s hope she gets heckled so TP will completely go off on those La-La-Land bitches.
In short, our Big 3 have been great for us, as usual, and when they’re all on, or when they get some substantial help from their supporting cast, the Spurs dominate. Unfortunately, the help from that supporting cast has been horribly inconsistent, even though we’ve been relatively fortunate in terms of injuries. My thoughts on most of the guys:
Bruce: Yes, Bruce is slowing down a bit. Yes, he has sometimes shot poorly. But I think for many matchups he still has it, and I have nothing but admiration for this Iron Man. And I’d still trust him to take that 3 from the corner at the end of a big game.
Fabri: He’s a limited player, and he hurts us in some matchups. But I love what he does, and he’s always been a big-game player.
Brent: Is it too late to bring back the old ball? At least he still moves well and doesn’t really seem to be showing his age.
Beno: He continues to show flashes of his talent and sometimes surprises with defensive plays and strong drives to the hoop. But dude, we need to put out an Amber Alert for this guy’s J. It must be bound and gagged in a grimy basement prison in some suburban San Antonio neighborhood. I have faith that it’s still alive, but I just hope it hasn’t been sodomized beyond all hope of complete recovery, ’cause this guy used to be able to stroke it.
Findog: Again, I’m still optimistic, given that he went through a similar slump for much of last season before turning it on down the stretch, but that hope fades further with every 2-11 shooting night.
Big Shot: Sometimes it feels like he has nuts; sometimes it don’t. As a fan, the best approach to watching Robert Horry is to lower your standards and be pleasantly surprised when he turns in a nice performance. I think he’ll be more consistent about that in the playoffs, but who knows whether he’s still physically capable of that? Even Rob himself admits that his body doesn’t consistently feel good.
Red Rocket: It’s a shame that he got injured when he did. The Rocket is one of my favorite guys on the team to watch with his hustle and shooting. I just hope that when he comes back, he’ll be able to get back into a rhythm and a regular role very quickly.
Frankie Elson: He hasn’t picked up the defense quite as well as it seemed he would early in the season, and he has costly moments in which he loses focus, but I still think this guy may well be the difference for us against the Mavs, and I’m excited about his return.
Vulnerable Venerability: The Spurs’ bottom line this year, and I know it’s been said a million times, is that they have an old roster whose age sometimes gets exposed. In the playoffs, that will probably not be as much of a problem, but it would sure be nice to have an injection of youth and athleticism. I’m a sentimental bastard, and I’d have no problem with trying to win this season with the guys we have, most of whom I’m attached to. But it may well be time to pull the trigger on a trade like the rumored Maggette trade, if that’s possible. On the other hand, if guys like Beno, Frankie, and Red Rocket stay healthy down the stretch and produce consistently, they may provide enough of an energy and youth boost for this season. But for next season, let’s hope that some of the Spurs’ irons in the fire (Butler, Scola, White, Mahinmi, Javtokas, and Sanikidze) start to work out for us in one way or another (i.e. as trade fodder, in Scola’s case). The prospects don’t look great at the moment for most of them, but if a couple of them can become significant contributors, and if the Spurs front office can pull off some kind of trade and make a nice pick in the draft, the Spurs should be just fine for the rest of the TD era. Let’s just hope some of our veterans stick around to pass on some corporate knowledge, as Pop calls it, to the young pups.
In the meantime, I’m going to do my best to enjoy the sometimes rocky road to the Spurs’ fourth title. Of course, now it’s merely an indulgence that I laugh at myself for…you know, because I’ve become one with the universe and everything.
But I’m still not above screaming “Die, Laker bitches!” at my TV, as I will be doing tonight. So please, Laker bitches, die.
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