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Spurs 2008-2008 Season Preview

By Daniel Strickland on October 31, 2008.

I waded through more than a dozen prognosticators’ pre-season predictions to bring you the best takes on the 2008-2009 season. It’s not surprising that sports writers aren’t optimistic about the Spurs chances of winning a fifth title this year, but most don’t rule it out either.

Back in June, the Sporting News’ Stan McNeal picked his “Top 5 Candidates for a championship parade in 2009″, ranking the Spurs fourth behind the Lakers, Celtics and Hornets:

The other old standbys – Suns, Mavericks and Pistons – will be breaking in new coaches, but San Antonio still has Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

But that was back in June, before Manu injured his ankle in the Beijing Olympics. Luke Knight addresses Manu’s injury at betfirms.com:

Manu Ginobili will be out 20-25 games after having off-season ankle surgery. The Spurs think they could’ve beaten the Lakers in the playoffs if Manu hadn’t been out, but they better hope they can make up for his absence or they could find themselves in a huge hole… Roger Mason and Michael Finley need to be the answer for at least 20-25 games.

While I’m not buying into the odd-years theory, the Spurs are still a top-notch team. I don’t expect their age to show as much as the naysayers are saying, but it could hurt them down the stretch… The Spurs will be competitive in the Western Conference playoff race, but I expect them to fall short of the Hornets and Lakers this season.

John McMullen writes for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that this may be ‘last hurrah’ for the Duncan-era Spurs:

Gregg Popovich’s trio of stars are truly battle tested and still have the desire and skill to compete with anyone in the league.

The Spurs will continue to go only as far as Duncan, Ginobili and Parker can take them. Ginobili, however, will be sidelined until January with an injured ankle.

A veteran club that is built to win now, San Antonio, which lost to the Lakers in the Western Conference finals last year, is primed for another run at the top.

This may be the last hurrah for this group.

While San Antonio focused on getting younger and more athletic in the offseason with Mason, Hill and Stoudemire, this is still a veteran driven team. The core stars are clearly aging but if Duncan and Parker stay healthy and Ginobili returns at a high level, expect the usual odd year championship in the Alamo City.

Ben Collins writes a strangely entertaining preview for SLAM, but spends way too much time talking about forks. Seriously.

And there are no backup forks. Not-a-one.

This has been the pseudo-dilemma for the past two or three years on the Riverwalk. And I say pseudo-dilemma because Gregg Popovich — the genius, le premier master de la silverware drawer that he is — has dealt with it as only a genius master de la silverware drawer could: he has pretended like his players don’t get old and this somehow works.

The fact that this team that has gotten nothing but older since winning the whole thing in 2005 and 2007 and still managed to flirt with an NBA Finals appearance last year proves that Popovich is the best coach of his generation.

They’re going to win 16 more championships — probably one of them this year — with the new Twin Towers, Duncan/Mahinmi, and they will grab the mic simultaneously atop the podium to tell us to stop guessing when they will be awful and for all of us to go fork ourselves for once.

Ed Kacik checks in with what is easily the most pessimistic assessment of the Spurs prospects this season:

The Spurs have depended on a trio of perennial All-Stars, a lockdown defender and a role player to carry them to 11 straight playoff appearances, winning four titles over that span. However, the Duncan-Parker-Ginobili combination is down to a duo and their defensive specialist, Bowen, is beginning to show his age. Popovich is talented enough to get his team back to the playoffs if Duncan and Parker stay healthy and Ginobili doesn’t miss any extra time. Making it past the first round of the playoffs with an aging roster, however, is highly unlikely.

The experts over at ESPN almost unanimously pick the Spurs to finish 3rd in the Southwest and 5th in the West. Third and fifth, really?!

Dustin Chapman, writing for Bleacher Report, doesn’t write off the Spurs just yet:

Rightfully so, San Antonio is questioned and doubted on an annual basis at this stage of their legacy. Regardless, they always prove the naysayers wrong and they remain on the short list of legitimate title contenders each year. Until this team is officially knocked off in the first or second round, it’s impossible for me to say that 2009 will be any different.

The Spurs are old and achy, but they’re also wiser than the competition. San Antonio is a big time threat until proven otherwise.

Chapman writes a smart, detailed analysis. I recommend reading the whole thing.

I saved the best season preview for last. Our very own Michael, after lamenting his recent car problems, analyzes the Spurs roster player-by-player at PtR. It’s a must read. He also sums up game one in less than 500 words, in what could be a preview of a new, spartan writing style for Mr Erler. Check it out.

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