The Long and Winding Road
There’s nothing I hate more than getting a big lead early. Just watching that lead whittle down, ever so slowly. 28…25…20…16…14…. Suddenly you’re up 12, and it feels like you’re holding on for dear life.
Irrational panic aside, that was quite a way to put the Rodeo Road Trip to rest. Chances are we were always going to split the Portland and Denver games, so the sitting of Parker and Duncan in Portland probably isn’t that big of a deal. Except for the paying public, I guess. Of which I was one. Would I have liked to have seen Parker and Duncan play? Definitely. Did I enjoy sitting courtside to see the Spurs suffer the worst defeat in a decade (or more)? Not really. Do I support taking the longview to the detriment of a few games here and there? I wouldn’t be a Spurs fan if I didn’t.
Still, Pop owes me some good seats to a home playoff game.
If anything is to be learned from the two games, it’s the importance of the hierarchy and the pecking order. Everybody on the team has a well-defined and clearly established role. When everybody is forced up a position or two (as was the case in Portland on Tuesday), you see the results. Danny Green and Gary Neal didn’t suddenly become worse players; but when their roles expand in the absence of Parker and Duncan, their limitations are more clearly exposed. Role players are only as good as the stars they support. Or, as John Hollinger tweeted earlier tonight: “based on past 48 hrs, Duncan and Parker are worth approx. 80 points per game.” That sounds about right. Those open 3-point shots don’t create themselves.
Overall, I’m ecstatic with where the team is heading into the All-Star break. We’re second in the West, coming off an 8-1 Rodeo Road Trip. Parker is playing at the highest level of his career, Duncan is still chugging along, as efficient and valuable as ever. Pop is secretly in the midst of maybe his best 2-year coaching run ever. We’re younger and more athletic than ever before. We’re thriving without one of our best players, who might actually be healthy come playoff time for the first time in several years. The defense is rounding into shape. And the West is wide open.
The second half of the season should be one hell of a ride.
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