Big Three Throwback
Much like Manu, when the final buzzer sounded, I wondered how in the hell the Spurs had pulled out the victory. We couldn’t hit a three to save our lives, we couldn’t get a rebound or a convincing stretch of stops against a middling Pacers offense, and we couldn’t get much rhythm going on offense.
What we did have is what we seemingly always have had, and where we’ve turned so many times in games both big and small: the Big 3. As they get older (especially Tim and Manu), it’s hard to rely on all 3 to carry the team on a night to night basis…but it’s nice to know it can still happen. All three still have their moments of individual brilliance, and Duncan in particular has been amazing all year. But the team has come to rely on the contributions of other players more and more, and the results have shown in an amazingly altruistic offense and a frantic (yet slipping) defense.
On Friday night, though, it was a blast from the past. The Big 3’s stats look something like this: 74 pts, 20 reb (17 from Duncan), 14 assists (10 from Parker), and 32 of the 41 made field goals. It was vintage in the manner in which it happened as well: Parker came out and completely dominated the first quarter, Duncan was steady as a rock throughout, and Ginobili got us over the hump and lead the close in the 4th quarter.
It was particularly nice to see Parker and Manu so aggressive and so more like themselves. We know of Manu’s early season struggles, but Parker has been quietly pretty ordinary this year, too. His shots around the rim haven’t been falling, and he’s been much less aggressive. (One very likely begets the other.) But starting with a public questioning by Pop before the game in Boston, Parker has been on fire. Let’s hope this trend continues.
A few other notes from the game:
–The game had a really bizarre rhythm. The Spurs dominated the first quarter, but the Pacers kept it close. Then the Pacers owned the second and the third, going up by as much as 17. But by the end of the third, the game was still close. Then the Spurs dominated the 4th, going on a 29-11 run in the final 10 minutes, and a 13-2 run in the final 5 1/2 minutes, when the Pacers just went ice cold and literally couldn’t make a basket.
–De Colo has a long way to go, and is probably not ready to be part of the regular rotation. After blitzing the Pacers for the first 11 minutes or so, De Colo came in for Parker, and during his stint running the offense, the Spurs scored about 6 points in 8 or 9 minutes, during which time the Pacers seized control of the game.
–While all of the “others” were pretty silent early, both Green and Neal had their own personal mini-runs in the 4th quarter that helped salt away the game. Green had a 7-0 run, and then Neal had a little 4-0 run a little later.
–It’s pretty obvious that we’re missing our regular SFs. Against the Celtics, while Pierce didn’t have a huge game, he did overpower just about anybody we put on him and was able to get his shot at any point. Against the Pacers, Paul George was able to dominate whoever was matched up against him on both ends of the floor. Ginobili and Green just aren’t big enough to defend NBA SFs. We can mask it against a lot of teams, but it’s not something we’d want to do for long. We should just forfeit the game against Miami right now. Run the table on the road trip until then (5-0), and then pull a Pop and sit Duncan and Parker and just cede the game. We have no chance of stopping LeBron with Jackson or Leonard, two players with the build and attitude to actually slow down the best player on the planet.
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