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Sometimes You Write the Story, and Sometimes the Story Writes You

By Jeff Koch on December 31, 2012.

Watching the game, I started writing a draft of the story in my head. On the heels of last game and the Manu love fest, it was going to be an article in appreciation of Tony Parker, how his game has matured, how he continues to grow and improve as a player, how he runs the most efficient offense in the NBA with a maestro’s touch, always knowing when to get his own, when to pass, how his penetration is one of the deadliest weapons in the NBA, how he should always be mentioned in any best-of PG list (only Chris Paul should consistently be ahead of him), how his jump shot is still getting better, how he has matured into a leader, how he completely drank Deron Williams milkshake tonight, how there was a time when most people probably thought Williams was the better player, and how now it’s not even really a conversation people should have with a straight face. And perhaps most importantly, how he is a joy to watch night in and night out, the most boringly dazzling player in the entire league.

And then you get a 15-minute run of basketball (people will mostly discuss the 3rd, but it really started in the last 3 or so minutes of the 2nd) from the end of the 2nd through the 3rd quarter, and you kind of have to talk about that. For the first 12 minutes of that time frame, the Nets only scored 2 points. 1 basket. In total. Over that entire stretch, the Spurs outscored the Nets 35-5 (30-5 in the 3rd quarter). 5 points in 15 minutes. Whenever you get a stretch of offense that ineffective, it’s usually going to be a combination of bad offense, great defense, and random luck and bounces of the ball (though the Nets, in an odd statistic, won 4 jump balls in the 3rd quarter). There are plenty of numbers that can parse it, but the Spurs put an old fashioned whoop ass on the Nets. It was a pleasure to watch, and a glimpse at what this team can be capable of.

What I enjoy most about this team so far this season is that there are so many options at every position and in every need. The Big 3 remain the standard bearers, but in every role, there are numerous choices and combinations. Back-up PG can be Ginobili, De Colo, Mills, or even Neal depending on what the team needs (Ginobili for everything, De Colo for playmaking, Neal and Mills for scoring). Need a microwave off the bench: Neal or Mills can do that, too. In Jackson and Leonard, we may have the best 1-2 punch at the 3 position in the league. And we can ride either one if he is hot (or if the other is having an off night). Need to go big or small? Either can slide to the 2 or the 4. Likewise, Green can play and guard either the 2 or the 3 (and does a marvelous job guarding elite PGs), and can get as much or as little playing time as his shooting might dictate. And in the front court, all of our bigs (including Duncan, obviously) can pass and shoot and play with the backs to the basket. Diaw will get the nod when we need more ball movement and play making. Splitter can now play alongside Duncan, but can also anchor the low post (a la Duncan) in the second unit. And we have Bonner when we need a sniper and some instant offense. And Blair is still there, who can be effective in stretches as a high energy player.

Really, the only holes on this team are the ones created by transcendent players on the opposing team. And there’s only a handful of those in the league.

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