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“Stick With the System”

By Jeff Koch on January 25, 2013.

In coach Bud’s in-game interview, when asked what the team does in the absence of Pop and Duncan, and with Parker out injured, he gave an illustrative quote as to why the Spurs continue to be so successful year after year: we try to stick with the system. Over the last half decade, more than anything else, that has been the key to this team’s continued stay at or near the top of the mountain. The System.

Tonight’s game was another System win. When Parker went out early with an eye injury and looked like he might be lost for the remainder of the game, it didn’t matter. Neal came in, and without any of the Big 3, nor the coach on the sideline, the Spurs ran their system and actually built a lead, a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the night. It didn’t matter if it was De Colo to Splitter, Ginobili to Blair, Neal or Green to Blair, or Diaw to Splitter, the offense was as smooth and well-oiled as always.

Even in the face of Dallas’ closing gasp to close the game and make it interesting, the team played within itself and didn’t lose sight of what it was supposed to do. Of course, it never hurts to have Parker running the show, who was able to make two great drives into the paint around Dirk to push the lead from 11 to 15, and essentially salt the game away.

Stick with the system. It’s true that great players are needed for true greatness in the league, a great System will allow teams to win night after night, year after year; a great System will allow All-time greats to have continued excellence late into their careers, and really good players to make the potential leap to greatness; a great System will allow a little-used bench player to come in and give the team 22 points on any given night.

A great System will always keep you in the hunt.

A few more notes from tonight’s game:

–In the first half, DeJuan Blair made the case that he is a legitimate NBA player, showcasing the very best he has to offer. In the second half, he showed why he is a rotation player at best, and why he is no longer in the Spurs’ long-term plans. Still, we needed every one of his first half points.

–Continuing with Blair, Jeff McDonald made a wonderful point on twitter, that Blair basically gives the team what Splitter does with 4 less inches. I’d also argue that Splitter is varying degrees of better in every area, as well. Jerry West has a team-building rule that you don’t want to duplicate too many roles, and right now Splitter is the clear choice in whatever role that is.

–Dirk is still clearly not Dirk. It seemed like Boris was actually aggressively going at him on the offensive end early in the game, and Parker clearly went after him late to ice the game. His jump shot isn’t as deadly as usual, and he is a lot less frightening than normal. At his peak, there are few players more consistently frightening than Dirk.

–Ginobili through the legs is pretty routine at this point. *Yawn* How lucky that we get to see his creative brilliance on the regular.

–No Ginobili in the second half: just extra rest, or did his hammy re-tighten? With a game looming tomorrow night, it’ll be interesting to see who plays and who doesn’t. Parker might get a night off with the eye injury, and we’ll get to see Duncan be the focal point.

–Um, Neal’s rhythm seems to be back.

–Leonard made back to back “bad” plays in the third (amidst the huge run to build the lead) and was immediately pulled for Jackson. On offense, he rushed a corner 3 that wasn’t wide open and came too early in the shot clock. On defense, he gambled for a steal, that led to a wide open driving lane and eventual points of the Mavs. Coach Bud could probably mimic Pop almost to a T having been on the sideline for so long with him.

–It’s fun to hear Jeff Van Gundy gush about the Spurs and their System. It’s an easy complaint for Spurs fans that we don’t get enough love nationally. Frankly, I don’t care at all. But I like and respect Van Gundy, and he was absolutely in love with the way our team was playing.

–One complaint I do have about these national game crews (the same problem occurred on TNT Monday night), they just go off on these long tangents that have nothing to do with the games or even either of the teams playing in the game. Long diatribes about the Lakers or the Celtics or the Heat, often allowing up to 2 minutes of game time tick off the clock. It’s pretty insane. (Hat tip to Dan McCarney for making the same obvious point on twitter.) Complain all you want about local broadcasts, but I do enjoy watching Spurs game and hearing mostly about the Spurs.

The Spurs are back at it tomorrow night against Phoenix at home.

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