Playing With the Switch
San Antonio 102, Denver 94
One good quarter is all it took.
And that’s a good thing and a very bad thing.
The Spurs, as constituted, are just better than most of the teams in the NBA. All things equal, they can win most games. Even as Denver continued to hit shots and just play harder than San Antonio, the Spurs hung around just enough to allow one good burst in the 4th to seize control and turn a 6-10 point deficit to a near double-digit win. Yawn. It’s nice to know that we can get these early season road wins that are available to us, but it’d also be nice to see a little more rhythm and little more of the team we’re used to.
Because that run in the 4th quarter covered up a lot of ugliness. The offense is still in a horrible rhythm: how often do you see this many plays with Spurs players literally running into each other? With so many possessions ending in one-on-one dribbling and mid-range contested shots? Where’s the ball movement and player movement that makes the Spurs’ offense such a joy to behold?
Part of it is just missing shots, which we’re doing quite often, particularly at the rim. But I’m a bit concerned about the lack of open 3-pointers. Make or miss, a sign of the offense humming is the amount of good 3-point looks we get, and we’re just getting none. This, in turn, shrinks the floor and crowds the offense. Something to keep an eye on.
This game was won on the defensive end, as we turned up the pressure late in the 3rd and kept it up the remainder of the game. Kawhi was his usual pesky self, and Danny Green even showed some signs of life (as he continues to struggle on O, defense is one place where he can still earn his keep). We used turnovers to transition to early offense, and we out-Nuggeted the Nuggets.
These games aren’t pretty in the early going, but what matters most is process, growth, and securing enough wins to stay in the hunt near the top of the West.
A few more quick thoughts from this game:
–Speaking of process, the growth with Kawhi as a more offense-focused piece is going to be a bit tougher than I think we all thought. Luckily, he’s still doing all of the other things that make him so valuable. I really liked the action to get him isolated in the low post against his defender. It resulted in a couple of late easy baskets, and every time, make or miss, was a very good look.
–The French contingent has been the most reliable so far this season. We expect it from Parker, who is being very efficient this year. I expect his numbers to be comparable to the last few seasons, but for the buzz to quiet around the league. Works for us. Boris, on the other hand, has been superb. He’s fat, we get it. Make fun all you want. The thing is, every time he drives or posts, he gets a super easy flip in shot. He rebounds well on both ends and passes like a dream. Now that he’s being more aggressive, he’s even more dangerous. I’m loving this Boris.
–Duncan is taking a lot of elbow jump shots and missing a ton of them. I just assume this is part of a short-term and long-term master plan. Long-term, to save his body the wear and tear. Short-term, it tends to open up the lane late in the game. In the 4th quarter, they ran the same action, but instead of shooting, Tim drove (because the defender had to honor the shot) or passed and immediately set a pick for a similarly efficient play.
Another back-to-back as the Spurs head home to face the Suns Wednesday night, who are also coming off a win in New Orleans.
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