Save Room, There Are Cookies
Phoenix 96, San Antonio 99
My eccentric, reclusive billionaire benefactor has struck again. Look what mysteriously arrived via UPS for me today:
First tickets to the Blazers game, now this. I can’t think of a better gift for a Spurs fan with a wicked sweet tooth.
And what a fine way to celebrate another close win.
The game started off more promising than the first four. With the offense sputtering in just about every first quarter, Diaw got the start over Splitter and the results were immediately positive (which isn’t a surprise, given Diaw’s early season stellar play). Rather than starting out the game in a hole, the Spurs jumped out to an early 10 point lead.
The change to the starting line-up also allowed some interesting rotational changes. We saw some early small ball, with Leonard moving to the 4, sharing the floor with Duncan, Ginobili, Mills, and Belinelli. And then Splitter came into replace Duncan in the same line-up. I thought these two line-ups were great, and with 3 adept ball handlers on the floor (and so much creativity to boot), the Spurs seemed on the verge of running the Suns off of the floor. Tiago even shined in his role as the primary big off of the bench, getting involved on both ends of the floor.
Then the Spurs decided to dig themselves a nice hole, anyway. None of the Big 3 played for a long stretch of the second quarter, the offense completely stalled out, and Phoenix decided they would continue the trend of Spurs’ opponents not being able to miss mid-range shots.
Then the Spurs did what they’ve done so many times in the past: Tim Duncan in the post. Rinse. Repeat. Back in the ball game. Playing Phoenix recalls many of those battles from 2004-2008, and while the league seismically shifts every year around them, the Spurs just remain the same team. This will perhaps be their great legacy: dynastic in duration, if not quite there in accomplishment. Think about how many permutations per team have come and gone in the Duncan era. The Lakers rose, fell, rose again, and seem to be on the fall. The Suns had their run, re-tooled, had another tiny run, and now are completely unrecognizable from the Nash years. The Heat won championships with basically two completely different teams. The Mavs stuck around the longest with Dirk, but won’t hold on as long San Antonio. Boston sprung up then willfully went away.
And in a November game in 2013, there’s 38 year old Tim Duncan, bringing his team back with exquisite post play and steady defense.
Another mainstay sealed the game: Tony Parker. In true elite PG fashion, Tony spent the first 3 quarters feeling the game out, then won it in the 4th, scoring most of his team-high points in the final frame, and getting huge bucket after huge bucket when the Suns just wouldn’t go away. The Spurs look relatively normal early in the season, but a decade plus of repetitions will win them many games before the juice kicks in.
The Big 3: as it was, as it will continue to be.
A few more thoughts from tonight’s win:
–Playing the role of Danny Green tonight: Kawhi Leonard. Yeesh. He looks all out of sorts, as we’ve been discussing all season. Bigger growing pains than anticipated. He just seems like he is thinking way too much on offense, making too many wrong choices and not playing within a rhythm. Pop even benched him to start the second half and sat him in crunch time.
–Hard to argue with it, as Danny Green finally had a really good game. It’s amazing the difference between a good game and a bad game for Green is so slight. Basically, make a few 3s, and here comes good Danny. He made some 3s, then started driving, making lay-ups, and his energy increased noticeably on defense. Good to see you again, old friend.
–Smart Spurs’ observers and writers are all over this, but, down 3 on defense, Duncan was again on the bench. (Sorry if this brings back unhappy flashbacks.) And this happened all last season. When the other team needs 3, Pop wants to switch everything, and needs a more versatile defensive line-up. The incident in Miami was kind of fluky. Some day I’ll rewatch that footage and track where Duncan would have been and decide if his presence would have mattered. Some day.
Friday night presents an early season barometer reading: Golden State comes to town. Both teams are 4-1, and both teams will have had a day rest. The Warriors present all kinds of match-up issues for the Spurs, and they’re looking to take a step this season, so they’ll come out hungry in this game. Let’s hope the Spurs respond in equal measure.
Until then, let’s all enjoy some Spurs cookies.
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