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Let Go and Let Pop

By Jeff Koch on December 27, 2013.

San Antonio 116, Dallas 107

Now that we’ve played one game, can we let go of all the DeJuan Blair sound and fury about his departure from San Antonio? Yes? (You’re welcome, DeJuan, for picking you when literally every team had already passed over you–some more than once–for giving you plentiful minutes, and for giving you a chance to succeed in the NBA. Really, it was our pleasure.)

As I expected, the Spurs came out much more focused and aggressive to start the game after the embarrassing loss to Houston the previous night. The bench really opened up the game (how many times has this been true this season?) at the end of the first into the second, and while the game seesawed a bit from there, the Spurs never really lost control of the game.

Danny Green was on fire, didn’t miss a shot, and played his usual strong defense. Belinelli had another disappointing outing as the starting SG. The curse of the SG continues. It’s hard to pin it on one thing in particular, but it does seem like playing with Manu and Boris (and Patty to a lesser extent) just opens up more opportunities for wide open shots out of that position. The offense of the starters is focused around Parker, Duncan, and Leonard and is a different sort of game.

But I also think there’s something else going on here: Parker is slumping, even if his numbers aren’t showing it. He just seems a beat off in every facet of the game, and that is gumming up the offense for the starters and causing those shots for the SG to dry up. It’s true that Green was being defended differently to start the year, and that was partly the reason why a bunch of his shots disappeared. (Remember, his shooting numbers haven’t gone down, just his attempts and wide open looks.) But part of that was also the offense being a step out of sync and not finding the shooters precisely when they should.

Meanwhile, with Ginobili having a resurgent season, the second unit is firing on all cylinders (and often playing against lesser defenses).

I think the question of the SG dilemma is missing the obvious concern: Parker’s play. Even where he’s at now, he’s still a Top-5 PG in the league. But last year he was quietly the best PG in the league. For this Spurs team to get back on track, Parker needs to get back on track. He makes the offense hum; and a humming offense often leads to a stouter defense, as the team has time to set up the D it wants and execute in the half court, where they can squeeze the life out of opposing teams.

It’s a long season and it isn’t time to panic. But this team still has work to truly be an elite team.

Meanwhile, if we keep beating the teams we’re supposed to, we’ll have plenty of time to work through the process. Speaking of which, Sacramento comes to town Sunday night.

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