Blindfolded And One Hand Tied Behind Your Back
New Orleans 80, San Antonio 96
The Spurs tied the franchise regular season record by winning their 17th game in a row against the New Orleans Pelicans. San Antonio got up by 15 or so early in the first quarter and mostly coasted the rest of the way to the victory. New Orleans played hard, but were without superstar Anthony Davis and never really stood a chance.
The Spurs were sporting, though, almost deliberately playing with handicaps. Only one player will played more than 25 minutes: Marco Belinelli. Tiago and Danny didn’t play at all. Parker played in name only. (I continue to worry about his health moving forward.) Daye and Ayres got a lot of playing time together. As did Cory Joseph. Every time the game got close, Pop would just put Manu or Tim in for a spell with some more top of the rotation players and balloon the lead up to 20 or so, then ease off the gas again.
This game is exactly why long winning streaks are dangerous. It’s too easy to get complacent and sloppy and to skip steps. Things come to easy; eventually they’ll be hard again, and it’s a legitimate concern to wonder how the team might respond. Remember in 2012, once the Thunder snapped the 20-game win streak, the Spurs had no response, losing 4 in a row and getting swept out of the playoffs.
Don’t misunderstand me, though: the Spurs are still playing fabulously, pitfalls and all. They seem to be peaking at the right time and maintaining health, mostly. (As best as any team can expect to this part of the season.) With nine games left, there is no team in better shape heading into the playoffs.
More good news: a loss is certainly coming! Probably even this week. The Spurs play Monday in Indiana, Wednesday at home against the Warriors, then back to back Thursday in Oklahoma, closing it out Sunday at home against Memphis. That’s a tough week. Monday’s game against Indiana is very interesting. The Pacers are struggling as of late, but still atop the West, still a legitimate Finals opponent, and kicked the Spurs butts early in the year in San Antonio. This game could serve as a wonderful gauge for the team and be a chance for some redemption.
I imagine they will play that game with both hands and in full vision.
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