Season 51, Game 17
San Antonio 96, Atlanta 85
11-6, 3rd in the West
The Spurs win against the Hawks was a microcosm for the whole season, a glimpse into how this team continues to win without its best player.
There was nothing remarkable about the win, and it wasn’t the most impressive of wins. The team wasn’t altogether sharp, and they allowed a lesser team to hang around longer than they probably should have.
But there are also no visible weaknesses. To a man, every active player on the roster is having an above average (to their own standards) season. So while there is no superstar propelling them to victories, there is also nothing dragging them down.
LaMarcus obviously stands out the most, having easily his best season as a Spur and playing at an All-Star level in the absence of Leonard. He has been the bedrock of the team, establishing the offense from his spot on the block. But he’s also been more engaged all around, and continues to play strong defense and make hustle plays.
Anderson and Green come next for me, both having “break out” seasons. Anderson has a wonderful all-around floor game, and in his fourth season, has finally found his confidence in the NBA, using his intelligence and unique game to his strength. Monday’s performance is the best of him: he can score, rebound, and run the offense. Pop puts the ball in his hands to initiate the offense in key moments, and that speaks volumes.
Green’s career year is a bit more unexpected, at his age. You don’t expect him to regress, but you’d imagine he’d already peaked. Instead, he continues to add to his offensive game while never losing sight of his defensive game.
After a slow start, Patty has gotten back into his groove, and even proved he can be a starting PG.
Manu continues to defy his age, having many more “good Manu” moments than “bad Manu” moments.
Gasol has been rock solid, and leads the team in assists and blocks.
Gay has been a revelation off the bench (though he had a pedestrian game tonight), second in the team in scoring and giving the second unit a much-needed scoring oomph.
Brandon Paul and Bryn Forbes are legitimate NBA players who can shoot the ball and play dogged defense.
Murray is still learning on the job, but he gives great effort and energy every night.
And Lauvergne and Bertans are easing into their roles at the end of the big rotation after early-season injuries. Bertans can change a game with his shooting, and Lauvergne is finding his niche in the Oberto/Splitter/Lee mold.
Nothing spectacular, yet nothing damaging. Just rock solid up and down the roster.
Which is why, 1/5th of the way through the season, the Spurs find themselves 3rd in the West and more than holding the fort…with plenty of room for improvement.
The Spurs travel to New Orleans to face the Pelicans Wednesday night. The Spurs recent history in New Orleans is…not great. This will be a great test for this squad.
Go Spurs Go.