Season 51, Game 51
San Antonio 78, Philadelphia 97
32-19, 3rd in the West
It’s a good thing the Spurs won’t meet the Sixers in the Finals, because they’d get absolutely housed.
Against the Spurs, the Sixers are an absolute juggernaut, an offensive machine and defensive blockade, sporting the second coming of LeBron James at PG and the spiritual heir to Hakeem Olajuwon at Center. The ball zips around; they get all of their points at the rim or behind the line; and there are no seams to penetrate against their defense.
Having only seen the Sixers play twice this year, I’ll assume all of these things to be true.
The real issue with the opening statement isn’t the Sixers, though; it’s the Spurs. The thought of the Spurs making it anywhere near the Finals as presently constituted is laughable.
This season, much like this particular game, has been a slog. The rotation is held together by bailing wire and scotch tape. There is no consistency night to night other than LaMarcus Aldridge. The offense is a chore. The defense is really the only thing keeping this team in the hunt in the West and with a legitimate chance of continuing their 50-win streak.
I’m more interested in the offense. What’s been most puzzling about it is how wildly inconsistent it’s been. Night to night, you never know what team might show up. They could eke out a meager 81 against the Lakers one night, then drop a cool 112 on Denver the next.
The primary difference seems to be the road versus home. The Spurs offensive rating on the road is 100.2, 29th in the NBA. 29th! The only team worse is the Kings. And to paraphrase Zach Lowe, if the Kings are the only team below you, you’re last. At home they are 109.1, which is a respectable 10th in the NBA.
For longtime Spurs watchers, their road deficiencies are particularly baffling. This team is usually great on the road. But they have racked up uncharacteristic losses to subpar teams on the road all season long. This is the mark of a good team, not a great one.
What makes this performance against the Sixers so troubling is that it was a home game, and the offense was absolutely dreadful. At one point, they were 0-for-13 from three, while the Sixers were 9-for-19. There’s 27 points you’re not finding anywhere else.
The Spurs have had a weird schedule over the last few months, They’ve played 18 road games in December and January, to just 12 home games. They’ve only had one string of homes games that lasted more than 2 games (a 3 game stint between December 4th and 8th). Twice, they had single home games sandwiched between 3-game road trips.
This loss to Philadelphia was bad, but it also marked the beginning of a 5-game home stand. Let’s hope they got the bad one out of their system at the top, and can get some rest, recovery, and consistency over the next 4 home games. Because after these games, the Spurs leave on the Rodeo Road Trip.
The Kings come to town Sunday afternoon.
Go Spurs Go.