Season 51, Game 55
San Antonio 111, Utah 120
34-21, 3rd in the West
The Spurs are in a funk.
An extended funk that seems to have no particular rhyme or reason. Sure, there’s a bit of drama swirling around the team. But the funk started before that. Yes, the team hasn’t been fully healthy all season, but the Spurs have overcome that particular obstacle just fine in the past.
For the better part of two months, the Spurs have basically been a .500 team. It’s time to start thinking that just might be who they are.
Kawhi Leonard is not playing. Kawhi Leonard is the team’s best player. Kawhi Leonard is probably one of the five best players in the league. When you think about it in those terms, it’s easy to see why the team should be exactly average. Then you think about the roster: a couple of late first rounders, a couple of second rounders, a couple of D-leaguers, a bunch of late-late career veterans, some nice role players, and LaMarcus Aldridge.
Is it surprising the team is average? Strip away the jersey, the mythos, and the culture. This is a team that should be average.
It’s hard for Spurs’ fans to accept, but it’s true.
The Spurs just played 5 games in a row at home. A “normal” Spurs team should have finished that stand 4-1. This team went 2-3, losing bookend games (Philadelphia and Utah) that they could’ve (should’ve?) won.
The offense has been a mess. Saturday against Utah, the defense was asleep. The Jazz shot 36 (!!) free throws, as they were always one to two steps ahead of the Spurs’ defense. If it wasn’t a wide open look at the rim or behind the 3-point line, the Spurs’ defender was fouling the Utah player, likely because they were moved out of position by the Jazz offense. Utah has a way of making the Spurs look bad, regardless of the team’s record. This is a feisty Jazz team. Still, the Spurs should have been ready to play, and they weren’t.
Did I mention that Jazz played the night before in Phoenix and didn’t arrive in San Antonio until about 5am Saturday morning? And yet they completely outplayed and outexecuted a rested Spurs team playing their 5th game in a row at home.
The Spurs are in a funk, and I’m not sure what solves it, besides the obvious answer. But even the return of Kawhi Leonard brings its own set of questions and concerns.
As it stands, the team is going to have to attempt to figure it out on the road, as they embark on their annual Rodeo Road Trip (RRT), not returning home again until the last day of February. Oddly, though, the RRT is only 6 games played over the span of 19 days, with a long 10-day hiatus over the All-Star break.
Hopefully they can figure some things out this month.
The RRT kicks off Wednesday night in Phoenix.
Go Spurs Go.