With a 4-1 start to the season, the Spurs are showing their dominance early, something that has become as usual to Spurs fans as hearing a snide, mid-game remark by Gregg Popovich during a media timeout interview.
Is this start really as impressive as it seems?
With wins against Memphis, the Lakers, Denver, and Phoenix to open the gate, this would seem like quite the résumé in previous years. But maybe not this year. While most would focus on the loss against Portland to dissect the problems that could haunt the Spurs this season, I find the wins far more troubling.
But wins are wins, right? Who cares how they happen as long as they do, in fact, HAPPEN… right? Maybe to the average team this is how wins should be viewed, but not for the Spurs.
Though starting 4-1 against the lower echelon of the Western conference, San Antonio has only a +2.8 point differential against their opponents, their largest win being 8 points to the now 1-3 Nuggets. The Spurs dominate teams year in and year out. This isn’t Spurs basketball.
So why are these games so close?
One common factor that explains the close games between Phoenix and Denver as well as the loss to Portland is the age of opponents. All three of these teams fall in the lower 50th percentile of average age per team in the NBA. With the Spurs coming in at fourth oldest, this could be the current bane of their existence.
Like I said before, I didn’t find the Portland loss very troubling; this was the second night of a back-to-back and it was in Portland. The Blazers being a young
team just adds to the perfect recipe for the disaster that eventually befell the Spurs. What I do find especially troubling was the nail-biting escape they pulled against the Suns at home.
This game was a back-to-back for both teams and took place at the AT&T Center, where the Spurs call home. Advantage: San Antonio.
However, this game was entirely competitive throughout, with one duo standing out (or maybe confusing everyone) more than any other. No, it wasn’t the obvious tandem attack of Parker and Duncan, but the genetic bond of Marcus and Markieff Morris.
The third-year, 24 year-old twins have, as you would imagine, an incredible ability to play incredibly alongside each other as they surged off the bench for 34 points and 18 rebounds combined. When it came down to crunch time, Manu Ginobili stepped in front of a high-flying Gerald Green drive to draw an offensive foul in the final minute of the game, setting up a game-clenching possession. Classic Manu.
Despite Phoenix’s youth and fire off the bench, the Spurs were able to seal the win due to their supposed weakness: their age. They may be older, but with age comes experience.
San Antonio averages six years of experience per player where the Suns average less than three.
The core of this Spurs team has been through everything together, including countless tough, close wins. These first four games are nothing more than tally-marks on the ever-extending list under the W column. Although an aging team seems to be a factor thus far in the season, it is just too early to worry about less than impressive wins.
We’re five games in with seventy-seven to go. It’s safe to say that there’s no reason to worry about expecting more games to be added once May rolls around. After all, wins are wins, and the Spurs are making it known that they are still going to get plenty of them, no matter the margin of victory
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