It’s been a tough week in Spurs nation. As of last night, San Antonio has garnered their first losing streak of the season (yes, it’s only two games) along with adding star Manu Ginobili to the lengthening injury report.
The first loss of the two came in rather embarrassing fashion during the 2013 Finals rematch with the Miami Heat. While it remained a game for the majority of the first half, LeBron James and company annihilated the battered and bruised Spurs after halftime in front of a national audience with a final score of 113-101.
With the loss on Sunday and the loss last night to the Houston Rockets, national media began to speculate San Antonio’s legitimacy as a contender, especially against the upper echelon of the league’s opponents. This year, the Spurs are surprisingly a combined 1-11 against “Elite” NBA teams (Thunder, Heat, Blazers, Pacers, Rockets, and Clippers), making this assumption all the more compelling.
Compelling as it may be, the argument that the Spurs can’t play up to their fellow “Elite” opponents holds no water to me.
What most are failing to take into account within this loaded statistic, is the counter statistic that brings together their entire season’s work. Along with that 1-11 record against this biased grouping of “Elite” teams comes the rest of the Spurs’ 2013-2014 record for the season: 32-1.
THIRTY-TWO AND ONE!
Now think back into your own archives of whatever team or sport you choose to watch on a normal and regular routine, and try to think of a team that won 97% of the games they “should have won.” Only one comes to mind, being the 2007 New England Patriots, who didn’t lose a game until the Super Bowl (which they “should have” won).
My point is this: if these teams that they are losing to are in fact “Elite” as deemed by the national media, then these are not “should win” games by any means. Sure, it would be much more comforting to see a .500 record (at least) against these opponents, but does it really matter? Should 11 losses out of 12 against the best teams in the league really be worrisome?
Not in the slightest.
The Spurs still sport the second best record in the conference despite injuries to four regularly-contributing components of an already aged team. Even with these injuries, I can’t stress enough how impressive this 32-1 record is against the rest of the onslaught of teams that the NBA has to offer.
Night in and night out, often on back-to-backs and loaded weekly schedules, the Spurs have persevered, sticking to Coach Pop’s system and manhandling each lesser opponent they face. Even the all-powerful Miami Heat who can do no wrong have slipped up against the weaker opponents in the East like Philadelphia, Detroit, and Boston.
I see no reason at all to fret with this absurd reasoning behind the supposed illegitimacy of this Spurs team. They’ve lost games due to lost bodies. They’ve lost games due to freakish games from MVP candidates Kevin Durant and LeBron James. Most of all, though, they’ve only lost games when the best teams in the league put out their best efforts.
So the next time someone throws out the 1-11 card, trump it with a 32-1. Or just flash a few rings in their face. The Popovich, Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili era is still very much at large. They would still be title contenders with a 1-32 record as far as I’m concerned.