Halfway to 70, but is it sustainable?

by

Halfway in, and halfway to 70, the San Antonio Spurs are on a franchise-best pace that few other teams have matched in NBA history. Yet, to believe that the Spurs can actually achieve 70 wins one would have to be, as head coach Gregg Popovich put it–drunk.

Up to this point everything has been a perfect storm of relatively good health for the Spurs, the opposite for the opposition, and some coin flip wins.

A team whose core is aged this much, who treat the occasional regular season game with such nonchalance, cannot possibly be expected to keep up with this pace, right? In theory, eventually this team will take its foot off the gas and suffer a few let downs.

But still, 35-6…

Since 1987 five teams have reached at least 35 wins at the halfway mark, with only the 72-win Chicago Bulls keeping pace (research courtesy of our own Scott Sereday). These Spurs are not those Bulls. But even if 70 wins is out of the question, there are valid reasons to think that this success is sustainable.

And if this team should somehow find itself with an outside shot at 70, it might not be as much of a fluke as one would think.

Common sense dictates there are several legitimate hurdles factoring against the Spurs run at greatness, the biggest four being as follows: Regression to the mean, the gas pedal theory, health, and luck

Regression to the Mean

Given expectations heading into the season, there is a thought that the San Antonio Spurs, while an elite team, will eventually regress back to a more common mean. That a team that is still not trying their hardest is somehow playing over their heads.

Perhaps the most encouraging sign of this early season success is that outside of an inflated team record, there is not an individual player or component that is playing beyond their reasonable capabilities. Realistically, only Matt Bonner’s 50% three-point shooting shines as a positive outlier.

The lone player to play above their heads for a significant stretch this season was Richard Jefferson. But even as his game has regressed to a more reasonable mean, his improvements in three-point shooting and defense have remained. The improved shooting is not a statistical anomaly, but a valid improvement quantifiable by both statistical data and visual evidence.

Backcourt backups George Hill and Gary Neal have been good, but not out of the ordinary, and starting point guard Tony Parker is having a bounce back year well within his career norms, even if they haven’t reached his peak season.

His backcourt partner and Spurs’ leading scorer Manu Ginobili hovers just outside Most Valuable Player discussion, but even at an advanced age, none of his production is questionable. His scoring numbers have been inflated by a large increase in three-pointers made and attempted. But it’s not as if he is hitting them at an unprecedented rate.

For the most part, Ginobili still remains a slightly better than league average shooter. His early season success is more change of approach than an unsustainable hot streak.

If anything, from an individual standpoint, the San Antonio Spurs have seen three players perform below expectations and a fourth out due to injury. Duncan, DeJuan Blair, and Tiago Splitter have not had as strong a season as many predicted, and any expected regression in other players could easily be offset by expected improvement from these three, along with the eventual return of James Anderson.

The Gas Pedal Theory

Another reason that the Spurs will not reach 70 is that Popovich simply will not pursue it. Given a choice, Popovich will always rest starters in favor of playoff success over regular season glory.

But to think the Spurs will eventually take their foot off the gas is to assume that they have it on there in the first place. This is not the post-Larry Brown Pistons or Boston Celtics, playing their top six players 35-45 minutes on a nightly basis.  

There has been no special approach to this season. Minutes are still rationed, and the Spurs continue to play for the bigger picture. The only exception is that, unlike in previous seasons, there has been no tinkering with the rotation. For the most part, each unit Popovich has employed has worked.

Even if all this team does is slowly decrease the minute restrictions, it will improve. But there also is the possibility that between Tiago Splitter and James Anderson, the Spurs will have one more viable rotation player ready to contribute.

Luck and Health

Luck favors the prepared. Coin flips games are those decided in the final minutes that statistically are 50-50 propositions. Every team is privy to such good fortune, but not every team is capable of taking advantage of it.

In Popovich, the Spurs have the best coach diagramming plays out of timeouts. Combined with players savvy and skilled enough to execute them, the Spurs will win their fair share of luck games because when fortune swings their way they are most prepared to take advantage.

The only thing that the Spurs cannot account for, the only fluke in the whole process if you will, is health.

Health is the theme of the entire season, has been for the past several years. Health is what has kept the Spurs from the full potential we are starting to get glimpses of now. But while this is somewhat out of their control, the Spurs do try and sway luck in their favor by limiting minutes and wear and tear on their players.

Which brings me to my main point. This team is not on a mission to destroy the league, the way the 72-win Bulls did. The process has been remarkably the same.

The Spurs have incorporated several new pieces (Gary Neal, the starting DeJuan Blair, improved versions of Jefferson and Parker, Splitter and Anderson) while limiting players minutes. Their defense, in a big shock, has started to show signs of life heading into the second half of the season.

This is a team that will never strive for 70 wins. This is a team that is still holding back, and as such, will not reach such lofty heights. They’ve essentially backed into their record.

But still, 35-6…

  • grego

    Once Pop knows he can take some games off in the last 1/4 of the season, he will for Duncan and Manu going into the post season. That or he’ll call some games early and keep his guys on the bench if they are down by a lot.

  • justin-ray

    66-16

  • Dan

    Not likely that we will get to 70…3 games left vs. LAL, 2 vs Heat, 1 vs Boston, 2 vs Utah…. and a whole lot of away games… not saying it’s not possible, just unlikely…
    that being said Feb2. thru March 3rd we have 12 soft games (except for Chicago)…

  • rob

    Great write up. Spot on in every category. 70 wins might not be the goal…but for reasons given it’s also not unthinkable. Yet again…if achieved by definition listed above…one wouldn’t be delisional in it’s accomplishment or expectation of a succesful playoff run.

  • ITGuy

    Go Spurs Go!!

  • agutierrez

    One of the biggest factors mitigating against us reaching the 70 win mark will be how far ahead of the pack we are the last month or so of the season. If we are assured a #1 seed, and at this point there’s every reason to believe (barring injury to one of the Big 3) that we should be, Pop will simply play his starters warm-up and keep sharp minutes with no regard for outcome.

  • marion

    Why are we so fascinated with the 70 win mark?

    The NBA experts started with this talk right out of the gate this season with the Mavs and Lakers and Celtics with their early hot starts. Now, it’s Spurs turn?

    It seems like the basketball world has this obsession with that record.

    If it happens great…..but let it come in flow of the season. That’s how history usually happens. Not when we write about it incessantly before it’s even a real possiblity.

  • doggydogworld

    No on 70. Too many good breaks in the first half and the schedule gets much tougher. I’d be very happy at 65-17.

  • duaneofly

    I agree with agutierrez, it depends on how early we can clinch home court advantage, not just in the West, but in the finals as well. Once we secure home court, I can see Pop playing Duncan, Manu, and Tony limited minutes, which may cost us some games.

  • irongiantkc

    Intelligent, well reasoned article. You won’t find this quality of writing on ESPN or SI (and not just because they never write about the Spurs). I foolishly tried to read some of the articles for the Dallas Morning News. Meh. Selko was unreadable.

  • drew

    marion, i think everyone’s “obsessed” with a 70 win season because it has only happened once – by a team which featured the greatest basketball player of all time.

  • idahospur

    http://espn.go.com/nba/hollinger/playoffodds

    Hollinger currently predicts Spurs to finish 64-18, with Lakers #2 at 56-26. With Pop and being in good playoff position, expect the Spurs at 57-25 (or one game better than whatever the #2 team is at). If we get to 60, I expect cruise control and see if our back-ups can pull a couple wins. Wouldn’t be surprised with how good our 2nd unit is.

  • neverthehero

    Appreciate the article pointing out that in fact the Spurs aren’t over-playing their starters. I don’t think it’s likely that we’ll see Duncan all of a sudden just start playing 20mins a game. I think if your a true contender, you play to win and you keep the flow as to keep whatever chemistry you have together.

  • neverthehero

    I”m curious on the formula that Hollinger uses to determine BEST. It doesn’t matter how many times the Heat lose, their best is always just one lose for the rest of the way. Loses a little creditability with me anyway. He should write up an article reflecting on his predicated outcomes for the past few years to shine some light on if we should even pay attention to it.

  • DBAGuy

    @drew

    “marion, i think everyone’s “obsessed” with a 70 win season because it has only happened once – by a team which featured the greatest basketball player of all time.”

    The bulls of 1995-1996 won 72 games not 70.
    I just think it has been a while since a team reached the 70 win mark.

  • Hobson13

    idahospur
    January 19th, 2011 at 11:40 am

    “If we get to 60, I expect cruise control and see if our back-ups can pull a couple wins. Wouldn’t be surprised with how good our 2nd unit is.”

    If we are 8-10 games ahead of the second place team in the West (most likely the Lakers) then I could see Pop resting the starters in the last 6-10 games. We need to get Tiago and Anderson some serious minutes and continue to play Neal.

    At this point, it appears that we have the #1 seed in sights even though we are only half way through the season. Our two main competitors for the top spot have some issues. Dallas has fallen apart and the Lakers schedule gets MUCH tougher (maybe even tougher than ours) during the second half of the year.

    Here are my Spurs goals for the second half of the year:

    1. Continue to develop the young talent (Tiago, Anderson, Neal, Hill, and Blair)
    2. Stay healthy!!
    3. Continue to improve our defense which is already in an upward trajectory after the past 10 games or so.
    4. Continue to win the games we should. We can afford to drop a game or two to the big dogs, but we can’t afford to slip up against the easy guys.

    After looking at our schedule, I see no reason we can’t win 30 of our last 41 games. The second half record of 30-11 is 5 games behind what we’ve accomplished in the first half. Even if we only won 25, this would put us at 61 wins for the season. Barring any major injury, I think we win 30 in the second half of the season to end with the first seed in the West and a final record of 65-17.

  • DorieStreet

    @ idahospur

    “With Pop and being in good playoff position, expect the Spurs at 57-25 (or better than whatever the #2 team is at).”

    Dude, that means playing the last half of the season at just above .500 ball– 22-19. The Lakers, despite their hiccups, rode bumps, and slides (one 4-game & one 3-game losing streak), finished the first half @ 30-11– a 73% winning pct. If they finish at a lower pace, say 27-14 – a 66% clip – their record is 57-25. Pop would never put the team in position like that–winning every other game, basically. You never know if another WC squad plays lights out in the 2nd half. I expect the team to continue on with the same level of play, while giving minutes Anderson & Owens, to get their games going. Losses will come- don’t forget fans, other teams (east & west) will be fighting for playoff positions, so the Spurs will be looked upon as just another opportunity for a W. And for the teams that will far short of the playoff hunt, a game victory vs. San Antonio will be looked upon as a bright spot, a feather in the cap feat in a season winding down. The goal is to become #1 or #2 seed in the playoffs–to do that is to win as many games as possible until the last two weeks of the season (roughly March 29-April 13– 8 games remaining).

  • ITGuy

    @irongiantkc
    Just look at the ESPN link at the top.
    It’s asking “Another MVP for LeBron?”
    This is while the Cheat are in a losing streak no less.

    Go Spurs Go!!

  • Hilda

    The Spurs hever get the respect they deserve because they are not thugs nor are they flashy nor rapists nor controversial. They are merely (GASP) good ballers a concept that is totally out of this world sport writers all over the planet!

  • SG

    I don’t subscribe to “taking off” games…this can very easily disrupt the flow and chemistry of the team…if anything, Pop will need to start increasing min’s towards to the end of the season to adjust certain key players to the playoffs. TD and Dice will play an important role in the playoffs…they have to get used to playing 30+min, if needed in the playoffs. I say the last 3-5 games should be all out scrimmages to get players as sharp as possible for the playoffs.

  • syd

    Fun piece. I’d rather have folks debating whether the Spurs can win 70 than whether they can win 50 and avoid being the 8th seed in the west. But…

    @Idahospur

    “With Pop and being in good playoff position, expect the Spurs at 57-25 (or one game better than whatever the #2 team is at).”

    If we finish at 57-25, that means we went 22-19 in the second half, barely over .500. That is unlikely. More importantly, it would be a sign that something is seriously wrong. I don’t know what our magic number is, but I suspect it’s in the mid-60′s win range, so that we can get homecourt throughout the ENTIRE playoffs

    @ Hobson13

    “If we are 8-10 games ahead of the second place team in the West (most likely the Lakers) then I could see Pop resting the starters in the last 6-10 games.”

    Obviously this discussion is very premature. I hate counting chickens pre-hatch, but as long as we’re doing it…

    I’d be very surprised and a tad concerned if Pop rested the starters for that long a stretch at the end of the season. It smacks of the Indianapolis Colts a couple of years ago sitting their stars for all of the final 2 games of the regular season after their undefeated record was snapped. It completely upended their rhythm and they got bounced earlier than expected.

    Of course, with 7 game playoff series, basketball is not football, but it’s still a consideration.

    A large part of the Spurs’ success this season is a result of continuity of rotations. We’ve had the same starting line-up all season and each player generally knows what’s expected of him and how many minutes he’s going to get (allowing for Pop’s random DNP choices or playing Tiago for a total of about 10 minutes over 5 games). That concistency and balance shouldn’t be underestimated.

    Another key has been our refusal to give away many games. This team has show a real propensity to battlle back when it could reasonably be expected concede the game. In that way, it reminds me a lot of the 2004-05 championship team who who was often down by 7 or 8 points midway through the 4th quarter, but never seemed to doubt it would eventually get the win.

    The stat specialists can surely tally how many times this season the Spurs have been down by double digits in the 4th quarter or late in the 3rd quarter. But I can think of at least a half dozen instances off the top of my head.

    And in the one instance where Pop deliberately pulled the stars when the game was still arguably in doubt- at the Knicks- Manu was pissed, much to my satisfaction.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that starters not get rest, especially if we’re well ahead in the standings as the season draws to a close and . If that means Tim, Tony and Manu are averaging 25 minutes a game over the last half-dozen games instead of 30+, that’s fine. If Tiago and James Anderson are getting 20 minutes a game over that stretch instead of 10, that’s fine too, probably even constructive. I just don’t want team rhythm and competitive fire to be sacrificed for the sake of a little extra rest.

    It’s a tough balancing act, one I’m glad Pop is responsible for maintaining and one I’m psyched we may have to face.

  • zainn

    I think that once we’re locked in for the number one seed in the league, then I’m sure pop is gonna rest our starters every game until the playofs or pull them after 8 minutes each half, it’ll be great to devekop our bench more given how little experience our bench has compared to boston, lakers, etc.

  • AlekJin

    I believe the goal for the Spurs this year is to finish the season as #1 in the entire league so they can have home court advantage in every possible matchup! Once they’ve acomplished that, they’ll play the second unit (which I believe is one of the best, if not the best second unit in the league right now)

    Go Spurs GO

  • jwalt

    Final record isn’t nearly as important as having good health going into the playoffs. If they do rest the stars and tank a few games at the end of the season, it will take approximately 3 minutes into Game 1 of the first round playoffs to be back in full competition mode.

    Don’t care about the final record, I do care that Manu and Tim are ready to go come mid-April.

  • rob

    @syd

    “A large part of the Spurs’ success this season is a result of continuity of rotations. We’ve had the same starting line-up all season and each player generally knows what’s expected of him and how many minutes he’s going to get (allowing for Pop’s random DNP choices or playing Tiago for a total of about 10 minutes over 5 games). That concistency and balance shouldn’t be underestimated.”

    Solid Point.

  • Brian

    If Spurs get to 70 and win the championship, would this be your favorite Spurs squad of all time?

  • TD = Best EVER

    I have never really cared about final record and playoff seeding and such. Until the last 2 seasons watching all of our role players fold like cheap tents………… Role players will ALWAYS play better at home than on the road so we HAVE to take care of business and give all of out players… Not just the main guys the best chance to succeed in the post season.

  • ruth bader ginobili

    Jesse, one thing you didn’t mention in the “gas pedal” section is outright resting the Big 3 (feat. Dice) for entire games. Seems likely to me, especially if there’s a sore ankle or some other minor malady involved.

    My guess: about 12-3 through the end of the Rodeo Trip ( 47-9 overall), and then Pop sets the cruise control to a fuel-efficient speed for the last 26 games. Still, if they go 15-11 in the home stretch, it would put them at 62-20 for the season. Should be enough for the West #1, and prob better than any East team too.

  • http://bleacherreport.com JTEX

    70 wins will mean very little with out the Gold Ball, it would be a bitter sweet pill to swallow. If the Spurs have are the #1 seed and a good lead on the second seed, Pop will rest his stars. Let’s just not start counting our chickens before they hatch!!
    GO SPURS GO!!!!!!

  • Vin Gumby

    The second half features a lot of tough back-to-backs, 3 games in four nights, even a 4 out of 5. The schedule is a lot tougher. They will play 24 road games.

    I expect a moderate slowdown from the first-half pace, say 28-13 giving a total of 63 wins.

  • marion

    @drew

    “marion, i think everyone’s “obsessed” with a 70 win season because it has only happened once – by a team which featured the greatest basketball player of all time.”

    @drew,

    They talked about this record every year at the start of the season. As soon as a team starts off hot….then here it comes:

    Can this team win 70 games?

    It gets real old afterwhile.

    Let history happen…instead of trying to manufacture it every 5 minutes. That’s my problem with it.

    Obviously, it’s a great accomplishment. But don’t talk about it every time a team wins a few games in a row.

    Read more: http://www.48minutesofhell.com/halfway-to-70-but-is-it-sustainable#ixzz1BWbr2fd0

  • quincyscott

    “This team is not on a mission to destroy the league, the way the 72-win Bulls did.”

    I think this is a great point. I remember that Bulls team, and in addition to having a lot of talent, they did seem determined to make history. Jordan, for one, was on a mission to prove something. In the finals that season, I remember thinking that they came very close to running out of gas.

    A few years ago Dallas started the season just clobbering everyone. This was the season after their finals appearance. Again, a team with something to prove, expending a lot of energy in the regular season. I just do not get the sense that the Spurs are taking this approach. Yes, they are playing with a sense of urgency, and playing very focused, team-oriented basketball. But it almost seems that they are winning with one hand tied behind. It’s just… weird. I really don’t know what to make of it. Everything is clicking, and they are coasting.

    The only times I have felt real concern this season were a few games where I thought Ginobili looked a little worn out. To me, that’s the big issue. Keeping the core guys healthy and fresh. But those games have been quite rare. Even in back-t0-back situations, the Spurs have looked really good, except maybe that game in New York.

    I am trying to stay skeptical. They are making it harder and harder to do so.

  • rj

    if we can rest our starters in the latter part of the second hald if the season, we could have 12 playoff ready players. imagine if we could rotate 10+ in the playoffs. good gravy!

  • Bentley

    I was watching ESPN First Take Today, and I watched Chris Broussard foolishly give the Spurs a 10% chance of winning the title, saying that they played horrible defense. I understand that the Spurs are not a big market or favored team like the Lakers, Buls, Knicks, Heat etc., but when you start openly showing bias like he did(he shouldnt even be an analyst, all he is good for are his sources), thats taking it way too far and jeapordizing the integrity and fairness you should have when it comes to truly analyzing every team.

    With that said, Go Spurs Go, prove em all wrong(again)

  • NS

    The Spurs have played more home games than nearly anyone else. If you project their home wins and road wins separately at the current rate for each, their record would be about 68 wins. So 70 wins probably requires playing even a bit better than they have. That hardly seems likely. All you really need is one win more than any other team. The Celtics will make that challenging enough that I don’t see any real opportunity for the Spurs to back off intentionally.

    All of which is to say mainly the Spurs should just keep on doing what they are doing.

  • Hobson13

    syd
    January 19th, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    “I’d be very surprised and a tad concerned if Pop rested the starters for that long a stretch at the end of the season.”

    I should have quantified what I meant by “resting the starters.” You make several very valid points with regards to this issue. What I was thinking (but didn’t articulate well) was that Pop would play Tony, Manu, Tim, and maybe even RJ much reduced minutes. Say he plays the Big 3 around 15 minutes per game for the last 6-10 games while giving Anderson, Blair, Splitter, Hill, and Neal much heavier minutes say somewhere in the neighborhood of 25-30 min/game.

    This would allow our core to be fresh coming into the postseason while giving our support players even more time to gell and mature. I agree that sitting our big guns for the last 6-8 games of the season would not be a great idea and might very well disrupt chemistry that was built up over the regular season.

    P.S. As a disclaimer, this argument is all very hypothetical, but not entirely out of the question considering how we’ve played over the first half of the season.

  • knecht

    What do You think of this one year trade, just to be sure of the 5th Timmy ring

    http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=4z38zb2

  • phoebus

    @Bentley Chances that Broussard has WATCHED the Spurs when they weren’t playing the Knicks, Celtics, Lakers, or Mavs are very, very slim. So of course he doesn’t know they’re good, bc he doesn’t know anything about them.

    A lot of ESPN’s writers are to actual basketball knowledge as cable news heads are to political analysis. Creating stories and sensationalizing them is the point. There’s a lotta folks out there who care much more about Melo or Kobe or Bron as celebrities than who goes and wins the O’Brien, and THAT’S their market- not us.

  • LPspursFan

    Bentley…I was watching that!

    Orlando……….5%
    SPURS…………10%
    Heat……………..25%
    Lakers………….28%
    Celtics………….32%
    (Or something pretty close to that)

    What a joke! And is it exactly that – being overlooked by the national media – that will push the team to a title. I always felt that was why we couldn’t win back to back titles; because we played better as underdogs.
    As far as hitting 70, you know that was never in Pop’s thought process. But now that we’re here, you know darn well finishing with the No. 1 seed in the entire NBA has to be in his sights.
    That being said, I’m sure Pop will balance resting guys, playing bench guys more minutes and keeping a competitive edge for the team. Some of it will depend on what the other teams do in terms of wins and losses and some will have to do with our team’s overall health and minutes.
    In the end, I’m with Syd in that it is so much better to be debating whether the Spurs can win 70 than to be sweating if they can muster another 50-win season and squeeze into the playoffs!
    Go! Spurs! Go!!!!

  • http://kholvoe.livejournal.com Kristian

    One of the things I’d love to see is 7 or so players averaging 20 minutes per games, and 9 or so with >10 minutes. It helps with game speed adjustments, conditioning, focus and reduces wear and tear injuries (tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, etc.)

    Also, the more time Neal, Hill, Blair, Splitter get, the sooner they develop to their potential. While I think Splitter really needed training camp, if he could get ~1000 minutes of play time (regular season and playoffs) as a rookie, that would give him a great base for coming back next year (or the year after the lockout :( ).

  • Bruno

    What the hell this team is doing? Toronto is in zone, pick-roll broke the zone, why don’t play pick-roll??!!What Pop is doing???Macdyess is horrible only catch rebounds but if we don’t score rebounds don’t matter, why pick-roll guy ( Splitter ) is not in the game?? Why Ginobili miss a lot of 3 s?? Where is RJ, TD, Neal and Hill???? And about turnovers, OMG

  • andy

    @Hilda
    January 19th, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    i’m sorry, no one else has said anything, but i feel the need. it’s one thing to be upset about biased media coverage (trust me, i’m with you), but another to issue a blanket debasement of other players. very few players in the league are thugs/rapists, i’d argue about the same proportion as the general population. a higher percentage of nba players are black, and this stereotype comes out, which is sad. nba players are still people, some of them are bad, but most of them are good.

    i also think the spurs happen to have exclusively good guys, but i’m biased. let’s not cast aspersions on people we don’t know.

  • Dan

    Just some numbers on the remaining schedule and the prospect of winning 70.

    Ran through the schedule, set a bright line at Portland. Everyone with a record worse than portland is a “bad” team (Note: obviously this is an overgeneralization, but just for the sake of a discussion) that SAS “should beat.”

    24 such games remain on our schedule.

    Say, they win all 24 of those games. Will they, no, probably not, but…

    The remaining 17 games are against “good teams.” (New York Knicks and above). Lets say they go just under .500 in those games.

    35 + 24 + 8 = 67

    I suspect SAS will do substantially better than .500 in the games against good teams, but also won’t won’t win EVERY one of the games against the bad teams. Still, it isn’t hard to see them getting in range of 70 and I’d be surprised if they don’t go over 60 by a good margin.

    Granted, the more important number to look at is GB, namely, of the Lakers. 5 GB is a nice cushion, but nowhere near enough. That is 1 bad week from SAS and 1 good week from LAL from being neck and neck.

    I agree with the assessment that 70 wins is not an important goal, but home court definitely is. If it takes 70 wins to secure it, they will be gunning for 70 wins.

  • Jacob

    @bentley

    Broussard has been openly opposed to the spurs for years. He’s a certifiable jackass on and off the camera and has that unique Steven A Smith quality that makes me want to put an axe through my tv when I listen to him. Don’t worry about the guys like him, he’s paid the big bucks to tout the superstar players in the league, and wear an ” I think I smell shit somewhere” facial expression 90% of the time, even when dealing with close colleagues.

  • Crystakke

    knecht, that trade (http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=4z38zb2) is absolutely foolish. Doesn’t matter that it works on paper. You would be giving up two of you rotation big men (Splitter is still important, in case of any injury, like Bonner now) and Melo doesn’t play any defense. I like RJ’s defense a lot this year. Melo doesn’t work in Spurs system. He would get like 10 shots maximum a game. Anything more than that and he disrupts everything. Melo eats away possessions when he’s looking to score. I lie Afflalo tough, but right now the Spurs have the best Guard rotation in the league. We have 3-point shooting, drible penetration, mid range shooting and paint scoring. Parker doesn’t have the 3 and Neal doesn’t have the paint scoring, but they do the other stuff a lot better than average. The only thing that it lacks is a little bit of strength and height. but J. Anderson will give us that.
    I don’t think that there is a player out there right now that the Spurs should get or need.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com notasgoodasoncewas

    I don’t really care about the Spurs winning 70 games or not, all I care about is that they keep getting better and that they reach thier best basketball at playoff time. It always scares me to see a team peak to soon. The team who is playing the best at playoff time will be the team that wins. How many times have you seen teams have great seasons only to lose to a team that has peaked right at playoff time.

  • andy

    @notasgoodasoncewas
    January 19th, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    while it’s a legitimate concern, i can’t think of too many. maybe 3 or 4 teams in the past 20 years (off the top of my head, houston in ’95(?), denver when they knocked off seattle, warriors over dallas in ’07… any others you guys can think of?).

    with a team this historically great, sure you have to keep your egos and confidence in check, but i have no doubt pop will be all over that. the bigger concern for me, and i’m sure has always been, will we stay healthy all the way to the end? that answer scares me.

  • Rohan

    Frankly, I’d take the ring and a, say, 60-22 record much more than 70 wins and no ring. And I have a feeling that’s exactly what Coach Pop has in mind.

  • Jwalk

    You know, I don’t like this article because of the completely wrong assessment that Manu is “slightly better than league average” and I find that “reasoning” quite insulting.

  • Ruel

    71+

    Just a guess. I know I’m wrong but I have a good feeling about it and I wouldn’t be surprise if they will try to go for it but it’s not really necessary. Mentality-wise, it’ll give our team a proper respect from around the league but there’s nothing there to prove it? Let the outsiders do all the talking? The same old stories every year and nothing has changed? We don’t need to ask them, we have to earn it? Health is the main key and I pray for our Team to stay humble, in good health, and stay together as a team through out the season. I believed on our guys or players we have now on our team? Yes, most of them aren’t tested and proven yet on big games but they are worth of given a chances as well when the opportunities are there or given? It’s a matter of trust, understanding, and respect to each other for both our coaching staffs and players? If they can develop that relationship as a team? Chances of the 5th Championship Ring is very open and we need to earn it!!! Win or Lose Keep Pounding the Rock San Antonio and give every team we face this year 48 minutes of Hell Team Defense!!!