“Who remembers who was No. 1 before the All-Star break?”

by

One of the themes from last night’s locker room is that the Spurs, to a person, are not content. They’re completely unsatisfied, in fact. They won’t take advantage of their conference lead and coast through the back half of the season. Manu Ginobili provided the money quote, but the sentiment is echoed by everyone.

“So far we have done a great job, but who remembers who was number 1 before the All-Star break? Nobody cares. We have to keep going. We’ve created a big responsibility for ourselves to finish well.”

This kind of talk is always interesting. Sometimes I think the Spurs are trying to convince themselves. It’s like a positive, self-imposed voodoo. Sincere, but self-psychologizing.  Think of Kevin Garnett’s on court outbursts, but done within the confines of reason, civility, and basic human decency.

And it’s interesting because, in some sense, San Antonio is always coasting. In last night’s big, big game against the Bulls, San Antonio’s best players tallied 32, 33, 35 minutes. Meanwhile, Derrick Rose and Luol Deng played 39 and 40 minutes, respectively.  The Spurs intend to press forward, and press hard, but only so hard. They won’t press the accelerator to the floor until they hit open road.

San Antonio has one of those strange stories that wants to be read from the end to the beginning.  Fun reading, that.

  • BigJ

    Well said Tim. I can’t help wonder how far they can raise the bar when they need to? I think the ceiling is higher than most realize.

  • http://www.babaiepromotions.com Alix Babaie

    Thanks for talking some of these folks off the ledge with that article, Tim.

    Going 6-3 on the RRT and having a 46-10 record is a damn fine accomplishment and they will go 70-12, IMO.

    Some of these folks think that the Spurs need to trade for another big….just curious whether you feel the same way at this juncture, Tim?

  • Martin

    It was a great game last night. I had the chance to watch the game live. I was sitting behind the Spurs’ basket for 2nd half and when Manu dunked the ball in the final minutes, you could tell by his face that the was definitely upset and tried to single handedly win the game.

    Too bad, that a couple key plays didn’t work our way. Manu’s carrying TO and a failed three.

    Sometimes it just won’t go Spurs’ way. D. Rose is a monster player and nobody seemed capable to stop him.

    The nice part is that the Bulls and the Spurs won’t face each other until the Finals in the best case, and Spurs will have HCA

  • DorieStreet

    (Don’t get the Garnett analogy–but then, I never did like his act from day one when he suited up for the Twolves. It just took him going to the Celtics for it to be seen ad nausem- and for more fans to have disdain for him.)

    I liken the Spurs’ season to a long-distance runner who got out to a sizable lead in the race because of a great pace. Now that the runner is only has 1/3 of the way to go (regular season), do you look back to see where your competitors are- to see if you can ease up (just a bit) so you have a stronger kick once you get down to the last 800 meters, to outlast anyone coming on strong at the end. Or–you keep the pace as is–because the pace IS the kick; the competitors have to double YOUR effort in order to catch up. They may in turn just run out the race just two secure 2nd and 3rd place.

    Of course, this race is just the prelims; it gets the runner in the favorable spot for the semis/finals, however.

  • Bryan

    Nicely put, Tim. The Spurs weren’t going to go out of their way to win one game. Keep the minutes in check and ensure there is plenty of gas for that open road.

    “Think of Kevin Garnett’s on court outbursts, but done within the confines of reason, civility, and basic human decency.” I love that line.

  • Nick

    This has little to do with anything but there’s a Matt Bonner showing. Happy All-Star break.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Yy8o1BeFaA

  • http://www.babaiepromotions.com Alix Babaie

    Matt Bonner is the most uncool fool ever. :)

  • Pingback: Spurs Nation » Gary Neal tells blog brother he can’t wait to play against DJB

  • rob

    “Think of Kevin Garnett’s on court outbursts, but done within the confines of reason, civility, and basic human decency.”

    Great quote.

    Regarding the minutes played scenario, it wasn’t too long ago that our top players were logging the same minutes. It’s to be expected when your as young as Deng and Rose. They’re good. Chicago has a really, Really good young core.

    As far as the Spurs…Yeah, this year has been a great story. I hope it’ll turn out to be like Camelot. Each character with their own diversity and strength, and through perseverance and fortitude save the kingdom to remain great.

    Lift that holy grail… again!

  • fkj74

    Get a grip guys! 46-10

  • SAJKinBigD

    Nice perspective, Tim. Thanks.
    For more, dig it: Fans and Media here in Dallas are asking for our Spurs again… :D
    BRING IT!
    They’re going crazy up here now that their Little Frenchman is back… Ugh.

    @Dorie: Great analogy! As a former distance runner, that’s as good a comparison as I’ve heard in a long while!

  • DorieStreet

    @SAJKinBigD

    Thanks. Looks like the Mavs have some intestinal fortitude–not only have they righted the ship after the Butler injury, but they peeled off a run after that losing streak that topped the Spurs by one game– 13-3 vs. 12-4 since January 16th. No need for the Spurs to ‘look back and see if they can “ease up a bit”- keep the same pace’.

  • spurholic in Mumbai

    Nice write up Tim. A few observations:
    Coach pop’s reluctance to use the second group is again showing up. While at the start of the season, TD was warming the benches at the start of the fourth quarter, lately he is more active – nothing wrong – just an observation. Secondly, Manu’s minutes need to be monitored even more closely than TD, going ahead in the second half of the regular season. It may be tiredness, but playing 33 min per game this season, one of the after effects since starting hot has been the rapid drop in efficiency of Manu during the last 10 games. Given the antics of the all star weekened, Manu could have been given the last two games off to give him rest and a much needed breather. It would also have given an opportunity to start with GH and give extended time to JA. Lastly, the rotation is 8 regular with the 9th person – MB or TS used sparingly, will we be the Detroit Piston (2007) of this season – could an ageing team sustain such a rotation deep into the playoffs? With the persistent concern of size, a narrow rotation regime and ageing roster, Spur fan may have to endure arthiritis from keeping fingers crossed (tightly) for the rest of the season.

  • Hobson13

    Wow. Blair goes for 28 and 15 for the sophomores. Neal goes for 20-4-4 for the rookies. Great job representing, guys.

  • ThatBigGuy

    I REMEMBER, MANU!!!!

    *sniffle*

    I remember…..

  • Colin

    I hope Manu drinks his “kill juice” this weekend in preparation for the stretch run.

    He was definitely a bit off against the Bulls…….You know he will come back strong.

  • Badger

    Alix,
    Are you high? In order to reach your predicted win total of 70, they’d have to win 24 of the remaining 26 games. The article, and common sense, demonstrates why they’ll be damn lucky to get to 65. Pop has several key pieces in their mid thirties, and several others that need to get quality minutes in order to be reliable options come playoff time.

    If the home court advantage is locked up with 3 to 5 games remaining, look for TD, Manu, Dice, TP, and even Bonner to be used sparingly, if at all during those last several games.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying anyone’s gonna tank a game. However, nobody’s going to risk injury to win, unless home court advantage is in jeopardy.

  • Dr. Love

    Who cares what Blair did in the rookie game? He should have brung that in Chicago where it would have counted for something.

    When the Bulls get Noah back, I don’t see how the Spurs bigs can handle them.

  • Bruno

    Blair dunk yesterday was better than all

  • spurcase42

    Dr. Love, Blair was playing against the rookies in the league and no one on either team was playing any defense. It is not exactly the same as playing against the Bulls.

  • Ryan

    For the most part…

    The Bulls game was a disaster, but we were in it for much of the game. It could have been a lot worse, but the team did their best to hang in there on a career night from Derrick Rose. Actually.. when you stop and think about it.. take away the nonsense in Philly and the only two losses on the Rodeo Trip came on the backs of two 40-pt scorers.

    As for the rest of the season, I’m looking for them to come out fast to wrap up HCA as quickly as possible. Manu will get his shot back, but I don’t think it’s going to be anything magical when it happens… just a steady trend of 20 plus – pt games whether it be in wins or losses.

    On another note, despite all the nay-sayers.. the Spurs represent the league standard. Yes they have their faults, but everyone (big fish, small fish and everything in-between) is going to give this team its best shot, not only to measure itself, but try and prove something to the rest of the league as well. Games like Chicago, Portland, Orlando are going to happen… but one game doesn’t measure anything.

  • knecht

    Bring Rasheed for a ten days contract, just to see if is works.

  • rob

    After re-reading the o.p., I like what Ginobili said. It’s all about maintaining focus and playing at a level no matter if the team is in first place or vying for 8th place to make the playoffs.

    This (imo) is what is making the Spurs special this year. Establishing a hunger from top to less used that it takes a will, concentration and sustained motivation to make it all the way. The players that have been brought in, kept and counted upon from Duncan to Quinn all need to share, develop and more importantly “retain focus” no matter the circumstances to winning it all.

    Their record thus far shows that exact philosophy of ALL the players and a philosophy, I think, will help propel them into (at least) the WCF. This team is equiped with fighters. Stories and grit of a team that won’t bow to notions, rumors, or personal circumstance that would prevent them from obtaining the ultimate goal.

    Damn it’s good to be a Spur fan. All other teams/fans…keep living the same old same old…this team not only exemplifies HOW to get it done but more importantly…EXECUTES the how.

  • SAJKinBigD

    @Dorie: They do, for the first time ever. It kinda scares me, actually, but it really bugs me how much fans and media here in Dallas think they WANT to face the Spurs and that they can take ‘em. :|

    @knecht: I actually agree with this. It’d be interesting to see if he can fit in, and if he does, it’d be worth it, IMO.

  • http://hecatr.livejournal.com/ Joseph Dooley

    The Bulls were very impressive. Without Noah, they outhustled and out-shot the Spurs. Of the Eastern Conference teams we might face in the Finals, they are the team I fear the most.

    Nevertheless, when the game inevitably slows down to half-court offense in the postseason, don’t anticipate most of those shots swishing through like they did before the All-Star Break.