San Antonio Spurs 90, Philadelphia 76ers 85: Just offensive


There are those games that you come across a few times each season where it seems like neither team is ready to play. Monday was one of those nights. The Spurs overcame a seven-point deficit with under six minutes left and beat the Philadelphia 76ers 90-85, but it was one of the more uninspiring basketball games you’ll see.

The Spurs jumped out to a 17-point first half lead and led by 14 at the end of the second quarter, but don’t let that fool you. This wasn’t a case of the Spurs drastically outplaying Philly, the 76ers was simply that much worse than San Antonio’s.

And thus was the story of the game. Sure, there was some good defense in there from both teams, but the majority of it was poor, sluggish offense. The teams combined to shoot 7-of-32 from beyond the arc and shot under 45% from the field. The offensive efficiencies? 92.4 for the Spurs and 86.9 for Philly.

This was not a fun basketball game to watch and I can imagine it was just as bad to play in. From Gregg Popovich to Doug Collins, Tony Parker to Jrue Holliday, nobody looked happy during this game. Let’s just pretend it never happened, capice?

Tim Duncan led the Spurs with 24 points, 17 rebounds, five assists and two steals. Unfortunately, this ends his streak of seven straight games with at least three blocked shots. Like Friday night’s game against Golden State, the Spurs relied a lot on Duncan in the post. Tony Parker (17 points, eight assists, five turnovers), had trouble getting his offense going in the lane.¬†Philadelphia¬†did a good job of contesting Parker’s shots around the rim and reaching in without fouling.

As a result, the Spurs went down low to Duncan. When the Sixers doubled, Duncan often found cutters in the lane or shooters on the perimeter. If Philly defenders stayed at home, Duncan attacked Spencer Hawes and the other Sixer bigs. Because of Hawes’ size, Duncan was often forced to go to the turnaround bankshot, which he hit at a decent clip.

In the second half, what little offense the Spurs had disappeared and the Sixers made a run. So much so that Philadelphia led by seven points with 5:40 left in the game. The 76ers started the fourth quarter on a 16-4 run in part because they finally started hitting some shots. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Spurs reserves couldn’t buy a bucket. As the Spurs starters came back into the game, Philly went cold.

San Antonio quickly erased its deficit behind the dynamism of Kawhi Leonard. Down five on a baseline out of bounds play, Leonard chased down an errant pass for a breakaway dunk and then nailed a corner 3 (one of the three) to tie the game on the following possession.

In the end, the Spurs answered Philly’s 16-4 run with a 15-3 run to win their fifth straight game.

Other notes from San Antonio’s comeback win over Philly:

  • Tim Duncan was visibly limping up and down the floor in the second half. I didn’t see any sort of catalyst for the injury and didn’t hear it mentioned on TNT’s broadcast, but Duncan’s discomfort was pretty obvious.
  • Likewise, Kawhi Leonard left the game in the fourth quarter with a leg injury. Leonard picked up a knock late in the game when he was hit with a hard pick. He called for a sub on the next offensive possession, but one didn’t look like it was coming, so Leonard intentionally fouled a Sixer and removed himself from the game. It was a curious moment for Leonard and I wonder what actually happened to him. Leonard’s only 21 years old, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he felt pain somewhere or heard a pop of some sort and got spooked. Might be nothing, might be something legitimate. We’ll see.
  • Before the late injury, Leonard had an impressive stretch of athleticism against the Sixers. In the third quarter Kawhi cut through the lane and took a pass from Duncan, who was posted up on the left block, and hammered one home with his left hand over Thaddeus Young. On the next possession Leonard stole the ball and got it ahead to Tony Parker, who found Kawhi in transition with a nice behind the back pass. Leonard rose up and tried to throw it down on Dorell Wright. Kawhi missed but Wright was charged with a shooting foul.

All stats courtesy of

  • Graham

    In a way this is actually kind of an encouraging game. They fought through the tough night and pulled out a win when the game looked pretty bleak. Maybe we couldn’t pull something like that off against the top tier competition, but winning on the road against mid tier teams on a tough night is a promising sign to at least keep the team on track to try and right this road slump.

  • ThatBigGuy

    This type of games happens when you’ve played a game every 45 hours for the last 3 months. Good to see them pull out the W in any case.

  • David Salazar

    A win is a win is a win, ugly as it may be, really hope Kawhi is alright.

  • Bry

    The bench got pretty brutalized in this one, especially in the 4th quarter. Some of it was Philly hitting low-percentage mid-range shots, but overall they got trounced. Then Duncan and the starters came back in and immediately put the defensive clamps on the entire Philly team. He should really be in the conversation of DPY. He has that kind of impact.

  • BiggerBetter

    By my count, we’re still six games ahead of the Heat on in the “games played” category. Damn you, Stern!

  • Nick

    Tim Duncan is the only player in the league with a block/PF ratio over one and he’s well over one at 1.53. Ibaka is next at .99. If he keeps this up, I really think he could win DPOY and should realistically be in the top 5-7 for MVP.

  • Tyler

    It’s sequences like those referred to in the piece that get you excited about Kawhi’s future. And even though his numbers aren’t markedly improved over last year (hard to see a large increase when you’re the 4th option), it’s obvious he’s trying to do more offensively, whether it be handling the ball on the PnR, making plays off the dribble, or pushing the ball himself in transition.

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  • 3Chord

    I was hoping to see an El Conclusion for this game. The weak spots Philly hit on that fourth quarter run were named Diaw and Neal. Pretty awful quarter for those two who nearly cost the Spurs the game.

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  • Sir Timothy

    Spurs have still played 4 more road games than OKC and 5 more than the clippers. And then we have the rodeo trip soon. The month of March we don’t leave San Antonio! Great time to get some wins and rest. I like the way this will shape up. That is why Pop is resting now. It does not make sense to rest later after our players are already injured!

    Spurs look good. Another successful season. A championship would be great but I see this season as a success as long as we win a round or two in the playoffs. As Barkley says The Spurs are the best franchise in any sport.

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