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 NBA.com/Stats