Spurs approach calls for patience
By sitting Tony Parker, the Spurs made clear their priorities: be healthy come playoff time … at all costs.
With the Oklahoma City Thunder breathing down their neck for the first spot in the Western Conference, San Antonio lost to the Denver Nuggets 96-86 in a game this team had virtually no chance of winning without two of its top players.
Playing in the thin air of Denver is difficult enough; playing there without Parker and Manu Ginobili, damn near impossible. And evaluating this team without its best players has become a practice of the impossible. There’s no way to gauge where it stands given the pieces presently at play.
The Spurs need Manu.
They need Stephen Jackson and Boris Diaw.
And most of all, they need their All-Star point guard.
The Nuggets did what they do. They overran the Spurs with their athleticism, took advantage of an already shorthanded team and smothered it over the final three-and-a-half quarters. JaVale McGee’s 10 rebounds and four blocked shots were once again too much, as the big man controlled the game for the second consecutive matchup. If this is to be a playoff matchup, San Antonio must solve the McGee issue, because it’s quite problematic at this point.
But it was only a 10-point loss, and the role players were pretty solid. Gary Neal had 17 points — though it was on 15 shot attempts — and DeJuan Blair had 12 points and five rebounds on 5-for-7 shooting. That’s a huge positive when forecasting a future that presumably includes Parker and Ginobili.
As Houston and Golden State battle for the sixth seed and the Lakers fight the Jazz for the eighth seed, the Spurs have shown their cards. They’ve made this statement in the past, and they’re continuing to do so now. It’s all about health with this team, and it’s hard to blame them for the approach. They’ve been down this road before. Yet, if there’s anything we’ve learned this year, it’s that this NBA season has been unpredictable. The Thunder once again are in charge of their own destiny, but a tough tumble on their current West coast roadie isn’t out of the question. So at this point, it’s wise to adhere to a very simplistic idea.
Patience is a virtue.