Spurs just keep rolling and it’s getting ridiculous
It’s Friday night and I’ve got a glass of scotch (or two) in me, so this won’t be one of my typical recaps. Honestly, I’m not exactly sure what there is to analyze anymore. The Spurs beat the Nuggets 133-102 on Friday to extend their winning streak to 16 games, and my goodness they did so in just demoralizing fashion.
I don’t care if you’re down with the bullet-point format, we’re rocking it.
- Marco got spicy without Danny Green on the floor. I wrote about the delicate balance between contender and pretender on Friday afternoon, but what transpired against the Nuggets didn’t do much to support my theory. (It’s a random-ass regular season night in Denver, so take my previous words seriously. Please and thank you.) Belinelli was scorching, with 27 points on 15 shots and six 3-pointers made. His intelligence off the ball and his creativity with it in his hands is just perfect in this system. We’ve seen it all season, so this is nothing new, but he hasn’t stopped putting up these crazy percentages. This team rolls in waves, and I wouldn’t expect that to die down too much come playoff time.
- Kawhi Leonard put up 14 points, four boards, six assists, three steals and two blocks in just 22 minutes, and all that seemed ancillary compared to the individual moments. Every freaking time Kenneth Faried touched the ball, it seemed like Leonard was there waiting. Faried would get the ball off the roll and Kawhi was there; he’d receive a pocket pass, and Leonard was there; the Nuggets would get out and run with Faried trailing or looking for his path to the basket, and Kawhi was waiting. Everywhere Faried went, Kawhi was dropping down off his man to deal with the Nuggets’ power forward. The funny thing: Leonard is BIGGER than Faried. They’re the same height, but Kawhi is longer and heavier. Faried had 18 points and 13 boards, which is what he does; but Kawhi was never his primary defender. It was just one of those things where Leonard would pick his spots to drop down on Faried, and when he did the Nuggets’ forward didn’t know what to do with the ball. Kawhi is becoming an absolute force.
- Things are getting ridiculous. It’s generally more difficult to sustain winning streaks as they grow larger and larger, and Gregg Popovich said on Wednesday he hates these weird regular-season home-and-homes because the team that wins the first one is typically behind the curve come tip-off of the second game. That didn’t seem to be a problem. San Antonio shot 56 percent from the floor, held the Nuggets to 40 percent and dished out 37 assists to just 14 turnovers in the absolute rout in Denver.
- Tony Parker is averaging 26 minutes per game during the Spurs’ 16-game winning streak. In perhaps the most underrated development this whole run, only Leonard is playing more than 30 minutes per game, and eight Spurs are playing at least 20 minutes a night.
- When Tiago Splitter has been on the court during the winning streak, the Spurs are outscoring the opposition by 18.8 points per 100 possessions. One of the big problems early in the season was the offensive struggles San Antonio faced when Tiago was on the floor. Not anymore. The Spurs are scoring 112 points per possession when he’s on the floor in the last month. If you haven’t yet bought into Tiago, do so now. By the way, guess what Danny Green’s defensive-efficiency rating is: 90 points per 100 possessions.
- Final thoughts: As impressive as this all has been, there isn’t a ton of surprise that this group is producing at this rate. Not only is this the deepest Spurs team ever, it’s up there among the best squads in the franchise’s history. We won’t see what it truly is until the postseason gets here, because in all honesty, without any sort of hyperbole, this team is just too good for at least 20 teams in the NBA. Literally, there is only a handful of teams capable of beating San Antonio on any given night. It’s weird to type that during the regular season, but it’s true. Enjoy this, because it’s about to get a little crazy.
- The Spurs play the Pelicans on Saturday in San Antonio, but Anthony Davis injured himself on Friday, leaving his availability in question for Spurs – Pelicans. That seemed like a touch-and-go game, especially if the Spurs decide to rest people. Not so sure anymore, especially considering the lack of game time the starters experienced on Friday. This thing will probably keep going.
- In the five minutes the Foreign Legion (Diaw, Belinelli, Ginobili, Mills) was on the floor, the Spurs outscored the Nuggets by 70.8 points per 100 possessions.
- But by the way: Spurs @ Pacers is scheduled for March 31, and Spurs @ Thunder is on the docket for April 3. It’s just a guess, but I think there’s a loss in there.
For whatever it’s worth, Pop wants a loss in there.