Time for the Spurs to Wake Up
After last night's games, the NBA's Western Conference remains a puzzle to me.
I'm continually surprised at how equally calibrated both Conferences are, but at different levels of fundementals.
While two-possession margins in the last quarter has offered winning leverage more often than not in the East, they're more volatile in the West, where crunch-time outcomes have been turning dramatically.
Within that observation, the current NBA champs -- San Antonio -- are stuggling lately. Ironically, making clutch plays in clutch situations is their trademark, and they have the tools to make them. We've seen their system at work time and again:
Right now, though, it's buzzard's luck for San Antonio.
I'm not expecting to see the Spurs getting any worse than this. They simply weren't competitve in their last two games. Yes, it's odd to use a term like non-competitve about San Antonio, but right now, that's the way it is. Still, they don't actually suck when they lose. Their team concept is deeply ingrained; they can't suck. They fight, and in most games, they build a lead here and there, but lately, they're not the team in an overall commanding position.
San Antonio lost against the New Orleans Pelicans last night. It was same story as the Thunder game on Chrismas. They had problems on both ends on the floor. What's more, the Spurs had a hard time protecting the rim and grabbing rebounds.
During this bad patch, opponents have had multiple second chances to score, while San Antonio's o-board stats have disappeared. Transition D has taken a walk, too; teams like the Pelicans and, especially, OKC know how to punish that with quick easy shots and fast break points.
Greg Popovich may be a mastermind at setting up offensive plays, but he can't put the ball through the hoop. The Spurs are cold right now. Their shooting isn'tt nearly as effective as it should be against competitive teams. And those teams are doing unto San Antonio as San Antonio usually does unto them:
Experience and history taught us that a superior attacking mindset with an equally balanced defense is the récipe for key victories. The Spurs have shown time and again that they can be that team when it matters most.
But they're currently sitting seventh in the West, and with numerous injuries on the roster, they seem to be sleepwalking. The usual cohesion isn't there. And unfortunately for them, it is for their opponents.