by Stu Holdren of NBAnoise
When you are passionate about a team, it is easy to allow your emotions and bias to control your perception of your team. With our high hopes of every year being “our year” sometimes we have to take a step back and look at the big picture. I attended the Portland Trail Blazers’ home-opener last night against your San Antonio Spurs, and here are my impressions of the Spurs squad this season:
Come back soon Manu…
This team needs Manu Ginobili back desperately. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker are doing everything they can to keep this team afloat, but they just don’t have enough reliable scorers outside of these two to put pressure on opposing defenses and ultimately put up enough points to win the games that they expect to. The Spurs seem to have a lot of great role players, but none of those players seem to fill the role of “third scorer” that Ginobili has held for quite some time.
Their depth and matchup ability (right now) is suspect
While the Spurs have always had that consummate “team mentality” this year’s squad seemed noticeably thin. In all likelihood, the addition of Ginobili and Fabricio Oberto would alleviate this feeling, but when guys like Matt Bonner, Desmon Farmer and Roger Mason (who played surprisingly well I might add) are getting significant run – this is not a good thing for your team. I think the losses of players like Brent Barry prove to be more substantial than people initially expected. I couldn’t help but snicker to myself when the Spurs matched up Bonner to guard LaMarcus Aldridge to start the game.
They are still the Spurs
Duncan and Parker looked just as good as ever last night and showed no signs of slowing down anytime soon. I was about ripping my hair out when Duncan was abusing Aldridge and Joel Przybilla in the first half like he was playing against sixth-grade B-teamers. Parkers lightning fast first-step and solid mid-range/inside finishing abilities make him extremely deadly. The Spurs have always exuded a calm confidence, and that certainly wasn’t absent last night. Even with the Rose Garden at full force, I think everyone in the arena had a feeling that the Spurs would somehow find a way to win, as they have for the past decade. This feeling was certainly heightened as the ball went off of Michael Finley’s fingertips in a last-second shot from the baseline. Although it was a disorganized and frantic play, I think most Spurs fans would put good money on a mid-range jumpshot from Michael Finley to win the game, so this one almost did go their way.
Everyone discounts the Spurs every year. There are always sexier teams, with new transactions or highly-marketed stars that always capture the leagues limelight and high-expectations. But the Spurs have been a model of consistency, and they will likely be in the thick of things once the playoffs come around. While I think this team’s gigantic championship window is beginning to slowly close, I still wouldn’t want to face them in a seven-game series.
by Stu Holdren of NBAnoise