Back when the San Antonio Spurs were winning championships, they were anchored by an incredible defense that could shut teams down night after night. That’s when the Spurs got branded as “boring” because their scores would be in the 80’s. But that’s all they needed. It worked and they won.
In recent years, it’s been a different story. The Spurs can put up points in bunches, but their defense has struggled to stop anyone. The results have changed also. San Antonio is putting up great regular season records, but faltering in the playoffs. If they’re going to get back to the Finals, they may have to revert back to the old ways.
Spurs guard Danny Green says it’s currently their main objective.
"That's the biggest thing we're focusing on, playing good defense,” Green said. “The offense will come. If the offense is not there, you still have to play good defense on the other end."
I know it’s a little cliché to say “defense wins championships,” but I think the Spurs’ success over the past 15 years proves that it’s a legitimate point.
In the small sample size of five games this season, the Spurs are 4-1, holding teams to 92.8 points per game, seventh in the NBA and a big improvement over last year. They’re scoring 96 points per game, 22nd in the league. Could this be a sign that things are going back to the way they were?
It’s too early to tell. The Spurs’ defensive numbers took a beating after giving up 106 points to the Clippers last night, but they were impressive holding Oklahoma City to just 84 points a week ago.
We may be looking at a bipolar defense, but at least they’re showing signs of improvement. The Spurs have seen firsthand that trying to outscore opponents every night isn’t going to work long term, so a commitment to shutting down opposing offenses is the way to go. Keep an eye on the defensive numbers throughout the year, it could be a huge indicator of success this season.