The San Antonio Spurs headed out into round three of their matchup with the Timberwolves with all odds against them. Starters Devin Vassell (knee soreness), Jeremy Sochan (flu-like symptoms), Isaiah Roby (flu-like symptoms), and Josh Richardson (lower back tightness) were all out for this game. This left San Antonio with just 10 men in rotation to start the game.
Guard Blake Wesley only made it eight minutes into the game before being fouled and landing awkwardly on his left knee. He was ruled out for the night which brought the Spurs down to nine participants in the game. The Spurs did not let the lack of bodies determine the outcome of the game. They were able to band together and produce a win, defeating the Timberwolves 107-98.
Best start to a season since 2018-19. Second-best start in franchise history (6-1).
Good night, San Antonio 🙏 pic.twitter.com/HzrsMBLtpv
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) October 31, 2022
According to Dan Weiss “The Spurs have now outscored their opponents by 37 points in the third quarter this season.” Usually, the third quarter is when the team falls short and makes mistakes. This leaves them trailing behind in the fourth making up for lost possessions. Yet, this year their commitment to strong defense, moving as a unit, and being particular with their ball handling has them rising to the occasion.
Spurs have now outscored their opponents by 37 points in third quarters this season. It's their best quarter by far of the season.
— Dan Weiss (@DanWeissPBP) October 31, 2022
Spurs Out Perform The Timberwolves
For San Antonio to be so short-handed most would say this was the game for the Wolves to take home. However, the lackluster shooting from three could have been their kryptonite. The Wolves shot 4 of their 29 three-pointer attempts putting them at 13% for the night. Doug McDermott shot 50% from the three, making 7 of his 14 attempts. The same was true for Keldon Johnson making 5 of his 10 attempts. The three-point line determined the winners tonight and the Spurs put their best foot forward.
Along with their commendable shooting, their competitiveness is what pushes their effort above the rest. On the defensive end, Romeo Langford stood out amongst his peers, especially to Coach Popovich. Coach Pop describes Romeo as possibly the team’s “best on-ball defender”. Langford used his quick mobility and length to hold Anthony Edwards down to zero points made out of seven attempted shots in the first half.
What’s The Secret?
This is what many fans want to know. The answer is traditional good old-fashioned teamwork that has set them apart with the ability to have quick-paced ball movement. Trusting each other and taking the pressure off themselves put on them by the history they carry is their prerogative.
Keldon Johnson expanded on his perspective of the team’s comradery to the media post-game.
“I feel like there is no pressure when I know my teammates are going to put me in the right position to be successful. It’s only right if I pass that down to the younger guys. To The rookies, to everybody else on the team, and let them know that, you know, just like they believe in me I believe in them.”
“I know they’re going to hit the shot, I know they’re going to play great defense and make the right plays. Everybody on the team believes in each other. It’s big to have that foundation; knowing that my teammates are believing in me, they trust me, and vice versa with whatever shot that they may take.”
What I am looking forward to seeing is more of Malaki Brenham. He is the one rookie who has been left as a lone teenager not acquiring many vital minutes in the last 7 games. Last night he played 15 minutes and acquired 5 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists. Once he is able to get his footing on an NBA court I’m confident the rookie jitters will subside.
Up Next For The Spurs
So far the young leadership in Johnson, Vassell, Jones, and Poeltl has kept this team afloat and put some more developed entities on notice. Expecting anything less than maximum effort even at their worst will only result in disappointment and confused faces. Chalk it up to pure talent or luck from the basketball Gods, but these guys don’t plan on letting up. These next 10 games will be a more genuine test to the Spurs as they face more championship-contending teams over the next two weeks.
What did you think of the Spurs-Timberwolves series?