Spurs Refuse to Tank; Roll Though Embiid and 76ers

Devin Vassell Taking A Shot During The Spurs vs. 76ers Game
John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Last night the San Antonio Spurs proved to Spurs nation they were not phased by upcoming draft talk around the league. Even though they were going against who many consider championship contenders in the east, the Spurs did not back down from the Philadelphia 76ers.

The expected end for most was that the 76ers would walk away with their first win of the season against such a young and developing team.

No Opposing Team Is Safe This Year

However, this young core proved to the masses to expect the unexpected, and no one is safe this season. Coach Popovich did say before the season began to not go and bet on the Spurs winning a championship.

Although it may be a rough year of ups and downs the team never said they weren’t going to give it their all. They may not be championship contenders but they beat championship contenders 114-105 leaving Philly with a 0-3 record to start their journey. 

Spurs vs. 76ers Recap

At the start of the first quarter, Philadelphia maintained a lead of 5 -7 points. San Antonio remained nearby on the scoreboard because of their strategic defense. There was some timidness on defense in the beginning, but they made it clear they wanted to keep Embiid and Maxey out of the paint as much as possible. 

If they made it into Embiid territory, pulling up with a jumper or floater was smarter than fighting at the basket. Mainly Jakob Poeltl and Keldon Johnson were there to recover the ball if they were left to fight at the basket. Playing the game on the perimeter and quick cuts to the whole was familiar and safe for the veterans.

A Strong Shooting Night

The game made a quick turnaround mainly due to shooting capability. San Antonio went from shooting 32% to over 50% from the field while Philly went from shooting  48% to 33% from the field in one quarter. I believe this is because the Spurs outpaced the 76ers on both ends of the floor. 

In the first half, Devin Vassell turned up the heat yet again. He was the leading scorer for the night with 22 points. He shot 80% from the field in the first half and 64% overall. Keldon Johnson wasn’t just fighting at the rim but also shooting 41% from the field. He walked away with 21 points and 8 rebounds.

The Spurs were able to tie with their competition multiple times and began showing off their developing ball movement and better communication on the court in the second half. The ball was still being turned over more than one would like, but it was due to being pressured by their opponents more than losing control of the game themselves. Both teams have some tweaking to do, but the Spurs were quicker at making adjustments while the clock was running.

Doug McDermott Shines Off The Bench

In the second half alone both teams shot at 51% overall. What makes San Antonio rise above is they shot twice as better from the three. This is what Pop had to say post-game about Doug McDermott shooting 4-4 attempted three-pointers coming off the bench. 

“He [Doug McDermott] was basically our offense, especially down the stretch. If he didn’t make those shots, we would’ve been in trouble because they had cranked up their defense. Did a good job. They were attacking us at the other end and scoring. But, if he wasn’t doing that, we wouldn’t have won the game.”

A Team Effort

McDermott didn’t take all the credit for their survival. He also chimed in on Jakob’s efforts defending Embiid and retrieving the ball for his team. 

“Jakob is just a hell of a defender. He’s strong and has got really good timing. He’s good at playing without fouling, which is huge against Embiid. I’ve played with some guys who get in foul trouble early and it just messes up the whole rhythm. Jakob did a good job. I know he had 40 but he’s going to be an MVP.”

A Hopeful Future

Jakobs’ ability to stay clean under the pressure of defenders like  Joel Embiid, Keldons’ leadership and vitality on the court, Dougs’ strong 6th man support off the bench, and Devins’ shooting flair leave those who follow in good hands for growth. It leaves hope for the future of the new era of the Spurs style. The excitement and energy are back no matter whether you win or lose and that is the best way to get through a rebuilding season. 

Tomorrow the spurs make their way to Minnesota to face off against the Timberwolves. This will be the first game of a triple-header competition. What was your impression of the Spurs vs. 76ers?


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