The NBA season is not to be judged on one game.
When a debacle like last night’s 105-101 overtime loss to the lowly Suns occurs, you have to remind yourself that it’s 1 of 82. It counts the same as the Spurs dismantling of the Clippers in L.A. that happened just one week ago.
The NBA season is not to be judged on one game. Anything can happen on a given night. The Suns proved that yet again Wednesday. It was perhaps more surprising because the Spurs just simply don’t lay an egg against an inferior opponent very often. Prior to Wednesday the Silver and Black had lost but three games all season to teams that currently sit below .500…and none of those three were at the AT&T Center. You knew the long home winning streak would end, but who would have thought the Suns would be the team to end it?
The NBA season is not to be judged on one game. Gregg Popovich said early this year that you judge these things by “groups of games.” In the group of the last 20 games, the Spurs have won 17. That’s pretty damn good. This team was one of a handful considered to be a legitimate threat to win the title two days ago. It still should be among that group today.
I’m not a pessimist on this team, but if I were, there are a few things I could point to as concerns.
Teams who have a long athletic defender that they can stick on Tony Parker can at least contain him. TP9 finished a very respectable 9-20 from the field, with 22 points, eight assists, and just one turnover, but in the fourth quarter and overtime he was just 2-8 for five points. During that time the 6-7 Wesley Johnson did a great job containing Parker’s penetration and defending the pick and roll. Not everyone has athletic 6-7 guys, but those that do in the playoffs will put them on Parker to be sure. They will also pack the lane like Oklahoma City did in last year’s Western Conference Finals, forcing other players to beat them.
That leads us to the next issue: the shaky play of late from Tim Duncan. He is still this team’s second best player. When Parker is contained, he must step up. I know his final line read a respectable 19 points and 11 rebounds, but TD was just 6-15 from the field last night. He was also owned at the other end by Jermaine O'Neal. Jermaine O'Neal. He has not been sharp since returning from his scary looking knee injury. Is that just rust, or the signs of slowing production from a soon to be 37-year-old?
And then there’s Manu Ginobili. Think the Spurs still don’t rely on Manu’s production? Last night he was 2-8 from the floor for 10 points. He went 0-3 in the overtime period. Ginobili has had a solid year, but how much can he be counted on at this point in his career? The Spurs cannot win the title without Manu being productive in the playoffs.
These are all legitimate concerns, but every team, even Miami and OKC, has its issues. My guess is the Spurs will be angry and locked in and crush lowly Sacramento and Detroit at home this weekend. My guess is this team will regroup and still be right in the thick of things come May, but as the NBA gods showed us again last night, we are all just guessing.
The NBA season is not to be judged by one game.