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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

SDH's 2014/2015 NBA Worst to First Previews and Predictions: 2. San Antonio Spurs

Overall Win/Loss Record :  62-20,  first place Southwest Division

2014/2015 Projection:  53-29, first place Southwest Division, first place Western Conference

Preseason Rank

Last season’s Team Statistics and League Rank

  • Points Scored: 105.4 (6th)
  • Points Allowed: 97.6  (6th)
  • Team FG%: .486 (2nd)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .444 (8th)
  • Team FT%: .785 (4th)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .397 (1st)
  • Rebounds per game: 43.3 (12th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 42.2 (12th)
  • Turnovers per game:14.1 (15th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 13.3 (25th)

Returning Individual Statistical Leaders

  • Scoring (ppg): Tony Parker (16.7)
  • Rebounds per game:   Tim Duncan (9.7)
  • Minutes per game:   Tony Parker (29.4)
  • Assists per game:    Tony Parker (5.7)
  • Field Goal Percentage:  Tiago Splitter (.523)
  • Free Throw Percentage: Patty Mills (.890) 
  • Three Point FG Percentage: Marco Belineli (.430)
  • Steals per game: Kawhi Leonard (1.7)
  • Blocked Shots per game:   Tim Duncan (1.9)

Projected Opening Day Starters Based on Past Performances and Potential Impact:

  • Tony Parker (PG)
  • Marco Belineli (SG)
  • Kawhi Leonard (SF)
  • Boris Diaw (PF)
  • Tim Duncan (C)

Key Reserves Rank Based on Past Performances and Potential Impact:

  1. Tiago Splitter (C/F)
  2. Manu Ginobli (G/F)
  3. Danny Green (G)
  4. Patty Mills(G)
  5. Matt Bonner (F)

Like a thief in the night, the San Antonio Spurs flew under the radar once again, swept into the playoffs and swiped its fifth NBA Championship trophy--this time they did it against a lethargic +Miami HEAT team who seemed more distracted and disinterested rather than focused and prepared as they have been.  That has always been same story with every Spurs championship team--they often happen when their chief rivals are usually worn down or temporarily out of commission and they face rather lackluster or severely over-matched teams.  They worn their first in a lockout shortened season against an undersized and severly outmatched +New York Knicks team, then won their second three years later against an equally inferior New Jersey Nets team.  Two years would pass and the Spurs would win their third at the hands of a +Detroit Pistons team which proved to be one of the longest, boring and un-watchable NBA Finals series' in recent memory followed by another two year hiatus where they would slip in the Finals once again to beat an inexperienced and unprepared +Cleveland Cavaliers team.  Last season was the first time that the Spurs made consecutive Finals appearances one year after the other and after losing the first in one of the most thrilling and action packed seven game series in NBA Finals History, they would win the second in a virtual snore fest.

If anything, San Antonio's championship win can be credited more to their opponent's lack of motivation and desire to win rather than the quality of the team's play as the Heat essentially allowed the Spurs to walk all over them.  And that is why the Spurs cannot be considered among the great champion dynasties of the past thirty years, because unlike them, they never go out all guns blazing and have never shown neither the courage or consistency to surpass their foes on a level playing field.  Instead, they choose to lurk in the shadows and patiently wait for all the other more powerful titans to beat each other down, then silently sweep in, take the crown  and claim victory once the dust settles.  They resemble that wimpy pro wrestler that nobody likes who essentially stays out of the way during a Battle Royale and once all the main contenders have been thrown out of the ring, he emerges from his little nook, cheap shots the more deserving fighter and claims the win for himself.  Thus they should not be allowed to parade themselves as a true champion as they truly do not deserve such recognition; nevertheless, despite how unseemly that have earned their ill-gotten gains, they still should be considered as the team to beat in the Western Conference as they have virtually slithered to the top of the NBA's food chain.

For that simple reason, the Spurs have been marked not only for defeat, but literally for assassination as many teams, especially in the Western Conference must find it equally distasteful to watch this pretender sit upon the throne.  Teams such as state rivals the +Houston Rockets and +Dallas Mavericks have been forced to watch the Spurs slither through their grasps and to the top of the standings while they and fellow division rival +Memphis Grizzlies beat each other senseless fighting for what few scraps remain.  In fact, one can go as far to say that the Spurs represent not only the best, but also the worst in the NBA as they stand among the top teams in a stringent and rather oppressive regime otherwise known as the Western Conference.   Over the past fifteen or so years, teams have risen and fallen in the ranks of the Western Conference, yet the Spurs have maintained their same standing in the top five often finishing with home court advantage in the playoffs.  One can liken the Spurs' presence to something as horrifically painful as a kidney stone, as dangerous as a blood clot clogging an artery, or a tedious and unpleasant site as a recurring pimple or mole because there is simply no getting rid of them.

They have been and probably always will always be factor in the Western Conference thus keeping it in its rather stagnant state for the past decade and teams such as the +Los Angeles Clippers, and +Oklahoma City Thunder stuck with no where else to go.  If it were not for the Spurs, the West would be a much more wide open conference with much more variety in the teams appearing come playoff time, but that will never happen as long as the Spurs continue to remain there.  That is why the league needs to consider realigning its teams so there can be in fact greater variety in terms of competition and quality of play not allowing teams like the Spurs to maintain their vice like grip on the league.  Unfortunately, that is very unlikely to come to pass in the near future and the majority of Western Conference teams will simply have to accept that they will never be able to get past a certain point as long as the Spurs remain in their way and that could be the characteristics that will forever mark their legacy.  The Spurs are simply not the titan that they or their fans claim them to be, but resembles more instead a pariah that either blocks or holds the league back from progressing any further or a parasite that continually sucks the life out of its host.

Some Spurs fans will certainly take exception to someone calling their team a pariah or parasite, but the majority of them can care less as they know that they are the food that feed the vile beast that continually haunts the NBA.  Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, and Tony Parker will probably never leave the team and keep their team's horrific hold on the league because like vampires, zombies, or any reviled creature of the night, they will never die no matter what Mother Nature or Father Time throw at them. Head Coach Gregg Popovich and GM RC Buford must have made an unholy contract with the Forces of Darkness using the souls of their players as collateral because there is no other way to explain the out of this world longevity of either Duncan or Ginobli as well as the ridiculous consistency that the Spurs have continued to show.  In a worst case scenario, if an atom bomb were to explode killing the entire population of the state of Texas, the Spurs would probably survive as well as the AT&T  Center remain standing.  There are like cockroaches, termites or bed bags--no matter how may time you try to get rid of them, they keep reappearing and infesting their living spaces eventually outliving those who seek to destroy them.   

Most players and coaches would agree that although they can temporarily silence the Spurs, there is no way to completely snuff them out, because they just keep coming back up for more and once everyone has lost their spirit to fight, that is when San Antonio deals its fatal blow.  That is how the Spurs managed to win their five championship tiles--not by imposing their will on those who dared to oppose them, but simply by slipping though the cracks waiting for their time to strike when everyone else are either too weary or too dispirited to even put up a fight.  That was certainly the case with the Miami Heat in last year's NBA Finals--after four years of conquering the Eastern Conference, reaching the Finals each season, and winning two of them, they simply did not have the will to muster the energy to put up a respectable title defense.  Add the fact that +LeBron James practically had one foot out of the door once he an his teammates arrived to face them, it was just a matter of time until the Spurs took advantage of the Heat's lethargy completely humiliating it in five games.  Some may look at such behavior and style of play as somewhat endearing and resilient, but the fact is that the Spurs have neither those qualities but are simply a disgusting, and revolting stain that will never ever be removed.

So let us as welcome the season with both wonder and excitement while meeting them with soulless apathy as we will once again have to endure another 82 games of the San Antonio Spurs slithering their way back to the top of the standing only to ruin yet another NBA Finals.  Right now, despite the flurry of post season moves, trades and free agent signings, there is no team in the Western Conference that can truly consider itself as a lock for the NBA Finals because some way or another they will eventually have the floor pulled right from under them thanks to the Spurs. Their silver and black colors not only reflect their ominous presence in the league, but also emphasizes their unholy grip on the NBA and the world of professional sports.  No matter what happens or whoever finishes on top of the standing in the regular season, the Spurs will somehow seep into picture poisoning all those around them, slither their way past the righteous and claim their ill-gotten gains.