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The Spurs Way: Passing on the Torch

Success comes in a multitude of ways. What makes a system work for two decades is trust, team comradery, and people who are willing to sacrifice their wants for the entirety of the team in order to achieve that same success.

There has only been one single team in the NBA who has done all of the above: the San Antonio Spurs. This season, if it wasn’t for the Golden State Warriors making a run at NBA history, the Spurs would be the highlight of the 2015-2016 campaign.  

What the Spurs have done this year is what they always seem to accomplish. That is to win 50+ games during the regular season, dominate their competition on a nightly basis, and stay healthy enough to have a legit shot at “running through the tape” come playoff time.

Despite losing to the Warriors this past Thursday and Sunday night, the Spurs are destined to clash with the Warriors come May in the Western Conference Finals. While their bench remaining intact, and also adding key players in the offseason, the “old and boring” Spurs are ready to make another run at the title. The Spurs are known for being “old and boring” among NBA fans for two reasons. First, they have an aging roster full of veterans and second, they don’t rely on explosive dunks and any kind of special effects to satisfy their fans. All the Spurs care about, at the end of the day, is adding another game to their win column.

The question is will they be able to survive the gauntlet that is the Western Conference? More specifically, the Warriors?

The Spurs put on a dominant performance against the Warriors on Mar. 9, winning the game 87-79. The Spurs showed why they have one of the top ranked defenses in the association. The Spurs held the offensive juggernaut to 38 percent from the field and 25 percent from the 3 point line (9/36).

Stephen Curry was smothered and hounded by the swarming San Antonio defense all night long, shooting a dismal 1/12 from the three point line (0.8 percent) and a disappointing 4/18 from the field overall, which is 22 percent. The Spurs held the reigning MVP to 0-4 shooting in the 4th quarter, which speaks their ability to perform at an elite level at the defensive end. Also, the Spurs held the Warriors to their lowest scoring output of the season at 79 points.

On the defensive end of the ball, the Spurs are ranked the 4th best team at securing defensive rebounds (35 a game). They rank in the top 10 amongst league for total rebounds (44 a game). The Spurs can rack up steals as much as any team in the league, averaging 8 steals per game, which is the 13th highest mark in the league. The Spurs smother the three point line every single night, making that their top priority game after game after game, allowing only 32 percent shooting from the outside.  The Spurs don’t allow any team to walk all over them. If the spurs are going to lose to someone, it won’t be an easy cake-walk.   

The offensive end for the Spurs has been a thing of beauty for two decades. Accurate passes, clutch baskets and efficient effort night in and night out has propelled the Spurs to five titles in their rich history. There is no reason why this season should be any different. The Spurs have averaged a total of 106 points per game this season, which is tied for 6th best in the association with the Clippers. The Spurs shoot an astonishing 48 percent from the field, which leads the NBA. Yes, even better than the Warriors.

Their free throw percentage is top 2 in the league at a reliable 80.5 percent. Passing the ball is a attribute the Spurs have had in their repertoire for years, averaging 25 assists per game this season, which is 3rd best in the association behind the Hawks and Warriors.

Players like Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge have played their respective roles to their full potential, as well. Leonard has evolved to the “go-to” guy for the Spurs in late game situations. He and Aldridge are now the ones who handle the bulk of the responsibility of winning games for the Spurs. Leonard averages 21 points, seven rebounds, two steals and two and a half assists per game, showing his worth on the veteran roster.

Aldridge is about to have big shoes to fill, meaning once the hall-of-famer Tim Duncan retires from the game of basketball, Aldridge will be the one who leads San Antonio to glory and fame, or even disappointment. Duncan, though, never had a dull moment in his entire career, making the playoffs every single season.Aldridge has had early summer vacations during his time with the Portland Trailblazers. Aldridge is putting up 18 points, 8.5 rebounds, one block and one and a half assists per game. He is proving to the Spurs that it was the right decision to pick him up in free agency.  

The Spurs are equipped to meet up with the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals come May for a spot in the NBA Finals. I would give the edge in that potential matchup to the Spurs due to experience alone. The Spurs have the “been there, done that” factor that would work in their favor regarding late game situations. I’m rolling with the Spurs to beat the defending NBA champion Warriors 4-3 in the Oracle Arena and advance to the NBA Finals, meeting up with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

About Nicholas Katsadas

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