On paper San Antonio looked like a team that was going to challenge the Lakers for the top spot in the West. Right now, the Spurs look like a team that is challenging the Thunder for a playoff spot. The Spurs have come out of the gate struggling (5-6) and up until their win against Washington on Saturday, they lost their previous three games. One of those losses was at home against the Jazz, a team that hasn’t won in San Antonio since 1999. They are off to their worst 10-game start since the Duncan era began.
Expectations were certainly high from the get-go. They acquired the athletic Richard Jefferson in the offseason, which is certainly an upgrade over Bruce Bowen. The Spurs also came into camp relatively healthy – remember Manu Ginobili missed half the season due to injury. They also added a lot of frontcourt help with the acquisitions of Antonio McDyess and rookie DeJaun Blair, who had a great preseason.
Trying to figure out exactly why the Spurs are struggling is hard to pinpoint. The team’s big three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Ginobili have been banged up a little bit. But when they’ve been on the court, they all have been a little inconsistent. And even when one of them produces, it doesn’t necessarily result in a win. Everytime Duncan has scored over 20 points in a game this season, the Spurs have lost. The Spurs are also 2-0 when Duncan is not on the floor.
Defense for the Spurs has been an issue as well. Usually, the Spurs are near the top as far as allowing the least amount of points. Now they are in the middle of the pact giving up 97.5 points (up 4.2 ppg from last year). “It’s probably tougher on the defensive end,” Popovich told reporters last week. “Everybody likes to score. All of these guys have been scoring all of their lives. … It’s tougher for a team to come together and trust each other at the defensive end.”
Whether their struggles are injuries, defense, lack of focus or maybe it’s just their age is starting to show, the Spurs have to regroup and figure out what the problem is. Like Washington, they have a few new faces on the team and have dealt with injuries so far, so it’s easier to make an assessment after 25 or so games. But scanning up and down the roster, there is enough weapons there to be a championship contending squad.
What’s wrong with this Spurs team? Do you see them turning it around when Manu gets healthy?