The defending champion San Antonio Spurs haven’t had the best preseason. They’re 2-5 after losing at in-state rivals Houston last night, 96-87, and their pithy coach didn’t pull any punches when asked how they’re coming together for Tuesday’s regular season opener in Dallas. “We look very poor,” Gregg Popovich told the San Antonio Express News‘ Jeff McDonald.
With injuries to Kawhi Leonard (eye infection, which could keep him out of the opener next week), Manu Ginobili, who played last night and has not been under any restrictions since training camp opened, Patty Mills (shoulder, which will have him miss some regular season time) and Tiago Splitter (calf), it’s understandable the defending champs would look a little sluggish in the preseason. They were upset in a rousing game in Germany to Alba Berlin on a last-second dash for the buzzer-beating game-winner. And they’ve lost four of their next six after Friday night’s loss to the Rockets.
Most coaches would realize there’s a bit of a championship hangover and the real season doesn’t start until next week, but most coaches aren’t Gregg Popovich.
“We look very poor,” Popovich said after last night’s loss. “We look like we’re not very interested.”
Tim Duncan wasn’t much more optimistic, but did concede it’s still just preseason.
“We haven’t played well, but it’s preseason,” Duncan said. “We’ll hopefully chalk it up to that. We’ll show up for the first game and we’ll figure it out, and we’ll have 81 after that.”
After the Spurs started 1-3, Matt Bonner, a nine-year Spurs vet, reminded fans this team has never played particularly well in the preseason:
Matt Bonner, to #Spurs fans freaked out by 1-3 mark: "This is my 9th yr. on team; as far as I recall, we've never done well in preseason"
— Mike Monroe (@Monroe_SA) October 19, 2014
Still, Popovich already appears to be in regular season form. After Terrance Jones seemingly shambled his feet on one play last night, acccording to McDonald, Pop told the ref, “That’s a travel. The signal’s like this,” before demonstrating the call.
The Spurs better catch up to their coach. There aren’t anymore preseason games left and there’s no telling when Kawhi’s pink eye clears up, or if Splitter can go on Tuesday. The defending champs are still favored by many to win it all in June, as the most recent GM survey contends. We’re guessing Popovich and the team are both hoping the sloppy play in October is just getting it out of the way before the real season starts next week.
Then again, after winning five championships with Duncan in the frontcourt and Popovich scowling on the sidelines, San Antonio’s real season doesn’t actually start until mid-April.
Will the Spurs struggle out of the gate this season?
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