Another year, another season many analysts are wrong. The best team record-wise during the NBA is not the Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat or Oklahoma City Thunder. It’s the San Antonio Spurs, who rallied from a 21-point first-quarter deficit on Friday to upend the visiting Phoenix Suns 112-104.
So what if San Antonio’s 4-10 versus those other five NBA championship contenders. The Spurs are one of the best squads at home, 32-8, and own the best road record by far at 30-10. OKC sits second with a 25-14 away mark.
San Antonio has made up for going 4-10 against the top five teams in the league other than themselves by going a blistering 31-2 versus sub-.500 squads and no matter who is playing almost always are able to execute and give a valiant effort.
More food for thought is the Spurs are a perfect 7-0 during games decided by three points or less and 35-11 during games decided by 10 points or more. The Thunder are arguably the second best to San Antonio during close contests with a 9-4 mark and are 33-7 during blowouts.
New Orleans Pelicans, Pacers and Spurs Unbeaten in Overtime This Year
It’s sort of fitting that Indiana, New Orleans and San Antonio are the only three teams yet to drop an overtime decision this season. How so? Well, the Pacers, 4-0 in OT contests, are practically mirror images of the Spurs, 2-0 in OT contests, of the Eastern Conference.
Both teams are pests defensively with Indiana second in the league giving up 92.4 points per game while San Antonio is sixth best defensively allowing 97.4 PPG. It’s not much of a surprise that the Pacers play like the NBA’s best team with George Hill, Ian Mahinmi and Luis Scola, all former members of the Spurs.
Up until recently Indiana (8-13 during their last 21 contests) was plodding along without much of a fuss from the media. The Pacers’ troubles, particularly on offense scoring 91 points or fewer 10 of their last 13 contests, have hurt their pace numbers to 95.1 based on Holllinger Stats – Offensive Efficiency.
San Antonio is a much more productive 97.0 and is fifth in offensive efficiency at 108.4. Indiana is 22nd in the NBA in offensive efficiency at 101.3, but their 96.7 defensive efficiency rating is tops in the league. The Pacers commit 14.4 turnovers per contest while the Spurs are averaging 14.2 TOs per game.
In addition Indiana tallies 5.50 blocks and 6.78 steals a contest compared to 5.15 and 7.48 by San Antonio. Defensive boards too are similar with the Spurs snaring 33.9 rebounds per game and the Pacers ripping down 34.5 RPG.
Because of Indiana’s (trails Miami by a half-game for the East’s top spot) recent struggles Frank Vogel gave his starters two days off from practice this week and held all five starters out of Wednesday’s game at the Milwaukee Bucks.
Resting players during practices and games is not something new for Gregg Popovich who has been doing this type of thing all year and has been known, especially near the postseason, to rest his stars. Vogel and Pop know that home-court advantage is not everything and are more concerned with health and playing well.
The Indianapolis Star reported that during the last few days Paul George and David West came to the Pacers’ coach to request rest before for the playoffs. While Indiana is competing with the Heat for the East’s top seed, expect San Antonio to keep resting players with home-court advantage throughout the postseason wrapped up.
Pelicans, Perfect 5-0 in Overtime, Aspire to be the Spurs of the Future
It’s also fitting New Orleans hasn’t lost an OT contest despite playing five of them this year. Head coach Monty Williams, who played for San Antonio between 1996-98, was a coaching staff intern for the Spurs during their third title in 2005.
Quickly though Williams was pulled away from San Antonio’s organization to aid Nate McMillan then of the Portland Trail Blazers until the Pelicans hired him during 2010. By the numbers New Orleans (allows five more points, scores six less points, and registers four less assists per game than the Spurs) doesn’t resemble San Antonio, but from a visual perspective they do to a degree, just with a lot less talent.
The Pelicans do however best the Spurs with 6.33 blocks and 7.87 steals a contest. Despite that New Orleans, perhaps because of youth, commits nearly five more fouls per game than the silver and black. With young pieces 21-year-old Anthony Davis, 24-year-old Tyreke Evans and 25-year-old Eric Gordon the Pelicans, who made the playoffs in Monty’s first year, could look like San Antonio even more during the future.
Davis (20.8 PPG) idolizes Tim Duncan (15.1 PPG) and is slowly developing into a reliable inside force, while Evans (13.9 PPG) and Gordon (15.4 PPG) create havoc inside the paint like Manu Ginobili (12.4 PPG) and Tony Parker (16.8 PPG) so if they can continue to improve and remain in New Orleans, the next Spurs could be the franchise from the Big Easy.
San Antonio’s Biggest Struggles Come Against the Northwest Division
The Spurs are 24-6 versus the East with 9-1, 8-2 and 7-3 records against the Southeast, Atlantic and Central. No one is better than San Antonio versus the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Bobcats, Miami, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards.
If that’s not impressive enough, the Spurs are also an NBA-leading 38-12 against the Western Conference. San Antonio has owned the Pacific Division winning 15 of 17 contests while going 12-3 and 11-7 versus the Southwest and Northwest.
All of the Spurs’ Southwest losses have come to Houston while Oklahoma City and Portland have accounted for six of San Antonio’s seven Northwest defeats. The Spurs, who were crushed 110-91 at the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday, would ideally like to steer clear of the Thunder and Blazers come the postseason.
While San Antonio’s taken the last two meetings with Portland the Spurs are 0-4 against OKC. The way things sit though San Antonio wouldn’t get the Thunder until at least the West Finals. At full strength and with days off between games the Spurs are confident in their chance of making it out of the West.
Tags: San Antonio Spurs