By Sean Kennedy
We hear all about Oklahoma City because they have the best pure scorer of our generation, the Heat because they have possibly the greatest player of all-time, and the Pacers because everyone wants to believe someone has a chance of challenging Miami in the East. But you know who currently sports the best record in the NBA? San Antonio. The team no one wants to talk about because they’re literally going on their second decade of doing things the same way and you can only write about flawless ball movement and solid defensive rotations so often. Marco Belinelli, Patty Mills, some of the supporting cast has changed, but as long as Popovich, Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili are around, this is a franchise that will be at or near the top of the standings, and will likely be under-publicized in doing so.
The Spurs currently sit 2 games ahead of Oklahoma City in the catbird seat of the modern-day hunger games known as the NBA’s Western Conference. San Antonio did not play yesterday and with no game tomorrow as well, they should have all hands on deck with none of the DNP-old designations Gregg Popovich utilizes to rest his stars throughout the season. Facing a full deck against a team with plenty to play for is bad news for Brett Brown as he goes up against his former mentor Popovich.
Brown has tried to instill some of the Spurs principles within the Sixers make-up this season, but it helps to have more than a handful of actual NBA players on the roster. Remarkably, the Sixers continue to fight hard lately, losing their 24th-straight game in a spirited effort in Chicago Saturday night. It’s a credit to the coaching staff and the heart of the roster that they haven’t rolled over despite having 5 undrafted players receive playing time, meaning nearly half the team is made up of guys all 30 teams originally thought weren’t good enough for the league. I can’t wait to see what Brown is able to do with a couple more blue-chip prospects next season.
Back to tonight, the Spurs are top-10 in the league on both ends of the court and the best outside shooting team in the league at 39.7% behind the arc. San Antonio has 5 players shooting better than 40%, led by Belinelli at 43.8%, good for 7th overall in the NBA. Many of those open shots are provided by the ability of Tony Parker to get wherever he wants to go on the court. No one in the NBA is savvier at navigated a crowded paint area, and the pick-and-roll with Parker and Duncan is so deadly, it’s no wonder help defenders drift off the shooters along the wings. All of this is a long-winded way of saying that there’s been some spots lately I felt the Sixers could sneak out a win, but this match-up isn’t one of them. They say everything is bigger in Texas and the Sixers’ losing streak is sure to grow too by the time they exit the Lone Star State.