The Spurs manhandling of the Oklahoma City Thunder brought to light an interesting question: Just how good is this team? Playing without perennial All Star Manu Ginobili, the San Antonio Spurs downed the best team in the league without much of a fight. The final score was closer than the game would indicate, as the Spurs lead by 24 points at one point before the Thunder brought it back to respectable levels late.
San Antonio is currently 13-7 without their star shooting guard, relying on Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and usually one role player per night to keep on winning. In that stretch, the Spurs also lost winnable games, such as to the Miami Heat where they were up big, then lost big. They also lost to the Dallas Mavericks in overtime after coming back from 20+ down, and losing close games to Milwaukee, Sacramento, and Houston.
San Antonio’s bench is getting lots of reps, which will be good for this squad come playoff time. San Antonio is not going to go down without a fight, and hopefully will go farther than last year’s disappointing first round exit to Memphis. Sitting currently in third place, the Spurs would play the Portland Trailblazers in the first round if the playoffs ended today.
Honestly, I cannot see why this team could not make it to the NBA finals. They have played close games against the Thunder, with both teams winning at home. The Spurs also thrashed the Clippers by 25 earlier this season.
This team may have some trouble against the taller teams, such as the Los Angeles Lakers with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, but they have the ability to play at a pace that they want.
When Manu Ginobili comes back, his defensive presence should cause more steals, which leads to more fast breaks and points. Conversely, San Antonio cannot get caught in a fast pace series in the playoffs, as the short off days will be hard on the older bodies of the Spurs.
But a trip to the NBA finals should not be surprising to many. The Spurs have proven they can play with the best, leading the league with 12 wins against teams with a winning record. The playoffs are their own animal, and San Antonio is looking to extract some revenge for last season’s early exit.
Follow Paul Troupe on Twitter @gamin4HIM