The San Antonio Spurs continue to defy their stereotypes, being labeled old, slow, and one of the most boring offenses in the National Basketball Association. In reality, they are exactly the opposite. The Spurs are young, fast, and one of the most exciting offenses in the league. These are also the reasons why the Spurs must clinch the number one seed to make a deep playoff run. This is also why the San Antonio Spurs need help from the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Spurs currently lead the Oklahoma City Thunder by a half game in the Western Conference, previous to today’s game between the Lakers and Thunder. The Spurs have handled both teams this season, but if given a choice, they would much rather play the Los Angeles Clippers or Memphis Grizzlies than the Thunder or Lakers.
One by-product of the new, young offense is that the Spurs defensive efficiency is nothing quite like it has been in recent years. When the Spurs won their previous championships, from 1999 to the 2007 title, it was on defense. This year, however, the Spurs are doing it by offense, which could be a problem against teams like the Thunder or Lakers.
Outside of Tim Duncan, the Spurs are relatively young and small in the front court. Tiago Splitter is 6-11, but he’s still raw. Matt Bonner has had nice PER averages, but his defense is not the best. DeJuan Blair plays with big heart, but at 6′ 11″, he’s a little on the small side. The acquisition of Boris Diaw was helpful, but the Spurs still have work to do.
If they play the Lakers or Thunder in the second round, the Spurs could have matchup troubles with the bigger squads. The towering duo of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum caused Spurs problems when they were routed last week but the Spurs got revenge. The athletic Thunder with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have more experience than the young Spurs bench, which could cause problems.
A matchup, however, with the Clippers would be golden for the Spurs. Sure, they have Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, but the game plan is simple. Eliminate one, or both, from the offensive side and make everyone else beat you. Blake will still get his highlight dunks, but the Spurs can run up and down on the Clippers.
Even if the Spurs get the Memphis Grizzlies, they swept them 4-0 this season. Not bad for the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last year.
The Spurs need the Lakers to keep winning and secure the number three seed. A Lakers victory over the Thunder this afternoon would be perfect. If the Spurs beat the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight, that gives them a comfortable game and a half lead over the Thunder, all but securing the number one seed.
The Lakers and Thunder would matchup in the second round, that means one of the two worst matchup teams for the Spurs will eliminate the other. The Spurs could make a run, it just depends on what cards the Lakers hand them.
I don’t know about you, but I’m excited for the playoffs to get going!
Follow Paul Troupe on Twitter @gamin4HIM