San Antonio started the 2016-17 campaign on the right track but have recently taken a wrong turn. They have lost three games in a row in the AT&T Center with the latest coming at the hands of the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night.
The game went down to the wire with the Spurs having a chance to win with seconds remaining. With the Spurs having the ball in the hands of their star player, Kawhi Leonard, he easily found the lane and took the ball to the basket, aggressively.
As he went up for the attempted game winner, it rimmed out the front end as LaMarcus Aldridge was their for the put-back but he too front rimmed his attempt.
The game was over, the fans were in shock and a world of questions are starting to rise. What in the world is going on with the Spurs? Will anyone step up to help Leonard? When will Pau Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge contribute consistently?
It is early in the season and I feel that many are starting to get restless. How the Spurs started had everyone feeling good. Starting off their season with huge victory against the Golden State Warriors, then winning their next three before dropping their first loss of the year to the Utah Jazz, the Spurs started 4-1.
After their redemption on the Jazz just days later, they had no time to soak in the win as the Clippers came into town and completely annihilated San Antonio for their second straight loss at the AT&T Center.
The Clippers may have exposed the Spurs weakness. Los Angeles tallied 48 points in the paint. An ugly scene for a team known for defense.
No interior defense from Aldridge nor Gasol. Everyone knew going in that Gasol was a defensive liability. It has shown. He and Aldridge have not looked comfortable at all through eight games together.
Over the last 113 minutes together, an interesting point ESPN’s Marc Stein uncovered may make Spurs fans stomach turn even more.
When the duo is alongside one another, they have been outscored by 25 points.
Not ideal when you have a 7-footer and 6-foot-11 manning the paint, but it has happened. They maybe in the paint but defensively, they are not there together.
You can state that it is their time not being together for long that is contributing to their struggles. Last season, Aldridge was alongside Tim Duncan whom was the better defender of the two. With Duncan retired, that leaves Aldridge as the focal point.
And for Pau, he is only eight games in with his new team and still learning the defensive schemes. But, what the Clippers and other teams have uncovered is Gasol’s defense, or lack-there-of, in pick and roll situations.
Hopefully the duo will click and provide the boost defensively for San Antonio. For now, it does not look promising.
Offensively, Leonard needs help. Leonard, who finished with 34 points in a loss to the Rockets, has notched the 30+ mark 4 out of 8 games this season. He only had four 30+ games in his career before this season.
Outside of Leonard, there has not been anyone as consistent as him. In the final possession against Houston, he got to the rim, probably easier than he thought, he got smacked, referees swallowed their whistle and the game was over.
You can’t hold that against Leonard. The best player on the Spurs roster got a chance to win the game for his team, it didn’t happen, you move on.
For this team, they are going to need more than just one player to be consistent on the offensive side of the ball. He can’t do it all himself, as many would think.
We knew coming into this season there were going to be ups and downs. San Antonio started off on the up, now, have hit a bump in the road and now they need overcome their struggle and get back to playing San Antonio basketball.