State of the Spurs: Showing their age

Extracting meaning from the week the San Antonio Spurs just experienced is a failed endeavor.

Over the last week the Spurs have played the Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder, and have lost three of those games. There was a win over the Orlando Magic in there to keep this from being some kind of losing streak, but the Spurs are not playing well on offense and they are losing.

Clearly, an older team is slowing down, collapsing under the weight of a schedule that suddenly resembles a playoff series. Right?

Well, remember how finding meaning in this was a failed endeavor? Yeah, the Spurs aren’t trying to win these games. Not really. Tony Parker didn’t play against the Magic. Tim Duncan didn’t play against Memphis and only played 14 minutes against the Magic. Kawhi Leonard didn’t play in either of those games. Manu Ginobili has a hamstring injury and hasn’t played more than three minutes since March 27.

So it could be there is nothing to see here.

Nonetheless, Spurs fans would have just as soon seen the Spurs win a couple of those games, particularly the one against a Heat team that wasn’t playing Lebron James or Dwyane Wade. A win at Oklahoma City with Duncan and Parker playing would have been nice to see too. But even that result was muddled by Parker sitting on the bench at crunch time dealing with a still-sore ankle.

But ultimately it’s just not enough information. The sample size is too small. The big sample – the full NBA regular season – still indicates the Spurs are the best team in the Western Conference.

Three thoughts

1. Manu Ginobili’s shooting slump was nothing to worry about, but his hamstring injury is. A 35-year-old guy with one hamstring injury is a 35-year-old guy who’s about to have two hamstring injuries. That’s not exactly scientific, but it’s more problematic than an ankle sprain or something.

2. Danny Green got a block on Kendrick Perkins Thursday night that was remarkable for two reasons. The first was that it was a great hustle play by Green. The second was that Perkins was all alone when he caught the ball, but watching him gather his body to go up for that dunk reminded me of watching my dad try to start our 1967 Ford truck in the middle of a Kansas winter. It really took a lot of time and coaxing and verbal encouragement.

3. The Spurs don’t seem real concerned about being the No. 1 seed in the playoffs anyway, but now might be the time to drop that pursuit altogether. Two of their three most important players are hurt, and that’s not even mentioning their (almost) 37-year-old big man. This is a team that needs to get healthy and rested more than anything else.

Quotes of the week

“I grew up getting hit from multiple angles. So I’m fine when guys come through the paint and get physical. I’m not afraid to mix it up.” 

Rookie center Aron Baynes, a native of Australia who grew up playing rugby, speaking to Spurs.com.

“If they have the character I know they have, this is all going in the computer. It will make them smarter and make them make the right decisions come playoff time, hopefully.” — Coach Gregg Popovich on his team’s last-second loss to Memphis, which beat the Spurs on a last-second layup by Mike Conley.
 

What’s next?

As noted, the Spurs have three reasonably tough road games upcoming, but what’s really next is making sure everybody gets healthy again. The Thunder can have the No. 1 seed if they want it. The Spurs are at a stage where that sort of thing doesn’t much matter.

Who’s hot, who’s not

Hot: Tim Duncan

When he plays, Duncan is still on fire. He had 24 points and 11 rebounds in Thursday’s loss.

Not: Tony Parker

It’s not really his fault that you don’t know what to expect from him on a day-to-day basis, but because of the ankle injury he’s still recovering from you don’t know what to expect from him on a daily basis. Example: He went 1-for-6 and scored two points in 25 minutes on Thursday.

Tower of Power

Maybe the foundation is cracking a little, and maybe the Thunder are the best team in the West, but the season series ended up 2-2, and the injuries the Spurs are dealing with now should be cleared up by the time they would meet in the conference finals anyway.