As I sat back and watched the Spurs’ victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder last night, I could not help but smile. I marveled at the selflessness of the San Antonio Spurs as they moved the ball. I was appreciative of how the Spurs broke down and dissected the Oklahoma City Thunder’s defense. The Spurs exposed Kendrick Perkins as a huge liability as they took advantage of his lack of speed by unleashing countless pick-and rolls.
But then again, why should I be surprised?
This is the type of basketball that has been played in San Antonio throughout the entire coaching tenure of Greg “I want some Nasty” Popovich. After Phil Jackson stepped down from the Lakers last season, Greg Popovich became the best coach in the NBA. Without a doubt, he is one of the greatest coaches of all time.
Any fan of any other NBA team besides the Spurs had to be green with envy after Game 2. As a Knicks fan who had to witness countless possessions of isolation basketball with Carmelo Anthony, I wish the Knicks had half of the ball movement skills that the Spurs have. Celtics fans, Heat fans and Thunder fans have to be envious of the depth that the San Antonio Spurs have. The Spurs could field another starting lineup with their bench. They have Manu Ginoboli, Stephen Jackson, Gary Neal, Tiago Splitter and Matt Bonner. No other team left in these playoffs can compete with the Spur’s bench.
Of course, I said to myself that I wish the Knicks had a coach like Greg Popovich. He does not give this team any leeway whatsoever. This was seen in Game 2 after the Thunder had a brief 6-0 run to cut the Spurs lead to sixteen. Popovich called a timeout and ripped into his team’s best player: Tony Parker. Imagine that! The Spurs actually hold EVERY player accountable. There is no favoritism with Popovich. In an era in which star players can get their coaches fired by complaining to the front office guys, this is refreshing to see.
The factor that every fan in the NBA should be envious of when it comes to the Spurs is their immense basketball IQ. It seems that every player for the Spurs has the right instincts when it comes to passing the basketball. In a league in which big men are not the best when it comes to passing the basketball, Tiago Splitter, Boris Diaw and the legendary Tim Duncan defy that stereotype completely.
Over the years, the San Antonio Spurs have been labeled by many as “boring.” With no flashy players that make high-light reel plays consistently, they are mostly kept under the radar. The Spurs are certainly not boring to the eyes of basketball purist. They play basketball the right way and have redefined the word “teamwork”.
There is no way that the Spurs could be under the radar at the present moment. They have won 20 in a row and 31 of their last 33. They are undefeated in these playoffs. If they pull off Game 3, Spurs players will have no choice but to answer questions about whether they can go 16-0 in the postseason. Spurs basketball can be no longer seen as great.