Nine wins, nine losses. Given our upgraded roster, if you would have told me during the preseason that the Spurs would be 9 and 9 after 18 games, I would have gone all-in on you without a second thought. It all seemed so perfect. The best supporting cast that Tim has ever had is what everyone was claiming. Well boys and girls, we are 9 and 9. In the standings, we are surrounded by The Heat (they have one player,) The Rockets (they have 0 players,) The Thunder (half the team cannot legally drink a beer,) The Bucks (sucked before they lost all their players to injury,) The Kings (The FREAKING KINGS!) and the worst franchise in the league (The Clippers.) Our record is as useless as the ninth chick to come forward in Tiger Woods' extravaganza. (Who gives a crap? We got the hint when number four came forward. Nobody even cares, number nine. You aren't that popular. No one even knows who you are. You suck.) More after the jump.
I feel like Matt Kennedy Gould in the season finale of Joe Schmo. "WHAT IS GOING ONNNN?!?" With Tony, Manu, RJ, Tim, and Bonner on the floor with ten seconds left down by one in an extremely hostile arena, Bonner catches the ball four feet inside the half court line. "PASS! PASS!" He puts his head down and begins to drive. "WHAT THE EFF ARE YOU DOING? WHAT IS HE DOING?" His head is down, he is moving like a pregnant penguin towards the bucket, 7, 6, 5.... "Tony, Manu, RJ, Tim, someone steal the ball from him! WHAT THE EFF IS HE DOING?" He pulls up and takes a shot with 5 seconds remaining that rims out with no Spur under the basket for the offensive rebound. "AAGHHHH!" I don't even know if that shot has a name. It was kind of a hook shot, kind of a runner, it was off-balance at a horrible angle with Boozer contesting in perfect position. Game over. -254.
That, my friends, is exactly why McDyess should be closing out games for the Spurs. If McDyess were in for Bonner, he would have caught the ball and calmly waited for Tony or Manu to get open. I guarantee he would not have panicked as Bonner did. Ten seconds is a ton of time. There was absolutely no reason to panic with a full ten seconds on the clock. If it gets to five, then by all means, get a shot off. But at ten, you wait for your play-makers. You do not put your head down, avoid contact, and take a miserable shot.
Now, some may argue that Bonner was having a career night. He was making everything and he deserved to be in there at crunch time. No, he did not. And we all saw why. Crunch time is a completely different animal than the first half, when it's fine if Bonner pulls a Bonner. In crunch time, every possession matters. It's all about execution. How many of you can seriously say that you would prefer Bonner in that situation over McDyess? McDyess would have executed, where as Bonner panicked and took an awful shot. If you want to stretch the defense with a three point shooter, then why not go small for the final play? Sub in Finley, when healthy, or Mason in this situation. We have all seen them make the pressure shot with consistency and it would have forced Sloan to make a last second substitution, throwing off whatever he drew up in that final timeout.
The Spurs are rattled, I am rattled, we are rattled; but all is not lost. Let's see if I can dream up a silver lining. Our last 6 losses have been by an average of 5.3 points and all to playoff worthy teams. (I am counting the Thunder as playoff worthy because I think they will only get better as the season progresses. ) In other words, the Spurs were very capable of winning each of these games against very good teams. Costly turnovers, offensive rebounds, and boneheaded [read: redheaded] plays resulted in these six losses. But these are all things that the Spurs can improve upon. Take care of the ball, block out, and give Bonner a position that he is capable of handling. (I am thinking water boy.)
The thing to keep in mind is that the Spurs essentially turned over their roster during the off-season. Finley and Mason have been given a lesser roll. Hill is now the backup point guard. RJ, McDyess, Blair and Theo are all new to the system. Basically, the Spurs are trying to build team chemistry from scratch. The Spurs have not retooled in such a dramatic fashion since we landed Tim Duncan. We all need to be patient. (I'm talking to myself more than I am to you.) The Spurs are a few good bounces away from riding a 15-3 record right now. At the least, they should have won 3 of their last 6 losses, putting them at 12-6.
Things are not as bad as our record indicates and the schedule should seriously help the Spurs out in the near future. The rest of December serves us the Kings, Bobcats, Clippers, Suns, Warriors, Clippers, Blazers, Bucks, Knicks, Wolves, and Heat. I mean, cupcakes, right? Only three of the next eleven teams should pose a challenge, and if the Spurs can assert themselves and gain some momentum, it is not improbable to think that they may run the table. I mean, we own the Suns, the Blazers greatly rely on mid-range jumpers, and the Heat only have one player. I just talked myself into it. That's right, 11-0 is my prediction for the rest of the month. How's that for a silver lining?