I don't usually write FanPosts, because I usually have nothing to say. But these past few games have got me thinking... are these newfangled, run-and-gun, hot-shooting Spurs here to stay?
It may seem like a silly question, at first, but let's look at some of the evidence.
We're currently the best three-point shooting team in the league. Oh, that's nice. Small Sample Size and all that. We also have (currently) the best three-point shooter in the league in Matt Bonner. The Sandwich Man has been one of the nicest surprises this season, showing all the haters he deserved that four year contract. The contributions of Gary Neal and a born-again RJ are nothing to be sneezed at, either... it's really been impressive.
All the jokes about us being the San Antonio Suns aside, there's little room for argument that, so far, this has been been working for us, against largely inferior competition. Obviously, we're about to see what we can do against the big boys (live by the three, die by the three, and all that), but to this point we've been floating on a cloud. A cloud made of nothing but nets.
The above numbers are interesting for a few reasons--notice that in the years we won titles, our defensive rating (really for the entire decade) was below 100. It's easy to just start by saying that our defense isn't what it used to be, but that's not telling the full story: our offense until recently hasn't kept up with the changing pace of the NBA. As FreshTuna recently pointed out, the speed of the game is far faster than in the past several years, even for some teams that are traditionally "old"/"boring"/"slow." (Three guess as to who I'm talking about.) The halfcourt game isn't dead, but he's no longer the proud trophy child he once was. Now a halfcourt team gives off a lame Uncle Rico vibe that most casual watchers find distasteful.
More interesting to me is an apparent shift in Pop's strategy. Our bread and butter for 15 years has been: take your time, feed the ball to Timmy, and let him go to work. I love Tim, more than I love many things (like Sandwiches; sorry, Matt), but even he has admitted that this is bit of a "last stand" for him. What's different about the twilight of HIS career, compared to David Robinson, his predecessor, is that there's no Twin Tower to pass the torch to. Tim's not finding his successor; he and his game are being slowly phased out. The ball is in the hand of the Tonys, the Manus, the Georges. And this is a league-wide problem--the Age of the Big Men is coming to a close.
When Tim retires, and Pop goes with him, we won't have that solid foundation down low. That Big Fundamental. I have high hopes for Splitter, but it would take some rose-colored glasses indeed to think he can be another Tim, which means we're getting our stability elsewhere. It's a new league, and it's a new San Antonio Spurs.