Sunday afternoon, the Spurs played poorly against the Toronto Raptors but managed to leave Canada victorious. However, double overtime was required and the Spurs' Big Three all logged heavy minutes. The Spurs faced the Washington Wizards tonight in a SEGABABA, and all signs indicated a San Antonio letdown was looming. The Wizards were young, hungry and waiting for the old, tired Spurs.
While winless thus far, the Wizards' average margin of defeat has only been seven points, and their two most recent losses came in overtime. Washington had been playing teams close, and the Spurs' outlook seemed ominous. All signs indicated that the Spurs were walking into a dreaded trap game. The Spurs did not let that happen Monday night.
From the start, the Spurs played lively, giving no indication of their expected tired legs. Although the Wizards began the game shooting well and even took a brief lead, the Spurs seemed poised and in control throughout their 48 minutes of play. This Spurs team that put on a clinic for the Washington Wizards is the team that most expected to see from the start of the season.
Injuries and sloppy play have plagued the Spurs in the early season, even though they have managed to eke out many ugly victories to earn an 11-3 record. Their twelfth victory, however, was nothing but beautiful. The Spurs' 32 team assists are a testament of their splendid play.
The ball movement of the Spurs was magnificent. The ball rarely stood still while under the Silver and Black control, and the Wizards could do nothing to stop the Spurs' offensive machine. By my count, the Spurs have played three complete games this season: versus Denver, at Boston, and now at Washington. Three of their 15 games were well played for the full 48 minutes, and yet they boast a league-leading 12 and 3 record. It's remarkable and makes one wonder, where exactly is this team's ceiling?
Forget about the individuals for a moment. The Spurs collectively shot 56% from the field and 56% from distance. Their aforementioned 32 assists allowed the Spurs to shoot so well tonight. In addition, the Spurs' defense left little to be desired. The Spurs held the Wizards to 41% shooting and managed to out-rebound Washington, 43 to 40, even without the services of Stephen Jackson and Kawhi Leonard. This game was a complete team effort and fun to watch.
I understand the Wizards are winless and too much should not be made from just another victory, but the Spurs seemed to have a eureka moment tonight. After the ugly double overtime victory in Toronto the night before, the Spurs showed their desire to be elite in Washington. It was refreshing to see true professionals band together on the road and play a complete game, despite having limitless excuses to take the night off.
Your Many Stars
Manu Ginobili continued his progression and looked sharp scoring 12 points on 5 of 8 shooting in 20 minutes of action. He also contributed 5 rebounds, 5 assists and a few nifty moves that only Manu is capable of making.
Tim and Tony also looked anything but tired in the blowout victory. The two stars led San Antonio to yet another victory while only logging 23 and 22 minutes, respectively. Coach Gregg Popovich managed everyone's time on the floor perfectly as no one even approached playing 30 minutes.
Gary Neal is one of the league's premier pure shooters and his stroke is looking flawless. He scored 13 points connecting on 3 of his 4 three pointers. Boris Diaw had a team high 16 points for the Spurs. Boris had one of his better games and is looking more and more like the Boris that the Spurs' enjoyed in the second half of last season.
Tiago Splitter is your player of the game. Tiago scored 15 points while missing only one shot, grabbed 12 boards and dished out 7 assists. He made seven of his eight free throw attempts and is shooting 72.5% from the line for the season, 85.2% over his last five games. Overall, Tiago is finding his comfort level in every aspect of the game. Although three seasons is a long time to wait, it seems to have been worth it. Tiago is now playing as most Spurs fans anticipated when he first donned the Spurs' jersey.
The trap game turned out to be the perfect opportunity for the Spurs to come together. The Spurs will look to carry this momentum into their next SEGABABA against the Orlando Magic this Wednesday, followed by a battle with the NBA Champion Miami Heat on Thursday.